News, Insights and Best Practices for Manufacturing in Mexico

Customs Details Vital to Mexico Importing and Exporting

09 Aug 2012

Category: Logistics Management

Customs compliance is “the absolute top priority” when importing and exporting in and out of Mexico, one expert advises.

“In order for a positive result to occur, it is necessary to surround oneself with good Mexican customs brokers, U.S. customs brokers and, perhaps, consultants that specialize in compliance issues,” Pedro Valenzuela insists. “Not taking this advice is to expose oneself and one’s company to problems that can be costly.”

As director of import/export operations for The Offshore Group, a corporation providing business aid to companies in other countries looking to establish cost-effective low-risk production in Mexico, Valenzuela understands the intricacies of shipping between countries.

The Offshore Group assists 60+ companies with their Mexico-based businesses, providing manufacturing support, or “shelter services, which include the recruitment of direct and indirect workers, payroll and benefits management, industrial real-estate and its maintenance and more.

Because importing and exporting to and from Mexico entails more than loading a truck and paying a driver, the Group also provides assistance in receiving shipments and navigating customs paperwork on both sides of the equation.

Valenzuela says The Offshore Group receives its clients’ Mexico-bound shipments in its U.S. warehouses located in Tucson, Ariz., and Mission, Texas. These companies and their suppliers provide shipping information to our expert staff prior to the goods’ arrival – i.e., part numbers, shipping quantities, a packing list and the country of origin.

Upon arrival at company’s cross-dock facilities, an international trade team receives, offloads and inspects goods, reporting issues (if any) to the Mexico manufacturing clients. Once the shipment is cleared, he adds, the bill of lading is signed. (A bill of lading is a document issued by a carrier detailing a merchandise shipment and giving title of that shipment to a specified party, helping to guarantee that exporters are paid and importers receive their goods.)

“Most of the goods shipped to Mexico are repetitive goods,” Valenzuela notes. “Sometimes, when there are new goods entering into Mexico for the first time, a more thorough inspection is done by the Mexican Customs. Mexican customs brokers that we work with take a close look at part numbers, quantities and descriptions to make sure everything is in compliance.”

Based on that inspection and information provided by the client, The Offshore Group’s import/export team processes the commercial invoice, which is presented to Customs officials in both U.S. and Mexico.

Because The Offshore Group is known as a certified importer, its clients are able to navigate customs glitches with more agility, Valenzuela notes.

“We have fewer inspections happening related to our shipments to and from Mexico,” he explains. “If there are any discrepancies in any paperwork, inspections of our goods will be performed quicker. As long as discrepancies that may be present don’t go over a certain threshold, we do not get penalized. These are the kind of things that users of The Offshore Group’s import/export services benefit from.”

Additionally, he notes, shipments received at the Tucson and Mission docks usually are deposited at their Mexican destination in fewer than 24 hours – a speed Valenzuela attributes to skilled team members and “the appropriate technology.”

A compelling combination of free-trade agreements, inexpensive skilled labor, low landed costs and expeditious shipping has made Mexico a more enticing place to do business. Within the North American bloc, Mexico’s trade with the United States and Canada has grown from 30.9 percent of the total of the region in 1993 (pre-NAFTA) to 46.6 percent in 2011, substantiating its value as a trading partner. (Valenzuela estimates OG’s annual customs transactions are valued at roughly $2.5 billion, which represents import/export services for approximately 60 manufacturers in Mexico in various industries, including automotive and aerospace.)

Those with additional questions about manufacturing in Mexico may contact Valenzuela at 520-889-0022, ext. 1018, or e-mail him at

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