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To import or not to import your stuff to Mexico? That is the question.

Whether to ship all your worldly goods south of the border is the eternal expat question

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Sheryl Novakhttps://www.solutionsmexico.com/
Sheryl Novak is an expat Canadian and owner of SOLutions Mexico, an online furniture store in Mexico. Sign up for our free newsletters, which deliver our top headlines twice a week.
Photo: Stock

If you are considering purchasing a home in Mexico, one of the many questions is whether it is best to pack up and ship all your earthly possessions or buy new.

Both options have as many benefits as drawbacks. The best decision for one family may not be the best decision for another. Here are some things to consider that will help you decide whether shipping is worth the hassle.

Shipping your furniture and household goods is not as simple as locating a big van and driving leisurely to your new home in Mexico.

When selecting a shipping company, make sure to do many reference checks. The feedback and testimonials on the company website may display only positive reviews. Make sure to do much searching of independent, third-party sites before you settle on the shipping company you will use.

Insurance is essential to consider, especially if you have expensive items or valuable heirlooms. A good shipping company will provide moving materials such as boxes, bubble wrapping, and protective carpets. Nonetheless, the longer the distance you are shipping items, the higher the risk.

If you are planning to bring furniture and household items in your vehicle, plan out in advance how you are going to secure the contents overnight. Unfortunately, unsecured hotel and motel parking lots are a target for theft. Last year, there was a higher number of reports through social media of Canadians and Americans who were the victims of unscrupulous thieves who cleaned out contents of vans and storage trailers while their owners were sleeping. Look for accommodations with a 24-hour guard or secure parking facilities.

No matter if you use a shipping company or drive the items into Mexico yourself, importing your furniture and household goods require a household goods certificate. This includes furniture, linen, books, clothes, artwork, and anything you plan to move to your new home.

According to Mexican law, to import household goods, you must hold either a permanent or temporary resident card. You must also present a household import certificate at your point of entry into Mexico. This certificate is only available in advance from the Consulate closest to your home.

To obtain this certificate, you will need to present to the Consulate your resident visa card, a valid passport, a typed letter addressed to your Mexican Consulate Office, providing the current address of your home in Canada or US as well as the complete address of your new residence in Mexico.

Also required is a typed list, in Spanish of ALL household goods being imported, including the quantity and description of each item as well as the brand, model, and serial numbers of electronic appliances.

You will need four original sets of each document, and all need to be signed. A reminder that there is also a consular fee that you must pay by cash. If you are a Temporary Resident with a Temporary Visa, keep in mind that you are only allowed to keep the imported items in the country until the expiry date of your Temporary Resident Card.

When the card expires, you must leave the country along with your household goods and anything you imported. It will be critical to keep an eye on the expiry date of your Resident Visa.

Household goods import certificates also have a deadline. You have no later than six months from the time you first enter Mexico in which to import your items. You are only allowed one household goods import certificate, so make sure to plan accordingly to get everything moved within that period.

You may require the service of a customs broker at your port of entry. Customs brokers are licensed experts on importing. They are familiar with all Mexican custom and tariff laws.

The right custom broker will work on your behalf to ensure you have met all the requirements to import your goods. Although an additional cost, they will help identify any import duty and taxes.

Import duty and taxes use a valuation method called CIF. That means that the amount you pay is based on the cost of the items being imported, the cost of insurance, and the cost of freight.

Some things, such as electronic items, can be imported duty-free. In addition to the import duty and tax, there may also be a sales tax customs processing fee and excise taxes. In the past, with NAFTA, Canadians and Americans were granted preferential duty rates. Depending on current negotiations, this may change.

To reduce stress and hassle, if you import your furniture and household goods, consult experts before you go.

Not interested in importing? For furniture that is well-made that will last in this environment, email me at sa.novak@solutionsmexico.com.

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