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The Complete Guide to Importing Products From Mexico to the U.S.

Importing Products From Mexico to the U.S.
The guide to importing products from Mexico to the U.S. outlines a number of vital steps for shippers to follow. Use the guide to navigate importing freight from south of the border and gain other helpful tips too.
USA Customs Clearance
September 10, 2020
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Last Modified: November 7, 2022

When choosing a country to import from, it’s important to recognize that not all countries are the same. There is a wide range of factors that can affect the viability of a country as a place of origin for the products you want to import. These can include regulations on what you can import, the tariffs on goods and where you import them from. Additional considerations such as the costs and time it takes to transport goods also play a major role. For a lot of companies, importing products from Mexico to the U.S. is often preferred compared to other import countries, and for good reason.

Thanks to some valuable benefits, many businesses import products from Mexico to the U.S. One of the biggest advantages is the United State Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA). This trade agreement eliminates many common barriers to trade and enhances the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico.

In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at what companies are going to need to know about importing products from Mexico to the U.S. We’re going to look at the range of advantages of importing from Mexico compared to other countries. We’ll also explore how existing trade agreements affect what can be imported, and some of the challenges that need to be addressed too.

Don’t have time to read the article? Our experts are ready to help you import products from Mexico to the U.S. right now. We have Licensed Customs Brokers with extensive experience in importing products from Mexico to the U.S. You can schedule a consulting session with our licensed professionals today to get the help you need. 

Work with a specialist to make importing and exporting to the USA a hassle-free process.

Get the details you need with our import consulting services.

Advantages of Importing Products From Mexico

Advantages of Importing Products From Mexico

There are several major advantages of importing products from Mexico. Each of them needs to be addressed in turn:

Reduced Import Duties

Import duties are taxes that you have to pay to customs authorities as a rate on top of any goods that you bring into the country. Typically, the duty is based on a percentage of the total value of the goods being imported. In other cases, the weight of the goods or number of units can also determine import duties. When it comes to imports from Mexico to the U.S. there are no import duties on nearly all products. Some products still have an import duty, but at a reduced special rate that’s still lower than it would be when imported from other countries.  

Quicker turnaround time

Mexico is significantly closer to the United States than many of the other importing countries you might otherwise consider. Because it’s closer, there is less time from the moment you complete an order to the moment that you receive products. This is especially true when compared to overseas shipments. When you’re working within a tight order fulfillment timeline, the close proximity to Mexico is a major boost.

Easier communication

Effective communication with your import partners is essential. When you need to make orders or adjustments based on shifting demands, you want to ensure that your partners can respond quickly. It can be a lot easier to quickly communicate with partners in Mexico due to the fact that they share time zones with the United States. While many U.S. importers use sites like Alibaba to find Chinese suppliers, working with a Mexican manufacturer or supplier can serve as a viable Alibaba alternative. Furthermore, the amount of Spanish/English bilingual individuals in both the U.S. and Mexico is very high, which can eliminate most concerns about a language barrier.

Reduced transportation costs

The relative proximity of Mexico and the U.S. compared to many other countries reduces the transportation costs associated with importing. The less distance your product has to travel, the cheaper it will be to transport. Further on in this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at the different transportation options that companies should consider when importing products from Mexico to the U.S.

Positive consumer perception

While many consumers tend to prefer to see their products produced entirely in the United States, in general, there is still a positive consumer reception for products that are made in North America as compared to overseas countries. Consumers like to believe they are supporting both local and neighboring economies, so being able to label your goods as “Made In North America” can help you win over some of your consumers.

Stable trade relations

Some of the other importing partners of the U.S., such as China, have been subject to major changes in the trade relationship between the two countries. Countries that do not share the positive relationship that Mexico has with the U.S. can be subject to big changes in tariffs, laws and regulations to the detriment of businesses that rely on those trade relationships. Mexico is a stable, even preferred, trade partner of the U.S., which can make importing from the country more advantageous.

With such valuable benefits at play, it’s easy to see why the trade relationship between Mexico and the U.S. continues to grow each year. 

Rules and Regulations 

The importation requirements that are established by the U.S. Customers and Border Protection (CBP) apply to all businesses equally, no matter what size or industry. Companies looking to import goods from Mexico and other countries must seek clearance from the CBP. This clearance is given depending on whether or not the goods you are trying to import meet certain rules and regulations.

A process of examination, appraisal, evaluation, and classification is applied by the CBP to all products coming into the country. 

