This article is from the October 1997 The Mexico File
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What You Can Take into Mexico
The following information is taken directly from the customs form you will be asked to sign as you enter Mexico. They take this seriously, and so should you.
You may bring into Mexico the following articles duty-free:
1. If you are a resident in Mexico: a reasonable number of items of personal use (new or used), according to the duration of your trip; a camera or a movie or video camera, as well as a portable computer (new or used) laptop, omnibook or similar, as long as they can be carried aboard by the passenger; up to 12 rolls or reels of unused film or videocassettes; one used sports article which can normally be carried by one person; books and magazines; medicines for personal use with their respective prescriptions whenever they are psychotropic drugs. In case of adult passengers, up to three liters of wine, beer or liquor and up to 20 packages of cigarettes, 200 grams of tobacco or cigars in the understanding that you may introduce a higher amount than 20 cigars provided that you comply with the payment of taxes on foreign trade and applicable regulations; suitcases; luggage; or bags used to carry the aforementioned articles.
2. If you are a resident abroad you may also bring in the items listed: a pair of binoculars; a TV set, not exceeding 12 inches; a portable radio/cassette player; 2 laser discs; up to 20 CD's or recording cassettes; a portable typewriter; a musical instrument which can be carried by one person; a tent and camping gear; a set of fishing gear; a pair of skis; 2 tennis rackets; five toys; a windsurfer with or without sail; and a videocassette recorder.
3. In addition to the items listed in numbers 1 and 2, you may also bring in duty free:
a) Up to US $300 dollars, or the equivalent in other currencies, or in one or more articles upon your arrival by air or sea, except the provision in the following number, and
b) Up to US $50 dollars, or the equivalent in other currencies, excepting beer and other alcoholic beverages, cigarettes or cigars, when you enter into the country by land crossing its international border, or you arrive in by air on a flight originating in the Mexican border strip or frontier zone, or in a foreign city located less than 40 kilometros (25 miles) from the Mexican border.
4. In case the declaration is submitted per family, the above conditions will apply for each of its members.
5. You may import several goods paying the corresponding contributions at the banking institution located at this port provided that the value of goods does not exceed the equivalent in Mexican currency to US $1,000 dollars or its equivalent in other currencies, unless in the event of new computer equipment, in which case its value added to other goods shall not exceed US $4,000 dollars, or its equivalent in other currencies.
Passengers may not import goods subject to non-tariff regulations and restrictions under the above-mentioned terms, except used computer equipment without requiring previous importation permit as long as the passenger substantiates that the reason of his residence abroad was to carry out scientific studies and research for at least six months.
Customs Inspection System: Once you have submitted your Customs Declaration or paid the corresponding taxes, you may choose the following:
a) Request the authorities inspect the merchandise
b) Press the bottom on the random-selection mechanism (Customs stop light):
i. Red light: your luggage will be inspected
ii. Green light: your luggage will not be inspected and you may leave immediately
If you wish to report any irregularities concerning the Customs agent's behavior, you may report them to the authorities: The Comptroller and Administrative Development Secretariat (SECODAM) Tel: 604-12-40 in Mexico City, or 91-800-00-148 (toll free) out of Mexico City; or the Internal Comptroller's of the Ministry of Finance (SHCP) Tel: 601-28-76, 601-10-36 and 601-24-04 in Mexico City, or you can also proceed to the SECODAM desk.