How much money worth of merchandise can I cross from the U.S. to Mexico?

During the holiday season, non-taxable shopping amounts increase. Read below to learn the exact amounts

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Port of entry from San Ysidro to Tijuana./Photo: Carolina Herrera

According to the Website Smart Border Coalition, the San Diego/Tijuana border is the busiest in the world, with 112 million people walking and 45 million driving from Mexico to the U.S. annually.

During the holiday season, the number of people crossing from Mexico to the U.S. or vice versa for shopping purposes increases significantly, especially for Christmas gifts and buying personal items. This includes individuals who live in the U.S. and travel to Mexico with gifts for their family members.

Therefore, in this holiday season, it’s important to know how much money worth of purchases (franchise) you can cross back to Mexico.

Remember, the tax exemption is the benefit you have to NOT pay taxes for introducing additional merchandise in your luggage to the country, but there’s a limit.

But what does this mean exactly? Throughout the year, you can take up to $300 worth of merchandise in your luggage while crossing the border to get to Mexico.

But during the holidays, the Programa Paisano takes place, in which, in addition to your baggage, you can now carry items up to $500 in worth with you without having to pay taxes—but only during the holidays.

According to the Mexican Government, only foreign travelers of Mexican nationality who enter the nation by land are eligible for the Paisano Program (Programa Paisano) throughout the Easter, summer, and winter seasons, except those who live in the border strip or nearby areas.

If you are of legal age and live in the strip or region border, the annual fee is $150. And if you are traveling by plane, you can take items up to $500 all year round.

Nonetheless, if you are planning to cross over $500, each family member’s allotted expense may be accumulated if they use the same mode of transportation when traveling together.

With invoices or sales receipts, you may prove the worth of the products included in your deductible amount. Customs officials can estimate the value of the goods if you don’t have them.

Through a pamphlet, the Mexican Government lets you know what you cannot introduce to their country as part of their Paisano Program:

  • Alcoholic beverages.
  • Carved tobaccos.
  • Automotive fuel, except that which is contained in your vehicle’s fuel tank.

Products that are prohibited from entering Mexico

  • Narcotics
  • Live fish of any size that belong to the predatory species.
  • Any image that shows children in a dehumanizing or absurd way, encouraging violence or destruction, is prohibited.
  • Used clothes and footwear that aren’t included in your personal baggage.
  • Ammunition and weapons

If you know you exceed the maximum amount, go to the “self-declaration” section and pay the applicable taxes. A Customs official can assist you if you have any issues regarding permits, limitations, or approvals related to the goods you are transporting.