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GDL Customs Snafu

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Advisors on this forum have been very helpful in us getting to Ajijic a few days ago sin problemas. I guess today is the day of our baptism in Mexican officialdom, and we would appreciate any advice to help us solve this problem:

We shipped 2 boxes of personal household effects with DHL, from Seattle to the hotel where we are temporarily staying in Ajijic until we can move into our new casa. We followed DHL/USA advice exactly to include within the document sleeve of each box copies of our passport, temporary residence visas, and list of items contained therein. We were expecting the boxes to arrive today but instead got a call from a DHL customs agent in Guadalajara.

The agent said that the boxes would not be delivered to us without a US Embassy stamp on our lists of contents, but they could be returned for free to the US--where we no longer have a residence. She agreed to hold the boxes in Guadalajara for a week until we could solve the problem. I emailed DHL for advice about the situation and should receive an answer tomorrow.

How would you solve this problem and have the boxes delivered to Ajijic? Thanks in advance for all your good advice.

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Sounds like you confused them with too much information ..... never heard of that or including documents

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Too much info, yes perhaps. Remember that it is always better to ask for pardon then to ask for permission. That said, sending a Carta Factura (list of goods with declared value) is a standard requirement when shipping goods anywhere in the world. So you were right there. Adding your passport and immigration documents may have been overboard. If DHL requests this it is because they must be losing a lot of packages.

That was your other mistake, using DHL, who have notoriously bad customs brokers. FedEX, while not stellar, is far better. The absolute worst is UPS. All this from personal experiences.

Next lesson. Always put the blame where it belongs. This does not appear to be your baptism in Mexican officialdom, this appears to be a USA customs problem. Seems to me you need to call the US embassy to ask their advice. Failing that avenue, you may also consider hiring a customs broker.

Good luck

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We had several successful orders from Amazon delivered here without problems until they (Amazon) chose to ship our order through DHL. I spent a week communicating with a US DHL rep, Mexico DHL and Amazon trying to get our order released from customs in Guadalajara and delivered here. MX customs, for some reason wanted me to hire a broker to clear the order which I wouldn't do for a variety of items that Amazon said would ship to MX without problem. Eventually the order was returned to Amazon and they issued a full credit.

I really hope the OP is successful. I'd follow the advice to contact the US Embassy. You might also try Spencer.

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Sounds like the customs agent, government not DHL, is wanting a menaje de casa. That was a requirement years ago when things were shipped and it was consulate stamped. If that method is still the case your documentation was inadequate to the letter of the law. Chances of it happening were probably slim to one and you got the one. Don't quote me because this is all based on information I had 12 years ago.

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Sounds like the customs agent, government not DHL, is wanting a menaje de casa. That was a requirement years ago when things were shipped and it was consulate stamped. If that method is still the case your documentation was inadequate to the letter of the law. Chances of it happening were probably slim to one and you got the one. Don't quote me because this is all based on information I had 12 years ago.

"... menaje de casa..." Maybe they asked for a Mexican Consulate in the US stamp and not a US Consulate in Mexico stamp. This makes more sense. A communication problem? I can´t see why a US Consulate would be needed for a Mexican Customs clearance.

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Have it sent back ASAP or plan to spend a few months and thousands of pesos to get your stuff.

For example if you have any wood products like a picture frame you will need special permission, etc. Send back to the US and bring back personally.

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Question of Spencer . . . I'm traveling to the US next month and plan to purchase a desk phone, a headset and a printer. I will bring them back with me personally.

I intend to claim these items at GDL and pay whatever duty will be assessed (I'll have the purchase receipts with me) . . . should I anticipate any problems bringing these items from the US to Mexico?

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Bringing personally and no problems

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Back to the original poster:

I phoned a DHL rep and asked for an email to tell me exactly what I should do to get our shipment released. She said that the menaje de casa needed to be on one list, instead of the two we completed, one for each box. If true, I took this as a face-saving measure on their part, since it seems an awfully lame reason to go through all this.

