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Research by Country/Region January 16, 2018  

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A. Is this country a member of the Information Technology Agreement?

B. Customs documentation requirements for IT products

C. Software: duties and taxes, updates, licenses, electronically delivered

D. IT services: tax treatment and other regulations

E. Refurbished, used, or repaired computer equipment imports

Signatories to the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) have eliminated their import duties on a wide range of information technology products, including software and computer hardware. For more information on the ITA, and exact tariff elimination schedules of signatories, click here.
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What are the documentation requirements for the physical import of software? For other information technology products?
The sole document required for importing software is the Certificate of Origin.

The documentation requirements for the import of most IT products include (see definitions below):
- Certificate of Origin
- NOM Certification
- Labeling Requirements
    The requirements and regulations for importing are still evolving under NAFTA. It is the responsibility of the importer to define what certificates are required and from whom to obtain them. The Mexican government strictly enforces all customs regulations, particularly when it comes to potentially under-valued Asian-origin goods.

    CERTIFICATE OF ORIGIN: A certificate of origin is required from all foreign suppliers or exporters. If the product qualifies as North American in content, the exporter must use the NAFTA Certificate of Origin in order to benefit from preferential treatment under NAFTA. This document may be issued by the exporter or broker and does not have to be validated or formalized.

    NOM CERTIFICATION: (Normas Oficiales Mexicanas - Mexican Official Standards). Mexico has mandatory standards, called NOMs, that certain products must meet. Most IT products are subject to NOM-019-SCI-94 (security requirements) and NOM-024-SCI-94 (commercial information, instructions, and guarantee criteria for electric and electronic products). Compliance with these standards must be demonstrated by all equipment and technologies by being tested in an accredited Mexican laboratory prior to importation, and a certificate of compliance must be obtained from the Ministry of Economy.

    LABELING REQUIREMENTS: Information Technology products are required to have a label in Spanish. Listing the required information in Spanish on the shipping container will satisfy the labeling requirement. This labeling requirement is continuously evolving. The Spanish information on the box must contain, at a minimum, the following information:

    - Name and address of the importer
    - Importer's Ministry of Finance Taxation Number (RFC number and/or their Industry Association registration number)
    - Exporter's name and address
    - Trademark or commercial brand name of the product
    - Product description whenever the product is packaged in such a form that it is not visible to the consumer
    - Use, handling, and care instructions for the product, as required
    - Country of origin

    The participation of a customs broker is not obligatory for imports if all legal and technical requirements are met. However, the participation of a customs broker is suggested when the exporter is not familiar with the Mexican standards and customs processing procedures.
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    Are duties assessed on the intellectual property of the software or on the medium on which is it presented?
    To identify the duties and taxes it is first required to know the medium in which the software is presented in order to correctly classify the import for customs purposes. However, the duties and taxes are assessed on the declared value by the importer of record (in other words, the value of the intellectual property). The import duty is calculated on the U.S. plant value (invoice) of the product plus the inland freight charges and any other costs listed separately on the invoice and paid by the importer, such as export packing.

    Although the above is true of most software imports into Mexico, the duty for software (both packaged and customized) imported from NAFTA countries (the United States and Canada) is zero if a Certificate of Origin is presented.

    Are taxes assessed on the intellectual property of the software or on the medium on which is it presented?
    Software imports are subject to a 15 percent Value Added Tax (VAT, or IVA in Spanish) of the CIF invoice value and the Customs Processing Fee (CPF). The CPF in Mexico is approximately US$13, and it is assessed on the invoice value. However, as of July 1, 1999, definitive imports with a certificate of origin from NAFTA countries are no longer subject to payment of the CPF.

    Is customized software treated differently than packaged software?
    Customized software is not treated differently than packaged software if a physical medium is involved. However, it is important to mention that customized software is often times considered under the category of consulting services. Consequently, there is no physical importation involved.
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    What are the customs duties and tax implications for software sold with updates when the full sales price, including cost of updates, is shown on the original commercial invoice? Are duties and taxes paid on that amount? What happens when the updates are sent at a later date? Are duties/taxes applied again? If so, based on what value? How should information presented on the commercial invoice for the original and subsequent shipments to avoid paying duties/taxes more than once on a single sale?
    Any update shipped at a later date than the original shipment is subject to the same import duties and VAT as any regular importation. If the original invoice and shipment clearly specifies that updates will be shipped later, but the cost of the updates is included in the invoice, the update shipment will still be subject to the VAT. It is common to include the cost for the updates in the original invoice and send the updates via Internet in order to avoid paying duties and taxes, but the importation must be declared in any case.
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    Are software licenses classified in Harmonized System 4907?
    Software licenses ares classified under Harmonized System Code 8524.9101.

