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In this page: Market Access Procedures | Distributing a Product

 

Market Access Procedures

 
 

Customs Procedures

Import Procedures
For tax purposes, all Mexican importers must register and be listed with the Official Register of Importers (Padrón de Importadores), maintained by the Secretariat of Finance and Public Credit (SHCP). The basic Mexican import document is the Import Request (Pedimento de Importación).

In order to apply the correct taxes/duties, the importing agent must present the import declaration, a commercial invoice, a bill of lading, a proof of exemption, and a certificate establishing the origin of the goods, documents demonstrating guarantee of payment of additional duties for undervalued goods if applicable (see the Customs Valuation section of this guide), and, if applicable, documents demonstrating compliance with Mexican product safety and performance regulations (see the Standards section).
All commercial imports into Mexico, whether they are temporary or permanent, can be executed by a qualified and authorized Mexican customs broker.

In the case of the textiles, apparel, and footwear sectors, the importer must be registered in the Padrón for textile, apparel, and footwear products. The main goal of the program is to protect local industry against counterfeiting from Asia.

Mexico has developed 'Sectoral Promotion Programmes' (PROSEC) that seek to reduce or eliminate tariffs on several sectors.

In addition to complying with all applicable standards, foreign manufactured medical devices and healthcare products must have a legally appointed representative or distributor in Mexico that is registered with the Secretariat of Health.

Specific Import Procedures
Companies that import goods that appear on the Annex 10 of the Foreign Trade General Rules (FTGR) have to be registered in the Mexican Register of Importers in Specific Sectors. A special tax on production and services (IEPS) is assessed to the importation of alcoholic beverages, cigarettes and cigars, among others (from 25 to 160% depending on the product).
Importing Samples
Companies wishing to bring samples, equipment, displays or any other items to Mexico on a temporary basis may use an ATA carnet, since the country joined the international carnet system in 2014.
Mexican Customs allows ATA Carnets and their goods to remain in Mexico for up to 6 months. An extension can be requested prior to the expiration of the 6-month period.
 

To go further, check out our service Import controls and Export controls.

 
 

Customs Duties and Taxes on Imports

Customs threshold (from which tariffs are required)
Product value up to USD 50 are exempt of duty and VAT.
Average Customs Duty (Excluding Agricultural Products)
The average MFN tariff rate for Mexico reached 5.8% in 2019. See this paper on customs duties in Mexico from the WTO for more information.
Products Having a Higher Customs Tariff
Higher customs duties are applied to sugars and confectionery, beverages and tobacco, dairy products and clothing.
Preferential Rates

There are customs duty reductions (and even exemptions) for products helping the development of the local industry ('Maquiladora' Programme).
Mexico has more free trade agreements (FTAs) than any other country in the world with 43. The main free trade zones are:

  • There are no tariffs for products made in the United States and Canada that meet rules of origin requirements under the U.S.–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA).
  • Other agreements with Latin American countries, such as Chile, Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia and Costa Rica.
  • Mexico is also part of the APEC.
Customs Classification
Mexico uses the Harmonised Commodity Description and Coding System - generally referred to as the 'Harmonised System' - that was developed by the World Customs Organisation. 
Method of Calculation of Duties
Customs duties are calculated Ad Valorem on the CIF  (cost, insurance and freight) value of the goods, except for goods originating from the U.S. and Canada for which the FOB (freight on board) value is used.
Method of Payment of Customs Duties
Payments for rights are paid in cash, check or bank transfer.
Import Taxes (Excluding Consumer Taxes)
Products temporarily imported for processing and re-export may be subject to the customs processing fee (CPF) since the imports are not considered “definitive.”
A special tax on production and services (IEPS) is assessed on the importation of alcoholic beverages, cigarettes and cigars.
In addition, Mexico has a value-added tax (IVA) on most sales transactions, including sales of foreign products. The IVA rate is 16 percent for all of Mexico. Basic products, such as food and drugs and some services, are exempt from the IVA.
 

List of tariffs and local taxes that apply to your product on our service Customs duties and local taxes.

 

Labeling and Packaging Rules

Packaging
The official Mexican list of standards and regulations NOM-050-SCFI-2004 provides information regarding the general labeling of products.
Labels must contain: manufacturer's name, importer's name, description of its components, risk warning if applicable, etc.
Refer to NOM labeling regulations
Languages Permitted on Packaging and Labeling
It has to be written in Spanish, but it can also include expressions in other languages.
Unit of Measurement
The metric decimal system must be used. Conversion to other units of measurements can also be included.
Mark of Origin "Made In"
It must always include the phrase "Produced in..", "Made in....", "Fabricated in....." or other similar phrases.
Labeling Requirements
There are specific regulations for goods such as mass volume products, living animals, books, magazines and press publications, among others.
Specific Regulations
NOM-050-SCFI-2004, and NOM- 008-SCFI-2002 .

