The Federal Government invites your production company to make full use of the advantages of filming in Mexico and for this reason ProMéxico has assembled a Government Production Services Platform with government agencies to offer you easy permit-processing procedures (from working visas to location shooting permits) following instructions step-by-step, with the guidance of your production manager, so you can have a wonderful film production experience in our country.
Film-Friendly Mexico presents you a general introduction on how to go about different procedures to obtain the necessary film production-related permits with the appropriate governmental agencies. You will also find contact information of the official in charge of service to production companies at each government office.
Working with your production manager we recommend you to continue these instructions step-by-step, requesting first the letter of accreditation and support issued by COMEFILM, which will allow you to initiate the necessary steps before the government agencies:
ProMéxico is an agency of the federal government that reports directly to the Economy Secretariat and its mandate is to plan, to coordinate and to execute the strategy to attract direct foreign investment to the country, to boost exports of Mexican products and to promote the internationalization of Mexican companies to contribute to the economic and social development of Mexico.
ProMéxico works with the Mexican Film Institute (IMCINE) and with the Mexican Film Commission (COMEFILM) to consolidate Mexico as a preferred film production destination, contributing this way to the flow of direct foreign investment into the country. ProMéxico is in charge of managing the operation of Film-Friendly Mexico, as an industry-promotion and support tool, and to highlight Mexico's tradition as a friendly country for international film and audio-visual production.
Through the operation of the Film-Friendly Mexico digital information resource, ProMéxico aims to:
Attract, to encourage and to support the foreign investment for the production of film and audio-visual projects.
Strengthen the infrastructure for film and audio-visual production.
Work in coordination with all the agencies of the Federal and State governments to ensure the establishment and execution of film-friendly policy and service platform nation-wide.
The National Immigration Institute (INAMI) is an agency of the Secretariat of the Interior, whose main function is the efficient and secure immigration management, based on an established legal framework.
To enter to the country you need a valid passport and depending on your nationality you will need a visa. See list of countries which citizens need from themselves to treat a visa to enter the country.
Once in the country, each crew member requests a change of his migratory status requesting a work permit. Individuals whose nationality has immigration restrictions will not be able to enter the country without having first requested and obtained a work permit.
It is recommended to leave all immigration arrangements to be done by the Mexican production team, allowing enough time so that the necessary permit processing is done well before production start date.
The letter of support issued by the Mexican Commission of Filming (COMEFILM) must be presented at the moment of applying for a work permit in Mexico through the INAMI since it will help you to expedite the paperwork processing. Nevertheless, the possession of the letter of support does not assure the approval, and should not be considered as a visa itself, the final decision lies with the federal immigration agent. For specific questions on the INAMI and the procedures regarding film and audio-visual productions, we invite you to visit the theme-related links for further guidance.
The mission of the Tributary Administration Service (SAT) through the General Customs Administration is to administer the processes of entry and exit of goods of national territory guaranteeing the correct application of the legislation and promoting the voluntary and opportune fulfillment of the fiscal obligations.
Because most foreign productions need to import specific materials to produce their projects, we recommend you to have a customs agent who shall work in coordination with your production manager to carry out the necessary procedures for your specific imports to Mexico, such as equipment, specialized materials, specialized vehicles and props, among other materials.
Film Friendly Mexico suggests you take note of the following recommendations related to temporary imports:
Temporary imports must be made through the intervention of a Customs agent, in the following cases:
When the goods that need to be temporarily imported are subject to the fulfillment of non-tariff regulations and restrictions.
There are certain types of goods that are subject to the fulfillment of regulations and non-tariff restrictions, for example: weapons, explosives, fireworks, chemicals, chemistry-related explosives and certain flora and fauna species, which will require the authorization of the relevant federal governmental entity for its legal internship to the country, be it the case of the Secretariat of Defense (SEDENA) or of the Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT), to mention a few. It is recommended to consult with your customs agent prior to the arrival of your goods to the country, if they are subject to the fulfillment of non-tariff regulations and restrictions, so that the all pertinent procedures are completed, avoiding delays in the temporary import of your goods.
