Red Tape

Moving Furniture to Mexico

Dear Carl and Lorena

Have you ever crossed the border with furniture? I'm getting a bit of the run-around in trying to determine what it will entail.

I will move some furniture down to San Miguel de Allende this summer. I bought a house there. I have an FM3. The stuff I'm moving is old and personal. Do you think I can cross the border, say in Nogales, with a load of furniture without having to pay huge taxes on the stuff? It's sentimental, but not really worth all that much, some furniture, photograph albums, dishes, pictures, etc.

Thanks for any information you can give me.


Lorena responds

Following are the basic regs on importing furniture with an FM-3, from jennifer rose, who is very knowledgeable on the legal requirements for living in Mexico.

If you'd be so helpful, would you let us know how you decided to go and how it worked out. This is a question that lots of people are asking.

jennifer rose

jennifer rose <> is an American lawyer living in Morelia, Michoacan.

After you've received your FM-3, you may apply for a permit to temporarily import your household goods and personal effects. You have a window of the first six months of the FM-3 to make that one-time application, and the goods must be brought in within 30 days from the date the permit is granted.

The permit for temporary importation of personal effects under the FM-3 can only be issued by the Mexican Consulate outside of Mexico, having jurisdiction over your residence (US or Canada). (Never mind that there are no Mexican consular offices within Mexico.) Obviously, you'll need your FM-3 in hand before you apply for the permit.

The fee is around $115 USD.

Household goods and personal effects must be in a reasonable quantity, used, and at least six months' old.

The permit for temporary importation of personal effects requires a menaje de casa, which is a detailed inventory of everything you intend to bring down, showing a description of the item, brand, model and serial number, in Spanish. Ask the Mexican Consulate for the requirements of that office: each varies somewhat. In Chicago, they were quite specific as to margins, number of copies, and the color of ink in which the document was signed.

Depending upon the quantity and value of household goods and personal effects you're bringing with you, the duty may or may not be comparable to what you'd have to fork over for the permit for temporary importation. That's something you're going to have to weigh for yourself. Obviously, if you're using a commercial moving company, the permit's sine qua non. But if all you've got is one-time Suburban-load, you might want to flip a coin and take your chances. (Just don't say that you weren't warned.)
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