How to manufacture in Mexico

What is a maquiladora?

maquiladora mexico

A maquiladora is an export manufacturing company that operates under Mexico’s IMMEX program for operations that process or assemble temporarily imported materials and components into finished goods for re-export. Regulations for the operation of an IMMEX are governed by the Law to Promote Manufacturing, Maquiladora and Export Services.

The IMMEX program started in Mexico in 2006 as an instrument to temporarily import goods and services to be manufactured, repaired or transformed into finished goods that subsequently are exported out of the country. Goods produced under IMMEX are subject to zero-rate Value-Added Tax, exemptions from compensatory quotas, and reduced customs fees for goods and materials.

Registering into the program requires the submittal of an application to the regional office of the Secretary of Economy. The applicant company must be legally incorporated in Mexico and present a viable export project. IMMEX program approval remains active as long as the company complies with the provisions of the program.


The Tijuana EDC can provide initial information for your project, at no cost.

Contact us to schedule a business seminar. We will gather a group of experts in areas such as accounting, legal, corporate taxes, customs, maquiladora administrative services, and industrial developers to discuss the successful implementation of your project.

Business Models

A foreign investor can operate in Mexico according to four basic business models:


Direct Ownership

(With corporate presence in Mexico) This is the most common legal entity under which maquiladoras operate in Mexico. Obtaining IMMEX program registration and approval requires the formation of a wholly owned, foreign subsidiary in Mexico.



(Outsourcing administration)- This entity has no legal presence in Mexico. Under this form of operation, companies hire administrative services and manufacture under a license held by a shelter company. The model allows manufacturers to focus on running their operations while reducing the learning curve required to operate in Mexico.



(Manufacturing services) A company may elect to delegate production or assembly to a third party thereby avoiding the need for a corporate presence in Mexico. Firms that offer these services typically hold IMMEX program certifications. The company provides the product design, raw materials, instructions and all technical information as to how the item, or items, will be built to spec.

More than 100 companies in Tijuana provide turn-key manufacturing services to deliver high-quality finished products.


Joint Venture



Regardless of the operational business model, any export manufacturing operation in Mexico is required to comply with Mexican customs regulations in order to import materials and export finished goods.

We recommend that companies hire an experienced customs broker, which will be the legal representative performing business on behalf of the Mexican Entity with Mexican Customs. Customs brokers can handle all import and export documentation to expedite shipments efficiently and in compliance with Mexican customs requirements.

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