Moving Your Household From up North to Cabo

BY TERRY GRAY CURTIS

You finally purchased the perfect home or condo here in paradise and you are ready to move your furniture and personal items on down from the U.S. or Canada. 

In Spanish this is referred to a “menaje de casa,” which literally means: goods of the house. It is completely legal to do this as a foreigner residing permanently or temporarily in Mexico but does not apply to new items, which is a different process.

There are basically 2 completely different ways to do this, which I will describe.  The first option, which we will call the “stressful one,” is to load up your truck and or trailer and head for the border for a drive down the beautiful Baja. 

Having personally made this drive each way 200+ times there are some pros and cons just to the drive alone with or without your worldly possessions. The two options related to this choice are 1) To pose as a tourist with false pretenses of returning with your items and 2) Passing through the declaration line at the vehicle entry into Baja.

Option 1) Would mean going through the red light/green light process, just like when you fly into the airport. However, at the vehicle port of entry unlike the airport, getting the green light is not cart blanch. 

When the Customs officials see you loaded up and especially if you have the Beverly Hillbillies loading style, they will pull you into secondary for inspection and interrogation. This is an experience you will not enjoy and usually results with a free gate opening between the 2 countries and express line cutting to go right back into the U.S. Crossing that port of entry is another interesting experience with the first question the BPM asking “so how long were you in Mexico?” Been there done that.

Option 2) Is going legal beagle by getting your permit from the Mexican consulate and going through the declaration line coming into Baja. Obtaining this permit is potentially time consuming, costly and a hassle to begin with requiring a detailed list of all of your items to be brought into Mexico, translated into Spanish. Once generated, it is to be presented to the Mexican Consulate in the U.S. or Canadian city of the state or province of your residence for the application and instructions of payment for the permit. 

The details of acquiring this permit can vary from one Consulate office to the other, as do your immigration status requirements. You will need to do some homework to understand this process.

When you arrive at the port of entry with your load to declare, paid permit to come on in, be prepared to experience some delay, possibly more cost. Again, unfortunately having this permit is not cart blanch either as I personally know people who were turned back around to the U.S. at this point, with the permit. I also know people who passed through without extensive delay or additional cost. Been there done that too.

The “less stressful” way to move your “menaje de casa” is to hire a proven, reliable international shipping company. Be sure they specialize in this process, have been doing it for years, and can provide at least 5-10 recent client references to you. I suggest you check the references. 

This company, if they know what they are doing, will ask you for a complete list of numbered boxes or totes and a brief description of the contents. They will also ask you for photos and or measurements of any furniture, beds, frames, couches etc. With this information provided they will generate an ESTIMATE to transport your items to Cabo.

Most of these companies will originate their shipping from San Diego and some can help facilitate getting your things from your home in the U.S. or Canada to their warehouse in SD.  This is a separate process however and there are companies in your hometown that can provide “pods” for you to pack your items in and then deliver them to San Diego for you. 

The best companies will handle all of the paperwork for you to minimize the stress of your life-changing move. Once your items arrive in SD an inventory should be taken and compared with your list provided to determine a true cost for shipping. 

Any incorrectly package items should be re-packed if needed for transport. Then will be safely loaded into a 53’ trailer and transported to Cabo, where everything is unloaded and inventoried, again. 

The time from when your shipment hits the ware house in SD and is delivered to your home in Los Cabos should be 7-10 days, really no more. 

If you are working with a professional company they will make an appointment with you for local delivery and send the smaller truck from their warehouse in Cabo to your new home. They will arrive on time with a crew to unload, unpack, place your items where you prefer in your home and haul all of the packing material off for you. This service is normally included with the cost for transport.

There can always be extra details or exceptions in this process if sending extra fragile items like a Grand Piano or pool table etc. But it can be done, just keep in mind it is a process and your choice of which company you have do this for you is a critical decision.

 

Terry Gray Curtis is 30 year Cabo resident with 25 years of Baja transporting experience and is general director of Los Cabos Shipping & Freight, Mail boxes Los Barriles and Mail Boxes Todos Santos.  He may be reached at Tel USA 310.272.9500 or Mex 624.151.5530, mailbaja.com & cabofreight@gmail.com