Below, we take a look at some of the major rules and regulations companies need to be aware of when importing products from Mexico to the U.S.


The owner or purchaser of the goods coming into the US has to file entry documents pertaining to the nature of the imported goods to ensure that they can enter the U.S. This can also be done on behalf of your company by a licensed customs broker. 

Documents required at the time of entry include:

  • Entry Manifest
  • Commercial Invoice
  • Packing List
  • Bill of Lading


The CBP will also examine many imports from Mexico coming into the country for the sake of national security. The inspections will check a range of factors, including:

  • The value of the goods
  • Labeling requirements for the goods
  • The presence of prohibited items
  • Correct invoicing of goods
  • Matching quantities of goods to invoices

Most exams occur quickly and goods are able to enter without issue. If goods are suspected to be in violation of any import or other regulations though, more thorough exams will take place. 

Classification and Appraisal

Goods are classified and evaluated before they reach the point of entry by the commercial importer or customs brokers. Proper classification and labeling are essential to make sure that the appropriate duties are paid and the right rules are followed. Appraisal and liquidation then happen, which is when the CBP establishes the final amount of duty to be paid on the products.


There is a wide range of restrictions that apply to items being brought into the US. This includes restrictions on certain kinds of products, such as agricultural products, arms and ammunition, foods, drugs and cosmetics, and other types of products. It’s important to know if your products are regulated by a Partner Government Agency (PGA) such as the FDA, EPA,  or USDA. If your goods are regulated by another agency, there will be additional restrictions that you’ll need to comply with.

For example, chicken - a common import from Mexico - has numerous regulations to follow to legally import it. Check our article on the chicken shortage to learn what regulations you'll need to comply with and what's causing the current shortage.

The general rules and regulations mentioned above, enforced by the CBP, apply to importing products from Mexico to the U.S. just as much as they apply to goods from other countries. For that reason, it’s important to have a partner that can help you better understand and navigate the various rules and regulations laid out. 

Work with a specialist to make importing and exporting to the USA a hassle-free process.

Get the details you need with our import consulting services.

Do I Need an Import License? 

Do I Need an Import License

The CBP does not require that any company importing goods to the U.S. carries an import license. However, while you are not required to carry a license or permit to import goods, there are customs bonds that functionally do resemble an import license. 

Customs bonds are essentially contracts required for each importation that is valued at $2,500 or more. They are also required in any case where the contents of a shipment have to be regulated by Partner Government Agencies. As such, if your goods have to be checked by the Federal Trade Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, or the Consumer Product Safety Commission, for instance, you need a customs bond. It’s also important to note that agencies such as the FDA have additional registration requirements that need to be complied with. 

Even if your goods do not have to be checked by any of the Partner Government Agencies but are still being imported for commercial use, you need a customs bond.

There are two types of customs bonds:

  • Single Entry: Covers only one entry of goods, for which the bond is specifically written. A new Single Entry bond would have to be purchased every time you import goods. This is the best choice when there is no chance of additional imports taking place within the next 12 months.
  • Continuous: Customs bonds that have a term of one year and are renewed each year, allowing the importer to make an unlimited amount of entries. The cost of a Continuous Customs Bond is based on the overall duties, taxes, and fees, totally up for the entire year.

Whether you choose one type of customs bond or the other will depend on a range of factors, such as whether you are planning for a one-time importation, or plan to import similar shipments of goods multiple times.

At USA Customs Clearance, we believe in a simple and cost-effective approach to customs bonds. We offer continuous customs bonds for just $275. Once you’ve purchased your bond and completed the hassle-free application, your bond can be active in less than 2 days. With other companies, you can wait 5 or more days to receive your bond. Get your bond quickly and at a reasonable price. 

Go ahead and buy a customs bond today

and get your freight on the way around the globe.

Taking Advantage of USMCA

Taking Advantage of USMCA

The USMCA is the international trade agreement currently standing in North America. It’s an evolution of and replacement of NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. This trade agreement is one of the biggest advantages of importing from Mexico, as it allows for duty-free trade of many of the products originating from the country.

