The Google search terms moving to Mexico and move to Mexico have been spiking recently as aspiring expats from the U.S., Canada and other countries discover what the over 1 million expats in Mexico already know: Mexico is a great place to live.
If you are moving to Mexico this year or considering a move, you should have a game plan to ensure that your move goes smoothly. In this article we will cover the important steps required to make your move to your new home in Mexico if you decide to use an international moving company.
No matter how you plan to move your belongings to Mexico, you will need a Temporary Visa, or Residente Temporal. You can find most of the immigration information in our Mexico Immigration section before you visit your closest Consulate of Mexico office to apply for your visa .
Moving Your Household Goods
Results from our Expats in Mexico Survey showed that about one-third of expats moving to Mexico used an international moving company to ship all or some of their household goods. This is the preferred method for expats who purchase homes and wish to bring a large portion or all of their household goods from the U.S., Canada or other countries.
For those renting homes in Mexico, other methods like self-moving and sell and replace are popular options. Over 90 percent of the long-term rental homes in Mexico are furnished. We cover these other moving methods in our article, “Moving to Mexico: Self-Moving May Be Your Best Option.”
International Moving Companies
The first thing to understand about using international moving companies is that prices vary for essentially the same level of service, so getting multiple estimates is essential. For this article, we contacted three major international moving companies in the San Francisco Bay Area: Bekins, Allied International and Crown Relocations for a move from the San Jose-area to Puerto Vallarta.
All three companies were very responsive and were represented by very knowledgeable professionals who came to my home to determine what household goods would be shipped to Mexico. The in-home interview process took about 30 – 45 minutes and included an inventory of all items to be shipped, as well as a careful explanation of what the company would provide and my role in the process.
Once the in-home interview was completed, the company prepared a proposal based on the estimated weight of what I was planning to move and the services requested/provided.
For this article, I requested a full move of all my household goods from my 2,000 square foot home, including appliances. Additionally, I asked each company to unpack and remove all boxes in Puerto Vallarta, my destination in Mexico.
Insurance was not included in the estimate, but is generally calculated at 2.5 – 3 percent of the total sum insured, depending on company policy. Some companies may offer several different insurance plans, depending upon your needs. Generally, their base rate will be sufficient for most moves.
For this full-service plan, prices varied by over 20 percent from the lowest priced carrier to the most expensive. All estimates were based on ground transportation to Mexico, although shipping goods by sea is an option, but about US$1,000 more expensive in most cases, depending upon where you are moving.
Crown Relocations – the largest relocation company in the world – was the most expensive with an estimate of US$20,700. Bekins/AMS Relocation was second with an estimate of US$17,858 and Allied International was about US$16,700. Shipping goods from Canada generally is more expensive because of higher taxes imposed by the country, according to an international moving company representative.
Most international shipping companies have a minimum charge generally based on one liftvan of goods, about US$5,000 to Puerto Vallarta. A liftvan is 7’ X 7’ and holds about 1,000 pounds of household goods.
All estimates for this example included packing materials, packing at home, inventory itemization, transporting goods/customs clearance, unpacking at destination, reassembly of items as needed, removal of packing materials, export/import documentation and any required port of entry fees.
The inventory itemization step also includes preparation of the Menaje de Casa document, which is required by Mexico Customs. The Menaje de Casa is a typed list in Spanish of all the household goods you will be shipping, specifying quantity and description of each item, as well as the brand, model and serial numbers of electronic appliances. Four original sets signed by you are required.
Once your goods are shipped from your moving company’s warehouse to Mexico, it generally takes about three weeks for your household goods to arrive.
In the U.S. packing must be done by the mover because of Homeland Security requirements and for insurance coverage. You do not, however, need to include and pay for unpacking at your destination in Mexico and removal of used boxes, unless you want this service.
Before you call for estimates, you should determine in advance what is to be shipped and what is to be sold, donated or given away. International moving companies base their estimates on the total weight of what you will be shipping, so a thorough pruning of your household goods is a must if you want to minimize expenses.
When moving to Mexico day arrives, trust your mover but leave nothing to chance. Personally oversee the packing of your goods and do not leave while packing is underway. If you have valued and cherished possessions, make sure they receive special packaging and they are marked well so you know what is in the box upon arrival at your new home.
While your goods are in transit, stay in contact with your mover. The best international moving companies have online tracking capability so you can follow the progress of your shipment. Also make sure that your mover has English-speaking representatives you can communicate with in Mexico.
When the mover contacts you to arrange delivery of your goods, be sure to clearly communicate directions to your home. Often goods are transferred from a regional warehouse in the country or a port facility and the team handling the delivery may not be familiar with your city.
Once unpacking begins, check every item off your inventory list and inspect for damage. Make sure you photograph any damaged item and make detailed notes for insurance claims, including missing items.
How do you go about finding the best moving company for your needs?
You can of course follow our recommendations below and vet companies on your own or try this international service that will match your city of origin and destination with the five best international movers who will then send quotes in about a day. We tested this service and did receive five quotes, all from reputable companies and the quotes were in range of what we actually paid three years ago. When we wrote to say we no longer needed to move, all emails ceased. No harassment, no online targeting with ads.
First, look for companies that have been in business for at least ten years, check their Better Business Bureau (BBB) ratings and then research their accreditation. There are several international organizations that list qualified members, including FIDI – the largest global alliance of independent international moving companies in the world – and the International Association of Movers (IAM).
Also look for companies that have a good balance between corporate and individual moves. Those that do most of their business with corporations tend to be more expensive. And finally, ask each company to provide you with three references to contact. There is nothing better than hearing first-hand from expats who have recently experienced a move to Mexico.
Your Checklist for Moving to Mexico
Identify and Organize Important Documents
- Proof of citizenship (this document is required if you are a naturalized citizen)
- Work permits (if required)
- Immunization certificates
- Medical/dental records
- School records/diplomas
- Marriage certificate
- Birth certificates
- Social Security cards
- Veterinary International Health Certificate (if you are bringing pets)
Organize Important Records and Papers
- Draw up a power of attorney to leave with a lawyer, relative or friend so they can act legally on your behalf while you are living abroad.
- Update the will of each adult member of your family.
- Set up a revocable living trust and place your assets in it, if you maintain real estate assets in the U.S. or Canada.
- Create a medical directive that includes a healthcare power of attorney. This document designates someone to make medical decisions for you if you are unable, and a living will, which lists your treatment preferences in case of terminal illness or permanent unconsciousness.
- Scan important papers such as past tax returns on a portable storage device and provide a copy to someone in your home country.
The Other Little Things We Sometimes Forget
- Registry of motor vehicles
- Voter registration office
- Financial institutions
- Credit card companies
- Social Security
- City, state and federal tax offices
- Home, health, vehicle and life Insurance companies
- Magazine subscriptions
- Schedule appointments with your personal physician, dentist and optometrist for all members of your family
- Get duplicate prescriptions for glasses and contact lenses for family members using them
- Schedule final account readings for gas, water, electricity, telephone and cable/satellite television
- Cancel all rental agreements
- Close accounts with any regular delivery to your home