This is the second installment in my answers to my new email buddy who is considering moving to Cabo. Her questions included ‘how will we get our stuff down there’. Ah, there are several ways to do it. Here’s how Bob and I did it so many years ago.
When you move to Mexico you’ll need a permanent resident visa, or FM3. Once you’ve gotten one you are entitled to a one-time free pass on bringing in household goods, etc. As memory serves this document is called a manejo de casa, or some such. Your mover will help with the paperwork. You will make a list of everything you’re bringing, and label each box with a number and the contents. You can’t mix up categories. For example, if you have a box of belts, it only contains belts. Purses go in another box. Dishes go in their own box, glasses another. You get the picture. Things that are unboxed, such as furniture or electronics, get a number. Handy hint: add three or four boxes to your inventory and label them ‘miscellaneous’. You’ll undoubtedly have forgotten something. Once you’ve gotten the paperwork filled out and your inventory complete you’ll take the whole mess to the nearest Mexican consulate with your passports, FM-3’s and whatever else the mover tells you. As memory serves we needed multiple copies of some items.
Don’t worry; this is not an all day adventure. When you get to the consulate they’ll steer you into the correct line which is undoubtedly much, much shorter than the lines of Mexicans renewing passports. As in, no one in that line at all. The nice person at the consulate will take all your paperwork and send you off to have brunch somewhere. When you return they will give you your papers back, with all sorts of lovely stamps and seals. DO NOT alter anything at this point, including removing staples. You’ll note they folded over pages and stamped across the seam. Any alteration after this point voids the whole thing. You will also notice that your FM-3 has a big sticker on one page stating that you have used your once-in-a-lifetime free pass. As I recall they keep one copy of the inventory.
Now here’s an interesting point: if you and your spouse have different last names, or aren’t officially married, you can each get one move, using one now and holding the other’s right in reserve. That’s what our mover suggested and told Bob to wait in the car, but he came in and the consul person saw us together, requested both FM-3s and stamped them both as used. Not that we’ve ever needed it, but I guess if we decided to go on a major buying spree up there it would be handy to use the second pass.
Anyway, your mover will come and get the paperwork and all your items and take it from there. About a week or so later you’ll be reunited with your stuff in Cabo. They will get it across the border, through Customs and shipped down.
Now I’ve been mentioning ‘mover’. Depending on where you’re coming from you may need plural movers. We were coming from north San Diego County, so were close enough for the import company to do the whole thing, and their costs were quite reasonable. There are several import companies, who may have different policies. If you’re too far from the border they may help with the paperwork but ask you to have someone like Bekins bring the stuff as far as the border, where they will take over and do their thing.
Then it’s just a matter of you putting the last things (I’d hold out any valuables like jewelry) in your car and driving down. If it’s too far you can ship your car, too, but we had a pack of dogs to transport. Your doggies or kitties will need a valid health certificate, just like coming to visit. You can also fly them down, checking with the airline way in advance. At certain times of the year flying pets is prohibited.
Other people I’ve known have purchased trailers and hauled their stuff down by themselves. That’s a bit too do-it-yourself for me, but you might try that. Some haven’t bothered with the paperwork and just held their breath crossing the border. Waaay too scary for conservative Carol.
Our move was a long time ago, but I do recall the cost of all this as being quite reasonable. It will help if you can be a little flexible on the timing: if they can fit your stuff into available space when they’ve only got a partial load versus having to get it there by a certain date the price might be better. Also, because of the specificity of the labeling we found it better to use document boxes (like you can buy at Office Depot) instead of regular moving boxes. And all of this needs to be used goods; you can’t go buy a new refrigerator and put it on the list. If you’re going this route at least take it out of the box and scuff it up a little so it looks used when Customs inspects your load. Your mover will give you good advice on this: it pays to listen to the experts. They know what you can and can’t get away with. You will want to bring your own linens, and I did get away with some new items in this category.
We used to get transferred within the US often. The first five years of our marriage we didn’t spend Christmas in the same house twice! After all that experience I can say that our move here was a breeze. And no, we’ve never regretted doing it.
Carol Billups is Broker/Owner of REALTY EXECUTIVES Los Cabos. A Certified Home Marketing Specialist, she has enjoyed working with both buyers and sellers for over nine years and still thinks hers is the best job on earth. She is also the real estate columnist for Los Cabos Magazine and the real estate co-ordinator for the Los Cabos Now program on CaboMil FM (www.cabomil.com.mx). You can read more of her articles on www.reloscabos.com. You can reach her from the U.S. or Canada at 1-760-481-7694, or in Cabo at 044-624-147-7541.
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© 2010 Carol S. Billups