In order for goods to qualify for the reduced tariffs or tariff-free importation they might receive, information needs to be included that shows that the product fits certain criteria of eligibility. This information is to be included in what is called a certificate of origin. The information that it has to contain includes the following:

  • Importer, Exporter of Producer Certification of Origin: Showing whether the certifier is the exporter, producer or importer of the goods.
  • Certifier: Information on the certifier, such as name, title, address, country, telephone number, and email address.
  • Exporter: Information on the product exporter, such as name, address, country, email address, and telephone number if these details are different from the certifier's. If the producer is the certifier and doesn’t know the exporter, these details aren’t needed.
  • Producer: Information on the producer of the goods, including name, address, country, email address, and telephone number if the producer is different from the certifier and exporter. If there is more than one producer, they can be listed as “various.”
  • Importer: Information on the importer, including name, address, country, email address, and telephone number.
  • Description and HS Tariff Classification of Goods: A list of goods being imported, alongside an invoice, and the appropriate HS codes to classify tariff levels of the goods imported.
  • Origin Criteria: The criteria that the goods qualify under based on their origin, such as being wholly produced or obtained in the territory of the party of USMCA.
  • Blanket Period: The period of how long the certification covers shipments of identical goods (up to 12 months on a Continuous Customs Bond)
  • Authorized Signature and Date
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Transportation Options

When you’re importing goods, you want to minimize the costs of transportation, ensure a quick delivery, and make sure that your goods arrive in good condition. As such, your choice of transportation method is going to affect what you can expect from the import process in terms of timeframe and cost. Here, we’re going to look at your four options: Truck, Ocean, Rail and Air, and lay out the pros and cons of each.


  • Shipping products by road is one of the most common transportation methods today.
  • Fast delivery thanks to good road infrastructure in the U.S. in general.
  • Cost-effective, especially for short-distance deliveries.
  • Affordable access to temperature-controlled trucks.
  • Can be affected by traffic delays and bad weather.


  • Water vessels such as ships can transport large volumes of goods through waterways.
  • Great for heavy and bulky freight that may not fit well in a truck.
  • Great option for longer lead times on products
  • Cost-effective for large volumes of goods.
  • Longer transport schedules lead to a slower turnaround.
  • Can be hard to track goods.


  • Large volumes of goods can be moved in a short period of time across the railway system of the U.S.
  • Relatively good turnaround, adding 1-3 days to the average truck journey.
  • Can be more cost-effective than truck transport over long distances.
  • One of the safest modes of goods transportation
  • Locations of rail freight depots can be inconvenient
  • Often paired with truck transport.


  • The swiftest solution to get products from point A to B, usually taking between 24 and 48 hours.
  • Reduces lead times on items.
  • Quick recovery from the airport.
  • Higher cost than any other mode of transport.
  • May be susceptible to greater customs checks.
  • Often paired with truck transport to help items make the rest of the journey.

Not sure which mode of transportation is best for your Mexico to U.S. import? Don’t worry. Our team has the knowledge and experience to arrange the most efficient and effective transportation for your shipment. Through our direct partnership with our sister company, R+L Global Logistics, we offer world-class transportation and logistics services. You won’t need to work with numerous companies when you partner with us. 

Work with a specialist to make importing and exporting to the USA a hassle-free process.

Get the details you need with our import consulting services.

Choose a Reliable Customs Broker 

Choose a Reliable Customs Broker

A licensed customs broker can offer all kinds of advantages to any company looking to import products from Mexico to the U.S. There are a variety of ways that the right partner can make the process a lot simpler, including the following:

  • Ensuring that all of the documentation, including the information on the origin of goods as mentioned above, is provided at the point of entry.
  • Providing you with the customs bond that’s required for entry..
  • Finding and putting in place the right tariff codes to make sure no mistakes delay their entry or raise the costs of importation.
  • Submitting all of the necessary files and documentation on your behalf, allowing you to worry less about importation in general.
  • Assisting with supply chain services, such as warehousing, shipping, order fulfillment, and more.

While many companies rely on customs brokers to take care of the red tape of getting the products you want into the country, they can also make the process of transporting and storing goods a lot more hands-off as well. What your customs broker does for you will largely depend on your individual needs.

Our team of licensed professionals can help you properly complete the certificate of origin. To learn about some of the differences between NAFTA and USCMA, check out our NAFTA vs. USCMA article.

Ready to Import? 

If you’re looking to import products from Mexico to the U.S., USA Customs Clearance can be just the service for you. We offer a comprehensive suite of options to help you take care of every step of the import process.

Our services can include providing you with the Customs Bond that you need to import goods and find out how much you have to pay, as well as facilitating the process of providing the paperwork needed for a smooth import. With our help, you can avoid costly and time-consuming issues such as wrong product classifications and ISF filing penalties.

