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How to Export a Component for Repair and Return from Mexico


It took us just over 8 weeks from the time our radar failed until it was returned to us after warrantee repairs.  It was a struggle.  Our suppliers made mistakes, the courier made mistakes and we made mistakes.  A key element in getting it done is keeping after the parties who are the links in the chain.  At almost every step we had to follow up and keep the wheels greased.  If you don't do that, something will go wrong and the process stops.

In the case of our radar, it seemed a simple matter to ship it back to the US distributor and service center then get it shipped back.  We had previously bought a temporary import certificate which customs assured us would make imports and exports for the boat easy.  Hah! 

The other major problem was that neither the suppliers or the couriers or customs showed much initiative when things went off the rails.  They just ignore the problem.  Then everything stops.  So you need to be politely on there case at the slightest hint of trouble.

So! Here is our advice to minimize Mexican export/import problems with thanks to Silvia at the Marina Mazatlan:

1)  Contact the supplier who will repair the unit.  Let them know it is coming and let them know that special shipping instructions will apply.  Get an RMA if the supplier needs it.  Get it in writing as to who will pay the shipping.

2)  Package the item to be shipped.  Use twice the packing material you would expect necessary.

3)  Create an Aduana (customs) package.  It will be a zip lock bag taped to the outside of the box and label "Aduana".  Do not tape the top of the bag shut.

4)  Into the customs package put copies of your passport, your boat registration, your temporary import certificate,  an export permit and a note to Aduana explaining that the item is for repair and return.  The note should be in Spanish and English.

5)  Into the box put a note to the supplier insisting that they insure the customs package is attached to the container the unit is returned in.  Instruct them to put the repair work order into the customs package.

6)  Use DHL as the courier.  Or better yet, if Alaska Airlines frequents an airport near you, ship via Alaska air.  Doing so will avoid the feared Mexico City customs off and only somewhat less feared Guadalajara customs office.  DHL should be able to help with the export certificate.

If you are in a marina,  get the marina office to help with the packaging and shipping.  They will help you deal with the language barrier.

7)  Get the tracking number and watch the package everyday to insure it moves.

8)  Call the supplier the minute the package arrives.  Talk to the technicians and ask when you can expect it back.  Talk to the shipping department and ensure they will comply with your shipping instructions.

9)  Call the supplier the day the unit is supposed to be repaired and get the return tracking number.

10)  The minute there is a hint of a delay,  call, or better yet - visit in person - the DHL office where the package is to be shipped to.

11)  Resolve the problem.  If customs delays are posted, talk to the people in customs.  DHL will put you in touch with the proper persons at customs.

12)  Call every day until the problem is solved and you have the package in your hands.

13)  Be ready to pour money at the the problem.

14)  Assume there is a problem.  Act at the earliest possible time.

Had we known all of this prior to shipping the radar we likely could have cut the time in half.