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Distributing a Product

 

Distribution Network

Types of Outlet

Supermarkets
Self-service commercial establishments offering food products, personal care items, clothing and home supplies.
Walmart, Comercial Mexicana, Soriana and Chedraui
Specialty stores
Huge areas where one can find special products: hardware, linens, furniture, home remodeling items, stationary, electronics and toys.
Hermanos Vázquez, Home Mart, LumenJuguetibici and RadioShack
Department stores
Large stores that sell famous brand names, national and international products, including clothing, perfumes, footwear, home supplies, electronics and gourmet foods.
El Palacio de Hierro and Sears
Discount stores
Self-service stores that offer good quality products at wholesale and retail prices. They require customer membership.
Costco
Shopping centres
Spacious areas located in busy sections of the cities which group together stores and service establishments, including supermarkets, department stores, banks, beauty and health spas, movie theaters, restaurants and fast food places.
 Centro Santa Fe,
Markets and 'tianguis'
Areas reserved for merchants to offer their goods: personal care and esoteric products, plants and flowers, fresh produce, cooked food and handicrafts.  Prices are very reasonable.

'Tianguis' are groups of merchants that install themselves in a particular place one or two days per week and they offer products similar to the ones found in big markets. Prices can be negotiated.
Mercado de Sonora, Mercado de la Merced, and Tianguis de México.

Corner stores
64% of personal shopping supplies can be bought at these small establishments where merchants offer products of daily household use and consumption at reasonable prices as well as personalized service. They also offer advice to their loyal customers.  They sell: food products, dry goods, stationary, flowers, tortillas, hardware, etc.
 

Evolution of the Retail Sector

Growth and Regulation
Mexico has over 129 million consumers, making it the second largest market in Latin America after Brazil. The retail sector recorded current value growth of 7.7% per year and major multinationals and local companies continue to expand throughout Mexico in the different segments, signalling that opportunities will continue (USDA). The retail environment in Mexico is increasingly competitive due to fierce competition, fast expansion plans, challenges such as multichannel strategies and consumers being more demanding regarding their needs, as well as new value added services offering an interactive and unique shopping experience.

According to the Mexican Association of Nationwide Retailers (ANTAD), in 2021 general merchandise stores represented around 51% of total retail sales, followed by supermarkets (mainly groceries) with a sales share of 33%, and shoes and clothing stores representing 16% of sales. Importantly these numbers represent only “formal” retail, informal retail has a large presence in Mexico (more than 56%). Informal establishments include mobile street vendors and open public markets. These points of sale traditionally distribute local, domestic products. In 2021 there were 93 supermarket chains, with 46,643 stores throughout the country (ANTAD).

Lead retailers such as El Puerto de Liverpool SAC de CV, Copper SA de CV and Walmart de Mexico SAB de CV, among others, are expected to continue their growth and success, pushing the retail industry to grow via new outlets and e-commerce around the country. Internet retailing is the most dynamic retail channel in Mexico. New players entered the e-commerce competitive landscape, including City Market and Chedraui as well as some newly apps like "Corner Shop" and “Rappi”.

Leading retailers will need to improve their customer service in order to maintain their competitive edge. A black hole in the Mexican economy is the informal sector and this also includes the retail market. According to data from the National Survey of Occupation and Employment (ENOE) around 56 percent of the country’s workforce is in the informal sector.
Market share
The top national retailers are :

•    Walmart de Mexico y Centroamerica leads the retail market in Mexico. Walmart’s main store formats include Superama (a medium size supermarket), Walmart Supercenters (hypermarkets), and Sam’s Club (warehouse clubs). As of 2022, all three business formats had internet retailing as well. Moreover, there is Bodega Aurrera, the Walmart outlet that targets lower-income consumers, with also recently entered the e-commerce subsector.
•    Oxxo, a Mexican convenience store chain, is the second largest retailer after Wal-Mart.
•    Soriana has several different formats to meet the demands of different population segments. Soriana is the third largest retail company in Mexico after Wal-Mart, with 790 outlets across Mexico. Soriana manages five store-based retailing formats: Hypermarkets (Hipermercado Soriana), supermarkets (Supermercado Soriana), discounters (Mercado Soriana and Soriana Express), convenience stores (Super City) and warehouse stores (City Club). Following the strategy of offering new products and services to its clients, Soriana started to include health centres at its hypermarkets and supermarkets, providing medical services at very low prices.

