If you are going for vacation, entering into Mexico can be a very simple process. Below are the procedures for crossing the border. We also included are the items you are allowed to bring into, as well as bring back from Mexico. This is your last chance to purchase U.S. gas, ice & Mexican auto insurance In the corner of the little shopping center, there is a store called UTEA. This is a duty-free store featuring the following imports: liquor, cigarettes, perfume, sunglass (i.e. a 1.75 liters of Absolut is $11. You are allowed to bring up to 3 liters per adult into Mexico. A cartoon of cigarettes is $19.) Once you purchase items at this store, you must immediately cross into Mexico. After you cross into Mexico, the first thing you will encounter is an inspection (see questions 2-5).
UTEA Duty Free Store sells alcohol, beer, cigarettes, perfumes, knives, watches etc.. at duty free prices. That means there is no US taxes on these items. However you must leave the country and enter Mexico. Alcohol & cigarettes have limits on them for the amount brought into the U.S.
On the U.S. side of the border
Rocky Point and many parts of the state of Sonora are in the "Free Zone". This tourist, or border zone, can extend up to 70 miles into Mexico, as it does near Rocky Point & the Sea of Cortez, or as little as about 12 miles, as it does south of Nogales. American citizens can travel in the free zone without a tourist card or a vehicle permit. So for your vacation to Rocky Point, you will not need a permit, however you will need Mexican auto insurance.
Travelers staying in Mexico for more than 72 hours & not more than 180 days, or traveling beyond the "border zone" need Mexico tourist cards. Mexico tourist cards (called an FMT) is a government card declaring that you have stated the purpose of your visit to Mexico to be tourism , and which must be carried while you are visiting Mexico.
As stated above, you are allowed to bring up items up to $1,000.00 USD after your personal exemptions into Mexico. If your furnitures value exceeds this allowable limit, you will need to use an Import Broker to cross the border and enter into Mexico. For further information regarding these procedures, deliver the furniture to your home in Rocky Point.
There are two means of inspection:
a.) Fiscal Traffic Light and
b.) Integral Inspection. If you are importing items in excess the allowable limits, you will need to do the integral inspection. (i.e. you are bringing down furniture, appliances, building supplies, etc.) If you are just coming down for a vacation, the fiscal traffic light is the inspection that you may be subject to.
The nothing to declare Lane - Fiscal Traffic Light:
This lane is used when your exemptions do not exceed the premitted limits. The inspection traffic light:
As you cross the border you come upon a light. As you proceed slowly through a light which is located on
your left hand side in front of you and will flash either red (alto - stop) or green (pase - go).
If the light is red, you will need to pull over to the left parking stalls where an official will ask you some questions (such as where you are going and what you are bringing) and possibly look completely through your whole car and possessions.
If you receive the green light, this indicates that you can drive through the Customs facilities without inspection.
This lane is used when you bring goods worth more than the personal or family exemptions, or when the amounts of goods exceed those amounts allowed in your personal luggage. This is the voluntary request for the examination of your articles. If you have items to declare which exceed your allowed limits, you will need to park in the parking lot to the left before you cross the border. You will need to go to the small building which sits in the middle of the street and tell the person what items you have to declare and their value.
When you are finished you will be handed a form to take to the bank to pay taxes. An agent may want to come and inspect your load. The taxes you pay are in pesos (they will accept dollars) and are to be paid directly to the bank and you will be issued a receipt. If you are not using a broker - do not pay anyone except the bank. You will need a stamped receipt to cross the border. After you have paid the bank you will need to cross the border and go through the light. If you get the red light you will pull over and show your receipt to the Officer.
If you or your vehicle has been selected for inspection, a Customs Inspector will conduct the examination. If the Customs Inspector finds goods that should have been declared and you did not do it, the inspector will classify & appraise the goods & will impose the corresponding sanctions.The sanctions you will have to pay is equal to four times commercial value of the articles. If you choose the Integral Inspection the fine will be one and a half times the value. In both cases, you forfeit the right to the tax exemption and pay a 32.8% tax on all merchandise.
In the event you have more than the limit, you may use an import broker, who for a fee will process your paper work and handle the customs people.
See our import/export (immigration) page: Importing items.
The U.S. Embassy has noted an increase of American citizens being detained for illegally smuggling arms and ammunitions into Mexico. U.S. Citizens should comply with all Mexican laws on arms or ammunition, including any arms they may wish to bring in for hunting. In Mexico, possession of any firearm without proper authorization by the Mexican authorities is considered a "Firearms Offense" and carries stiff penalties.
Possession of a single weapon carries a penalty of up to 5 years in Mexican prison. Sentences for possession of firearms in Mexico can be as long as 30 years. A permit from a Mexican Consulate in the U.S. is required in order to import firearms or ammunition into Mexico, whether or not the firearm is legally registered in the U.S. Some Mexican cities have ordinances prohibiting the possession of knives or anything that might be construed as a weapon.
If you are bring in any of these items, you will need the title work showing ownership. We have been told that a you won't need the original title, a copy will suffice. However you have traveled this far, it would be a shame to need it & not have it.
If you are not the owner of the "toy", you will either need the lease agreement giving you permission to take the toy to Mexico or a notarized statement from the owner giving you that permission. The statement should include pertinent information such as; The owner of record, vehicle id numbers, make, model etc…
Be sure to have the proper insurance to cover your vehicle. Come on down and have fun, but be respectful of the desert and others.
If you are bring in a motorized boat, see our motorized boat importation & permit page: Importing & permiting boats.
