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Nationalizing a Vehicle in México


2003_toyota_matrix_26925-EWe were just cruising along waiting for our car to reach 10 years of age so that we could nationalize it, when the Méxican federal government changed the rules effective July 1, 2011. Now a vehicle must be 8 years old (we believe that they are also doing 9 years now for transition) instead of the 10 that we all knew and loved.

toyota-vin-decoderThe first action you need to take to nationalize your vehicle is to determine if it is a NAFTA vehicle. México will only nationalize a vehicle manufactured or assembled in Canada, United States or México. To determine this you need to "look up" your VIN number. I went to one of the free web sites and typed in the VIN. According to our VIN number our vehicle was manufactured in Canada. Interesting, our vehicle was manufactured in Canada, purchased in the US and it will now be titled in México – quite an international ride.

clip_image005Now it’s time to get a broker involved. We enlisted the aid of Girl Friday (Yesenia Lope) to help from this point on. We decided that because this was a one-time event that we really didn’t want to screw up, having someone that spoke the language would be of great benefit. This turned out to be a brilliant decision; we do that occasionally, because no one at Aduana or the Broker with which we had contact spoke any English at all.

The_border_to_Belize-ChetumalThe first item that the broker/Aduana wanted was a copy of our valid vehicle permit. We had entered the country three years ago and got our permit just prior to leaving Colorado for Mérida. Well, that won’t work to nationalize a vehicle. To do the deed you must have a current permit.

Apparently the new law also calls for immigrants to renew their permit annually. Aduana Progreso doesn’t issue vehicle permits so we had the choice of Matamoros or Chetumal to get a new permit. Not being total masochists, off we went for a day trip to Chetumal. We renewed our permit without a hitch; paying the $300 USD deposit that is now required.  The deposit will be refunded if you either renew or cancel the permit before it expires. We used a credit card and Aduana calculated the pesos that would be refunded if we played by the rules.  So new permit in hand, we returned to Mérida ready for the next step.

[Word of caution here – Some say that if you have the old permit you’re grandfathered and that you don’t need to renew each year – this may be true, maybe not, I can’t say. But, I do know that once you get a new permit you’re locked in to yearly renewals. They make a point of reminding you of this at the border.  Aduana even circles the expiration date on the new permit as a reminder. If you don’t renew on time you will forfeit the deposit! So once you make this step you are committed to nationalizing your car or renewing annually at a border city].

clip_image009Working with the estimated cost of $27,500 mx, we e-mailed, scanned copies of the new permit, our US title, US registration, Bill of Sale, the ever required recent utility bill, and FM2 to Yesenia; who then took them to the broker in early September. In early October we got a quote from the Broker of $25,500 mx (about $1,900 US). This is the total cost, broker and Aduana. This had to be paid at Banamex (this is a totally separate story).

clip_image011 So, on October 3 we scanned and e-mail a copy of the Banamex receipt. They then asked for a photo of the weight tag on the driver’s door post. The picture was taken and e-mailed. Sure glad that we’re not using snail mail for this process.

In the middle of October we received two letters from the Broker; a Carta de Encomienda y Manifestacion de valor en Aduana and a Manifestacion de valor en Aduana y Declaracion de Propiedad. Both documents had the same information, just in different formats. They both quoted the Aduana value of our vehicle to be $5,152 USD. This is based upon an MSRP of $16,980 USD. I don’t pretend to understand the formula, but that value produced the number that had been quoted so we signed at the bottom.

The next and final step of this process was a trip to Progreso so that Aduana could visually inspect the vehicle and verify that the documents we signed was true. OK, so maybe they did a little more than that. The Broker, Agencia Aduanal Cervera S.A de C. V., took the vehicle to the inspection; a process that took three hours. First they X-rayed the entire vehicle. Then they ran the drug-sniffing dogs through it. Finally, Aduana workers physically looked in every nook, crevice and cranny, removing contents from the glove compartment, side pockets and center console. Fortunately, their searches proved to be very boring – they found absolutely nothing untoward.

PedimentoThe last step was Aduana giving us our Pedimento (Bill of Lading) and, very important here, a copy of the now removed permit. When you nationalize a vehicle you do not get a Méxican title, you simply attach the Pedimento to your original title. But, you need to get a copy of your permit that they removed. You need this to show the police at roadblocks since you no longer have a sticker, but are still displaying foreign plates. There is no time limit for getting your Méxican placas but, I understand, that SSP gets cranky if you take more than two weeks to do this.

