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Camera Housings & Potential Customs Issue


Though rare, there have been occurrences in which tourists bringing camera housings into Mexico have been charged VAT (Value Added Tax) on the housing.

When arriving at the airport, you will go through customs.


If you are one of the people chosen for inspection and you have a camera housing, this may cause an issue. The reason is that a camera housing is considered professional equipment and is not on the acceptable list of sporting goods equipment that can be brought into the country.

Please know that the various liveaboards in Mexico are working together to have camera housings added to this list.

Again, this may or may not be an issue.

If it is not an issue at customs, just go on your way.

If you do get stopped and it is an issue, having a copy of a receipt showing the item and the price can help you. You may be charged 16% VAT on this price.

If you do not provide a copy of a receipt, the customs agent may do a computer search to look for the housing that you have to establish a price.

Of course, the lower the price on the receipt, the lower the VAT. There is just no way around that unless you want to purchase a carnet.

* * * * *


A carnet is a document that allows for the temporary importation of goods including “professional equipment”.

The price for a carnet would be $500 – $525.

A company that can help you with this is

Boomerang Carnets


The individual applies on-line for this and it should be done a minimum of one week in advance. The carnet takes 24-48 hours but the company also has to register it in Mexico so it is wise to add 2-3 days for this.

The individual would need to supply a copy of their most recent tax return. They can black out their social security number.

Once they get the carnet and they arrive in Mexico, they show the carnet to customs. This should let them bring the housing into the country. When they exit Mexico, they need to go to customs again to show that the housing is leaving the country.

A carnet lasts for six months and can be extended.

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