Value Added Tax
➤ Mexico's VAT, which is called IVA, is 16 percent.
➤ ATA Carnets can be issued and delivered in as little as one day.
➤ Temporary import bonds and ATA Carnets may be used to avoid some import taxes and duties.
➤ Mexico operates on 120 volts.
➤ Outlets are two prong, but adapters for three-prong plugs are available.
➤ Standard rental agreements often include one complimentary electrical outlet per 9 square meters of booth space.
➤ Booth-cleaning services must be ordered, but this process is often handled by Mexican exhibit houses.
➤ International roaming may be the easiest option, but it can be expensive.
➤ Disposable phones and prepaid SIM cards are widely available.
➤ Making calls over Wi-Fi (via apps such as WeChat and WhatsApp) is a convenient way to communicate. But Wi-Fi will likely not be available during setup and teardown at most venues.
➤ If all forms are completed properly, customs clearance using ATA Carnets should not take longer than two business days.
➤ It is advised that you hire a customs broker if you plan to import goods into Mexico.
➤ Sending shipments by truck takes two weeks. Airfreight can take 24 hours.
➤ If you are shipping giveaways via small-package carrier, pack them in individual shipments valued at less than $3,000 to avoid customs delays.
➤ A 50-percent deposit is typical, with the balance due upon delivery. Bank wire transfers are preferred, though credit cards may be accepted.
➤ Some vendors offer discounts for advance full payment in cash.
➤ Generally speaking, the total cost of exhibiting at a Mexican trade show is one-fourth to one-third as much as exhibiting at a comparable U.S. show.
Greetings and Culture
➤ Long handshakes, or hugs and cheek kisses between friends, are typical greetings. Shake a woman's hand only if she offers it.
➤ Latin Americans prefer to do business with friends, so make ample time for casual conversation and small talk. Interest in the culture and efforts to speak any amount of Spanish are appreciated.
➤ Mexicans tend to require little personal space. Don't move away from someone during a conversation even if they seem too close, as it can be perceived as impolite.
➤ Address individuals formally, using their professional titles and last names (e.g., Dr. Gonzales, Arquitecto Aguilar, etc.) unless invited to do otherwise.
➤ Handwritten follow-up notes are highly meaningful.
➤ Most large exhibitors provide a variety of traditional snacks such as churros (fried sweets), empanadas (sweet or savory turnovers), tortas (sandwiches), and beverages.
➤ Full meals are often served for meetings and VIP visitors. Small exhibits usually offer a selection of beverages.
➤ Some venues require that any food and drink must be provided by official in-house caterers.
➤ Alcoholic beverages (typically beer, whiskey, wine, and tequila) are commonly served at some shows, but are rare at others. Ask the show organizers for guidance before planning your exhibit's hospitality program.
➤ Off-site client dinners and social parties are typical. Business lunches are very common and typically take place between 2 and 4 p.m. Dinners can be lengthy and often start after 8 p.m. Being late is normal in this culture, so don't expect Mexican guests to arrive on time. Pay in advance to avoid awkward disagreements when the check is dropped.
➤ Most people speak some English, but having a local translator is wise.
➤ Graphics and literature should be printed in both English and Spanish.
➤ English-only business cards are acceptable, but translated business cards will be appreciated.
➤ Attire on the show floor is typically formal. Most men wear business suits (with or without ties), and women frequently wear either dresses or skirted business suits with modest necklines and hems. Having said that, Mexican trade shows are becoming increasingly informal, so business casual may be acceptable for many events.
➤ For women, high heels, heavy makeup, and flashy jewelry are common.
➤ Leave your black suits in the closet and opt for something a little more colorful when exhibiting in Mexico.
Installation and Dismantle
➤ Skill levels vary among workers, and being listed in the show manual is not an indication of vendor quality. So find a company that has experience with U.S. exhibit standards.
➤ Exhibit houses generally contract laborers for you and charge flat, daily fees rather than hourly rates.
➤ Few workers speak English, so have bilingual on-site supervision. Exhibit managers should monitor the build schedule and construction quality.
➤ Any U.S. employees assisting with installation and/or dismantle will need to obtain a work visa.
➤ Labor must be hired in advance, as there are no labor pools available at Mexican venues.
➤ Power is typically provided only during show hours, so if your exhibit requires 24-hour power, you must request additional electricity in advance.
General Facts and Tips
➤ Located approximately 15 minutes from downtown, Expo Guadalajara is the largest exhibition venue in Latin America.
➤ Never hail a cab from the street or get into a waiting taxi, as tourists have been kidnapped by ersatz cab drivers. Rather, hire a driver through a trusted source, such as your concierge, and use only that driver during your stay.
➤ If not met by a private driver at the airport, only use the official taxi station inside the airport.
➤ Negotiate the fare prior to getting in a taxi. Apps such as Uber and Easy Taxi are also popular.
➤ Due to safety concerns, only walk to very nearby destinations; otherwise, travel via private vehicle, not public transportation.
➤ Traffic congestion can be extreme, so allow extra time. Keep windows up and doors locked for safety.
➤ Women and men are not viewed equally, and female exhibitors may struggle to establish credibility in the business community.
➤ International chain hotels for business travelers are the best option, though few will be in the vicinity of the venue.
➤ Mexico runs on "military time," meaning that 5 p.m. is conveyed as 17:00.
➤ If you are offered food or a beverage, it is customary to accept it.