Success! So we now have a Méxican vehicle. All-in-all it was not a terrible process. We were told that we should receive the refund of our $300 US deposit within 30 days.

Next step and next story – On to SSP for registration and placas

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Bettye permalink
    26/08/2012 17:30

    Hi Nancy and Barry,

    We are trying to determine whether to purchase a used car here in the states and nationalize it or wait and buy a used car in Merida….Sounds like the model year 2006 will work in October and 3007 for next October so if we come in the spring, either car would qualify to register within less that a year from getting the original permit…I guess we need to figure how much difference there is in the price of used cars here and there!

    any information or thoughts would be appreciated! We’re looking at a small suv–rav4 or crv etc…


  2. 24/02/2013 08:04

    We are so confused. We recently purchased a 2004 (small) motor home, so that we could transport our dogs, comfortably, when we move to Merida in September. Also, we would be able to travel in Mexico with our dogs. We specifically purchased a 2004 model so that we could nationalize & get MX plates so as to avoid frequent stops/searches. It would be 10 years old in 2014.

    Talking about all this on an RV forum, I was told that you had to be a Mexican to import a car from the US. At least 2 people said that it would be impossible to import our vehicle, and instead could get a 10 year TIP that is unique to Rv’s. I swore that some people in Yucatan had nationalized their US/Canadian cars and now I see that it’s true. Although there is that expensive import fee.

    So, now my question is this. If our vehicle reaches 10 years of age, we will no longer be able to import?? It has to be EXACTLY 8 or 9?

    • 24/02/2013 08:15

      No you do not have to be a Mexican to import a US vehicle. Right now a vehicle needs to be either 8, 9 or 10 years old. This may even be extended more due to recent changes in the immigration laws. The vehicle has to be a NAFTA vehicle, in other words built or assembled in Mexico, US or Canada. You can tell this if you look up the VIN on the internet. Get in touch with someone credible, like Yesenia Lope She will know the latest. BTW her English is excellent!

      • 24/02/2013 09:17

        Thanks, Barry. I will definitely contact Yesenia. The people on that RV forum were adamant about the impossibility of importing.

  3. Ken permalink
    08/03/2013 09:46

    Hi Barry, How did they arrive at the value of the vehicle. On my bill of sale my vehicle value was CAN$41k with trade in CAN$35k it’s a 2006 the blue book says it is now worth CAN$8k (yesina said the fees are based on the original price of the car if that’s the case I may as well drive it into the gulf). I use Yesina but she is unsure and we can get no answers from anyone. First of all if 2006 vehicles can now be nationalised and secondly how to arrive at the value. I am waiting for Yesina to contact brokers but she is overwhelmed at the moment (after the wedding and everyone trying to get the info). Is the Aduana in Chetumal or did you need to go into Belize first. I have the original permit still and was told that if I leave they might not allow the car back in. Thanks for your reply when you get chance. Ken

    • 08/03/2013 12:28

      The cost to nationalize a vehicle is based upon the MSRP (price before extras) of the vehicle. Vehicles between 8 and 10 years old can be nationalized. So you should be able to nationalize it this Fall since it will be 8 years old next year. They let you start early. Let Yesenia get you a quote. I don’t know how much of the cost is a base and how much varies by value. The Aduana that does the valuing is in Progreso, although some of the folks work out of an office near the airport in Merida. You will have to get a current permit, they are supposed to be renewed annually now. This will require a trip to Chetumal in the vehicle. You now have to make a deposit to get the permit. This will be refunded (grudgingly) once the vehicle is nationalized.

      • Ken permalink
        11/03/2013 16:43

        Thanks Barry, Nice talking to you at the Polo and thanks for the info. Do you go right through to Chetumal or is it like in the North the Aduana road block is 40 kilometres down the highway from the border. I did speak with Yesina but her information is limited on what year cars are allowed. As of right now my FM Visa expires first week of October 2006 vehicles maybe able to be nationalised sometime in November according to the customs brokers. So he said that I would be out of luck (by three weeks) and would have to drive the car out of the country before my visa expires because this year I have to change to a Permanante and so I can drive a foreign plated car. He said I could try and bring it back in although their would be no guarantee that it would be allowed in. Of course that brings up all the problems, I would still have to drive it on Mexican territory to bring it in, I would not have insurance so I would be taking a chance. I think I will drive to Belize before the FM3 expires and park it at a hotel for the three weeks and take a chance it’s still there when I go back and try bringing it across at that time. What a mess and bother. Viva the Republic, Viva Mexico


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