Published On: Mon, Jan 12th, 2015

Important update on US CBP Requirements for Bringing US-Titled Cars into Mexico

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Here is an important update on US CBP Requirements for Bringing US-Titled Cars into Mexico

This useful information was posted on January 12, 2015 by Yucalandia

Update for Rules on US Vehicle/Car Imports into Mexico


The US Homeland Security CBP “Officer Program Manager of the Export Control Division” has sent an email to a Yucalandia reader, answering his questions about CBP’s rules for the 3 day formal Exporting Rules for US-titled vehicles, before bringing them into Mexico.

The US CBP email is published on Mexconnect’s forums, explaining CBP policies on how many American vehicles are required to go through the 3 day export before being imported into Mexico. See “Playaboy”‘s original post, and the CBP email at:;sb=post_latest_reply;so=ASC;forum_view=forum_view_collapsed;;page=unread#unread (Playaboy has been on the front lines of this issue, running a business that legally takes US cars from Chapala to the US border for sale or processing for years).


Why pay attention to this?

The CBP official email describes some of the potential issues that might cause American citizens legal problems with CBP and Homeland Security. Here is a summary of some of the legal issues for Americans for both: ~ permanent imports of American titled cars and for ~ temporary imports of American titled cars (TIP cars) ~ brought into Mexico:

The only part of CBP law on vehicle Export rules that is “new” is the Census Bureau filing requirements regardless of dollar value and destination.
US-titled vehicles that are imported into Mexico or Canada must be first formally exported using the CBP’s 3-day inspection and investigation process at the US-Mexico border, prior to being taken into Mexico.
These same rules have also applied for years to US vehicles taken into Canada – for people who want to read US Homeland Security / CBP existing previous websites (described for taking vehicles into Canada) on the USA’s Vehicle Export policies.
The US CBP acknowledges that the US Homeland Security system for tracking vehicles and exporting vehicles was previously not well-coordinated with Mexico’s import processes, but now, Homeland Security and Mexico have changed their systems to work together:
Homeland Security now has electronic databases in place to track the movements of US-titled cars being taken out of the USA, and
Now, Mexico’s Aduana requires that US vehicles imported into Mexico must have their US-titles officially cancelled by US CBP before Aduana will process them, and
Mexico’s Aduana is now sending US Homeland Security the Aduana’s electronic records of the US vehicles that are being brought into Mexico,
The US Govt now has the ability to enter our Passport numbers or names or VINs into their database, and potentially check whether we have taken a US-titled out of the USA, and imported it into Mexico without previously completing the 3 day CBP export process at the border.
This means that US Homeland Security databases and CBP now also have the capability to track the “paper only” imports done inside Mexico, like Sonia & Canadian-John (of San Miguel Allende) and other auto brokers who do NOT take the US cars to the border – putting their US clients at risk.
Since Sonia & Canadian-John’s and other’s “paper only” processes that have had no drives to the border, include our vehicle VINs and our US passport information, CBP now has the tools to easily find, prosecute and penalize Americans who break US CBP / Homeland Security law. *sigh*
The US CBP Export process is needed to stop/limit the car theft rings that operate on both sides of the US-Mexico border, as the 3 day hold allows CBP to search all 50 states auto theft database records, ferret out “salvage titles” of vehicles that likely consist of stolen-car parts, etc. Again, ordinary US citizens are inadvertently caught in the nets designed to stop criminals. …
Once a US-titled vehicle has passed the 3 day VIN checks, motor checks, and background checks at the border, the US CBP CANCELS THE TITLE… and sends that information to the Mexican Aduana officials.
There’s not much good news here for US citizens with US-titled cars that have been in Mexico for more than 12 months, nor for US citizens who have gotten ‘paper-only” imports from inside Mexico, as US Homeland Security begins to enforce the laws they’ve had on the books for years,

This means that the routes and practices we used in the past, processes that worked easily in the past, are now subject to prosecution and fines. (Just like what has happened in Mexico – shifting enforcement of the rules) *bleah*

Finally, once a US vehicle has been formally exported by CBP, cancelling our US state title, how do we get a new title to take the vehicle back into the USA ?

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For more details on importing cars and driving in Mexico, see our main article on importing cars at: Importing & Driving a Car in Mexico .
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YucaLandia/Surviving Yucatan. ©Steven M. Fry

Mexico Travel Care




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