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Starting in June 2011, Mexican customs (Aduana) instituted a system where every person who temporarily imports a vehicle into Mexico pays a deposit to ensure the return of the vehicle out of Mexico on or before the date of expiration of the temporary vehicle import permit (TIP).

The deposit amount is are based upon the age of the vehicle, with vehicles 2007 and newer paying $400US, 2001 to 2006 paying $300US, and 2000 and older paying $200US.

Temporary Import Permits (TIPs) are issued for 180 days if you get them via the online permit system, or for 180 days for tourists, or until the immigration document you present at the Banjercito module (at your point of entry) expires. In practice, though, some people who present immigration documents which expire in 2 years only get 180 days, depending on the practices of their point of entry.

Supposedly, you get the deposit back when you return the vehicle along with any trailers or motorcycles which entered on the same permit (entailing going to the border and having the customs agent remove the sticker and turn in the permit), and get a receipt which looks like a long credit card merchant receipt before the expiration date on the TIP.

The issue arises for foreigners who have the right to have their import permit extended past the expiration date on the TIP. RMCE 4.2.7

El plazo autorizado para retornar los vehículos que hubieran sido importados temporalmente por extranjeros de conformidad con la fracción II del segundo párrafo de la presente regla, será el de la vigencia de su condición de estancia y sus renovaciones.

Aduana rules state that the foreigner shall notify aduana within 15 days of getting a new immigration document, stating:

En caso de que el residente temporal y el residente temporal estudiante renueve su estancia en territorio nacional, la vigencia del permiso de importación temporal del vehículo se acreditará con el documento oficial que emita la autoridad migratoria, sin que se requiera autorización de las autoridades aduaneras; asimismo, a efecto de que no se haga efectiva la garantía otorgada en los términos de la presente regla, dentro de los 15 días siguientes a aquél en que les hubiere sido otorgado el canje o la renovación de su condición de estancia de residente temporal o residente temporal estudiante, se deberá presentar ante cualquier aduana del país o a la ACOA, un aviso en el que se haga constar dicha circunstancia, anexando copia del comprobante de dicho trámite y del permiso de importación temporal del vehículo; dicho aviso se deberá presentar al momento de efectuar el retorno definitivo del vehículo.

First, they use the term 15 days. Is that 15 calendar days or 15 working days? As the notifications should be done by presenting them at the local Aduana offices or by mail (which are not open weekends) per Mexican law, if the term is not specifically stated to be calendar days, then it shall be deemed to be business days. It’s too bad that Aduana and Banjercito never read the law nor apply its principles, and are using 15 calendar days against people in order to steal their deposits when they have complied within 15 business days, but not 15 calendar days.

The next issue involves the phrase where the time period starts to notify Aduana, which the above rule states is when the renewal or change in status is granted. Does the granting occur when immigration approves the request which is in the middle of the process, before the person places their fingerprints and still has to wait weeks to receive their new card? This is the biggest point of contention. Logically, in order for a person to notify Aduana, they need their new card with the new expiration date where they can demonstrate the new expiration date. The problem here is that in many parts of Mexico, the process to create the new card may take days or even months (as was the case when the cards were only manufactured in Mexico City) and the date of issue was random, with immigration placing the date of issue as the date of entry for canjes (people who received preauthorized visas from consulates), even though by law they have 30 days to present their application after entering Mexico. This presents a problem if their final card has their date of entry as the date of issue on their card, their 15 days started then, and their deadline passed before they were even obligated to start with immigration or submit their documents to immigration to be able to get their final card weeks or months later.

Think that by starting early you can avoid this mess?

Other foreigners submitted their immigration documents for renewal on time (immigration policy and law only permits them to submit documents 30 days or less before renewal), and then due to normal times or delay with immigration, received their new immigration cards with a date of issue of days, weeks, or even months before they were actually available to be picked up. This has been the main problem. Immigration´s random placing of the date of issue which has nothing to do with the date when the foreigner first is able to actually receive their card is taken as the date by Aduana when their 15 days to notify first begins. Many people have received their renewal immigration cards or canje cards with a date of issuance of more than 15 days prior, which makes their timely notification to Aduana impossible, and therefore makes them automatically lose their deposit and have their TIP canceled.

What have we done in these situations?

