On January 14, 2011, the Decree that establishes the Single Window for Foreign Trade Transactions ("VUCEM" for its abbreviation in Spanish) was published in the Federal Official Gazette. Pursuant to this Decree, VUCEM would be mandatory for all the transactions involved in cross-border trade as of March 1st, 2012, which meant that it would be mandatory for all participants who wanted to carry out import and export transactions or transit goods through Mexican territory.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, on March 1, 2012, the Eight Resolution of Amendments to the Foreign Trade General Rules for 2011 was published in the Federal Official Gazette. By means of this publication the term for the implementation of the VUCEM was extended, making its use voluntary until June 1, 2012, when it will become mandatory. Based on the foregoing, it is highly advisable to visit the following link to start getting acquainted with the system and start using it: https://www.ventanillaunica.gob.mx/envucem/index.htm

What is the main objective of VUCEM?

VUCEM is a tool which main objective is to facilitate and simplify information flows between businesses and government and provide significant benefits to all participants involved in cross-border trade.

The General Customs Administration has pointed out that with the establishment of VUCEM there will be benefits in the delivery of electronic information in a single point of contact; it will allow having permanent attention anywhere; it will reduce time and costs; it will improve logistics; and there will be more transparency in foreign trade transactions by increasing legal certainty and eliminating paper forms. There is no cost and it is accessible from anywhere in the world, while having an Internet connection.

Legal implications

By March 1st, 2012, VUCEM operation will be mandatory in order to carry out foreign trade transactions; therefore, it is important to make the registration in VUCEM and start the process therein established.

It is necessary to secure Digital Stamps for those who will access into VUCEM (legal representatives, customs brokers, and authorized people) to carry out procedures  on behalf of the importer or exporter, such as (i) file Electronic Value Vouchers ("COVE" for its abbreviation in Spanish), (ii) process pedimentos, (iii) payment of taxes and governmental fees, (iv) comply with non-tariff regulations and restrictions, and (v) file electronic applications to secure authorizations granted by the corresponding authorities.

In connection with COVE, it may be filed directly by the companies or by its customs brokers, if desired. COVE aims to homologate in an electronic file (XML) those crossing documents (proforma invoices, packing lists, etc.), as well as documents that reflect the value of the goods (tax invoices, commercial invoices, delivery notes, statements of value, etc.) in order to become paperless.

Another important development is related to the possibility of making payment of foreign trade-related duties and taxes through the Customs Centralized Electronic Payment ("PECA" for its abbreviation in Spanish) system. PECA is a service that implies granting customs brokers a password so they may access the importer's bank account and pull out funds for payment of duties and taxes.  While it is not mandatory and it is not part of VUCEM, it is advisable that importers explore the possibility of using this electronic means of payment.

Compliance with the applicable non-tariff regulations and restrictions will be evidenced through VUCEM, moving towards a paperless world.

It should be noted that the services of customs brokers will continue being necessary for processing import and export pedimentos and importers/exporters shall keep maintaining all physical records relating to the import and export transactions, as the customs authorities may impose fines for lack of documentation in case of request during an audit.

What kind of activities may be carried out within VUCEM?

  • Carry out procedures relating to imports, exports and transit of foreign trade goods, including compliance with non-tariff regulations and restrictions that may apply;
  • Look up for information related to import, export and transit procedures, including non-tariff regulations and restrictions, as well as notices related to these procedures; and
  • Make the corresponding electronic payments related to permits, authorizations and those related to compliance with non-tariff regulations and restrictions.

Conclusions

Foreign trade transactions will be carried out through VUCEM as follows:

  • The applicant must visit the following link: www.ventanillaunica.gob.mx with its Advanced Electronic Signature ("FIEL" for its abbreviation in Spanish) or its Digital Stamp in order to record online digital information relating to each foreign trade transaction;
  • The digital information will be electronically sent to the corresponding authorities for approval and authorization;
  • Taxes are calculated and deducted automatically from the Company's bank account through the PECA system;
  • Carriers will file a simplified pedimento; customs inspectors will analyze the information through a handheld digital device and release goods.