Driving into Mexico
When crossing into Mexico by car you must select which lane to enter, though at the Lukeville/Sonoyta crossing this generally means one lane and either proceeding straight if you have “Nothing to Declare” or turning left for “Voluntary Declaration” BEFORE the inspection gate. If doing the Voluntary Declaration, turn left prior to entering crossing lanes (just after gate at US/Mexico border), park, and walk to the small office located in the center of the entry in order to make a formal declaration and pay any taxes, as applicable.
If you are have Nothing to Declare, as you progress past the US/Mexico border, there is a stoplight as well as a traffic arm. A Green light means you may continue without further inspection. After the traffic arm goes up, it is still best to see if the customs (Aduana) and/or health agents (SENASICA) signal you over to the left for an inspection anyway. A Red light means you must pull into the customs inspection area, located on the left. Roll your windows down, but do not get out of the car unless asked. The inspection generally involves a few questions as well as looking through items you may be transporting in the car. Important! If you have more than the allotted amount of merchandise and fail to Declare Voluntarily, your vehicle and all other items can be confiscated.
What can you bring?
Travelers may have personal items including:
- Articles for personal use including clothing, shoes, hygiene and beauty products – provided that these correspond to the length of the trip. This includes one bridal ensemble (dress, veil, etc.). For babies, articles may include items such as chairs, portable crib, stroller, walker, among other items.
- 2 cameras or video cameras, photograph material, three cell phones or radio equipment; one GPS device, electronic planner, a portable computer (laptop, notebook, omnibook, etc.); a portable copier or printer, a burner and portable projector, with accessories.
- 2 sets of personal sports equipment, four fishing rods, three (surf)boards with or without sails and accessories, trophies or acknowledgments provided these may be transported normally by a traveler
- 1 portable apparatus to record or reproduce sound; or 2 records or image and digital sound player and a portable DVD player; a set of portable speakers, and accessories.
- 5 laser disks, 10 DVDs, 30 CDs; 3 packages of software and 5 electronic storage devices
- Books, magazines, and printed documents
- 5 toys, including collection items, and a video-game console, as well as 5 video games
• A device to measure blood pressure or blood glucose, as well as medication for personal use (with your prescription).
- Luggage or suitcases to transport items
- Binocular and telescope
- 2 musical instruments and accessories
- 1 tent and other camping articles
- A set of handtools with case, which may consist of a drill, pliers, wrenches, drill bits, screwdrivers, jumper cables, among others.
- For passengers older than 18: 10 packs of cigarettes, 25 cigars or 200 grams of tobacco; up to 3 liters of alcohol (that is not wine) and 6 liters of wine
- For older adults or those with disabilities: articles which given their characteristics assist them or decrease limitations, such as walkers, wheel chairs, crutches, canes, among others.
- 3 pets or companion animals such as cats or dogs, accessories for their travel and hygiene – provided presentation of animal certification issued by the Secretary of Agriculture, Ranching, Rural Development, Fishing and Feed (SAGARPA)
Duty-Free Allowance “Franquicia”
SAT (Tax Service Administration) indicates the following with respect to individual “duty-free allowance” (franquicia) (Feb 2016):
The Duty-free allowance is a tax exemption granted by the Mexican Government to a national or foreign passenger for certain merchandise s/he is bringing in Mexico.
- Passengers entering Mexico by land are allowed merchandise additional to their baggage for up to $300.00 USD.*
The allowance may be accumulated for passengers traveling in the same car, EXCEPT if you are a resident in the northern border region (of which Puerto Peñasco is part).
- Persons that are residents in the northern border region (i.e. Puerto Peñasco residents) are allowed items up to $150.00 USD daily.*
- During holiday periods “Programa Paisano” (Only for Mexican passengers entering Mexico by land EXCEPT for persons living in the northern border region) – Mexican Easter, Summer, Christmas, New Year, passengers may import up to $500.00 USD.*
Programa Paisano dates 2016:
- Semana Santa: March 11th to April 11th, 2016.
- Summer: June 12th – August 17th, 2016.
- Winter: Nov. 1, 2016 – January 8, 2017.
- Passengers entering Mexico by air or a maritime port may import up to $500.00 USD.*
*USD or the equivalent in other currencies.
For additional information, from US and Canada Toll-free number: 1 877 44 88 728. Or from anywhere in Mexico at 01 55 627 22 728 (MarcaSAT).
- If the value of new merchandise you are carrying exceeds the allotted customs amount, just as you cross the US/Mexico border and prior to going through the entry lane, turn left and park in the designated area (this is at the Sonoyta entry). Collect receipts for all items and present these to the Tax (Hacienda) official located in the small building located between the lanes entering and exiting Mexico.
- The Tax official will fill out a form indicating the items you are transporting, value, and tax assessed. Sometimes they will inspect the vehicle and goods directly. Merchandise is subject to a flat 16% tax (NOTE: tax on alcohol or tobacco above the allotted amounts can reach upwards of 100%!!!).
- After completing the form, take this to the Banjercito window (the tax agent should direct you) located around the side of the principal customs building on your left (entering Mexico).
If you are crossing after 6 p.m., you may pay applicable fees in pesos or dollars directly in the office of the Tax Official, otherwise you can exchange dollars for pesos at one of the import offices located just near the border (if you visit Mexico frequently, it is a good idea to keep pesos on hand). Pay applicable taxes at Banjercito IN PESOS and return to small customs/tax building; they will keep a copy and give you a copy of the declaration. KEEP COPY OF DECLARATION WITH YOU! This will accredit the legal entry of the merchandise you are carrying.
You must declare if bringing more than $10,000 USD (or equivalent in foreign coin) in either cash, checks, or money orders into Mexico.
What food can I bring into Mexico?
What you can’t bring into Mexico!
- Firearms and ammunition. In order to import firearms and cartridges you must secure an import permit from the Ministry of Economy and from the Ministry of National Defense.
- Narcotic drugs
- Live fish
- Predators of any kind
- Images of any kind that represent children in a denigrating or ridiculous manner, or that provoke violence
- Used clothing that is not part of your personal luggage