What do I need to know about international customs procedures?

This is a vital aspect for any business that involves imports and exports, for those individuals, who make purchases or shipments abroad and even for travelers

In itself, this mixture of words seems to be a tongue twister, which brings up the idea of legalizations and a lot of paperwork, as well, which can cause economic losses, delays or inconveniences when starting a business of importing and exporting goods.

But before putting the thousand psychological obstacles that these two words entail, it is necessary to know that customs formalities are nothing more than the whole conglomeration of necessary documents and forms that allow us to transport goods and travellers from one country to another or between several countries. 

Understanding this, for sure, at some point we have fulfilled and carried out this type of work and without realizing it or which professional inspector, lawyer or manager, we have fully complied with the requirements, by the customs.

Documents required by customs

In general terms, customs procedures, specifically in the production area, include: invoice (commercial, pro forma, customs and consular); certificates of origin of the goods and circulation, insurance policy, the list of contents or packing listThe amount of the credit, the documentary credit, the transport permit, etc., will depend on the country of import and export.

Once the list of requested documents has been collected, it is time to present it to the competent customs authorities to start the work of: verifying, approving and thus, executing the commercial operation correctly.

In this matter there is no equal pattern between countries of origin or destination; nor is there one with respect to the goods to be transported, since this depends on international legislation, as well as that applied in the customs statutes of each nation. 

Read more: Can I send medicine by mail?

Recommendations for customs procedures

First of all, the importer or exporter must verify and document the current legislation on commercial management of exit and entry of the required goods, according to the product to be moved and the country from which it will be sent and received.

The information required by customs for imports and exports refers to six basic documents

  • Certification of the product's origin: this is the reference of where the goods come from and other information related to their form of transport.
  • Contract or Invoice: which is the list of the goods, with their respective costs and units to be imported. This must be very well guarded and always accessible upon request by the customs inspectors.
  • Customs declaration: the different copies that will allow the collection of the merchandise must be included and will serve to make the tax declaration.
  • Transport documentation: includes the transport documents of the goods, as appropriate (air or sea).
  • Other certificates: such as: sanitary, phytosanitary and veterinary, among others possible. The official organisms of the countries of origin of the goods, will have to respond to the exigible requirements in the countries of destination of the products.
  • Insurance: it is essential to have an insurance policy, to protect the products along their journey.

Customs procedures in Mexico

Mainly, the customs procedure is carried out by the importer, which as already mentioned, as well as verifying the legislation of the country of departure or destination of the goods, forms of transport, must be aware of the tariffs to be paid.

In Mexico, the importer is responsible for complying with these procedures and requests the release of the goods from the customs agents. In this case, the companies or legal representatives, can carry out their managements or subcontract to experienced importers in the matter. 

Mexico Customs

In the Aztec country, the interested party must present to customs an import order or purchase order (issued by the Ministry of Economy), as well as: commercial invoice, bill of lading, non-tariff permits and certificate of origin (where the origin of the merchandise is established, in order to correctly apply tariff preferences).

Read more: International Shipping: From Europe to Mexico

The taxes to be cancelled will depend on the branch of origin of the imported merchandise, according to the Tariff of the Law of the General Taxes of Import and Export or Table of Taxation of Mexico, foreseen in the free trade agreements.

As for the exporter, it also plays an important role, given that to bring goods into Mexico, it must be registered in the Register of Importers, administered by the Ministry of Finance.

It should be noted that Mexico's foreign trade policy has offered greater freedom for imports or free markets since its accession to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in November 1986, under the Most Favoured Nation principle. In the international arena, Mexico has opted for free trade schemes of regional integration, as they have allowed it to consolidate as an export platform, both with countries in the Americas and in the rest of the world: The United States and Canada, as well as Europe (European Union).