Recent statistics show that Mexico is the seventh largest manufacturer of light and heavy vehicles in the world. The main participating companies are foreign entities that in an effort to minimize labor costs and achieve a better manufacturing quality have chosen Mexico for these and other purposes. Alternatively, the Mexican Government has been promoting and supporting this industry because it is a great source of income for the country. For this reason it has recently been publishing new laws and regulations that appear to make this industry more profitable and attractive.
One of the most recent and relevant amendments to the automotive industry laws/regulations is known as the “deposito fiscal automotriz” (translated as bonded warehouse for the automotive industry). In the paragraphs below, you will find some of the most relevant legal aspects of this amendment that anyone investing in the automotive industry in Mexico must know about.
1. General Rule
Prior to fiscal deposits specifically created for the automotive industry, automotive companies were limited to use “almacenes generales de deposito” (similar to U.S. private bonded warehouses) authorized to operate under a “Deposito fiscal” customs regime (literally translated into English as fiscal deposit). Generally, this regime allows a bonded warehouse to store different types of foreign or national merchandise with the purpose to maintain, display, stamp commercial identification seals, analyze, pack, demonstrate and/or take samples of stored merchandise. Provided the applicable requirements are met, merchandise can only be withdrawn from the bonded warehouse with the purpose to import it into Mexico, to export it from Mexico, return it abroad from the Mexican territory, reincorporate it into the domestic market and/or temporarily import it via a maquiladoras/IMMEX. In order to prevent a suspension or revocation of the “deposito fiscal” customs regime authorization, these bonded warehouses must comply with the following requirements:
- Separate foreign and national goods.
- Have computer equipment available for the transmission of data to the Mexican Ministry of Finance (Secretaria de Hacienda y Credito Publico) in regard to the entry or withdrawal of goods.
- Comply with regulations and non-tariff restrictions.
2. Exception to the Rule
Considering the fiscal deposit custom regime can be used for different types of merchandise, the terms in which the requirements are written tend to be broad and general, and are all-encompassing for the automotive industry. Thus, to facilitate the customs operation process for the automotive industry, the Mexican government created the specific fiscal deposit or private bonded warehouse.
Some of the main benefits of this fiscal deposit tend to be more targeted for this industry and in some cases minimize the requirements and responsibilities in regard to the: a) applicable customs documentation (i.e. pedimento for import¹, certificate of origin, fiscal invoice, value manifest), b) final destination and use of samples or prototype units needed for tests or market studies, c) transferring of vehicles to other companies, d) importation of containers, machinery, equipment, tools, molds, spare parts, equipment for pollution control, research, quality control, administrative process needed to manufacture or assemble vehicles, tools used for transportation of goods, e) handling of destroyed, useless, harmed, obsolete vehicle units, g) transactions with IMMEX (so-called maquiladoras) registered as their suppliers, h) vehicle identification number information.
To obtain the benefits of this regime it is necessary to comply with the specific procedures and requirements outlined by the Mexican Ministry of Finance (so-called Secretaria de Hacienda y Credito Publico). This include paying the applicable fees, being under permanent fiscal and customs compliance, filing the corresponding annual reports regarding the goods, its Harmonized classification codes, import/exports procedures, etc., and filing the renewal application on time, among others.
The authorization to operate a bonded warehouse for the automotive industry can be for (10) ten years, and renewed for an additional (10) ten-year period.
¹Mexican customs form similar to the US entry summary form.