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1 Mexico: Certificate of Free Sale Page 1 of 5 Manuel Velazquez April 09 ID:# Summary It is very important to know in advance the documents required by the Mexican Customs Agency to exports into Mexico. The Mexican Customs Bureau reports that one of the most common mistakes U.S. exporters make relates to lack of documentation. The Certificate of Free Sale is by far the most frequently missed document by American exporters. What is a Certificate of Free Sale? When is it required by the Mexican Customs Authority? Why is it important? How much does a Certificate of Free Sale cost? Who can provide this document? How long does it take to obtain a Certificate of Free Sale? Exporters should work closely with their importers and Mexican Customs Broker to determine if their products require a Certificate of Free Sale and if so, to familiarize themselves on how to obtain this document. This market research explains what is a Certificate of Free Sale and how to obtain this relevant document. Potential Scenario Imagine this situation, an American exporter around 10 years ago used to export their products to Mexico without any problem, this exporter stopped selling to Mexico for several years. One day he received an order from Mexico but the exporter didn t consider the constant updates in the import procedures in Mexico. Few days after he shipped the order, his Customs Broker informed him that their container was held up by Mexican Customs Why? Due to the lack of the Certificate of Free Sale. The Customs Broker was required by Mexican Customs Agency, to obtain a Certificate of Free Sale based on the product s HS Code classification. The Mexican Customs Officer offered an easy and quick solution to the Customs Broker. He suggested to obtain a letter from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which stated that the products in the shipment were freely sold in the U.S. The U.S. exporter was angry and confused. How was it possible that the Mexican Customs required an FDA letter if he did not send a food product, he was sending a toy! FDA doesn t provide certification letter for toys. How could the exporter solve this problem?

2 Page 2 of 5 What is a Certificate of Free Sale? Some types of goods require a free sale certificate at the point of customs clearance. The Certificate of Free Sale is also known, in the U.S., as a "Certificate for Export" or "Certificate to Foreign Governments". For the Mexican Customs Agency, the Certificate of Free Sale has to be issued in the country of origin and must consist of a written declaration by the Sanitary or Health authorities to the effect that, in the country of origin, the goods may be sold and consumed freely without exception and that their sale does not require a special permit. For the Mexican Customs Bureau, the Certificate of Free Sales expired within a year. Certificate of Free Sale, why is it important? Because it requires that the product offered for entry into Mexico comply with the sanitary and health requirements of the Mexican government. It also confirms that in the case of U.S. goods, they comply with the requirements of the U.S. laws for distribution in the American domestic commerce. This could be a competitive advantage over competitors that cannot provide this document. Who can provide this document? This document is issued by several state and federal government agencies and U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) certified laboratories. It assures the authorities of the importing country that these products comply with U.S. requirements and are sold freely in the market of the country of origin. For example, the FDA or state health authorities issue these certificates for non-alcoholic goods. The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) issues U.S. Free Sale Certificates for alcoholic beverages. In the case of poultry products, the USDA-FSIS export certificates of wholesomeness described above are accepted as an equivalent to the free sale certificates requested by Mexican authorities. If for some reason the U.S. product cannot be certified by any of the government offices or institutions before listed. The Mexican government can now accept as a certificate of free sale letters from other authorities different than the sanitary or health agencies. The Certificate of Free Sale can be issued also by trade associations, local chambers of commerce, and also by the World Trade Center Association. In the majority of cases, the issuing body will charge a fee for a Certificate of Free Sale. Costs and delivery time depend on the office that is providing the document. Product Classification /HTS Number/ Harmonized System/ HS Code An important fact to consider is to know very well and verify with the Customs Broker the classification of the U.S. product that will be exported to Mexico. The Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) also known as HS code is an international method of classifying products for trading purposes, which has been established by the World Customs Organization. Internationally are assigned a 6-digit HS Code. Mexican tariff codes have an additional 2 digits, for a total of 8 digits.