But I made a nice neat list, organized by type--and these are all used household items, no electronics--and emailed it back. The email address the rep sent me didn't work. I kept sending her emails, asking her to forward to correct address. Got another address that did work. Was humble and compliant, blaming my poor Spanish on the misunderstanding, thanking them profusely for their cooperation. Still haven't heard any commitment on their part however.

So, 3 days of emailing and calling, and we find that the place we rented is so well equipped, we probably don't even really need much that we had shipped. It's hard to say what the lesson here is, except don't use DHL, ever again. Anything else?

I'll research IVA, but really don't think that it would apply in our case.

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UPDATE: The first interlocutor from DHL responded yesterday to my nudge that she move things along. She had received the nice neat list described above, as originally requested by the Sra Cruz, also of DHL. Sra de la Torre sent me a short message asking that I include, on the list "el sello del consulado Americano" which Google Translate and I interpreted as "a seal from the American consulate". When I called the consulate I found that it was closed yesterday in memory of those who have passed.

After numerous attempts to negotiate the canned menu at the American embassy in Guadalajara, I sent them an email inquiry to which they promptly responded that they do "not have interference with the processes at the Mexican or American ports of entry" and referred me to the appropriate Mexican authorities or aduanas.

I forwarded this email Yessica (she and I were now on first name basis), and I had evidently misunderstood her previous request. She advised me that what I really needed was a seal from a Mexican consulate in the US. She acknowledged that, in this case, that would be difficult to obtain. Perhaps, she suggested, I would like to give her an address where our goods can be returned in the US. Until then they will remain "en abandono"--don't need Google to tell me what that means.

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What a friggin nightmare! And here I am just packing up several large boxes to ship down to Guad airport through a freight forwarder out of Van. Int'l Airport. I am thinking I should just abandon the idea now!

I am not having much success in getting information from the shipping office pertinent to shipping used household goods & personal possessions from Canada to Mexico- they keep telling me I need to ensure my shipment meets all Mex. Gov import regulations, etc. Well, we all know how that is to research & get correct & current data on...

I had posted on the boards inquiring for anyone else's past experience in shipping household goods by air freight, and had no response. But reading Tombo's account answered my question with certainty that this is definitely NOT a good idea. Can anyone out there prove us wrong?

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Sarita, I'm hearing from people here that FedEx is the way to go. If we had it to do again, though, I think I'd take the boxes through checked baggage and pay the airlines--a lot cheaper, and the one box we checked as excess baggage made it through customs at the GDL airport no problem. We didn't check more because we didn't want the hassle of schlepping a lot of luggage from baggage claim, but GDL makes it easy with free carts at customs and plenty of porters to help as soon as you make it through. Pre-arrange for a pickup at the airport and they'll help you the rest of the way.

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Easiest is to get some old suitcases and put your stuff in them along with paying the excess baggage fees. We have come through GDL more times than I can count. Anytime we have boxes it is a hassle with all kinds of questions. luggage...no problem. Also some airlines have box embargos during certain times of the year into GDL.

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We have had some amazing problems with DHL, but recently Amazon sent a single and expensive item to us here via DHL and it arrived ahead of schedule with zero problems.

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You can consider this thread closed. I've been calling or emailing someone--at DHL/USA, DHL/MX, the American consulate in Guadalajara or the Mexican consulate in Seattle--every day for the past 2 weeks. Today, when I called the MX customer service number I was told that our boxes were being sent back to the US later today or tomorrow. No prior notice. Aduana's orders. No seal from a MExican consulate in the US on or Menaje de Casa--case closed.

Needless to say, we will never--ever--consider using DHL again, and, Pulelehua, don't really want to hear any good things about them either.

From now on we'll carry excess baggage on our flights.

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Case not closed, yet. You have not received them in the US, yet. Hopefully, you will. (

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Fedex and UPS have the same problems actually UPS is terrible. I help artisans ship merchandise so I have quite a bit of eperience with packages going to the US and also coming back. Customs is the problems not the companies. I have had theft on UPS and went to Profeco who told me we sued sue them in court as profeco can only fine them and has to drop the claim if UPS settles.

Customs is a crap shoot when you ship things, sometimes they do not care and sometimes they do.

