General Information on the Procedures for Getting Hunting Firearms into Mexico

Many of the viewers to this site have requested information related to getting firearms into Mexico for hunting. There is little mystery associated with the bringing of guns into the country, but there is a lot of false information. As a caveat before you proceed, let me clearly indicate that regulations in Mexico can and do change frequently. What you read here is only a basic outline of sample procedures, and the rules at the time of your desired entry may be somewhat different. It is imperative that the hunter ensure that he gets current information from a reliable Mexican source so that delays are minimized and that compliance with Mexican law is ensured. The Mexican government is not forgiving when it comes to firearm or ammunition mistakes.

The hunter will have made contact with either a land owner or an outfitter in the course of setting up his hunt in Mexico. The Mexican contact will send the hunter the applicable initial paperwork necessary for entry, game license and temporary gun permits. Should this not happen at least a couple of months before the date of entry, request it immediately.

Once the forms arrive, you can expect to have to gather together the following items and information at a minimum:

1. Complete the forms in their entirety, including all applicable firearm information requested. TYPE your entries, repeat TYPE..! If you have questions, speak to your Mexican contact. (I recommend that you supply information for 2 firearms even though you might think that you will not need a second firearm, since Murphy's Law runs double time in Mexico, it is much better to have a second firearm authorized at the beginning.)

2.Obtain a letter of good conduct (commonly called a "good guy" letter) from your local police or sheriff; note that this must be from the law enforcement unit where you reside and where your drivers licence is based. The letter must state "NO CRIMINAL RECORD ON FILE".

3.Your proof of citizenship, such as a CERTIFIED birth certificate or a passport. (This will be returned to you after all paperwork is completed.)

4.Four passport sized color photos. These must be recent, without cap or sunglasses, no T-Shirts and be approximately 1 1/2" X 1 1/2" in sizewith the background preferably white. Note, these pictures can not be "Polaroid" or "computer generated" types.

5. A photocopy of your drivers license, this license must be current and the address must agree with your current address.

Once all of the materials requested by your contact are assembled they need to be forwarded to your contact along with all fees that he has established for the application process. (This was $270 in 2002, but is obviously subject to change.) Generally your contact will get Mexican Consul approval etc., but it is always best to confirm with him that he has everything required and that you do not need to perform any additional functions.

Once all of the approvals have been completed a common procedure will be for your contact to meet you at the border crossing for hunters on the opening day of season or the day of the hunt. Normally he will have all of your paperwork in hand. It is very important to ensure that your paperwork is actually in the hand of the outfitter prior to coming to Laredo since it is not uncommon for the papers to be late in getting final signature approval. Do not make the trip with the assumption that your papers probably will be ready. (The "ANGADI", the Mexican Cattlemen's Association, is available at the Laredo, TX crossing to assist hunters crossing the border to hunt, if you have your papers in-hand you will not need to have an outfitter present.) At that time a member of the Mexican military establishment will look at each firearm, compare the serial numbers to those on the application and will approve the entry of the firearm(s) and up to 100 rounds of ammunition for each firearm. (Note that in the 2002-2003 season if you brought in less than 100 rounds of ammunition, your gun permit was appropriately marked which allowed you to bring in additional ammunition up to the 100 limit as long as it was checked in through the special entry point at the border in Laredo.) Once the military approval is completed, the paperwork will permit firearm reentry at any time during the temporary permit period or if one has a secure location in Mexico it they may be left at the ranch. All that is required at future border entries into Mexico where re-entry with firearms is involved is to drive up to the Mexican side of the border in the "Declaration" Lane and cross as anyone else. You may be waved through though you likely will be asked if you have firearms ("armas"), answer yes and they probably will pull you over and go through a check of your papers and the guns. They may also go through your entire vehicle as may be done when entering any country. This is normally only a 10 minute procedure and you will be on your way to your hunting destination. At that point you will officially be a "Cazador" (Hunter)...!

As a final note, it is imperative that prior to the expiration date of the gun permit (usually the last day of season) that the guns be removed from Mexico by taking them through the same process as was used for entry. The authorities will check out each gun and cancel the paperwork. This step is mandatory and future gun permits and hunting privileges may be lost if this step isn't observed.

Although not necessarily precise, I hope that this has given you a basic concept of the requirements for crossing into Mexico with a hunting firearm.

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