    Are import duties/taxes applied? If so, on what cost/price base are they levied?
    The same import duties and taxes mentioned in A and B above apply if the licenses are not included in the original shipment and invoice.

    Are withholding or other additional taxes applied on software licenses? If yes, how?

    If a U.S. license agreement is included in the packaging or is part of the installation/registration of shrink-wrapped software imported from the United States, would that agreement be binding on consumers in your market? If so, would U.S. or local laws pertain?
    If the software is registered with the Mexican Institute for Industrial Property (IMPI-Instituto Mexicano de la Propiedad Industrial), then there is a legal protection in Mexico, and the local law will apply in case of license agreement infringement. Note that registration with the IMPI is not mandatory. The IMPI has an ongoing inspection program, called “Zero Tolerance,” in which the IMPI confirms that users have the corresponding licenses.
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    Are taxes applied to software delivered to the end-user over the Internet? If so, on what value?
    There is no special tax for software purchased/delivered over the Internet. The same import duties and taxes apply if the importation is registered with the Mexican authorities, even though the physical product is not presented. However, since there are no regulations to register software delivered over the Internet, this is not a common practice.

    Would the situation be different if this software were instead delivered to a distributor who has a license to produce (replicate) and sell the software?

    What are the documentation requirements for the electronically delivered import of digitized products (i.e. software, movie downloads) over the Internet or other networks?
    There are no regulations to register software delivered over the Internet.

    Must an electronically delivered software import be accompanied by a physical shipment of the same product?
    This is not a requirement for Mexico. Electronically delivered software is neither regulated nor tracked by any government agency in Mexico.
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    Are services (i.e. training, set-up, etc) relating to the sale of software taxed? If so, at what rate and based on what value?
    Training, set-up, maintenance, or other services related to the sale of software are not subject to any type of tax unless an invoice is provided. If an invoice is provided, the local company is subject to the 15-percent VAT and an approximate 30-percent income tax (Impuesto Sobre la Renta – ISR).

    Are U.S. IT solution providers permitted to send personnel into the country to set up hardware/software-related systems?

    Are special visa, work permits, and/or professional certification by an accredited body required?
    There are no visas or work permits required for qualified U.S. solution providers to set up hardware/software related systems in Mexico.
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    Is the import of refurbished computer hardware, parts, and accessories (including toner cartridges) permitted?
    Refurbished or used computer hardware equipment cannot be imported into Mexico. Exemptions may apply for equipment that is NOT manufactured in Mexico. However, a previous import permit from the Ministry of Economy is required, which is extremely difficult to obtain and, from a practical standpoint, not a recommended approach. It should be noted that there are very few computer hardware products not already manufactured in Mexico, and thus very few products would qualify for an exemption.

    Donations of refurbished/used equipment are authorized if the proper documentation to prove the donation is submitted. Equipment to be donated also requires a previous import permit and needs to comply with the NOMs mentioned above. In practice, it is very difficult to meet the requirements for even donated used equipment.

    Annex 3081 of the NAFTA states that the liberalization of refurbished/used computer equipment may occur in 2004. That said, there is no obligation to liberalize the importation of refurbished/used computer equipment. In fact, many industry analysts believe that the Mexican government will not liberalize this market in 2004 due to opposition of the many large computer manufacturers in Mexico.

    Re-furbished toner cartridges can be imported into Mexico.
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    Same answers apply as to refurbished equipment (see answers above).
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    Rules on re-import of repaired computer equipment
    This process requires the services of a customs broker. When sending the equipment back to the United States, the customs broker will process a temporary “pedimento de exportación” (export permit), in which it must be clearly stated that the equipment will be repaired or substituted. This document must accompany the repaired or substituted equipment when entering Mexico. The equipment is subject to import duties and VAT assessed on the value of the repair service and not the equipment. If the equipment is covered by a guarantee program, a copy of the guarantee statement must accompany the equipment when it is returned to Mexico in order to avoid the imposition of import duties and VAT.
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    This response was prepared by the U.S. Department of Commerce/Commercial Service in Mexico City, Mexico, in February 2003. For further clarification please contact:
    Angeles Avila
    Commercial Specialist
    U.S. Embassy, Mexico City

    Special Notes: The above information is intended to serve only as unofficial guidance. In seeking to obtain government rulings in specific cases, it will often be necessary to refer to special laws, separate regulations and announcements, and case-by-case decisions by the government. Beyond the general guidelines shown above, legal counsel should be retained at an early stage of consummation of a major procurement contract, and before entering into any legal commitments.

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