In order to disprove the date of issuance, we would usually include the receipt for when the person applied for their new document, showing that they applied on time (late renewals and regularizations will revoke the permit, and the person would lose their deposit). Next, we would print out a history from immigration showing the date their immigration card was being made (this should have satisfied Aduana as if the date of issue on the card showed one date but the computer showed that a month later the card was being manufactured. Then the date of issue should have been deemed unreliable.). Currently the computer system of immigration does not show when the card is manufactured, although we include a sworn statement of the date when the foreigner actually received their card in order to proved when the 15 days should start. The system also does not show any more when the card is ready to be picked up.

What are we doing to resolve this problem with the authorities?

I went to talk to the head of immigration in Guadalajara and tell him about the date of issue on the cards. He was sympathetic, but really did not offer any alternatives, as they have their set way of doing things. Their recent ability to manufacture cards at the Guadalajara office has helped, but people in Chapala still have issues, as the local office has to send the request to make the cards to Guadalajara, and then they have to make them and then send them to Chapala, and then notify the people that they are ready (they stopped posting notifications online about cards being ready a year ago).

Then the foreigner has to pick the card up. Although the card may have a date of issue, it has no bearing on the date when the card was ready to be picked up and was actually handed to the foreigner.

Perhaps they could create a new form that immigration signs and stamps, and the foreigner signs when they pick up their card to prove the date they received their card. But that would probably require many approvals as it would be an official government document. And even then, who is to say that Aduana, SAT and Banjercito would not ignore it?

Once the foreigner has the card, then they can notify Aduana in the proper format. We notify Aduana for our clients, and have a form. We include the form, new immigration document, copy of the TIP, passport, copy of the receipt for when they turned in their renewal, and a printout of their history, and a sworn declaration of the day they actually received their card.

What happens after that!!!???....

We present the documents in triplicate at the closest Aduana office, which for us is at the Guadalajara International Airport. They keep two copies, and the give us one back with a serial number stamp and Aduana Received stamp. We return a week later to get another oficio (official communication), which evidences that they sent one copy to Aduana in Mexico City, and has the serial number of the registered mail they used to do so (the law only requires the foreigner to do the notification. The oficio is icing on the cake. and proves the receipt and that the copy was sent to Mexico City. The law does not require a response, although it is helpful to know what their situation is and whether to fight).

Then the fun begins. Sometimes Mexico City Aduana decides to send us a response. They used to do it all the time, and were great. Recently, the only responses were negative ones when the person renewed late and lost their deposit due to renewing late. The other people who submitted their renewal notices were left guessing, and the only time they learned of any problem was when they returned their vehicle to the border and wanted the refund of their deposit.

Currently, Aduana only sends back a response to those who did regularizations (renewed late), where there was a lapse in their immigration status, and then the person knows that their TIP was canceled and their deposit is gone.

But what about the rest of the people who notified Aduana in writing, had their file- stamped copy, and who did so within 15 calendar days of receiving their new immigration document?

Many times the only way people find out if their TIP was canceled and their deposit forfeited (stolen) is when they drive their vehicle to the border and have their sticker removed and get a receipt showing they removed the vehicle from Mexico. At this time, they usually have their paperwork showing they did their notification on time, but the people at the border always tell them they will find out in a few days. People wait a few days, and then a few months, and the deposit is never refunded to their credit card.

This is when my office receives the call to check up on things. In the past, armed with stamped copies of the notification, a call to Aduana or SAT would solve the issue. It usually was because Aduana forgot to forward info to SAT, or SAT did not tell Banjercito. So, once that was done, the deposits were refunded.

Now, SAT has taken a very hard stance approach, and refuses to honor any evidence that contradicts the erroneous date of issue and supports the date when the foreigner actually picked up their new immigration document to start the 15 day time limit. The agencies refuse to communicate with each other to see if one received the notification and passed it on to the other, as they are required to. SAT used to be helpful, but now are not. Banjercito employees have been rude, as well, and neither wants to help to resolve the situation.

Now what do we do?

A new tax ombudsman's office was created in Mexico, PRODECON. Fortunately for us, their office is located only a few blocks from ours in the Providencia area of Guadalajara. We have presented written requests to them to help our clients. They invited me to meet with the local state head, so he could fully grasp the issue. He invited all his attorneys to be there. We have presented quite a few cases, and they understand the situation, and have made various requests for information to Immigration, Banjercito, SAT, and Aduana. Our results have been mixed. Some cases are still in process, and others we have won where PRODECON agrees that SAT was wrong and ordered them to return the deposit to the foreigner. But then SAT says that they do not have it, Banjercito has it, and that PRODECON only covers tax matters and tax agencies and not banks. It is funny how in all cases, SAT tells Banjercito to refund deposits, but only when they lose a case like this that they decide it cannot be done.

