Customs and import to Mexico City


México City has always been characterized by its “open-arms” reception of all visitors. México City's history is that of mixed ethnicities and culture and that tradition continues today. “Chilangos” (the popular nickname that México City residents have acquired) are largely descended from families from other Mexican states or from foreign immigrants, principally Spaniards, South Americans, French, Germans, immigrants from the United States, Chinese, Koreans, Lebanese and Italians. Many arrived fleeing brutal dictatorships or religious persecutions, but they now give México City a cosmopolitan air.

If arriving on an international flight, visitors will go through Immigration, and then Customs. All forms must be completed prior to landing to expedite the process. Sometimes the airline will hand them out on the flight. There is a $300 Dollars duty allowance that include new clothing, tobacco and liquors. The Mexican customs law allows passengers to bring free of duties a laptop, an mp3 player, a digital camera, a tripod, a video camera and used clothing.

Visitors are required to fill out a Migratory Form for Foreign Tourist, Transmigrant, Business Visitor or Council Visitor which must be stamped by the customs officer. This form has a bar code on it and a blue stripe across the top saying "Estados Unidos Mexicanos". Be sure not to lose this form as without it, you will not be able to leave the country. If you lose or misplace it during the visit, you must visit the immigration office at the airport to fill out a new one. If you plead ignorance they may let it go, but otherwise there's a 440 peso fine.

After going through customs you will pick up your luggage, then pass through screening. You will press a button for a red or green light. The red means they will search you, the green means you can go. The entire process, from when the plane arrives to when you are done with customs, usually takes about an hour. After completing customs you will go through large doors to the waiting area for international arrivals and exit into México City.

The following documentation is required for visitors to enter Mexico:

  • Photo ID (Drivers license)
  • Visa (if required)
  • Passport
  • Tourist card. This document is perforated into two parts and is authorization on the part of the Mexican government to visit Mexico, issued without cost. Typically, airlines make this form available at flight check-in. Tourist cards are good for up to 180 days.

Tourist Card:
Don't lose the blue copy (the one with the official seal) of the tourist card you receive when clearing passport control. This will be returned to the authorities when you leave the country.
Make a note of your tourist card’s number and keep it in a safe place.
Don't damage your card—you'll need to hand it over when you leave the country.

Be aware that with the signing of the NAFTA agreement, the Mexican government requires business travelers request a document called an F.M.N. in lieu of the regular tourist card. The F.M.N. can be acquired in any Mexican consulate free of charge.

Update 6/09/2008


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