Retail Sector Organisations
Ministry of the Economy: Ministry of Industry and Commerce
Mexico National Retail Association
 

E-commerce

Internet access
With the goal of universal connectivity, internet access was instituted as a constitutional right of all citizens of Mexico by the telecommunications reform of 2013.  There are currently 85 million Internet users in Mexico, which represents 63% of the population over the age of six. Increased connectivity has spurred the growth of Mexico’s emerging digital economy. There were 86.3 million smartphone users in Mexico in 2017, and that number is expected to grow to 90.7 million by 2020. The most popular search engines are Google (94.86%), Bing (3.31%), Yahoo! (1.64%), MSN (0.08%), DuckDuckGo (0.06%), Ask Jeeves (0.02%).
E-commerce market
E-commerce sales revenue in 2017 was US$ 21 billion, a figure that is expected to reach US$ 39 billion by 2021. Online shopping currently represents 2% of the country’s roughly $203 billion in annual retail sales, representing a huge opportunity as Mexicans have only begun to adopt e-commerce. There are currently 37.9 million online shoppers in Mexico—a figure that is projected to reach 55.3 million by 2020. Although many Mexicans browse products on mobile, they’re more likely to make the final purchase on desktop. 70% of Mexican online shoppers purchase using desktops, while 25% purchase using mobile devices. Mexico’s BtoC market is much more developed than its business to business (B2B) market. In 2017, the Mexican B2C e-commerce turnover grew by 26.21% to US$ 4.8 billion. In 2016, personal electronics were the largest category, with a market spend of US$ 2.9 million. Fashion will bypass personal electronics by 2020 and generate US$ 4.9 million of e-commerce revenue.
E-commerce sales and customers
Segmenting users into gender and age groups shows that, in line with global trends, younger users are the most likely to use e-commerce. However, men between the ages of 25-44 are more likely to shop online than women. By 2020, men between the ages of 16 and 44 will have a US$ 236 million market share, compared to women of the same age accounting for US$ 199 million. When not taking gender into account, 32% of buyers are in the 25 to 34 age bracket, followed by 18 to 24 (31%) and 35 to 44 (17%). Laptops and computers are the preferred device when it comes to shopping online. However, mobile shopping is growing, and 45% of Mexicans make mobile purchases every month. Of online shoppers, 44% use only Mexican sites for their purchases, 39% use Mexican and foreign sites, and 5% use foreign sites only. Of the foreign websites, the US accounts for 48% of all Mexico’s imports, followed by China, Japan, South Korea and Germany. Popular online payment methods are credit cards (64%), direct bank deposit (12%), online wire transfer (11%) and cash in participating convenience stores (9%).
Social media
Social media is incredibly popular in Mexico, especially among people in the 20 to 30 age range, with 96% of people in that group using at least one social media platform. Internet users in Mexico are spending an average of 3.5 hours on social networking platforms, a number which is steadily on the rise. In the country, 81% of internet users access the internet daily. Mexico is the fifth largest market in the world for Facebook, at 50 million users, with rapid growths also for Instagram and Pinterest. The most popular social networks are Facebook (75.6%), Pinterest (9.98%), Twitter (5.46%), YouTube (5.06%), Instagram (1.84%), Tumblr (0.67%).
 

Direct Selling

Evolution of the Sector
The World Federation of Direct Selling Associations (WFDSA) 2017 report shows retail direct selling in Mexico grew 2%, was valued at USD 5.887 billion, and involved 2,728,168 independent representatives. Another 2017 WFDSA report divides retail sales as follows: cosmetics and health care (48%); wellness (34%); household goods and durables (12%); and clothing and accessories (6%).

According to Euromonitor International, direct selling is the largest non-store channel for Mexican consumers (over three quarters of non-store retail sales, which includes internet retailing, vending, and home shopping). Mexicans prefer face-to-face shopping compared to other, less personal options. The leading direct selling company in 2017 was Herbalife International de México. Mary Kay Cosméticos, Oriflame de México, and Amway also saw double-digit growth. Other companies such as Stanhome - a manufacturer and distributor of home care products - have combined direct selling with physical store presence.

The Asociación Mexicana de Ventas Directas promotes best practices in the industry.
 
