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Nationalizing Vehicles in Mexico: A Comprehensive Guide


Nationalizing Vehicles in Mexico

Nationalizing vehicles in Mexico is a complex yet important process for many citizens and residents who wish to bring their foreign-made cars into the country legally. This process involves specific regulations, taxes, and legalities that must be adhered to, ensuring that the vehicle can be used without issues in Mexico. Understanding these requirements and procedures can save time, money, and avoid potential legal complications.

What is Nationalizing a Vehicle?

Nationalizing a vehicle refers to the process of legally importing a foreign-made car into Mexico, which includes paying import duties and taxes, ensuring the vehicle meets specific standards, and obtaining the necessary documentation from Mexican customs (Aduana).

Relevance and Importance

Nationalizing a vehicle is crucial for those who plan to reside in Mexico for an extended period or permanently. It allows them to legally use their vehicle in the country, ensuring compliance with local laws and avoiding penalties or confiscation.

Eligibility Criteria

Who Can Nationalize a Vehicle?

  • Citizens: Mexican citizens can nationalize a vehicle.

  • Temporary Residents: Those with temporary residency in Mexico can nationalize a vehicle.

  • Permanent Residents: Permanent residents are also eligible to nationalize a vehicle.

Types of Vehicles Eligible for Nationalization

  • NAFTA-made Vehicles: Vehicles manufactured in North America under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

  • Classic Vehicles: Vehicles 30 years or older from any country of origin.

VIN Requirements

For new and used vehicles, the first digit of the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) must start with 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5, indicating North American manufacture.

Model Year Restrictions

  • Recent Models: Currently, vehicles from 2015 and 2016 can be nationalized. Each November, the eligible model year advances by one year.

  • Older Vehicles: Older models can be nationalized but at a higher import duty rate.

Import Duties and Taxes

Duty Rates

  • Recent Models: A 10% import duty based on the value set by Aduana.

  • Older Models: A 50% import duty based on the value set by Aduana.

Additional Taxes

  • IVA (Value Added Tax): A 16% tax applies to all vehicles during nationalization.

Required Documentation

  • Original Title: The vehicle must have a clean title, meaning it is not stolen, flooded, or salvaged.

  • Proof of Ownership: Documentation proving ownership of the vehicle.

  • Customs Documentation: A ‘pedimento’ issued by Aduana upon nationalization.

Steps to Nationalize a Vehicle

Step 1: Initial Assessment

  • Check eligibility based on VIN and model year.

  • Consult a reputable broker for guidance.

Step 2: Gather Required Documents

  • Obtain the original title.

  • Ensure all documentation is in order.

Step 3: Import Duties and Taxes

  • Calculate the import duty and IVA based on the vehicle's value.

Step 4: Customs Clearance

  • Present the vehicle and documentation at a designated port of entry such as Laredo.

  • Obtain the ‘pedimento’ from Aduana.

Step 5: Registration

  • Complete the registration process with the local authorities.

Avoiding Illegal Processes

  • Be wary of offers to nationalize vehicles within days or those requiring registration in the name of a Mexican citizen.

  • Verify legality through your local SAT/Aduana office.

Common Challenges and Solutions

High Import Duties

  • Older vehicles incur a higher import duty, making the process more expensive.

Documentation Issues

  • Ensure all documents are clean and accurate to avoid delays.

Legal Compliance

  • Follow legal procedures strictly to avoid penalties.


Nationalizing a vehicle in Mexico is a detailed process that requires adherence to specific regulations and legalities. By understanding the requirements, gathering the necessary documentation, and following the proper steps, you can successfully nationalize your vehicle and enjoy its use without legal issues. Always consult with professionals and verify any offers through official channels to ensure compliance and avoid scams.


Can I nationalize a vehicle that is already in Mexico?

No, vehicles already in Mexico cannot be legally nationalized. The process must be completed at a port of entry.

What happens if my vehicle does not meet the VIN requirements?

If the VIN does not start with 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 (except for classic vehicles), it cannot be nationalized.

How often do the eligible model years change?

The eligible model years advance by one year every November.

Can I nationalize a vehicle with a salvaged title?

No, the vehicle must have a clean title to be eligible for nationalization.

Is there a way to reduce the import duty on older vehicles?

No, older vehicles incur a 50% import duty based on Aduana's assessed value, which cannot be reduced.

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Internal Links:

External Links:

  • NAFTA Agreement Overview

Contact Information: For further assistance, consult with a reputable customs broker

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