As with a move across town or across your home country, a move to Mexico can be undertaken successfully and with minimum stress if you know what you’re doing and pay attention to the details.  The following points apply to the majority of people making the move to Mexico, but there may be some aspects of your individual situation that require modifications to the standard process.  If in doubt, consult the specialists and find out exactly what you should do in your specific situation.

Tourists are allowed to bring in their personal effects duty-free.  Failure to declare personal effects will result in their confiscation and a fine.  Mexican customs provides information in English regarding entry into Mexico by air or land.  Travellers carrying more than $10,000 U.S., or its equivalent in other currencies, cash, checks, money orders or any other monetary instrument, must declare the amount exceeding $10,000 U.S.  Failure to declare it is a criminal offence under Mexican law, often resulting in detention and/or confiscation of the funds.

New Residents
Once you have decided to move to beautiful Mexico, you may feel as though the worst is ahead of you. Even if you have done your research, you may still be confused or frightened by conflicting stories on websites and internet web boards as to the paper work necessary to enter Mexico, or to have your household goods shipped into the country. Lakeside is fortunate to have several highly regarded moving companies available to make the process as simple and uncomplicated as possible.  Mexico wants you here.  Moving to Mexico is like moving across town. The only difference is that you’ll need an FM3 and a simple inventory.

There are several options available to new residents – full service moves, do-it-yourself packing with professional shipping, do-it-yourself packing and hauling, selling/giving away everything and bringing just your toothbrush.

Full Service Moves
Work with the movers.  It is your responsibility to be on hand when the packers/movers arrive. If you are not able to be present while the packers and movers are there, you will have to designate a person who will be authorized to take your place. Let the van line agent know to whom you have given the authority.  Be sure that your chosen representative knows exactly what to do.  

Do-It-Yourself Moves
Should you decide to do your own packing, there are some basic facts to remember:
Use a marker pen and label each box with the box number, description of contents, and, for easy identification of all electronics, include the make, model and serial number.
Keep the description to a minimum for other household articles.

It is always best to use boxes specifically made for moving household goods.  These are available from moving companies.  Make sure your treasured belongings are packed for an international move.  If you have treasured china, crystal, and antiques, it is your responsibility to see that they are wrapped and packed well. Dispose of all flammable, corrosive or explosive items.

Ensure you have rented a truck or trailer that is permitted to enter Mexico. Many rental companies do not allow their vehicles or trailers to cross the border. If you are hauling a trailer, ensure your vehicle is properly equipped.  Just because it has a trailer hitch does not mean the transmission and/or engine are adequate for hauling a trailer a long distance.

Acid / Gasoline / Charcoal / Lighter Fluid / Lighters / Matches / Sterno
BBQ Butane / Propane Bottles & Tanks / Aerosols / Paints / Paint Thinner
Nail Polish & Remover / Liquid Bleach / Ammonia / Cleaning Fluid
Kerosene / Lamp Oil / Pool Chemicals / Chemistry Sets / Batteries
Fertilizer / Poisons / Pesticides / Weed Killer / Motor Oil / Car Batteries / Auto Parts
Weapons / Ammunition / Fireworks
Live plants / Pornography of any sort 
Drugs including any common household pills such as aspirin.
Cloth material in bulk such as fabric or sheeting material.
Mounted animals, birds, etc. (taxidermy items)
Firearms (this also includes bullets or any other type of ammunition, empty cartridges, holsters, cleaning equipment. Pellet guns and accessories, or even toy guns, etc.)
Valuable jewelry, coins, stamps, or any other extremely valuable items, (These should be transported by you).
Alcoholic beverages are not allowable for transport in a commercial trailer
New Items will be confiscated and not returned. You will also be heavily fined.



The Process Your Shipment Goes Through Crossing The Border (Full Service Moves)
If you are shipping Door-To-Door your shipment will remain on the same trailer from origin all the way through to its destination.  It is not trans-loaded.  The first stop for your shipment will be at a Customs Broker's terminal.  The Customs Broker will schedule your trailer for border crossing and will notify a drayage company that your trailer is ready to be picked up for crossing into Mexico. The trailer will now wait in line for crossing.  The moving company and broker have no control over how long your shipment will take to cross from this point forward.  When dealing with Mexican customs agents, it is important to remember that they cannot be hurried.  When your trailer arrives at the gate, it will get a random Red or Green light.  The probability of getting a RED light is about 90%. 

A GREEN light will allow your trailer to go straight through the two-light system.

Should your trailer get a RED light it will be directed to a loading dock.  The broker will be notified.  In order to break the seal on the trailer for inspection, the broker or his agent must be present.  Once the seal has been broken, the Customs officials are in complete charge.  If the boxes opened comply with the inventory, your shipment will be able to go through the second set of lights.  Customs does not open every box, just a few at random.  During this investigation, no one is present but a Mexican National Customs Broker and Mexican National Customs Agents.  Outsiders are not permitted in this highly secure government area.  If your shipment does not check out properly at the first light, then it is a certainty the second light will be Red and your shipment will get an extensive search. If anything is found new, less than six months old and not used, they will impose fines and your shipment will be confiscated until the fines are paid.  If there are illegal items in the shipment, you will face legal problems. After passing this inspection, a new seal will be placed on the trailer and recorded by the Customs Broker.
The drayage company will now deliver your trailer to a freight terminal on the Mexican side of the border.  At this point the Customs Broker will notify your Lakeside moving agent that your shipment has cleared, and make arrangements for your trailer to be dispatched to a freight terminal in Guadalajara.  Upon arrival of the trailer in Guadalajara, the Lakeside agent will be notified that your shipment has arrived. You will be contacted and arrangements made for delivery.



The Time It Takes
Movers need a minimum of fourteen working days to schedule your move.
PackPro do-it-yourself shipments can take up to seven working days to reach Laredo or other border crossing.
Shipments professionally packed by US or Canadian agents can take up to twelve working days to reach Laredo.

About Your Paperwork
It is a requirement that your inventory be in both English and Spanish. If you are doing your inventory for a full service move, your Lakeside moving agent will do the Spanish translation for you.  Please provide sufficient time for them to complete this task.  It is important to make sure that all boxes are labeled with a list of the contents.
 Documents Required

  • Copy of passport
  • Copy of FM3 or FM2
  • Inventory (in Spanish, original and three copies) without values
  • Format of inventory MUST be in strict compliance with Mexican requirements to avoid costly and time-consuming delays
  • Inventory must show origin and destination address, and all pages must be signed by the Customer
  • Inventory must be detailed and include the number of boxes
  • Electronic items and electrical appliances must be at least six months old, and MUST BE LISTED in the inventory by make, model and serial number
  • Declaratory Letter to Customs office in which Customer states that all items in the shipment are used, and if new items are present, invoices are attached and Customer will pay duties (no new items should be in shipment, if there are any they may be confiscated, fines will be heavy and detention will be very high)
  • Letter from Customer authorizing Destination Agent to clear shipment

Insurance on Your Goods
Transit Insurance through Mexico is very important.  First, check with your homeowner's insurance agent to see if you are insured through them.  Many policies have coverage specifically for household moves, but some do not include international moves.  If you do not have coverage, your agent will have various insurance plans available.  It is a requirement that your shipment be insured. 




Motor Vehicles
Customers with a FM2 or FM3 Visa can import their auto on a temporary basis, but they will need the following documents:

    • Original Visa and passport (just passport for Mexican citizens)
    • Title or proof of ownership and
    • License or registration of the vehicle
    • Drivers License
    • International Credit Card

See our Notes on Vehicles and Driving for more details.