We must then file a complaint using the positive resolution from PRODECON with CONDUSEF (who regulates banks, and takes complaints, as they can make Banjercito refund the deposits). We are in the process of doing this, but first we need to locate the foreigners, and have then sign a clarification form which must then be sent by certified mail to Mexico City. Then, if we get a negative response, can we file a complaint with CONDUSEF.

Are the authorities doing anything?

Our many, many meetings with PRODECON have been bearing fruit. We stop by very frequently, and they have been talking to the head PRODECON office in Mexico City to arrange a round table meeting with representatives from Immigration, SAT, Aduana and PRODECON to address this problem so all involved can participate in the solution. I have been invited, but the date has been changed often over the past few months. I will appear by phone, and hope to help them see the problem and find a solution. Whether through ignorance, design, or multiple agencies not talking, or legislators, foreigners are being harmed and losing money unnecessarily and improperly.

We have been trying to help people get their deposits back, but what was once a phone call or two and email has become a labor of months or years, talking to many agencies, presenting piles of documents with the same copies of everything being presented over and over, with hours and hours of work to clarify things, only to get stonewalled. Even if we were to get paid the whole deposit amount for our fees, we still would be losing money. I hope to make them think and change their policies for the benefit of foreigners all over Mexico.

Lic. Spencer Richard Mc Mullen

Cedula Fed#7928026 / State #114067

Attorney and Official Translator


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Many thanks as well Spencer. I am one of the first who ran into this problem due to the length of time it took to renew my Temporal and you have kept your word to do your best to recover the TIP deposit. I will continue to show my support by using your services and recommending you to others I meet.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Spencer got it almost right. Your TIP isn't worth 180 days, it's good for the length of your visa, if you're a tourist. When I left BCS for the mainland I paid the TIP fee for the time left on my tourist visa, about a month .. and it costs the same as if it were 180 days.

When I renewed it of course I hadn't a whisper of hope they're reimburse my 200usd deposit, but sure enough they did inside of 5 working days via direct deposit. I was amazed! I didn't get a cash refund because I didn't pay for it in cash.

If you're a minute late to renew at the border you lose your deposit.

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  • 4 months later...

Just wanted to extend a public "Thank You" to Spencer for all the hard work he put into recovering my TIP deposit that was confiscated by Aduana in 2013. Spencer stuck with it and I finally had my refund put back as a credit on my card on January 15.

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Thanks Spencer. Our nearest Aduana is an hour away at the Queretaro airport. My clients go twice, once with proof of payment and page with NUT number and again when visa is issued, normally 4 to 5 weeks. So far it is working.

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We fought and actually had them change the law and with the help of PRODECON changes have been made that have benefited foreigners all over Mexico, for example before the law said you must give 15 days notice and they were applying calendar days, not business days even though the law says that when not specified it is business days.

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  • 1 month later...

I temp-imported my car twice. Yes, the money was refunded. If you pay cash you get cash back, Visa payments go into your account. I was surprised and pleased when I checked WF online and saw that 200 bucks!

Here's a jewel: The last time I went to Laredo I forgot my car's title so of course I could do nothing. Meanwhile during the visa transactions I had them remove the sticker from the windshield so I'd have my deposit refunded. So did I cross into Texas? Hell no. I drove back to GDL. Got stopped by every government agency including the Army about 6 times in 12 hours. My excuse was as follows: I went to the Aduana, I forget my title. They told me to drive home, get the title and come back (with or without car). "So I;m just doing what was instructed." Didn't pay a cent.

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Regardless of what you did, or what they told you to do, it appears that your car was temporarily imported on a previous Tourist Permit (it is not a visa), and that importation expired after the 180 days ran out. When you obtained a fresh tourist permit, you did not import your car again, as required. Correct? If so, your car is now in Mexico illegally, subject to confiscation and a heavy fine. Your deposit is also gone for good.

If all of that is the case, you should get a Retorno Seguro to make your insurance valid and to allow you the 5 day window to take your car out of Mexico. If course, you will need to surrender your FMM tourist permit and get a new one to match the car permit. I would suggest that you stay north of the border for a few days.

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