Visitor Entry Requirements
For visitors to Mexico, you must have a valid passport or passport card (for land and sea entries only) and, if applicable, a valid U.S. Resident Alien Card (Green Card) or U.S. visa. Minors must also travel with a valid passport. A minor (under 18 years of age) traveling alone or accompanied by someone other than a parent or guardian of legal age (grandparent, uncle/aunt, school group, etc.), must present a signed and notarized letter in Spanish certifying permission from at least one parent for travel to Mexico.
The FMM (Visitante) is a multiple immigration form for stays in Mexico for up to 180 days. It is primarily used for tourists and business travelers whose purpose is non-paid or non-profitable activities. You will be given an FMM form to complete on your plane, point of entry, or at your destination airport. Or you can get it electronically, through the National Institute of Migration (INM) website. You can print it out and present it at your first point of entry. Please note that the cost is already included in your plane ticket. You have 30 days to make use of it, so please plan your trip accordingly.
Visitors are not permitted to change their status (such as tourist to temporary resident or permanent resident) while in Mexico except for family unity (the person has a spouse who is a temporary or permanent resident or a parent or child who is a Mexican Citizen). Except for these limited cases, an application must be made overseas at a Mexican consular office in the applicant’s country of residence.
If you are from the U.S., more information is available at this U.S. Department of State website under the tab: Entry, Exit, and Visa Requirements.
If you are a permanent resident of the U.S. Canada, the U.K., Japan, and a few other countries, you are eligible for the FMM and the process is very simple to enter the country. If you are not a permanent resident of any of these listed countries, you will need to go to the a Mexican consulate nearest you to request a Tourist Visa.
- If you are a Brazilian, Russian, Turkish, or Ukrainian citizen planning to travel by airplane to Mexico and you do not have permanent residence in the U.S. Canada, the U.K., Japan, or from a few other countries of these listed countries you must get an electronic authorization called SAE for traveling as a tourist (visitor). However, this does not apply if you will be traveling by land or by sea, in this case, you must apply for a tourist (visitor) visa at a Mexican consular office nearest your country of residency.
- The Tourist Visa allows you to stay in Mexico for a period of up to 180 days if carrying out any unpaid activities, such as tourism, volunteering, studying, or attending business meetings, as long as no monetary earnings are derived from your activity, however, the length of stay allowed in Mexico will depend on the immigration officer on your entry into Mexico. It is extremely important to check your FMM in order to see how many days you were allowed by the INM immigration officer to stay in México.
A tourist visa cannot be extended or renewed. Upon its expiry, you will need to leave the country or you will need to apply at the Local INM immigration office for a regularization process if you meet the financial requirements in order to apply for a new stay by tourism for up to 180 days. However, this process involves a fine and other immigration fees.
Temporary Residency Visa
The Temporary Residency Visa is a Mexican visa that is issued by the Mexican consulates outside of Mexico to those people who want to live as legal residents in Mexico for more than 180 days and less than 4 years. This type of visa has an expiration of 180 days and is valid for one single entry to Mexico. You must travel to Mexico within 180 days so you can exchange the issued visa for the Temporary Residency Card, which is the document that proves your legal residency status in Mexico.
- When an applicant applies for a Temporary Residency Visa at a Mexican consulate in their home country, the Temporary Residency Card itself is not issued. It is issued from the INM immigration office inside of Mexico.
- When visas are issued for a period of less than 4 years, the first Temporary Residency Card that the immigration office in Mexico will issue will be good for 1 year, which can be renewed (extended) up to 3 years more. After four years of temporary residency in Mexico, you’ll be able to apply for permanent residency in Mexico.
The renewal of temporary residency cannot be started at the Mexican consulate outside of Mexico. All corresponding renewals will be requested at the local INM immigration office. No financials are required if you always renew your Temporary Resident Visa on time. All the renewals of temporary residency must be started within 30 calendar days before the expiration date. Any renewal cannot be started earlier than 30 calendar days of the expiration date. Any applicant cannot apply for a renewal overseas at Mexican consulates or Mexican embassies.
Holders of a Temporary Resident Visa may leave and re-enter Mexico as many times as they wish and may apply for a Work Permit.
Please note: A temporary residency does not include a work permit, which means that you are not allowed to work in Mexico or do any paid activity in Mexico. However, if you are considering work, any paid activity, or any earning activity, you must apply for a work permit a the INM immigration office in Mexico.
Exceptions for Applying for a Temporary Residency Visa While the Foreigner Is in Mexico
The immigration law includes cases when a temporary and permanent residency may be granted while the applicant is in Mexico, but for the rest of the cases, the foreigner must apply overseas at Mexican consulates.
Cases for applying for a temporary residency while a foreigner is in Mexico:
- Married to a temporary or permanent resident.
