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US Customs 'Vehicle Export' "Permit" - Entering Mexico from the US

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aerofast's picture
Joined: Jul 26 2008

I was just browsing through a thread in the forum and read something about a US Customs Vehicle Export Permit, which I had not heard of before.


How exactly does this work? I thought you "walked up to" the Mexican side and dealt with them exclusively, in the case of the US-Mexico crossing. Their website, while not 'unclear' per se, is not specific enough I believe. Plus, they talk about a 72-hour ahead-of-time submission of paperwork. With so many cars crossing every day, I just can't wrap my head around the idea that everybody follows this to a T.
Plus, what does the government care if the car ever returns to the US or not? I just don't see where they'd have jurisdiction once the vehicle has left the US, or how they can stop you from taking it - isn't it Mexico the one that requires you be the owner of the vehicle (ie is Mexico's requirements what you have to fulfill here, not the US's), be this either someone taking a car across the border over the weekend or someone going down to Guatemala (or anywhere south for that matter) and getting rid of it. I'm hoping I'm really missing something here and that this doesn't apply to owner-travelers.

I guess I just REALLY want to get my point across as clearly as possible. My bottom line is, I've never read something that says "make sure you have your US export permit before you approach Mexican border officials". So what is this all about? What is the step by step procedure between leaving San Antonio in the AM hoping to be in Monterrey by evening? Thanks for your help fellows

robertdjung's picture
Joined: Oct 31 2006

That form and process is only

That form and process is only necessary if you plan to legally "export" your car from the USA.

"Export" is defined on that page as this: Export. "Export" refers to the transportation of merchandise out of the U.S. for the purpose of being entered into the commerce of a foreign country

If you're traveling then it's not export because it's temporary.

So you'll just deal with the Mexicans, you don't need to deal with the USA customs. This is what is called a Temporary Importation Permit, and you get it from the country you're entering.

Does this answer the confusion, or help add to it? ;)

aerofast's picture
Joined: Jul 26 2008

Thanks Robert The thing is,

Thanks Robert

The thing is, some of us plan to NOT return the vehicle to the US - be it selling it along the way or using it permanently in CR or Panama for example (getting local plates etc). So I fully understand that you must get a (TEMPORARY) IMPORT PERMIT for all countries (and "sign out of them" as well, as I know you deal with both sides once south of Mexico.)

So in theory, "this is an export", but if the government can't tell me what to do with my car once south of the border, let alone when they don't even keep track of you exiting the country, who are these permits aimed for? (sea shipping? ->fees & statistical purposes?)

What is the benefit//applicable difference between "legally export" and "I just never brought it back to the US?"


robertdjung's picture
Joined: Oct 31 2006

aha, I see. I'm not sure

aha, I see.

I'm not sure that perhaps this is aimed at large scale manufacturing, something like that. I'm no expert on export law, but it could also be a way to get around paying taxes on goods intended for a foreign market. And then you have to show up at the border and prove that you're actually exiting with the goods.

I can certainly tell you that the US will never know if you don't bring your car back.

How did you end up at that page? Maybe that will give us some clues.

robertdjung's picture
Joined: Oct 31 2006

I read some of the links on

I read some of the links on the right side of that page, and it mentions "defense"-type goods a lot.