From how much it costs & necessary documents like the menaje de casa to a handy list of prohibited items, here’s everything you need to know about how to ship belongings to Mexico.
Deciding what to bring with you when you move to Mexico is a personal choice. While I encourage you to downsize as much as possible, I also understand why you’re considering importing your personal goods to Mexico.
Many subscribers and readers tell me that they hate they idea of selling all their household items in their home country only to buy them again in Mexico. Others have deep sentimental attachments to their personal belongings and find the idea of being surrounded by their “stuff” comforting especially when everything else in Mexico will be so new.
After reading this blog post, here’s what you’ll know about shipping your belongings to Mexico:
- what the process is
- how much it costs
- recommendations for removal companies in Mexico
- what you can and can’t ship to Mexico
Is it worth it to ship your belongings to Mexico?
In my experience consulting people about their upcoming moves to Mexico, I can tell you that many start out thinking that they will ship their stuff to Mexico but, ultimately, find it to be cost prohibitive.
Here’s what one YouTube subscriber said about his experience importing personal goods to Mexico:
“We regret the hassle and the money it cost to bring a household full of stuff. If we had it to do again, we would have sold, donated or given to family everything in our house except for clothes, jewelry and valuables. Honestly, we put too much value on “stuff”. Everything is replaceable”
He added that he could have adequately and comfortably furnished his home in Mexico with a $3,000 US shopping spree.
Furnishing a home in Mexico may seem intimidating at first, but trust me, it’s doable. I share what I learned furnishing our house in Mexico in this YouTube video.
Bringing Personal Items Into Mexico By Plane
If you’re traveling by plane, you don’t need to worry about the requirements like providing an inventory list. Just make sure that everything you’re bringing is “used.” That means it should be removed from its original packaging.
I once brought a new keyboard back with me from the US and made the mistake of packing it still in the box. The agent examining my luggage wanted to charge me an import tax, but I was ultimately able to convince them it was for personal use–-which it was.
Bringing Personal Items Into Mexico By Car
Subscribers who have driven their personal belongings across the border using a personal vehicle have told me they recommend packing in see-through containers to make a vehicle inspection at the border less likely.
They also recommend having a personal inventory in Spanish, although most have told me officials barely glanced at it.
How do I move my belongings to Mexico?
On the recommendation of a subscriber, I spoke with Dulce Araujo of ReMove. She helped get this happy subscriber’s personal belongings through customs in Veracruz to his new home in Querétaro.
If you’re planning on shipping your personal belongings to Mexico, it’s worth it to investigate removal companies in Mexico like ReMove. Given the specific customs requirements for shipping to Mexico (more on that in a second), it’s helpful to work with experienced customs brokers in Mexico–especially if you don’t speak Spanish.
Customs Requirements For Shipping to Mexico
The most important thing you need to know about shipping your household items to Mexico is that you must have either your temporary or permanent resident CARD.
Some sources might tell you that you can do it with just your VISA and an NUT authorization showing your unique processing number. However, according to Dulce, if for whatever reason there’s a delay in getting your residency card (it’s known to happen) and the shipment is waiting in customs, storage fees can be very expensive.
Furthermore, some aduanas (customs) don’t accept the NUT authorization and will only release your shipment upon seeing your residency card.
The bottom line is that you should plan to go to Mexico BEFORE your belongings are shipped there to finish the CANJE portion of the residency process and get your card.
This blog post details the steps for getting your residency in Mexico.
Importing Personal Goods to Mexico as a Permanent Resident
Permanent residents must apply for a menaje de casa.
The menaje de casa is an inventory list (in Spanish) approved and notarized by the Mexican consulate in the country of origin.
It should be obtained within three months of getting your residency visa & once obtained, it is only valid for six months. Some consulates have issued permanent residents a menaje de casa outside this timeframe…remember it doesn’t hurt to ask.
If you’re getting ready to or in the process of applying for permanent residency in Mexico, I recommend asking the consulate about the menaje de casa.
In addition to the menaje de casa, permanent residents must also provide an inventory list in Spanish as well as a letter addressed to the Mexican Customs House at the Port of Entry declaring that all their goods are used and that the shipment does not include any prohibited items.
Importing Personal Goods to Mexico as a Temporary Resident
Temporary residents, according to Dulce, don’t need a menaje de casa.
Instead, you will need to provide a letter (in Spanish) promising to take all the personal belongings you’re importing with you when you leave Mexico.
Just like permanent residents, temporary residents must provide an inventory list in Spanish as well as a letter addressed to the Mexican Customs House at the Port of Entry declaring that all their goods are used and that the shipment does not include any prohibited items.
If you decide to work with Dulce and the ReMove team, they will provide you with the required customs letters prior to your shipment’s arrival at the Mexican port of entry. Dulce recommends that you get in touch with her 3-6 months prior to your move.
How much does it cost to ship your stuff to Mexico?
Shipping personal belongings to Mexico is expensive. In fact, one subscriber told me that it cost more to ship a pallet of boxes to Mexico than it would have cost to ship that same pallet to Europe.
Another subscriber shared her experience moving personal items from Oregon to Puerto Vallarta. She is using U-Haul International to ship three U-Box containers. Each box can hold up to 2,000 lbs., which is roughly one room’s worth of furniture.
The estimated cost to ship the three boxes from Oregon to Puerto Vallarta is $11,500 US. According to the subscriber, other estimates she got were closer to $25,000 US.
Tip: To keep your move to Mexico feasible, downsizing is going to be essential. The free Move to Mexico Quickstart Guide has tips for doing just that.
When you’re choosing what to bring to Mexico, remember that you can get most household items that are available in the US in Mexico as well. If you’re loyal to a certain brand, you might want to do some price checking on Amazon Mexico (check out this guide for shopping online in Mexico).
For common electronics such as televisions, don’t worry about shipping them to Mexico. You can score good deals in Mexico especially if you wait to shop the Buen Fin (Mexican Black Friday) sales.
What is prohibited to ship to Mexico?
Dulce from ReMove sent me the exact list of prohibited items that she shares with her clients.
- New articles (manufacture date is less than 6 months)
- Importation of wines and spirits (any alcoholic beverage) is prohibited
- Food of any type
- Plants, fruits and vegetables are strictly prohibited
- Any food supplement
- Medicines and first aid
- Chemical products, such as cleaning items (detergents, soaps, shampoo or similar items), etc.
- Weapons and ammunition
- Pornographic items, drugs, pirate, imitation jewelry in large amounts
- Collectable items such as pens, coins, etc.
- Large quantities of similar objects because they could be considered items for sale in Mexico
- Any type of liquids
- Motor vehicles: Only for temporary importation with Temporary Resident Visa & Diplomats
- Cars and/or boats (unless the client is Diplomat)
- Works of art or antiques registered under INBA
- Safe or any lockable items without the key or combination
Before you ask, just because it’s not recommended to ship items such as medication, supplements, jewelry and perfume doesn’t mean that it can’t come to Mexico with you. It just means that you should carry it with you in your personal luggage–-don’t ship these items with your household goods.
Final Thoughts on How to Ship Your Belongings to Mexico
Remember: The most important thing you need to know about shipping your stuff to Mexico is that you must have either your temporary or permanent residency CARD.
Your visa alone is not sufficient & some aduanas (customs) won’t release your shipment until they see your residency card. A delay in getting your residency card could result in expensive storage fees.
If you want to ship your belongings to Mexico, use the Mexico Residency Roadmap to navigate the visa process like a pro! You can use the code “YOUTUBE10” for $10 off the Mexico Residency Roadmap and join the hundreds of people who have used it to successfully get their Mexico residency.