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How to Permanently Import a Used Vehicle to Mexico


For starters “permanently import”, means bringing your car here forever and getting Mexican license plates for it. This process is also known as "nationalizing" your vehicle. This blog post is a simplified version of all of the details, but gives you the basics. To learn more about the details, click here.


There is a lot of confusion when it comes to nationalizing vehicles because the requirements vary depending on geography. To keep this simple, let's break the geographic regions down into two categories: Northern Border Area and The Rest of Mexico. Also please note that this general information applies to cars that are not brand new or classic cars. New and classic vehicles can only be imported with a permit issued by the Secretariat of Economy, and must pay high duties, of approximately 75% of their value. Moreover, new automobiles will also pay a specific tax known as a Tax on New Automobiles.


Designated Northern “Border Areas”

The requirements are more lenient and the import tax is lower if you’re a resident of one of the following locations AND the vehicle is going to remain in that part of Mexico. Proof of residency is required:


The northern border area which extends 20 KM into the interior of the country. The states of Baja California, Baja California Sur, and a portion of the state of Sonora.


Types of Vehicles:

Vehicles with capacity for up to 15 passengers (cars, SUV, pickup, van) manufactured in North America. The first digit of the vehicle identification number (VIN) indicates where the vehicle was manufactured, it must be 1,2,3,4, or 5.


Age of Vehicles:

5-10 years old


Fees/Taxes:

If the vehicle is 5-9 years old, there will be a 1% import tax (arancel) on the value. If the vehicle is 10 years old, there will be a 10% import tax on the value. If you have a certificate of origin (certificado de origen) the import tax is 0%.

16% value added tax (IVA)

0.8% derecho de trámite aduanal (DTA)

Agent’s fee (varies)


The Rest of Mexico

Outside of the designated border areas, the requirements get much stricter and the import tax goes up.


Types of Vehicles:

Vehicles with capacity for up to 15 passengers (cars, SUV, pickup, van) manufactured in North America. The first digit of the vehicle identification number (VIN) indicates where the vehicle was manufactured, it must be 1,2,3,4, or 5.


Age of Vehicles:

8-9 years old


Fees/Taxes:

If the vehicle is 8-9 years old, there will be a 10% import tax (arancel) on the value. If you have a certificate of origin (certificado de origen) the import tax is 0%.

16% value added tax (IVA)

0.8% derecho de trámite aduanal (DTA)

Agent’s fee (varies)


This is not one of those types of tasks that you can do yourself. By law, you have to hire a custom’s agent (called an agente aduanal) to handle the whole process for you. You should contact the agent 7-15 days prior to the date that you want to import the vehicle.


Just to be very clear: the only way that you can legally nationalize your car is through an agente aduanal. If someone tells you that they have another way to get it done, make no mistake about it — it’s illegal and you risking more than just losing your car. This blog post is a simplified version of all of the details, but gives you the basics. To learn more about the details, click here.

Ever wish your vacation lasted a few more weeks? What about years? We left the daily grind in California to live and work in Mexico and now help others do the same! From assistance with residency visas to property rentals and purchases to digital nomad networking, we are here to help people take that leap towards living in paradise. DM us your questions! Or follow us on Instagram for a peek at what it’s like to live the #mexicolife

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