Importing Beach Wheelchairs to Vallarta

So, we’ve been working to get our wheelchair rental business off the ground and I’ve shared some of the many obstacles and hoops we’ve jumped or are still jumping through.  Customs was a hoop we hadn’t anticipated. So, the name of our company is Beach Crossers. We have a few wheelchairs that belonged to us before starting the business since both Mom and Grandma used wheelchairs. If you’ve read previous blogs, you know that traveling with Mom in her wheelchair was the inspiration for us to start this big adventure. We want to help people get to the beach in Puerto Vallarta and Nuevo Vallarta. That is why we were shocked to pay 36% in customs fees to bring wheelchairs into Mexico. And here is big news to us. You pay that fee on the tax and shipping for your merchandise as well! So, for example, let’s round off some numbers and see how this works. We have a shipment of beach wheelchairs coming from DeBug in Florida. Let’s say it’s invoiced for about $4000.00 USD. Florida tax rate is ??? let’s say about 8% so that is added to the invoice as (I’m not the math teacher in the family, but …) I get $320 in tax. Then you can add the $1200 for shipping and you get a total of $5,520 that you get to pay duty on. At 36% that comes to $1987.20 added to the cost of getting the wheel chairs into Vallarta. I thought it was strange to pay duty on tax and shipping, but the really weird thing is that there doesn’t seem to be a formula to tell you how much you will have to pay. It seems to depend completely on what the custom’s officer thinks of the chairs. One custom’s agent says, “Oh, wheel chairs don’t get charged duty” and another says “those are a luxury item”. It turns out that you can be charged from 0-140% duty. Maybe there is a formula somewhere, but we can’t figure it out. On the other hand, we’ve been charged about 36 percent on each of our shipments. Needless to say, that significantly reduces the number of chairs that a start-up company can have for starting up!!!  Not surprising, we jumped from the black to the red without blinking. We’d been told that it would happen, but we hoped it wouldn’t happen in such a big way. Of course, we ordered chairs based on how much capital we had and even left a little cushion. But, the chairs are arriving and we are finding ways to cover the additional 36%. Our custom’s agent tells us that if we have a “medical permission” that we won’t have to pay duty. What is that? No one seems to know. My guess is that it is for the patient, but the custom’s form says you don’t have to pay duty for a personal device anyway, so maybe that’s not it. We continue to push forward through the many obstacles because we believe this is a good thing for the people who live in Vallarta and those that visit. We have already helped a few people and it is a huge blessing. Therefore, we carry on.

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