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How To Become A Resident in Mexico

Getting residency in Mexico is a pretty simple process. Yet, I see so many people who either think Mexico’s immigration laws are non-existent. Or I see people who know they exist but don’t obey them. I’ve read reports that said as much as 91% of Americans living in Mexico, are there illegally.

I hear stories all the time about people either overstaying their visa or simply leaving the country every 6 months to avoid having to get a residency visa. Then they are surprised when they get caught, and get fined or turned away at the border. And the Mexican National Immigration Institute (aka INM) is starting to crack down on perpetual tourists.

If you are thinking about moving to Mexico, you should really understand that you can legally get residency. If you are coming in as a tourist to check it out before moving here, you should also know how long you’re allowed to stay. Either way, the following information should help you decide what to do to be here legally.

Learn how to get your residency in Mexico the right way. We cover the process for Temporary and Permanent Residency in our COMPLETE Mexico Relocation Guide.

Tourist Visa or FMM

You might be coming to Mexico to check it out before making any big decisions. That’s a great idea! I suggest taking your time to explore this beautiful and large country before going through the process of getting a residency visa in Mexico.

And why not? You’re allowed to stay in the country for up to 180 days as a tourist if your passport is from one of the “no visa required” countries. Luckily, the U.S. and Canada are both on the list. Phew!

FMM Mexico Tourist Visa

Basically, when you arrive in Mexico you’ll be given an FMM. This serves as your tourist visa, and you can travel all throughout the country for a maximum of 180 days. IT’S VERY IMPORTANT TO KEEP THIS SLIP IN A SECURE PLACE AS YOU HAVE TO SURRENDER IT TO LEAVE MEXICO.

Flying Into Mexico

Some of you will be flying or sailing into Mexico to finish your residency visa process.

The fee of an FMM is usually included in your ticket. Most likely, an agent will give you this form to fill out before entering Mexico. You’ll need to fill out a declaration form before arriving in Mexico, and you only need to fill one out per family.

If you’re coming in as a tourist, an immigration officer will stamp your passport and issue you a slip with the amount of time you are allowed to stay in Mexico. If you’re coming in to finish your residency visa in Mexico, you’ll need to let an agent know they need to mark you as “canje.” It’s super important, and I cover that in detail further down.

You want to pay close attention to the stamp on your passport. Usually, an immigration agent will give you the maximum 180 days allowance. (Unless you are coming in as a resident to receive your resident card. I explain that later on.)

Driving Into Mexico

A lot of people moving to Mexico decide to drive across the border. Makes sense to me. You might have pets. You might have household goods. Or, this vehicle may be your transportation in Mexico. And if you decided to get your residency in Mexico, you might need a car.

If you decide to drive to Mexico, you’ll still need to get an FMM. An FMM costs 638 pesos or roughly USD 32. (as of Jan 1st, 2022)

You might read online that no one checks this while you’re driving in Mexico. It may be the case, but it’s required by law for you to get one upon arrival. If you get caught without one, it could cause trouble for you while you’re in the process of getting your residency visa in Mexico in the future. And no one at the border in Mexico enforces you to get an FMM. So it’s your responsibility to either buy one online ahead of time or get it at the border when you cross.

When you drive across the border, there is usually an INM office for you to get your FMM. They will need to see your passport, at least 6 months before it expires. Usually, an immigration officer will give you an FMM for up to 180 days if you are from one of the “no visa required countries”.

It’s extremely important that you let an agent know you are coming in as a resident and not a tourist if you are in the process of getting your residency in Mexico (also known as “canje”). If they mark your FMM as a tourist, your residency visa will no longer be valid, and you will have to start all over again. So don’t let an INM agent brush you off.

Make sure they mark it correctly.

Getting a TIP permit for your car

Assuming you are driving your own car across the border, you’ll also need to apply for a TIP. (Temporary Vehicle Permit) A TIP allows your foreign plated vehicle to be driven while you are in Mexico.

The cost of a TIP is MXN 1,130.65 or roughly USD 52.

You can ONLY apply through Banjercito, but I found the process on their website to be really easy!

And if you like to plan ahead you’ll be pleased to know that you can get your TIP permit from 7 and up to 60 days before travel. Usually, a TIP is good for up to 180 days

Stays Longer Than 180 Days

If you’re planning to stay in Mexico for more than 180 days you’re required to apply for a temporary or permanent residence visa. And yes, you can get deported if you’re caught overstaying your visa. If you only want to be in Mexico temporarily, you have to leave by the 6-month mark and surrender your FMM. You can come back to Mexico and get another FMM for an additional 180 days, but if you plan to stay for more than 6 months, you should probably look into a residence visa.