We don’t believe in a one size fits all solution to importing. Because of this, we customize our customs brokerage services to meet your specific needs.

Schedule a customs consulting session with our Licensed Customs Brokers today. You’ll get answers to all of your importing questions along with a clear path to successfully importing your products from Mexico to the U.S.

Work with a specialist to make importing and exporting to the USA a hassle-free process.

Get the details you need with our import consulting services.
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24 comments on “The Complete Guide to Importing Products From Mexico to the U.S.”

  1. I sell inexpensive costume jewelry online. Recently one of my neighbors suggested I would see a higher profit margin if I sold jewelry made in Mexico. He travels there frequently and could bring me some samples, but I don't even know how to get started, or know anything about border taxes, tariffs, etc. Can you give me some direction on how to find out or who to talk to.

  2. Hello, I am interested in importing planters and garden equipment to the USA, they vary sizes from small to super large, weight from a few pounds to tons probably, what’s the best way possible?

  3. Hello - I am looking to connect with a company that manufactures custom 3-ring binders for import into the USA. Can someone help connect me with possible vendors?

  4. I am interested in importing all types of horse tack, Leather bridles, saddles and other leather goods. I also want to import metal spurs and bridle bits and other metal attachments, used in the horse tack business. I have imported for years from India and China, but never from Mexico. I did live in Mexico for two years in the 80s. I am having a problem finding suppliers of Mexican saddlery and horse tack to contact. Any help would be vastly appreciated. I have a continuous bond and am ready to start now. I do not have a Mexican broker and will need one. Thanks Dannie

  5. If I buy 20 metal sheets from Mexico will I be charged to bring them back to the US if I use a regular truck and travel trailer?

  6. When importing exercise equipment, treadmills, Bikes, Rowers, Ellipticals, etc. from Mexico to the US what is the taxes / Fees that would apply for the imports
    The main HTS Code we use is 9506.91.00

  7. If you paid an import fee in Mexico coming from another country, will there also be a importing fee coming from Mexico to the USA?

  8. Hello,
    I am looking at importing polyurethane for spray foam from Mexico. Are there regulations about importing certain chemicals from Mexico to the USA. The polyurethane company said they have documentation but it is in Spanish and will probably need to be translated to English.

  9. Good morning, I have a question. I just bought some Chinese products from Mexico, do I still have to pay taxes (25% taxes) as if I brought them from China directly?

  10. Hi!
    My family is manufacturing kids clothing for me to wholesale in the USA. What requirements do I need to import the clothing.



  11. Hi I am wanting to bring candles from Mexico to the U S to sell. What do I have to do to keep them from being sieved at the border?

    1. Hi Alixon,

      You can absolutely import fabric and clothing for resale! We can assist you with making sure that your imports are compliant and meet textile import regulations. One of our import experts will reach out to you shortly to further assist you. We look forward to working with you!

  12. Hi, i want to import,orgánic raw honey, coffe, mezcal,and other eatable products from México into the US.

    1. Hi Daniel,

      We'd be happy to help you with this! One of our customs experts will reach out shortly to assist you. We look forward to helping you!

  13. I am interested in importing Solar Panels from Mexico to the U.S.
    I do know that the origination of subject solar panels is not from Mexico, but instead from Asia. I would like to know if it is possible to import such a product from Mexico to the U.S. (particularly through Tijuana). This would be continuous import by the container load.

    1. Hi Milo,

      These solar panels can absolutely be imported from Mexico. However, given that their country of origin is not actually from Mexico, you'll have some additional complications to deal with in importing them. We highly recommend consulting with a Licensed Customs Broker in this situation. If the process is not handled properly, you could incur significant penalties and fees or have your solar panels seized at the border. You can sign up for a consulting session with our Licensed Customs Brokers at the link below. They'll obtain information from you and provide you with a detailed guide of what you'll need to safely import your solar panels.

      Licensed Customs Broker Consulting

  14. Hi- I am working with a plastics injection company that will be producing parts for my company. What do I need to know to import my products back to the United States. My company is in San Diego and the manufacturing will be completed in Baja Mx. Thanks

    1. Hi Chris,

      We'd be happy to go over the import process with you! One of our import experts will reach out to you shortly to schedule a 1-on-1 consultation with our Licensed Customs Brokers.

    1. Hi Victor,

      We do have members of our customs team that speak Spanish and are able to help you! One of our Spanish-speaking customs experts will reach out to you shortly to provide further assistance. We look forward to helping you!

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