Bringing camera equipment into Mexico may cost you
Be careful as regards how much camera equipment you bring into Mexico as your secondary or backup equipment could be considered an import which is liable to considerable taxes.
Following our report about divers being charged tax on their personal photo equipment, we wrote to the Mexican tourism minister and contacted some embassies to seek their comments and clarification on the matter. The Mexican Ministry of Tourism never responded to any of our inquiries or requests for comment, and we had to reach out to several Mexican embassies and press them for an answer before we got the following reply from Mexico's embassy in Toronto, Canada.
Mexican embassy's response:
About your inquiry, the Mexican law states that persons who visit Mexico as tourists, can introduce without paying taxes:
Two photographic or video recording cameras; photographic material; three portable cell phones or other wireless networks; a global positioning equipment (GPS); an electronic diary; a portable computer equipment of the so-called laptop, notebook, omnibook or similar; a portable copier or printer; a burner and a portable projector, with its accessories.
If travelers want to introduce any additional equipment than what is above stated, they will be required to pay taxes since it will be considered as a temporary import regardless of the purpose.
It would be necessary to review each case to determine if the equipment was contemplated on the list or if it exceeded what is allowed and therefore, should pay taxes.
Our take/conclusions so far
The embassy’s response can at best be described as partial since several of our essential questions were not answered. Among other things, we wanted to know whether they acknowledged that slamming unwitting tourists with such huge fines and leaving them with a very bad experience was counterproductive and painted the country in a negative light. We also wanted to know what, if anything, was being done to inform tourists of these fees through, for example, tour operators and travel agents. We did not get an answer about these specific points, so we presume that nothing is being done. (It is somewhat telling that the link that the embassy forwarded only exists in Spanish). So, how are tourists from other countries with other languages ever going to find out?