 

Commercial Intermediaries

Trading Companies
 
  • Type of Organization
Rarely do distributors deal directly with foreign suppliers. Because of this, it is necessary to use the services of a local Mexican mediator (export agent, non-manufacturer or  manufacturer of similar products, service company, resale agent or wholesale distributor) who knows the market and can deal directly with the commercialisation of the product, development of clientele, proposal of best sales channel, merchandise storage and management of legal procedures involved in introducing a new product to market.
  • Main Actors
Walmart of Mexico, Chedraui and Soriana. Visit Commerce in Mexico to find more intermediaries/wholesalers.
Wholesalers
 
  • Type of Organization
Besides their role as commercial intermediaries, wholesalers also offer services such as the product creation, storage, delivery, etc. Wholesalers generally specialise in high consumption items (food or non-food) or in industrial and crafts equipment.
  • Main Actors
In Mexico City there is a large wholesaler market called Central de Abasto where food products are dealt.

For more information visit Wholesalers in Mexico.

Useful Resources
Mexican Enterprises Information System - Intermediaries
Mexican Guide - Find a Commercial Intermediary
 

Using a Commercial Agent

The Advantages
A commercial agent is very useful to set up the initial procedures for an exporting activity or when there are potential clients but the type of market is totally unknown. A commercial agent can establish marketing contacts in a fast and efficient way, controlling the brands and logistics policies up to the moment when the products are finally delivered (providing security to the producer). Using an agent is also efficient when products are required to be in stock and readily available. Companies should consider appointing representatives in multiple cities to broaden distribution. It is usually not advisable to grant an exclusive, national agreement. Moreover, it is important to develop a close working relationship with the appointed commercial agent. There may be many qualified candidates, so high standards can be used in the commercial agent selection.
Where to Be Vigilant
Even though a commercial agent can be the person or representative of an enterprise that opens the market doors to a society, it is hard to keep a real control over how effective his procedures are because he works according to his own rhythm and organisational priorities.
It is important to consider that the customers will be direct clients of the agent and not of the exporting enterprise. It is advised to work with enterprises that offer an association type of business and not only intermediary agents, in order to be directly more involved during the process of commercialisation.
Elements of Motivation
The commission fee is a very important motivation element. A common practice between agents is to participate in contests and competitions. Control and good contacts can be useful in order to follow up the agent's activities. Make sure that the agent knows the market well for your product.
The Average Amount of Commission
In general it is 15 to 25% of the total sales value.
Breach of Contract
It is essential to establish a written agreement document.
Finding a Commercial Agent
Association of Customs Agents, Mexico City
 

Setting Up a Commercial Unit

The Advantages
It is an option for medium and large-size enterprises planning to be involved for a long term. It allows the enterprise to assume complete legal and financial responsibility of business activities performed.
Where to Be Vigilant
It is a long process since it has to be registered in different ministries: Finance, Economy, Foreign Affairs, etc.
Different Possible Forms of Settlement
 
  • A Representative Office
It is possible to create a subcontract, which allows participation in Mexican territory without investing directly and without having a long term responsibility.
  • A Branch Office
There are no major obstacles to create a branch office in Mexico. A branch office is considered a local association by authorities.
  • A Company
The most common forms of commercial companies are the 'Sociedad Anonima' (Joint Stock Company) and SARL (Limited Corporation). All foreign capital participating has to be registered at the General Administration of Foreign Investments and at the Ministries of Economy, Finance and Credit and Foreign Affairs.
 

Franchising

Evolution of the Sector
According to latest figures from the Franchise Association of Northern Mexico, the franchise industry grew of about 12% in 2019. The turnover of this sector in the country is about $85 billion pesos per year and more than 1,500 current franchise brands in Mexico directly employ more than 700,000 people. Of these total brands, 84% are Mexican; the rest are foreign.

Franchises in Mexico are regulated by Article 142 of the Industrial Property Law and Article 65 of its Regulations. Article 142 established the definition of franchise, the requirements for franchise agreements, and standards for pre-sale franchise disclosure.

It is important to register trademarks in Mexico to protect brands. According to the applicable law, a trademark must be used by its owner, by the licensee, or the franchisee of record, or  it may be subject to an action of cancellation due to non-use. In this respect, franchising and licensing agreements involving Mexican trademark applications or registrations must be recorded with the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI).  The time frame for registering a trademark in Mexico is approximately four to six months, assuming there are no objections.
Some Big Franchises
Mc Donald's, fast food
Burger King, fast food
For Further Information
Mexican Institute of Industrial Property
Mexican Association of Franchising
 

Finding Assistance

Export Trading Companies
Export and Import Enterprises
Foreign Trade Enterprises in Mexico
 
 
 
 

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Latest Update: November 2022