Background

Mexico’s Ministry of Economy recently amended the regulation setting forth general rules and criteria on foreign trade in an effort to more effectively ensure compliance with the labeling requirements for a range of products. These changes affect such products as textiles and apparel, travel goods of textile materials, leather and leather products, footwear, electric and electronic products, pre-packaged foods and beverages, cosmetic products, and personal hygiene products, among many others.

Importantly, the new rules eliminate provisions that exempted the following goods from procedures aimed at ensuring compliance with Mexico’s labeling requirements.

- goods imported for use directly by the natural person who imported them, provided they would not be subsequently commercialized, directly or indirectly, as part of a business activity

- goods that would not be sold to consumers as imported, provided the importer vowed to use them in the provision of professional services or to carry out production processes, sell or transfer them to legal entities for use in professional services or production processes, or import them for reconditioning or packaging processes (in the case of goods not presented in retail packaging)

- certain goods imported into border areas for specific commercial activities

A number of exemptions remain, such as those for non-commercial samples, temporary importations, goods in transit, goods intended for bonded duty-free shops, and goods imported for production, transformation, and repair in a bonded facility.

The regulatory amendments also narrow the options importers have to ensure compliance with the relevant labeling regulations. For a broad range of products, such as those mentioned above, these options now include the following.

(1) presenting the goods for customs clearance together with proof of conformity with the labeling requirements (original or copy) issued by a properly accredited verification or inspection body, so that the customs authorities may verify that the information on the labels coincides with that on the proof of conformity

(2) ensuring compliance in an authorized bonded warehouse

(3) ensuring compliance in Mexican territory, as long as an authorization is obtained from the customs authorities and appropriate inspection and verification actions are carried out (this option may only be used by importers registered for at least two years and having imports of at least US$100,000 during the preceding 12-month period)

Importers no longer have the option of presenting the goods for customs clearance without proof of conformity, so that the customs authorities could perform an inspection to ensure labels were properly affixed and contained all appropriate information. However, certain goods will still be deemed compliant if they have a properly affixed label and contain all required information, without the need to submit proof of conformity.

If the authorities find that an importer has failed to comply with the requirements of points (2) and (3) above, the importer will be barred from taking advantage of those flexibilities for 12 months. The rules also provide that if a label includes incorrect information regarding the name, tax ID (RFC), and address of the producer or importer, the importer must communicate that fact to the authorities and will be given six months to make all applicable changes to the label.

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