In my experience with all the shipments I have seen DHL has less breakage and is more responsive.

Packages stay so long in customs and then get returned.

Once I shipped 4 identical boxes with identical addresses to Mexico. It was a return of unsold Mexican merchandise to the original maker. Two boxes arrived without any problems the other 2 got stuck in

customs for a couple of weeks and the 2 boxes go returned to the sender. One box arried empty. That was with UPS. $2000 dollars worth of merchandise got stolen because the package could not be delivered because of a "wrong address".

You are way better of paying for extra luggage. Bring it in suitcases, they were not accepting boxes

out of France last week. Declare them and pay the duty if you have to.

Security on international flight is pretty tight right now and everything is suspect...

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Both boxes arrived 3 weeks ago back in the States. Boxes in horrible condition, but nothing seemed broken or missing, thanks to an excellent packing job by wife. Made a claim for full refund from DHL which took 3 weeks to resolve. Initially the claim was rejected because DHL said they could not be responsible for customs snafus. The adjuster agreed to forward claim to her supervisor, along with picture of box's condition when returned, and a 2 1/2 page summary timeline of my email and phone efforts to solve the problem at customs. Two days ago, I received email that DHL had reconsidered and would send me a check for $617--the full cost less $22 nonrefundable.

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Tombo....glad it was resolved. Now you can bring your things down via air next time you go to Seattle. Be sure to check for embargos. Currently American and U.S. air do not allow any boxes or excess bags to GDL and a number of other cities during the summer or Xmas holidays.

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Just going to note that before we lived in lerma we lived in the us for a couple of years. We sent a ton of stuff here through usps global mail and never had any problems. That included a couple different laptops, etc. In the last 5 years we have had stuff forwarded monthly, mail, laptop a couple of ipads, couple of phones and no problems. We have to only use dhl here though as fedex has contract drivers and with the screwed up street numbers they always claim the address is wrong. DHL and mexico mail always find us. So it definitely depends on where you live.

USPS is excellent though if you are up there and send something here. Sent about a box a month here, somethimes more than one, and it's cheaper. Never any problems.

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Just going to note that before we lived in lerma we lived in the us for a couple of years. We sent a ton of stuff here through usps global mail and never had any problems. That included a couple different laptops, etc. In the last 5 years we have had stuff forwarded monthly, mail, laptop a couple of ipads, couple of phones and no problems. We have to only use dhl here though as fedex has contract drivers and with the screwed up street numbers they always claim the address is wrong. DHL and mexico mail always find us. So it definitely depends on where you live.

USPS is excellent though if you are up there and send something here. Sent about a box a month here, somethimes more than one, and it's cheaper. Never any problems.

I had a small package shipped Jan 27, 15 USPS from Wisconsin. Hasn't arrived yet

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I had a small package shipped Jan 27, 15 USPS from Wisconsin. Hasn't arrived yet

Anything can happen, I sent a bunch of them and all made it. Even in the us, living different places, I got good service from fedex in the midwest and horrible in san diego. Ups was horrible everywhere. So it can definitely depend on where you live and where you are shipping to, here also.

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UPS just purchased I-Parcel for a less expensive method of international shipping of items purchased online through companies that handle all the customs details through contract with UPS. Items are flown into Mexico City where they are turned over to the Mexican postal service. Takes about 2 weeks for the package to make it from DF to GDL. Slower than UPS trucking through Laredo/Monterey/GDL and much slower than DHL direct flight to GDL, but so far the stuff has arrived on the date estimated and in good condition.

Maybe its just me, but I would not "expect" UPS/DHL/Fedex to be knowledgeable enough to instruct private individuals on requirements to ship serious amounts of personal household goods across international borders. When we worked with the Stroms to bring our stuff across the border, I had a full binder of instructions and how-to and how-not-to details that Kathy brilliantly provided + a couple of trips to the local Mexican consulate to get all necessary paperwork lined up. Definitely not like moving from Washington to Oregon except when we were personally bringing in smaller items by plane or car and even then we sometimes paid nominal duty on the items.

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