3 Page 3 of 5 For US exporters knowing the correct tariff classification is crucial. This will determine the duty rate and establish any applicable requirements such as the certificate of free sale. General information about Import Procedures U. S. exporters require, by law, to use a Mexican Customs Broker to clear goods through Customs. Clearance is done electronically. It is strongly recommended that U.S. exporters send the required export documentation to their Customs Broker (it s imperative for the exporter evaluate if this Customs Broker is well establish and well known in Mexico) for review in advance of preparing their goods for shipment. In almost cases, after checking all the documents, the Customs Broker will send the paperwork and documents back to the exporter who will then make any adjustments. These documents are then sent with the product to the Customs Broker. Mexican Customs Brokers must submit a Pedimento de Importación (Import Declaration) to Customs through the SAII-WEB system. The Pedimento is then validated by Customs. Once the Pedimento is validated, the Customs Broker pays all applicable duties and taxes on behalf of the importer. The Pedimento is then presented to a Customs Official who reviews the documentation (which could include the Certificate of Free Sale) and approves/disapproves the entry. An inspection may be done subsequently (these are done on a random basis) and then final clearance is granted. Basic Required Document for Import into Mexico The following is a list of the documents that must be presented in order for the imported product to be released from the Mexican Customs authorities. Importation Declaration (Pedimento de Importación) Commercial invoice -- Must include issue date and place, name and address of the consignee, detailed listing of goods (including quantities, types, identification numbers, unit value, etc.), and name and address of supplier Bill of lading or Airway Bill of lading Sanitary import notice * This document is necessary if the product is for human consumption like food or beverages (to be done on company letterhead, and which should contain the name of the product, quantity, name and address of the producer, name and address of the importer, the port of entry, and the applicable import tariff numbers). The document should be addressed to the Secretaria de Salud [Ministry of Health]) NAFTA Certificate of origin (as applicable), in order to obtain NAFTA tariff benefits Certificate of Free Sale

4 Page 4 of 5 Scenario Solution Our exporter realized the importance to work very close with the Customs Broker and verify the HS code. He followed the advice of the Trade Specialist, from the US Commercial Service in Mexico, and obtained a letter from his membership based toy association. The letter served as a Certificate of Free Sale and Mexican Customs released his shipment. Resources & Contacts Servicio de Administración Tributaria SAT (Mexican IRS Office) Representation Office Embassy of Mexico 1911 Pennsylvania Ave. NW Washington DC Tel. (202) Fax. (202) x Administración General de Aduanas (General Customs Administration) Av. Hidalgo 77, Módulo IV, Piso 3, Col. Guerrero, Deleg. Cuauhtémoc, 06300, México, D.F. ( ) ( ) ( ) Secretaria de Salud (Mexican Ministry of Health) Lieja No. 7 Col. Juárez Deleg. Cuauhtémoc 06600, México, D.F., México Tel: (55) Web: For More Information The U.S. Commercial Service in Monterrey Mexico can be contacted via at: ; Phone: ; Fax: ; or visit our website: The U.S. Commercial Service Your Global Business Partner With its network of offices across the United States and in more than 80 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting

5 Page 5 of 5 Comments and Suggestions: We welcome your comments and suggestions regarding this market research. You can us your comments/suggestions to: Please include the name of the applicable market research in your . We greatly appreciate your feedback. Disclaimer: The information provided in this report is intended to be of assistance to U.S. exporters. While we make every effort to ensure its accuracy, neither the United States government nor any of its employees make any representation as to the accuracy or completeness of information in this or any other United States government document. Readers are advised to independently verify any information prior to reliance thereon. The information provided in this report does not constitute legal advice. The Commercial Service reference to or inclusion of material by a non-u.s. Government entity in this document is for informational purposes only and does not constitute an endorsement by the Commercial Service of the entity, its materials, or its products or services International copyright, U.S. Department of Commerce, All rights reserved outside of the United States.

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