When it is necessary to temporarily import transport and specialized vehicles.
The letter of support issued by the Mexican Film Commission (COMEFILM) will help you to expedite the permit processing and it will facilitate the acceptance processes when dealing with the specific governmental entities. This letter does not exceed the power of any competent federal authority who will finally determine how to proceed with the above- referred goods.
The temporary import can be done through the procedure established in the Rules of General Character in Foreign Trade.
When the goods that need to be temporarily imported are not subject to the fulfillment of non-tariff regulations and restrictions .
We invite you to review the Temporary Import Guide, in addition to the diverse film and audio-visual production-related permit processing administered by the SAT.
ATA CARNET FOR TEMPORARY IMPORTS: Tributary Information Service (SAT)
Filming in Mexico has become an even friendlier process with the recent implementation of the international ATA Carnet system for temporary imports, which was put into operation in June of 2011 by the Tributary Administration Service (SAT).
It is possible that, perhaps given your international experience you are already familiar with the ATA Carnet system, but if this is not the case Film-Friendly Mexico offers you a brief description of the system and a summary on its advantages:
The ATA Carnet is an International Temporary Goods Admission document valid in all the ATA Chain member countries that substitutes in Mexico the document known as "Pediment" (customs petition), in the temporary import or export of goods under certain assumptions and fulfilling certain requisites.
The Customs Administrations of all the countries have granted, certain ease of access for goods internship in their territories, making use of the ATA Carnet, with the purpose to stimulate commercial relations between the diverse countries. The ATA Carnet is a Customs document in the international arena.
The use of the ATA Card:
Expedites and simplifies processing before Customs of export or import goods in ATA Agreement countries.
Grants the possibility of traveling to a great number of countries with the same document.
Helps to overcome language barriers.
Avoids the need to hire a customs agent.
The goods being imported will not be subject to payment of taxes for foreign trade, compensatory fees or transition measures, as well as for the value-added tax, conditional on having the goods returned to country of origin in the previously established term.
This document is issued by the provider and guarantor association of ATA carnets of every member country of the ATA Carnet Customs Agreement. The National Chamber of Commerce of the Mexico City (CANACO) is the agency authorized to guarantee and issue ATA carnets in Mexico.
VERY IMPORTANT: Prior to the introduction of an ATA Carnet to Mexico, with which it is intended to temporarily import goods, it is indispensable to register it on the CANACO web, in the following link:
For more detailed information about the ATA Carnet system for Mexico, we suggest you to get in touch with the Mexican Film Commission (COMEFILM).
The Added Value Tax (VAT) Return is also a responsibility of The Tributary Administration Service (SAT). The tax exemption benefit is granted to all film or audio-visual projects produced in Mexico and whose primary commercial exploitation is to be done outside of the country and being considered an "export product" they are exempt from payment of this tax.
It is important for you to know that to have access to this benefit you will have to request it through a company established in Mexico.
We recommend you to request the support of your production manager support, which because of his/her experience will facilitate the process significantly.
To get the return of the VAT you must present each of your expense receipts generated in Mexico. We suggest you keep every voucher.
In the section Incentives and Financing of Film-Friendly Mexico, you will find more information on this issue.
NATURAL AREAS AND WILD LIFE - Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT)
The Secretariat for the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) is the agency in charge of fostering the protection, restoration and conservation of the ecosystems, natural resources and environmental goods and services, in order to propitiate its sustainable use and development. Being Mexico the fourth biodiversity of the world, one of principal attractions that the country offers are its spectacular locations.
If you production requires location shooting in protected natural areas you must request a permit to the SEMARNAT. The agency has frequently granted authorization of this type of locations for use in the production of movies, documentary series and television TV/radio commercials.
Permit processing for shooting in this type of location is done through SEMARNAT's General Directorate of Management for the Conservation, through the National Commission of Protected Natural Areas. The agency also has the authority to provide access to restricted areas of the Mexican ecosystem, to shoot your scenes if you can guarantee that there will be no impact to the environment or that impact would be in any case minimal and repairable and that it will be covered by the production company.
