What Items Are Prohibited & Restricted When Shipping to Mexico?

Will your ecommerce package make it across the Mexican border or will it be intercepted by Mexico’s shipping restrictions?

Did you know every American can legally bring up to four canaries across the Mexican border? While this fact may be silly, we do get plenty of customers asking us (very seriously), “What are Mexico’s import restrictions?”

While canary transit probably isn’t your top concern when it comes to Mexico’s shipping and customs restrictions, it does go to show the level of specificity involved in Mexican import laws. 

So whether you’re trying to ship canaries or Crest toothpaste, shipping knowledge is shipping power. Let’s take a deep dive into Mexico’s shipping restrictions, identify what items are prohibited and restricted when shipping across the Mexican border, and explore exactly how you can avoid international shipping frustration. 

What Items Are Prohibited & Restricted When Shipping to Mexico?

Why can't I ship certain items to Mexico?

Don’t worry, Mexico doesn’t have a shipping grudge against you—it just has very strict customs laws. During border negotiations with the USA, Mexican officials realized it was easier to use universal restrictions rather than try and crack down on every shipment from the US that might use another country as a layover point. 

As a result, frustrations amongst expats run high—and we don’t blame them! Not being able to ship what you want when you want can be annoying. That said, breaking the law is never in your best interest.

So let’s take a closer look at what can and can’t be shipped to Mexico.

What items can't be shipped to Mexico?

It might be a shorter list to look at what can be shipped to Mexico! Let’s look at a few of the most common restricted and prohibited import items. For a full list, you can always browse through the International Trade Administration’s guide.

Restricted Items

Restricted items aren’t completely banned, but they do carry limitations. Most of the time, this simply means you’ll need to be diligent with your paperwork. That said, shipping lists change all the time and you’ll want to stay informed on the latest laws before shipping your goods. 

Common restricted items for shipping to Mexico include:

  • Lard, fats, and oils
  • Certain meats and animal products
  • Beer
  • Cigars and cigarettes
  • Matches
  • Certain types of tires
  • Bicycles
  • Footwear
  • CDs and Sound recording equipment
  • Textiles
  • Candy
  • Kitchen appliances (most kitchen appliances are restricted to one appliance per address with the exception of microwaves. You can ship up to two microwaves)
  • Poisons/Toxins

The other crucial note about restricted items is that most ecommerce companies—such as Amazon—will rarely offer to ship these products to Mexico at all. That doesn’t mean you can’t get these products! It just means you might have to jump through a few hoops to have them packaged at home and shipped manually. 

Prohibited Items

Prohibited items cannot be shipped to Mexico under any circumstances. That means no mail carrier can legally carry these items across the border. Do not try to ship these items or carry them across the border—you will only be disappointed.

Prohibited items for shipping to Mexico include: 

  • Firearms, ammunition, and other weapons (this includes knives, swords, and even kitchen knives are sometimes included in this law) 
  • Illegal substances (this is a given, but if it’s illegal in Mexico, you cannot ship it to Mexico)
  • Pornography (this is another common prohibition in many countries)
  • Live materials (this includes common items such as fruits and vegetables as well as animals)
  • Silver, gold, and other precious metals (this prohibition isn’t as well known and it can cause unneeded stress. Jewelry and watches rarely make it through Mexican customs)
  • Spices 
  • Liquids
  • Motorized vehicles (this prohibition comes with several exceptions—especially if you’re driving across the border)
  • Images representing children in a degrading or ridiculous way (which wildly enough, includes all “Garbage Pail Kids” products and cards)

Unfortunately, the best way to avoid frustrations with prohibited items is to not ship them. Trying to skirt around these prohibitions isn’t just frustrating, it’s illegal. Additionally, many of these items can be purchased and shipped within Mexico at an affordable cost!

Other Mexican Shipping Restrictions

Outside of basic packages, Mexico has a few other shipping restrictions you need to be aware of before clicking go on your package. Some of these restrictions only apply to certain demographics of shippers—such as immigrants to Mexico. However, plenty of people get trapped in the web of shipment chaos, so it’s best you know all the facts! 

If you’re moving to Mexico, either permanently or temporarily, you’ll receive a one-time, tax-free import of your personal goods—also known as a Menaje de Casa. HOWEVER, this process has serious restrictions on what items can be included—no matter your shipping service. The primary restriction on your Household Goods Shipment is that most (if not all) items must be opened or used. 

This includes, but is not limited to: 

  • Consumable paper goods
  • Canned goods
  • Toiletries and cosmetics
  • Taxidermy items
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Collectibles (coins, etc) 
  • Batteries
  • Bulk items (all bulk items might be seen as ‘intended for sale’)

On the bright side, you can still move most of these goods into the country, they just won’t be tax free if they violate the Household Goods Shipment rules. Diplomats may receive exceptions to some of these rules on a case-by-case basis.

What is the best way to ship items to Mexico?

The best way to ship items to Mexico is to avoid ecommerce complications and ship directly from an international address via a virtual mailbox. At Traveling Mailbox, we work with all major mail carriers, including USPS, DHL, FedEx, and UPS, to bring you consistently low shipping rates and international access. 

We might not be able to change shipping laws, but we can make legal shipping options as simple as possible. By working with multiple carriers, we ensure your access to your mail, anywhere! Additionally, we believe in shipping transparency throughout your journey. Just check our shipping calculator for any package pricing concerns!

Try Traveling Mailbox today and stop trying to decode shipping laws when you should be drinking margaritas.