The border is closed between 12:00 midnight and 6:00 AM. Arizona Time. Arizona does not change for daylight savings. Mexico closes their border at the same time, in response to our border closing.
You will need to have auto insurance coverage prior to entering into Mexico. You will not need to provide proof, however police can ask for it, just as in the U.S. However they may be able confiscate the vehicle without proof. (We have never heard of this being done, but it is a possibility.)
Most U.S. auto policies do not provide coverage without an additional rider (check with your agent). If your company does not provide coverage outside the U.S., then there are multiple sources to purchase Auto Insurance in the U.S. or just prior to reaching the border. Policies are sold by the day or a full year policy. In many cases, if you are in Mexico for more than 20 days a year, it maybe better to purchase the full year policy.
For more information regarding this see our Auto Insurance page: Mexican auto insurance
There are limits on these items in which you can bring back into America. First off, alcohol has a limit of 1 liter every 30 days
(39.8 fluid oz.) per person, 21 years or older. This importation includes beer, wine or hard liquor.
The amount of shrimp or fish allowed to be imported is 50 lbs. This is not a per person limit rather it is a total per car.
There are some fruit & vegatables allowed to be imported from Mexico. The following items are allowed to be imported; (Fruits) strawberries, pineapples, papayas, melons, lychees, limes, lemons, grapes, dewberries dates, cactus fruit, blackberries & bananas. The following are the allowed vegatables; all vegatable are allowed in except those on the prohibited list. (see question 23 for the prohibited list). There are certain nuts that are allowed, these are as follows; waternuts, walnuts, tamarind beans, pinon pinenuts, pecans, peanuts coconuts (without the milk or husk) chestnuts coca beans almonds and acorns.
You are allowed to import up to $800.00 of items within a 30 day period. We are not sure how limited or extensive this list is. We are pretty sure it includes all curios (tee shirts, wall hangings, margarita pitcher & glass sets, dishes etc.), furniture. This would include those items for sale at the local shops (not including fireworks, liquor, cigarettes & cigars). In general, if it is an item that is prohibited and you delcare it at the border, they will confiscate it and not penalize you. If you don't want to lose the item and you have any questions, we suggest that you contact the U.S. customs, prior to your purchasing said items.
In the event you fail to declare items over and above the allowed limit or items that are prohibited, the items are subject to seizure and you are liable for any personal penalities. Underestimating the value of an item is subject to a penalty in addition to any duty payment.
Are you not allowed to bring sand, sea shells, whale bones and other items across the border from Mexico? Agricultural item are prohibited if they can carry animal diseases or plant pests.The following is a list of items that are strictly prohibited to be imported. This list includes the above stated items and the following; meats and game: pork, sausages, cold cuts, poultry (raw meat, not including fully cooked poultry), eggs (not including boiled). Live birds, whether wild or domesticated (domesticated birds may be brought, once they have been quaranteened for 30 days, in Yuma, and have passed disease free), straw (including animal feed, seeds and wheat straw) and Cuban cigars. Once again, if you have any questions, check with the agricultural inspectors.
If you have any questions, you may reach the Bureau of Customs & Border Protection at the following: BCBP PoBox C, Lukeville Arizona 85341 (520) 387-5671 or fax (520) 387-5309.
Only domestic animals (dogs & cats) are allowed into Mexico. You will need a current (less than 6 months) rabies vaccination certificate. If you are renting, you will need to check with the owner/property manager. Many of the rental properties prohibit pets, check ahead.
To re-enter the United States, you will be asked to declare if you are a citizen of the U.S. and be able to prove it through a a variety of U.S. identifications & a birth certificate or passport. You will also will be asked the following: Where are you coming from and where are you going to? Are you are bring anything back from Mexico, for instance, fruits and vegetables, medicine or alcohol? Avoid customs penalties by declaring all articles acquired in Mexico and in your possession at the time of your reentry into the United States. This includes articles you purchased in regular and duty free stores, gifts presented to you, items you have been asked to bring home for another person and any articles you intend to sell or use in your business. If in doubt whether an article should be declared, always declare it first and then direct your question to the Customs Officer. If you understate the value of an article you declare, you may have to pay a penalty in addition to the payment of duty.
If you fail to declare an article acquired
in Mexico, not only is the item subject to seizure, but also you will be liable for a personal penalty. The following items are permitted: You are
entitled to a $400 exemption in a 30-day period. Articles totaling $400 may be entered free of duty, subject to the limitations on liquor,
cigarettes and cigars. • 100 cigars, 200 cigarettes • 1 liter (39.8 fl. oz.) or one 6 pack of beer per person 21 or older. •
Medicine: If you have purchased medicine in Mexico, which requires a prescription in the U.S., you must carry your prescription with you.
The following items are not permitted:• Natural wildlife • Whale bones or coral • Houseplants • Fruits or vegetables, Pork or Ham • Uncooked eggs or potatoes • Avocados (unless the seeds have been removed) • Fireworks • Birds (If you have a pet bird - leave it in the U.S., You will have to exit through San Luis and the bird will be quarantined for 30 days.
In order to purchase prescription medicines (especially pain killers), you will need a Mexican Prescription to buy them at the pharmacy. In order to take them back into America, you then must have an American prescription. In order to get a Mexican Prescription, you will need to see a Mexican doctor. On some of the less powerful drugs, i.e. – thyroid medicine may not require a Mexican prescription.
For more Mexican drugs & prescription information, see or Pharmacy page:
Medical & Pharmacies Information