We had the delightful (cough, cough) opportunity to make a passage through Customs (Aduana) in Puerto Vallarta recently and observed some of the do’s and don’ts. (Smile) Our experience took place at the airport and we thought it mind be kind and thoughtful to share what we have known for years.
We, most of us, know what is absolutely forbidden, such as guns, mace, pornography, contraband drugs, etc. However, there are subtleties that can innocently escape us and there are also questions for which we should be on the alert.
When bringing a new item through airport security and customs in Puerto Vallarta, such as a large electronic like a printer; or a car part, large or small; anything that is obviously a recent purchase… make sure you have the receipt and don’t try to feign honesty. It could be more costly. Often a custom officer will pull a number out of thin air to charge as duty tax OR they will calculate the 16% of your proven paperwork. But if you don’t properly declare it, provide the proof of your purchase, you run the risk of paying an erroneously high amount of tax.
In front of us was a disgruntled man, all ready for the beach in his khaki shorts, floral shirt and straw hat. He did NOT understand WHY he had gotten a RED light and WHY people were RUMMAGING through his belongings he has so neatly packed and were now being completely disorganized. It is far better to smile and nod, rather than raise a ruckus, which will encourage further rummaging.
We brought in a number of items for hurricane victims on our last trip into Puerto Vallarta. We were asked were they new. No, they were all used. Were they clean? Yes, we had laundered them all. This is important information. As far as the customs officer knows, as nice as these articles look, they could easily harbor and ferry vermin. They have only our word to go on. If your word is not accompanied by a smile and a lot of friendly nods, you may discover the true meaning of the Gore Vidal quote “No good deed goes unpunished.”
Some of us ask friends (or friends on Facebook) to bring things from across the border. This can range from a difficult-to-find spice or personal mail/documents or impossible-to-find car part… you get the idea. We call this burro’ing or muling. It’s considerate and helpful but we are also totally aware of the contents of any package.
Smile. Don’t say “Oh, great,” if the button you pushed responds with a glaring scarlet. Smile. Nod. Guaranteed, the more you protest, the more they will react. Remember the customs people have the privilege of wearing their uniform for a cause. They are trained and they have authority. It’s their job and they take it seriously. You should, too.
Que es cómo es.
Thanks to our Guest Blogger Adam Garcia for this great article!
The founder of the company, Vanessa Cole, lived in Puerto Vallarta for 10 years and in Cancun for 2 years. She has worked in Luxury Vacation Villa Rentals since 2001.
Originally from San Antonio, Texas, Vanessa earned a degree from the University of Texas in Austin, majoring in International Business and Latin American Studies. Fluent in Spanish, she has worked and traveled all over Mexico and South America.
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