Tips For Entering Mexico

Before crossing the border into Mexico, take a minute to consider whether you’re prepared, by answering the following questions:

  1. Do you have all of the documents you need?
  2. Are you sure there aren’t any weapons or ammunition in the vehicle?
  3. Are you transporting goods for which you’ll need to pay customs duties?

Travel Advisory

Although in general Sonora has not had the problems and violence that other border locations have experienced, there is currently a State Department travel advisory for Mexico.

Required Documentation

In addition to being aware of the documentation you’ll need to enter Sonora, also consider the documentation you’ll need to return to the U.S.

  1. Mexican entry document requirements
  2. U.S. return document requirements

Prohibited Items

Visitors to Mexico are prohibited from bringing the following items to Mexico:

  • More than $10,000 in cash
  • Dairy products
  • Eggs, fruits, vegetables or meat
  • Firearms or Ammunition – Mexican officials take this very seriously, and many Americans have been imprisoned in Mexican jails because they forgot that they had a weapon in their vehicle.

Personal Items

There are limits on the personal items tourists are permitted to bring into Mexico. According to the U.S. Department of State guidelines for visiting Mexico, in addition to clothing, luggage and personal items, tourists visiting Mexico are permitted to bring:

  1. a camera
  2. a video cassette player
  3. a personal computer
  4. a CD player
  5. five DVDs, 20 music CDs or audiocassettes
  6. Up to 12 rolls of unused film, and
  7. a cellular phone
  8. a telescope
  9. binoculars
  10. medical test equipment such as blood pressure and blood glucose monitors

Customs Declarations

Tourists are permitted to bring personal items into Mexico, but there are limits to other goods that can be brought in to the country duty free. Those items of value are considered by the Mexican government to be “personal luggage,” and it has set limits on the value of personal items that can be brought into Mexico (by Mexican or foreign citizens):

Individuals arriving in Mexico by air may bring up to $500 worth of personal luggage.

Individuals arriving in Mexico by land who do not reside in the northern region of Mexico may bring up to $300 worth of personal luggage.

Individuals arriving in Mexico by land who reside in the northern region of Mexico may bring up to $150 worth of personal luggage.

Also, be aware that Mexico has regulations regarding the importation of goods for donation by individuals and charitable organizations.  If you or your organization is planning to take a large amount of donated goods, such as clothing, into Mexico, it is best to work with a border customs broker in preparing the required documentation.

Red light – Green light

When entering Mexico in a vehicle (or if entering on foot with luggage or packages), you will encounter a two-light stoplight that will randomly display either green (pase) or red (revision, or inspection). If driving, the light will be triggered by the vehicle, and if walking you will be asked to push a button to activate the light.

A red light means a full inspection of what you’re bringing into Mexico.  Actually the light is just a formality, because you may also be inspected after receiving the green light as well.

Contact Mexican Customs

SAT (Servicio de Administración Tributaria) is the Mexican tax administration agency, charged with applying tax and customs legislation for the Republic of Mexico. Its telephone numbers are:

From Mexico: 01 800 46 36 728
From the US or Canada: 1 877 44 88 728

Would you prefer that we ask SAT for you? Send us a contact message.