- Married to a Mexican citizen.
- Having a temporary resident son/daughter.
- From humanitarian visitor to temporary residency under financial solvency.
Categories for Applying in Your Home Country for a Temporary Residency Visa
There are several categories for applying for a temporary residency visa:
- Financial solvency
- Family unit
- Real estate in Mexico
- Organization invitation
You can qualify for a Temporary Resident Visa under financial solvency if you can prove one of the following:
- Proof of investment or savings showing an average monthly balance equivalent to five thousand days of minimum wage valid in Mexico City (approximately US$43,217.50) during the last twelve months; or
- Proof of employment or pension with monthly income free of tax equivalent to three hundred days of minimum wage in Mexico City (approximately US$2,593.05) during the last six months.
Some consulates require, in addition to bank statements, a signed letter from an employer or a letter from the U.S. Social Security Administration attesting to your monthly social security payment if you are retired.
Please note: You should be aware that individual consulates set their own financial requirements and criteria, and also yearly increases. Check your local Mexican consulate’s website or call the consulate nearest you. The following chart shows the monthly income required for 2022 and the ending balance per month for selected Mexican consulates when applying for a Temporary Residency Visa.
You can qualify for a Temporary Resident Visa under family unit if the applicant has a bond with a temporary or permanent resident or citizen of Mexico as:
- If the applicant is the spouse or concubine of a temporary or permanent resident.
- If the applicant is the daughter or son of a temporary resident as long the applicant is a child or teenager and has not married.
- If the applicant is the father or mother of a temporary resident in Mexico.
Please note: If the applicant applies for the residency visa directly at the Mexican consulate in their home country, it will be necessary to demonstrate economic solvency. If the family member applies directly at the local INM immigration office in Mexico, he/she will not have to meet the economic solvency requirement.
Once you arrive in Mexico with your Temporary Residency Visa, you will have 30 calendar days to apply for your Temporary Residency Card, which you must carry with you at all times. Application is made at the local INM office nearest you.
You can also qualify for a Temporary Resident Visa under real estate In Mexico if you have the real property deed under your name and certificated by a Mexican Notary Public. Your property´s value should exceed forty thousand days of minimum wage valid in Mexico City, which is approximately US$345,740.
If you are an investor, you can also qualify for a Temporary Resident Visa if you have an investment or shares in a Mexican company or a fixed asset of approximately US$172,870.
Permanent Residency Visa
The Permanent Residency Visa is a Mexican visa that is issued by Mexican consulates outside of Mexico, mostly for cases involving retirees or pensioners who are planning to move full-time to Mexico. However, this type of visa is granted in some cases to family units. This type of visa is valid for 180 days and one single entry to Mexico and you must travel to Mexico within 180 days to replace your permanent visa with an INM-issued Permanent Residency Card, which proves your legal residency status in Mexico.
Under this type of visa, you are not allowed to drive a foreign plated car in Mexico. This type of residency does allow you to leave and return to Mexico as many times as you would like.
The Permanent Resident Card will have unlimited validity, except for minors three years of age or less, who must renew the card every year until they turn 3-years-old. From this age and until they turn 18, the migratory document (Permanent Residency Card) must be renewed every four years.
You may apply for a Permanent Residency Visa without first holding a Temporary Residency Visa only if you meet the financial requirements and some other criteria from the consulate where you will apply in your home country.
A Permanent Residency Visa will allow you to work in Mexico. However, the work activity must be reported to the INM immigration office.
Categories for Applying in Your Home Country for a Permanent Residency Visa
There are several categories for applying for a Permanent Residency Visa:
- Retirees and pensioners
- Family unit with a permanent resident
- Family unit with a Mexican citizen
A permanent residency Visa can be granted:
If the applicant can prove that he/she is retired or a pensioner and can satisfy one of the following:
- Proof of investment with bank statements for the last 12 months with a minimum balance of at least US$172,870 (approximately) per-person or
- Proof of fixed income or pension with bank statements for the last 6 months with a monthly income of at least US$4,321.75 (approximately) tax-free per person.
Some consulates require, in addition to bank statements, a letter from the U.S. Social Security Administration attesting to your monthly social security payment if you are retired, or an employer retirement letter.
There are several family unit categories:
- If the applicant is the child of the spouse, common-law partner or the equivalent of a permanent resident.
- If the applicant is the father or mother of a permanent resident
- If the applicant has a Mexican child.
- If the applicant is the daughter or son of a permanent resident, as long as the applicant is a child or teenager and has not married.
- If the applicant is the sibling (under 18 years of age) of a Mexican Citizen.
If you apply under family unity, there is an amount required in order to support the family member.
