Not paying the total amount of the applicable import duties in Mexico is considered smuggling and fiscal fraud. In Mexico, smuggling is a federal crime subject to monetary and administrative sanctions and in some cases imprisonment. Therefore, when a Mexican importer is not paying the applicable import duties, due to an incorrect appraisement of the goods, their business may be at risk.

Because the customs value is a critical piece for the determination and calculation of the correct customs duties and fees, the Mexican government has recently been paying close attention to how the value of the imported goods was determined. This has helped the government detect a number of frauds committed by various companies.

The Mexican government created the “Programa de Valoración de Mercancías”, (may be translated as Program for the Valuation of the Goods). The purpose is to prevent smuggling and fiscal fraud, and to facilitate the customs inspection. Under this program, the government reviews:

  • Price and origin of imported goods
  • Existence of the supplier, producer or buyer listed under the invoice and other customs documents
  • Related information listed under the pedimentos
  • Issuance of invoices, certificates of origin
  • Relationship between the Mexican importer and foreign exporter.

Generally, the Mexican Customs law sets forth that the value for appraisement of the goods imported to Mexico is the customs value. In some cases, the customs value may be transaction value, and when applicable, it may be the result of increases for amounts equal to the cost of commissions, packing, transportation, services, or royalties among other related expenses. This value is the price actually paid, or payable, by the Mexican importer to the foreign exporter.

When the transaction value cannot be determined, there are other alternative methods such as transaction value for identical goods, transaction value for similar goods, deductive value or computed value.

Determining the correct customs value involves a detailed study and analysis of the fiscal and customs operations performed between the Mexican importer and the foreign importer, including the amount of operations, related expenses, and the relationship between the suppliers and customers.

The Mexican importer should always be ready to furnish the authorities with information and reliable documentation.