Sending packages to Mexico is common in the United States. It can be costly — 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, FedEx or DHL. All of these organizations have web pages to help you navigate the process.
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 $50 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. An import license or permit is required for merchandise exceeding $1,000 in value.
USPS Prohibited and Restricted Items for Mailing to Mexico
U.S. and Mexican laws restrict what you can send when you ship packages to Mexico. 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.
Shipping electronics to Mexico is prohibited. This prohibition includes circuits and circuit boards, computer components and parts, compact discs and electronic games.
Some items are restricted and require permission before sending packages to Mexico. 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. International mail is categorized by price group. Mexico is Price Group 2.
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.Shipping prices range from $75.50 for a half-ounce envelope to $329.45 for a 70-pound package.
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. Prices range from $45.95 for flat rate envelopes up to 4 pounds to the maximum weight for $269.10.
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 70 pounds. Prices start at $33.75 for flat rate envelopes and increase up to the maximum of $232.65 for 70 pounds.
Private Courier Companies
Logistics companies such as UPS, FedEx and DHL all ship packages 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.
Josh Fredman is a freelance pen-for-hire and Web developer living in Seattle. He attended the University of Washington, studying engineering, and worked in logistics, health care and newspapers before deciding to go to work for himself.