Are you importing into Mexico and your customs operation requires the services of a Mexican Customs broker? If the answer is yes, then this information is important for you because errors or violations on your operation, even if committed by the broker or its personnel, might hold you as the responsible party before the eyes of the authority. Also, any delays due to the broker´s mishandling may result in additional costs, losing clients, or creation of a bad reputation in the business industry.

In Mexico, there are approximately 800 active Mexican Customs brokers. This is a small number when compared to other countries such as the United States, which has over 14,000. Generally, a Mexican Customs broker is an individual authorized by the Tax Administration Service to perform on behalf of importers and exporters the required acts and duties before MX Customs necessary for the clearance of goods. He or she, is not a government officer, but instead an individual with a license (patente) granted by the government that allows them to act and to represent entities and other individuals during export and import processes. One of their main duties is to identify the correct harmonized tariff code of the goods, which is a must in order to determine the applicable tariff (import duty, value added tax and merchandise processing fee) and non-tariff trade regulations and restrictions. Some offer additional services such as logistics, consolidation of cargo, filing documents, freight forwarding, etc.

So, how do you choose the best Customs broker? Finding a Customs broker in Mexico may be relatively simple but finding the right one can be a complex task. Here are some recommendations that might help you in your decision:

a) The first thing to do is identify the Customs port where your goods will be imported into Mexico. This may help you narrow your selection. Given that Customs brokers are limited to act at one officially authorized Customs port, you should look for a broker authorized to conduct business at the port where your importation will take place. Also, a Customs broker may have additional authorizations to conduct business in 3 more ports where the broker appoints a mandatario (a legal representative of the Customs broker) assigned to each of the other 3 additional ports. You might see brokers offering their services in more than 4 Customs ports, but this does not mean they are authorized to operate there, but means they may have alliances with other brokers at those other ports. Where an alliance is involved, make sure the fees will not increase nor that the quality of the service you expect will be affected.

b) Do some research about their academic background. Normally, Customs brokers are well prepared professionals. By law, MX Customs brokers must have a college degree, but some of them continue with their education and may even have a PH.D. A Customs broker that has invested in additional academic education illustrates their interest in providing better service to their clients.

c) Also, do some research about their experience and professional background. Even though a Customs broker may represent any individual or industry, some focus on specific industries, and therefore may have more experience in one field that in another. This may be relevant because each industry has vast and complex regulations of their own, thus, having an expert may facilitate your importation.

d) Ask for references. You may ask other companies or business associations for referrals. Also, you may contact CAAAREM, which is the Confederation of Mexican Customs Brokers Associations, represented by 99% of the Mexican Customs brokers located at the various borders, sea or interior Customs checkpoints. The website is: Another Customs broker association is CLAA, which is the Latin-American Confederation of Customs Brokers. Its website is: Both confederations offer a directory with a list of their affiliated Customs brokers that can help you identify the port and/or state where the appropriate broker could act on your behalf.

However, there are two alternative options for entities and individuals whose operations require the service of a Mexican Customs broker.

One option is to perform the Customs clearance of goods on their own. This is now permitted under the Mexican Customs law, and to be able to do this, companies must appoint a "legal representative" permitted to act on their behalf during the Customs clearance. Specific requirements must be met by the company and the employee.
The other option is to hire a Customs broker agency. This agency must be authorized by the Tax Administration Service to perform on behalf or importers and exporters the required acts and duties before MX customs necessary for the clearance of goods. In other words, this agency can do the same duties that an individual Customs broker would do. However, this agency must be incorporated as a company in Mexico and one of the partners/shareholders must an active Customs broker.

To conclude, if you need a Mexican Customs broker to clear Customs you have three different options: hire the services of a Customs broker, hire the services of a Customs broker agency or appoint one of your Mexican employees as a legal representative. Making the right choice is important to your business integrity, otherwise, your operations may be at risk of violations and delays, among other adverse scenarios. Therefore, investing time and effort is recommended so that you make informed decisions on which option to choose.

This article was prepared on February 1, 2022. It is presented to you for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal guidance or advise. Please consult with your attorney if you need specific information regarding the above or give us a call, we are happy to assist you. 

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The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.