Mexico Shipping FAQ

Mexico Shipping FAQ

Where will my freight cross the border?

The actual border crossing depends upon the location of the consignee/importer of record’s broker. Con-way is able to move less-than-truckload (LTL) shipments to and from all the major border crossings, such as Laredo.

What documents do I need to ship between the U.S. and Mexico?

All shipments will need (at minimum):

  • The basic Mexican import document is the “pedimiento de importacion.” This document must be accompanied by a commercial invoice (in Spanish), a bill of lading, documents demonstrating guarantee of payment of additional duties for undervalued goods if applicable, and documents demonstrating compliance with Mexican product safety and performance regulations (if applicable). Import documentation can be prepared and submitted by a licensed Mexico Customs broker, or by an importer with sufficient experience in completing the documents.
  • A shipper’s bill of lading consigning the goods to the ultimate customer in care of the border broker. Bills of lading should have a complete description of the materials being shipped and include telephone numbers of all involved parties, as well as the name, address and telephone number of the customs broker involved.
  • A commercial invoice describing the material in detail and including a declared value of the goods being shipped.
  • A NAFTA certificate of origin is optional (it is not a transportation document), but can be beneficial to your customer because it identifies the materials as being covered by the terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and makes the shipment possibly eligible for reduced duties. This must be issued by the exporter and does not need to be validated or formalized. Products not qualifying as North American should not have a NAFTA certificate of origin.
  • Shipments with a value over $2,500 USD going to Mexico from the U.S. will also need a completed U.S. shipper’s export declaration.
  • Mexico Customs law is very strict regarding proper submission and preparation of customs documentation. Errors in paperwork can result in fines and confiscation of merchandise as contraband. Exporters are advised to ensure that Mexican clients employ competent, reputable Mexican importers or customs brokers.

What are the exporter’s obligations regarding the NAFTA certificate of origin?

Exporters or producers who prepare certificates of origin shall provide copies to their own customs administration upon request. Exporters or producers who provide a certificate of origin must maintain records pertaining to the exportation for five years or such longer periods as may be specified by their country. The United States requires that records be kept for five years. Exporters or producers that complete a certificate of origin shall notify all parties to whom the certificate was given of any change that could affect its accuracy or validity. Refer to NAFTA Facts documents #5000–5005.

I have been told that I need a certificate of origin for my product. What do I need to do to comply?

Shipments to Mexico may need: 1) the NAFTA certificate of origin, or 2) a certificate of origin to determine country of origin for non-NAFTA goods. The NAFTA certificate or origin should only be used if the product qualifies as North American using the NAFTA rules of origin. Information regarding the NAFTA certificate of origin can be found on NAFTA Facts document 5003. Information on the non-NAFTA certificate of origin can be found on document 8410.

View more information about NAFTA Rules of Origin.

What is a harmonized system number?

Harmonized system (HS) numbers are classification numbers assigned to identify a specific type of product. The HS number is used by Customs authorities to apply duties and taxes. These numbers are typically 6 to 10 digits long. The first six digits are standardized worldwide, while additional numbers are used by some governments to further distinguish products in a certain category. In the United States, HS numbers are also called Schedule B numbers. To provide tariff information, the six-digit-level HS number is required.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s Foreign Trade Division Web site can be used to classify products in the HS. Visit their searchable Schedule B export codes.

Do I need a freight forwarder/customs broker?

When shipping between the U.S. and Mexico, the consignee or importer of record will normally select a customs broker to handle the clearance activities at the border.

Helpful Links

Con-way Forms Library

U.S. Customs Publishes AES Penalty Guidelines

Truckload Logistics Freight