Please note: You should be aware that individual consulates set their own financial requirements, and those increase every year. Check their website or call the consulate nearest you. The following chart shows the financial amounts required in 2022 for applying for a Permanent Residency Visa by selected Mexican consulates.
By immigration law a permanent residency can be granted to an applicant while in Mexico before 4 years as s temporary resident:
- You may apply for a Permanent Residency Visa after two years as a temporary resident if you have applied for a Temporary Residency Visa as an immediate family member of a permanent resident or a Mexican citizen, marriage with a permanent resident, or with a Mexican citizen.
- You may apply for permanent residency if you have a Mexican child.
- You may apply for permanent residency if you are retired or a pensioner and meet the financial requirements of the INM immigration process guidelines.
- In addition, Mexican immigration law (article 57) refers to a points system designed to attract foreign investors and people with high competence in areas such as science, technology, sports, humanities, and art. Individuals are deemed to have skills that will strengthen and promote the development and competitiveness of Mexico. People in these categories would receive strong consideration for permanent residency. However, this point system is not yet in effect. Since 2012, the Government Secretary has not posted the specific rules to follow for this point system, so at this time, no permanent residency can be granted through the point system.
Please be aware: if you have been a temporary resident holder for 4 years and you want to apply for a permanent residency, you must not let your temporary residency expire. In order to apply for the permanent residency, you must do it within 30 days before the expiration date of your current temporary residency card, otherwise, you will lose the 4 years of residency status and may need to apply for a regularization process to apply for a residency if you meet the current requirements.
Additionally, cases for applying straight for a permanent residency while a foreigner in Mexico include:
- Having a Mexican citizen son/daughter
- Having a child who is a permanent resident.
- Having a grandchild who is a Mexican citizen
- By refugee or asylum, however, the humanitarian visitor card must be obtained while the residency approval is made.
Obligations for Temporary and Permanent Residency in Mexico
As legal residents in Mexico (temporary and permanent residents), you must inform the INM immigration office about any change of marital status, address in Mexico, nationality, name, and work activity. Any change must be made within 90 days of occurrence. If the notification of change is made at the INM office later than 90 days, a fine will be imposed.
You must also carry a temporary or permanent residency card with you at all times while in Mexico.
There are two ways to get a Work Permit in Mexico: as an employee sponsored by a company or by an individual in Mexico, or as an independent contractor.
All Work Permit applications begin at the INM immigration office
If you do not have residency status in Mexico and are planning to work in Mexico with a company as an employee, the following are the basic requirements to obtain a Work Permit:
- The company or individual must have current and valid permission to hire foreigners, and this permit must be applied for directly to the INM immigration office.
- You must receive a job offer before you can begin the process with the National Immigration Institute (INM).
- You may need original documents of university or other degrees and any other titles and transcripts apostilled or legalized and translated into Spanish by an official translator.
- You must include a copy of a letter of intent to work for the company that has hired you.
- Upon approval of the work authorization application, foreign nationals must appear before the Mexican consular office for an interview. In order to obtain the entry residency visa, that visa will have an expiration of 180 days and one single entry to Mexico.
- Within 30 calendar days of entry into Mexico, you must appear at a local INM immigration office to receive your Temporary Residency Card with Work Permit.
- The Temporary Residency Visa/Card with Work Permit will be renewed upon the sponsor company/ or individual request. and it must be renewed within 30 calendar days before the expiration date.
Applicants for Work Permits sponsored by a company or individual in Mexico will be tied to the request of the company or individual when it is time for the Work Permit renewal
Work Permit for Temporary Residents as Employee
Temporary residents who have applied by the family unit, or as retirees, pensioners, etc., and who wish to work in Mexico as an employee for a company or individual in Mexico, must apply for a Work Permit at the local INM immigration office.
The following are basic requirements, according to immigration guidelines, for a temporary resident to apply for a Work Permit as an employee:
- In order for a company or individual to hire a temporary resident, the company or individual must have current and valid permission to hire.
- You need to receive a job offer before you can begin the process of applying for a work permit with the INM immigration office.
- The Work Permit will expire concurrently with your Temporary Residency Visa/Card.
Work Permit for Temporary Residents as Independent Contractors
The Independent contractor Work Permit is for those who are planning to conduct activities to earn income in Mexico, such as real estate agent services, rentals on your own property, restaurant services, etc.
Temporary residents who have applied by family unit, or as retirees, pensioners, etc., and who wish to work in Mexico as an independent contractor must apply for a Work Permit at the local INM immigration office.
The following are basic requirements for a Work Permit for work as an independent contractor.
- The applicant must be registered to obtain a tax ID (RFC) from a SAT office (tax office) under the specific work activity.
- The work permit must be requested at your local INM immigration office.
- The work permit will be valid for the length of your temporary residency status and can be renewed each year.
