Navigating Mexico's Modernized Customs Regulations

The Importance of Preliminary Recognition
February 13, 2023
Written by Enrique Álvarez Huerta

Mexico, with the purpose of increasing its economy and as a commercial strategy, decided to become a member of the GATT (General Agreement on Customs Tariffs) in 1986. The main idea was to increase income through the sale of goods and services produced in the country through exports and imports. To achieve this objective, the country had to comply with the rules and disciplines set by the World Customs Organization (WCO) to increase the efficiency of customs administration and contribute to the economic well-being and social protection of its members.

Latest Developments in Mexico's Customs Regulations

Today, customs in Mexico have been modernized, with a good infrastructure to expedite the entry and exit of goods. For this reason, the inspection points have the latest technology to verify that contributions have been paid correctly and that tariff and non-tariff regulations have been complied with.

Among the obligations of those who import or export goods from the national territory is to allocate them to a customs regime and provide the documents that prove they are legally imported according to the tariff specifications. Some common issues that arise in non-compliance are the determination of transactional value, incorrect documents for non-tariff regulations and restrictions, incorrect documents for the origin of goods, countervailing duties, quotas, marking of origin, and incorrect tariff classification.

Maximizing Efficiency and Compliance through Preliminary Recognition

The Customs Law, in its article 42, establishes the preliminary recognition of goods when their characteristics are unknown. By applying this right, the reliability of the information declared in the "pedimento" (Mexican customs declaration document) is guaranteed, avoiding fines and penalties. Knowing the characteristics of the goods before preparing the “pedimento” helps to confirm:

  1. The nature and use of the goods
  2. That the number of pieces declared in the invoice matches the physical count
  3. The origin of the goods
  4. The information of Mexican official norms
  5. Serial numbers
  6. Other requirements

For this reason, it is very important to carry out the preliminary recognition to confirm the information that will be declared in the “pedimento.” There are two ways to do this:

  • One is to perform the preliminary recognition at the fiscal deposit.
  • The other is to perform it in the country of origin.

The tariff classification depends on the correct identification of the goods. If at the time of the customs preliminary recognition, the goods are different from those declared, the tariff number will change, requiring compliance with new tariffs and restrictions. Any noncompliance with these points would be in violation of the law, resulting in sanctions such as fines or the embargo of the goods for the importer or exporter.

Avoiding Penalties and Delays: Understanding the Precautionary Embargo

Noncompliance with any of the points listed above will result in the customs authority imposing a precautionary embargo. According to Article 151 of the Customs Law, cases of omission are included, such as:

  1. Importing or exporting prohibited goods without permission from the relevant authorities, failing to comply with non-tariff regulations under the Foreign Trade Law, failing to pay countervailing duties, failing to comply with Mexican official norms during a customs authority visit or goods verification in transit.
  2. Not having the proper customs documentation or proof of legal stay in the country.
  3. Undeclared goods or a surplus of 10% of the declared value being detected.
  4. Declaring a value in the "pedimento" that is less than 50% or more of the transaction value, unless the guarantee referred to in Article 86-A of the Customs Law is in place.

When an administrative procedure is initiated by the authority, not only is an embargo imposed, but fines are also applied, resulting in added costs and delays in the release of the goods, as well as increased logistics costs.

Drawing Conclusions: Insights on the Mexican Customs Process

Conducting a preliminary review is a useful tool for ensuring that the information declared in the "pedimento" and the imported goods are in compliance, and to avoid any delays or additional costs. It is important for those responsible for this task to be well-trained, constantly updated on regulatory changes, equipped with the necessary tools for proper execution, and knowledgeable about the types of goods they are inspecting, including their use, function, and nature.

Meet the Author

Enrique Álvarez Huerta is a graduate in International Trade from the National Polytechnic Institute and a student of the Master’s degree in Customs Law and Foreign Trade at CUEJ (University Center for Legal Studies). He currently works as Classification Analyst at CATTS Americas, as part of our global team of trade experts. The above article was recently published in Spanish in the CUEJ - research and legal studies magazine.

Enrique Alvarez Huerta


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