Shipping packages to Mexico is common in the United States and isn't particularly hard for most goods, but there's a lot to learn the first time you do it. First, you should be aware that it's going to cost you a decent amount of money -- potentially several hundred dollars, depending on the package's dimensions and weight, the value of its contents and the shipping service you use. You typically have a choice between the U.S. Postal Service or a private logistics courier like UPS. All of these organizations have web pages to help you navigate the process.
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Required Documentation and Customs Brokerage
Any goods crossing the border must go through customs. You will take care of your responsibilities for this on your end, before the package ships, by filling out the proper forms. For any shipment you will need a document called a "bill of lading," available on the USPS or courier's website. This serves as a receipt for the goods shipped, a title of ownership and a contract for the shipping service. For goods with a value greater than $70 you will also need to include a commercial invoice with the package indicating the contents and their value. Other documents may also be required, depending on what you're going to send. For especially high-value packages, or for any commercial shipments, you should contact a customs broker to walk you through the process, but most of the time this won't be necessary.
USPS Prohibited and Restricted Items for Mailing to Mexico
Due to laws in both countries, the U.S. Postal Service prohibits you from mailing packages to Mexico that contain cash and coins, traveler's checks, checks of any kind payable to a generic bearer rather than a specific person, precious metals such as gold or silver, jewelry or precious stones and lottery tickets foreign to Mexico. Other prohibited items include electronic cigarettes, pork products, virtually anything perishable, works that infringe on Mexican intellectual property, ammunition and loaded metal firearm cartridges. Some items are restricted and require permission before you can mail them. Anything made of chocolate requires
approval from the Mexican Secretary of Commerce, while toiletries, medicines and cosmetics require approval from the Mexican Department of Public Health.
USPS Package Dimension and Weight Limits for Mexico
The USPS offers three types of general-purpose international shipping services, all of which have weight and package dimension limits. The fastest and most expensive service is Global Express Guaranteed. To accommodate this shipping label, your package must have at least one surface bigger than 5.5 inches wide by 9.5 inches long. Additionally, packages must not be larger than 46 by 35 by 46 inches, nor larger than 108 inches in combined length and girth. The final package weight must be 70 pounds or less, and the maximum value of the shipment must be less than $2,500. The next tier of service is Priority Mail Express International. The package must not be longer than 36 inches, and must have a combined length and girth of no more than 79 inches. The weight limit is 70 pounds, or 20 pounds for flat-rate boxes. The slowest service is Priority Mail International, for which the package must not be longer than 42 inches, nor have a combined length and girth greater than 79 inches. The weight limit is 20 pounds.
Private Courier Companies
Logistics companies such as UPS, FedEx and DHL all offer shipping service to Mexico. It usually costs more than shipping through the postal service -- sometimes significantly more -- but you will have more leeway for large or irregularly shaped packages, and you won't have to worry about the reliability of Mexico's postal service, Correos de México, which is much more prone to mistakes, delays and theft than the USPS.
If you plan to export commercial merchandise to Mexico, and the total value of the merchandise exceeds $1,000, you will need an import permit. In this case you should use a private courier as well as work with a customs broker. You can find a broker locally, or the shipping company of your choice can recommend a reputable one to you. For more information before you get started, visit export.gov.