What Can You Bring Into Mexico?

This question comes up again and again. It’s especially common for people driving into Mexico because you have plenty of cargo space. For flights, the amount of things you bring naturally is less so it’s not a big issue. There are some things to consider either way however. 

Items that are Prohibited or Limited:

  • No Fruit
  • No Meat
  • No Seeds, plants or agricultural products
  • No Firearms and Ammunition (permits are possible for hunting trips)
  • Non Prescriptions Drugs
  • Alcohol – Limited to 3 liters
  • No Electronic Cigarettes
  • Limited to 1 laptop 

What to Declare at the Border:

  • Cash valued at $10,000 USD or greater
  • Commercial items with receipts
  • New auto parts, tools and anything beyond what is allowed in the list below

The following list of allowances is important to understand. If you bring more than what is allowed, you will need to declare those items and pay a tax. Ideally, you will have the receipts available to present so they can calculate the percentage of tax. 

Many travelers drive across the border and do not declare appropriately. I’ve certainly brought an extra fishing rod and not made the declaration. I’ve heard of people bringing meat and many other restricted items as well. Proceed at your own risk as these can end up confiscated or taxed. 

What is Allowed for Driving or Flying Into Mexico:

  • Only one camping tent
  • Your regular clothing and shoes. Not for resale or commercial use.
  • Up to three cell phones
  • Up to two cameras
  • Only a single laptop 
  • Personal prescription medication (bring the prescription for proof)
  • Tobacco for personal use – 10 packs of cigarettes maximum, 200 grams of loose tobacco, up to 25 cigars
  • Max of one pair of binoculars per person
  • Tools – singes of each item. I carry a tool kit in my truck for field repairs and have never had it questioned. 
  • 3 liters of alcohol and up to 6 liters of wine
  • Camping equipment – This should obviously be intended for personal use
  • Up to four fishing rods

As a general rule, when driving into Mexico, your gear should reflect personal use. For example, having one tent per person is common sense for the most part. If you have a dozen brand new tents, it will appear that you plan to resell the extras. When everything fits a pattern of normal behavior for a camping trip or general roadtrip, there is usually very little scrutiny.

Special Rules for Drones in Mexico

I’ve seen an increase in drone use among travelers and have also discussed issues experienced at customs. There are a few rules that apply when bringing drones into Mexico. The weight limit is an important threshold to consider. Here’s the general guidelines:

  • Drones over 250 grams in weight are considered commercial (use small drones)
  • Only Mexican citizens can obtain a commercial license to fly drones but foreigners can obtain a special permit for non-commercial flights
  • Drones under the weight limit do not require registration

I suggest bringing receipts and proof of ownership for any drone. I have seen drones taxed at customs and others waived right through. It really depends on the day and who inspects your gear.

What Can You Bring from Mexico to the US?

Keep in mind, the return trip also comes with restrictions. You can’t bring agricultural products back across the border. Bush meat is also not allowed but you might look into the processes for declaring game animals after a hunt. Transporting your trophy is allowed with paperwork to declare and inspect.

Don’t bring back alcohol, illegal drugs or other dangerous items. United States customs is very thorough and random inspections will lead to confiscation of anything not allowed (and the potential for criminal charges). You can view the full list of allowances and restrictions on the Customs and Border Patrol website.

As a general rule, I bring back the personal gear that I drove into Mexico. If I pick up a few small gifts on the road – they are generally textiles that are low value and I pack them with my normal clothing. These things are allowed to return and people fly and drive with them all the time. I still empty my cooler and do a clean sweep to ensure no food products are present with bottled things like hot sauce being the exception. 

Whether you fly or drive, keep an inventory of your items and make sure they don’t violate any restrictions when entering Mexico or the United States. It’s not difficult and most things are common sense as well.