Tax documentation
Customs documentation
Commercial documentation
Penalties for not having the correct legal documentation


When companies and individuals transport goods in Mexico, or contract the services of third parties to do so, they must comply with an extensive legal framework of rules.

In this legal framework, the provisions state that several documents must be issued and carried with the goods. This is to provide evidence to the competent authorities in Mexico about the transport, legal possession and legal importation status of the goods.

Between 2014 and 2021, a number of amendments were made to the applicable legal framework. This has caused confusion among the owners, holders and service providers who transport goods about what documentation they need to carry as evidence of the service provided.

There are now three types of documentation that must accompany the transport of goods in Mexico:

  • tax documentation;
  • customs documentation; and
  • commercial documentation.

Tax documentation

For tax purposes, proof of the service provided must be evidenced before the tax authority to support the tax deductibility of the payment made for the service, or alternatively, to evidence that the goods were transported by the owner and therefore no payment was made to third parties for the service.

The proof of the service mentioned above is evidenced by applicable digital tax receipts (CFDI) issued online. These are either transfer or entry and must be issued by the party that transports the goods (ie, the owner or third party).

The CFDI is only evidence of the transport of the goods. The legal possession of the goods must be evidenced with other applicable documentation.

From September 2021, a complementary consignment note will be issued at the same time as the CFDI and attached to it to evidence the transport of the goods. This document is independent from the traditional transportation document. However, it is unclear whether this document will become effective at this time as the date of its exact implementation is still uncertain.

Customs documentation

The transport of foreign (imported) goods into Mexico must always be accompanied by the documentation that evidences their legal (importation) status in Mexico, regardless of who carries out the transport of the goods.

When transporting imported foreign goods in Mexico, the owner or holder of the goods must provide the transport company with evidence of the legal status and possession of the goods. They must show that the customs clearance of the goods was performed legally by producing the pedimento or the CFDI tax invoice.

If none of this documentation is issued or available while the goods are being transported, the customs authorities may presume that the goods are in Mexico illegally and proceed to confiscate the goods and initiate an administrative procedure in customs matters.

Commercial documentation

Every time a third party transports goods in Mexico, the transport must be accompanied by a transport document for each shipment transported to evidence the commercial relationship between the carrier and the owner, holder or consignee of the goods.

The transport document provides evidence of the relationship between the carrier and the owner, holder or consignee of the goods. The transport document's main purpose is to set out the terms and conditions of the transport service, and it regulates the issues that may arise during the transport of the goods. However, it is always advisable to sign a transport services agreement with the carrier to precisely regulate the rights and obligations between the parties, since the transport document only includes certain specific aspects of the commercial relationship.

In 2014 amendments to the tax legislation came into force and stated that the transport document was valid only for commercial purposes and federal highway regulations. Nevertheless, it provides evidence that the owner or consignee has engaged the carrier to perform the transportation of the goods.

Penalties for not having the correct legal documentation

If the transport of goods is not accompanied by the applicable documentation, the authorities may deem that the foreign or national goods are in Mexico illegally, and they can apply the following fines and penalties:

  • a penalty fine of 130% to 150% of the omitted import duties;
  • a penalty fine of 55% to 75% of the omitted value added tax;
  • a penalty fine of 55% to 75% of the omitted customs processing fee;
  • a penalty fine of 70% to 100% of the commercial value of the goods when the non-tariff regulations and restrictions are not complied with, if non-tariff regulations and restrictions are applicable;
  • preliminary confiscation of the goods through an administrative procedure in customs matters, which in some cases may mean that title to the goods passes to the Mexican federal treasury; and
  • up to nine years imprisonment for committing a contraband crime.

In addition to the penalties listed above, in cases where the legal documents required by the federal highway legislation do not accompany the transport, the competent authority may issue a fine up to one thousand units of measure and update (UMA). At present, this fine is approximately Ps80,000.

For further information on this topic please contact Edmundo Elías-Fernández, Daniel Torres-Güémez or Daniel Ascencio-Zamarripa at Ramos, Ripoll & Schuster ​by telephone (+52 55 1518 0445) or email ([email protected], [email protected] or [email protected]). The Ramos, Ripoll & Schuster website can be accessed at