If your production requires to import a particular flora or fauna species, you must request a permit to the General Directorate of Wildlife, of the SEMARNAT, who establishes the necessary requirements for the import to the country of species of flora and fauna and whose introduction to the ecosystems of the national territory is not prohibited or represents some risk.
We suggest you to check with your Mexican production manager, each of the SEMARNAT procedures to shoot on location.
The National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) investigates, preserves and spreads the archaeological, anthropological, historical and paleontological patrimony of the nation. It is responsible for more than 110 thousand historic monuments constructed between the XVIth and XIXth centuries, and 29 thousand archaeological sites registered country-wide. Due to the unique nature and transcendence of the vast wealth of archaeological and historical places throughout the country, which are considered patrimony of Mexico and the world, location shoot permits must be done strictly through the INAH. To request permits please consider the following:
Securing of permits for shooting in archeological or historical locations may require more anticipation that any other process, since the production company, through its local production manager will have to present a specific filming project with script, storyboard/dummy, of the shoot to be done in the proposed historical location.
Shooting permit for these kind of locations is issued by the INAH Council, which in turn may suggest or in specific cases will indicate an alternate viable way to shoot the scenes without affecting the historical location should they consider that the proposed shoot plan represents a risk to national patrimony.
The reproduction of, or allusion to some historical elements that belong to the assets of the INAH, requires the processing of a special image use permit, which will be granted to the production if image of the historical patrimony of the nation is not distorted or has an inappropriate or disrespectful mediatic use.
For the delicate nature of this type of location it is very important to rely on the experience and negotiation abilities of your local production manager, who will help you, manage the permit issuance processing with the INAH and will offer you the necessary recommendations to shoot in this type of locations that always demand special care.
The letter of support issued by the Mexican Film Commission (COMEFILM) accredits your production company before government agencies like the INAH and it is of great help to advance fluently the permit issuance processing for location shooting. We recommend you to review with your local production manager the specific formats in order to anticipate requirements, times and costs.
The Secretariat of National Defense (SEDENA) is in charge of defending the integrity, the independence and the sovereignty of the nation, in a service-oriented environment as the rest of the institutions of the Federal Government, guaranteeing the safety of the country.
If your production requires the use of weapons or military equipment, be it real or prop material, of if you need to use explosives for special effects, we suggest you to take note of the following considerations:
You can import to the country certain types of explosives, gun powders, chemicals, weapons or specific weapon-related props for special effects, by strictly following the procedures established in the outlines that SEDENA provides, be it for final imports or temporary imports and imports or purchasing of explosives and fireworks.
The procedures outlines is a visual step by step reference guide on the necessary paperwork process to obtain SEDENA's permits to import these materials. Due to the hazardous nature of the materials and for its security implications, instructions must be followed to the letter to avoid any complication or delay.
It is important to note that the import permit of some of the above-referred objects does not imply the automatic authorization of possession and use of the items in national territory. As soon as materials are allowed to enter Mexico, you will also have to request an additional permit from SEDENA for possession and use of weapons for props and special effects.
Due to the particular nature of the material or equipment to be imported, it is an exclusive prerogative of SEDENA to grant or to refuse entry permit to the country and use of real firearms as movie production props, that is to say that weapons that were not created for film production purposes, and that due to the difficulty of reproducing them must be used and shown in its original form in scenes to be shot for the film or audio-visual production.
SEDENA has the mandate to establish, to protect and to look over the safety and the integrity of all those individuals involved in the production, therefore, SEDENA will supervise the conditions and the use of these specific materials during the shooting, that is to say to ensure the safe use of blank rounds, to check that the cannons are obstructed and to watch the procedures for the detonation or consumption of gunpowder, as well as the safe use of fireworks and chemicals in the production.
We suggest you to review with your local production manager the formats for permit processing issued by SEDENA to anticipate paperwork-processing time estimates and import logistics considerations.
Please do not hesitate to contact us at Film-Friendly Mexico. We are here to serve you.
Should you have any doubt at any moment regarding any procedure please do not hesitate to contact us immediately, our mission at Film-Friendly Mexico is to assist you and to make your filming experience a most enjoyable one.