Moving household goods to Mexico requires a Temporary Resident Visa, which allows you to import your household goods and personal effects free of duty and taxes if they have been used for at least six months and consist of personal effects and furniture for day-to-day use.
You can also import duty-free clothing, books, bookcases, art, scientific instruments, and tools of your trade, but not complete collections for trade shows or to equip a laboratory, store, factory, and other uses. Items not considered household goods – and subject to duties – are items with less than six months of use before you move and items packed in original cartons.
You will need to provide a list of your belongings (Lista de Menaje de Casa) in Spanish and have it stamped by the Consulate General of Mexico office nearest you in order for it to be submitted to Mexican customs. You can prepare your list in English and then have it translated. If you use a moving company, they generally provide this service for a small fee.
You have six months from the date your visa was issued to ship your goods to Mexico. You should also know that they cannot arrive more than three months before your own arrival. You will need to pay a fee in cash for the consular stamp. The household goods concession is provided only once.
Here are the documents you will need:
- An original valid passport and five copies of the pages containing personal information, a photograph of bearer, and expiration date/extensions.
- An original visa and five copies
- An original plus four copies of a typed itemized list of all household goods (Lista de Menaje de Casa), including those contained in boxes. Your address in the U.S. or another country should appear in the upper left-hand corner and your new address in Mexico in the upper right-hand corner of at least the first page. Your list must be in Spanish, typed single-spaced, and with columns specifying the following: quantity, description, and, if electrical appliances, the brand name, model, and serial number. You must leave space for the Mexican Consulate’s seal at the right bottom of each page. You must sign each page at the left bottom in front of the consular official. Please note that the consular officers may ask for additional information at the time of the interview.
Items being imported cannot include complete equipment, industrial tools or laboratories. If you would like to import firearms and cartridges, you must secure an import permit from the Ministry of Economy and from the Ministry of National Defense.
Here is a partial list of items you cannot bring into Mexico:
- Food: spices, canned food, liquids, powder, fruits, and vegetables.
- Alcoholic beverages
- Illegal drugs
- Guns and ammunition (please see above)
- Explosives and flammables
- Gas tanks
- Plants or seeds
- Dissected animals
- Cleaning items: cleaning liquids and solvents
Motor Vehicle Importation
If you want to import a vehicle, the rules and procedures vary, depending upon the status of your visa, whether you are importing your vehicle temporarily or indefinitely, and whether the vehicle is brand new from a country with which Mexico has a free trade agreement or the vehicle is classified as used or classic. If the car’s model is nine-years-old at the time of import, and the Certificate of Origin is from Mexico, U.S. or Canada, the car can be imported without further requirements.
Temporary residents and retirees are permitted to import their vehicles to Mexico, but you can only import one vehicle. All new vehicles (current or later model years with an odometer reading of fewer than 600 miles) from the U.S., Canada, and the E.U. are admitted duty-free.
If you do not drive your vehicle to Mexico yourself, only an authorized customs agent can carry out the importation of your vehicle to Mexico on your behalf. Customs agents are not officers of SAT or INM. They do not issue permits, only verify the permit issued by SAT. Only certified Customs agents are authorized to do this at the border. Cars that are leased or financed require a letter from the leasing or financing company giving permission to be taken into Mexico.
If you want to bring a large truck of over one ton in weight, you will need special certification. You also may bring a trailer and motorcycles with your vehicle, up to three non-road legal recreational vehicles.
The duration of the temporary importation permit mirrors your immigration document, which is up to 180 days for tourists and up to the end of the total four-year term for temporary residents. Permanent residents may not import or drive foreign plated cars unless the importer is in the car or the car is imported by a direct family member.
If you or a family member do not bring the vehicle into Mexico, you will need to hire a freight forwarder/broker that specializes in vehicles and is experienced with Mexican customs. This may be the same company or affiliate of the company you are using for your household move if you choose to use an international moving company. Once your permit has expired, you will need to take the car out of Mexico. Failure to do so will result in not being able to get a new permit for another car in the future.
Here are the documents required to import your vehicle into Mexico:
- Registration from your country of origin not expired more than three months
- Invoice or bill of sale
- Original vehicle title
- Driver’s license
- Passport copy
- Original Temporary Resident Visa
- Permission from finance/leasing company
More information on motor vehicle importation is available at this Mexican government website.
To import your pet into Mexico, you will need a health certificate (original and a copy) issued by your veterinarian. The certificate must be on letterhead with the veterinarian’s license number printed on it. You will need to present this certificate at the Office of Animal and Plant Health Inspection (OISA) located at the port of entry to Mexico.
If you bring more than two pets, you must complete additional forms and pay additional taxes. For more than three pets, you will have to pay approximately US$115 at the first port of entry.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides further details on requirements for importing your pet into Mexico.