Buying A Camera In Mexico City

It’s a question I get asked sometimes. By email just recently, which is why this post exists. To have a handy reference to point others to in future. I have to say anyone buying a camera in Mexico, especially an expensive one, must be slightly mad. The taxes on imported electronics are outrageous. Expect to pay 50% minimum over the price you’d expect to pay in the US. Paying double the price is pretty common. Certainly when comparing prices with Amazon anyway.

At least there are shops selling this years models in Mexico these days. Maybe up to 6 months after the US release, but still. The Olympus EP-1PEN, the object of my photographic desires has just landed in Palacio de Hierro. At 14,500 pesos. Compared to the 9,600 pesos you’d pay north of the border. So yes, depending on what you’re buying, and how cheap the air tickets, you can feasibly fly to a US City, buy your camera, have a weekend mini break and still spend less than if you’d forked out for the camera in Mexico.

But still, some people either can’t get to the US, are in need of a camera this very instant, or are simply wealthy enough to shrug off the expense. For those of you who fit into one of these categories, you have a few choices. Liverpool and Palacio de Hierro, the two main department stores in the city both sell decent ranges, although some of their stores are better stocked than others. And their websites do not list their entire inventory, so really you do need to do some physical legwork. They both tend to charge top dollar, but sometimes they have special offers that make them competitive, especially if you’re paying interest free in 12 installments. Which, if you’re a visitor or immigrant, you’re probably not.

Which leaves the specialist photo shops of the city. The best place to look is on Donaceles, behind the big Cathedral in the Zocalo. As per the map below. There’s quite a few shops, with a decent range and pricing that is usually as good as it gets in Mexico. They’ll charge a couple of hundred pesos extra if you’re intending to pay by credit card though.

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  • Seriously, dude, Palacio de Hierros? Who would buy anything there? I could buy things at retail here in the USA at Macy’s (not even on sale) and sell them in Mexico at Palacio’s prices and still make a decent mark-up.

    I’d try to buy something like that at Costco or Wal-Mart, or even Office Depot rather than Palacio or Sanborn’s. Also Best Buy is opening in Mexico. I’m not sure if they’re in DF, maybe only in Monterrey. But they’d likely too have better prices than Palacio or Sanborn’s.

    I’ll be in DF probably in Dec. If you want a camera, e-mail me, and I’ll buy it and bring it with me, sans box, so it doesn’t look new. You can pay me in pesos in cash at whatever the prevailing inter-bank rate is.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Boston, MA

    • Problem with Costco and Walmart here is that they offer a very limited selection of last years mid range cameras. If you want the latest models, they’re not the place to visit. Palacio and Liverpool (and Sanborns) are pricey to say the least, but they seem to do business. Now and again they have deals which are competitive.

      The cheapest I’ve seen a Canon, for example, in DF was at Photo Regis for 8500 pesos. A while ago, Liverpool had it at 9500 pesos but with a 20% discount and interest free for 12 months.

      I’d forgotten about Best Buy. They opened a store up in Satellite late last year/early this year. Another one is being built (or maybe has opened) in the south about 15 minutes from where I live. But still the main issue remains – import taxes.

      I would jump at the chance of getting you to bring a camera for me – I would never pay Mexican prices. I had planned on getting a Canon S90 for Xmas. Sadly, my savings have fallen short and I’m going to have to wait.

      I don’t suppose you are coming back to DF in March/April/May/June are you?!?!

      PS. You don’t need to remove the boxing. You’re allowed to bring things across the border tax free, but only in limited quantities. One of each type of item.

      Gary, Mexico City

      Where he is currently moping, because he has an Xmas trip to Merida coming up, which would have been a great place to test out a new camera! Such is life. The extra time for saving means he will be able to get a DSLR, probably Pentax K-x, which is what he should really be getting anyway, instead of another compact)

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