Breaking down the confusion of what you can and cannot bring into Mexico
(A note from Heather: The content below is for information purposes and is not be considered legal advice. Avoid confusion and delays when you travel and know the rules and regulations!)
As we swing into the busy tourist season we are once again getting many emails asking what is allowed into Mexico. Can I bring live plants? Can I bring dog food? Can I bring a rack of beef ribs? Do I have to declare my new flat screen? What about used furniture? It can often be confusing, as for many years the importation and declaration laws were not strictly enforced at the Lukeville, and other border crossings. Now, ADUANA,which is the centralized federal Mexican government agency responsible for the importations and exportations to and from Mexico, is enforcing these rules and regulations.
Here is what you need to know:
By law you must declare items you are bringing into Mexico, this includes new electronics and appliances, used furniture and agricultural items (food, pet food, wood products). This doesn't mean that you will be charged a tariff, as you are allowed to bring in a certain monetary amount, but you are supposed to declare. Now most of us, me included, just keep our fingers crossed for the “green light” and keep on driving! Depending on amounts, type of goods, etc., you may be charged a tariff or even have items confiscated or destroyed. This is no different than having fruits/ vegetables/meat products being confiscated upon crossing back into the United States. We are just not used to having it enforced as we cross into Mexico.
By law, if you do not declare, for instance a new TV, Aduana agents can stop you anywhere, including the road to Penasco and in Penasco, ask for your declaration papers and inspect the items. If you are unable to produce the proper documents they can (doesn't mean they will) confiscate the vehicle, the items not declared and detain the driver of the car until proper declaration and tariffs paid. In 13 years of living here full time and traveling throughout Mexico, I have only heard of this happening once. A few years ago I brought down some used furniture including several family heirlooms and I chose to stop and declare. The agent inspected the items, did not charge me and gave me a document signed and stamped that I had declared and no tariff was imposed. I just would have felt terrible if any of my grandmother's things (only important and valuable to me, no one else really) were confiscated.
Here are links to a federal website where it is clearly stated what food and agriculture you can and cannot bring into Mexico.
Now that we have several large supermarkets, Sam's Club, AutoZone and the many local tiendas and merchants, you can get everything you need here in Rocky Point. Okay, so you may not get coconut flour, lamb chops from Australia or your favorite organic dairy products but hey, you are on vacation, can't you do without those items for a few days? Hit the fish market for yummy local shrimp and fish, fresh cheese sold on the street corners by the Mennonites or treat yourself to a local filet mignon from beef raised in Caborca....or, if you need to, hit Sam's Club for that brie cheese, salami or lox.