The most popular visas for ex-pats are either the temporary resident visa (residente temporal) or the permanent resident visa (residente permanente).

Depending on your situation, you may be eligible for one or both. I’ll explain how you can determine which one is right for you and how to apply.

Temporary Resident (Residente Temporal)

The most common visa in Mexico is a temporary resident visa. To qualify for a temporary residency visa you need to:

  • Demonstrate monthly income of approximately USD $2,600 monthly for the past 6 months. You will need to provide at least the last 6 months of bank statements.
  • or
  • Demonstrate a minimum balance in investments or savings of approx USD $43,000 for the last 12 months. You’ll need to provide at least the last 12 months’ bank statements.
  • or
  • You can also submit official documents issued by Mexican Notary proving the ownership of a property/company/business and one photocopy with a minimum value of $320,000 USD

Permanent Resident (Residente Permanente)

A permanent resident visa is less common because to qualify; you need to prove a higher amount of savings or income. *In some cases, you also have to be of retirement age. I’ll go over that further down. To qualify for a permanent residency visa, you must:

  • Demonstrate a minimum monthly income of approximately USD $4,350 for the last 6 months/
  • or
  • Demonstrate a minimum balance in liquid assets of approximately USD $170,000 for the last 12 months with bank statements showing this minimum balance each month.
  • *It is worth mentioning that some consulates require you to be a pensioner or of retirement age (over 60) to apply for the Permanent Resident VISA without having the Temporary Resident VISA first. However, different consulates in the USA have different rules. It is best to check with your immigration facilitator.

Process:

For most expats you’ll have to start the process for a permanent visa in the country you live in. Once you are granted a permanent resident visa you have to go to Mexico to finalize the process.

Same as the temporary visa, it is valid for up to 180 days and once you arrive in Mexico you have up to 30 DAYS to exchange it for a permanent resident card. This is known as CANJE.

Your permanent visa is valid indefinitely. You don’t have to renew it as you do with a temporary visa. You’re also allowed to work without having to apply for a work permit. However, you do need to tell INM if you have taken a job offer in Mexico.

Residency For Family Reunification

You may qualify to apply for residency without having to leave Mexico.

You qualify if you are the:

  • Parent of a Mexican citizen/permanent resident
  • Child of a Mexican citizen/permanent resident
  • Sibling of a Mexican citizen/permanent resident
  • Child of the spouse/common-law partner of a Mexican citizen/permanent resident

Instead of starting the process in a Mexican consulate/embassy near you, you would start the process at one of the immigration offices in Mexico.

Should You Hire An Immigration Lawyer?

Getting an appointment at the Mexican Consulate in your country of origin might be impossible these days. Appointments are scarce and you might have to dedicate a few days to calling and checking online every few minutes just to see if you can get one.

You also might not feel comfortable going to an immigration office in Mexico. Especially if your Spanish isn’t strong. Or you might not know if you are filling out the paperwork correctly. And trust me, you want to fill it out right the first time. It’ll save you multiple trips back and forth.

So hiring an immigration attorney or facilitator might be a good idea. We have a list of vetted and very affordable immigration lawyers and facilitators around the country. All of them speak Spanish and English. They have dedicated staff just for the sole purpose of making appointments at Mexican Consulates for your initial interview. They’ll prepare you with the right kind of paperwork. And most importantly, they’ll know the best immigration offices in Mexico where you can do your residency exchange in a day or so.

It’s worth every dime.

How To Decide Which Immigration Attorney Is Right?

Not all immigration attorneys are the same. They vary a lot in costs and services provided. And in some cases, they’ll never deliver what they promised to do. Leaving you unsatisfied and having to hire a different person.

When you hire an immigration attorney it’s a good idea to interview them to know what’s included. You should ask questions like:

  • Will you translate the documents for me?
  • Are government fees included in your price?
  • Will you provide an official translator?
  • How long can I expect the process to take?
  • Will you schedule my Mexican Consulate appointment for me?
  • If I process two resident permits, are your fees the same per person?

You can expect reputable and efficient immigration lawyer fees to be around $400-$600 USD per person. However, your final cost may depend based on your specific situation and the amount of paperwork they may need to arrange for you. But I’ve heard stories of expats being taken advantage of and paying thousands of dollars to scammer immigration lawyers who didn’t deliver. All because they didn’t do their research.

We only work with the best and most reputable immigration contacts around Mexico. And we only work with immigration lawyers whose fees are reasonable. Want to learn more about working with our recommended immigration lawyers.

Get More Info About Our COMPLETE Mexico Relocation Guide

Mariana Lange

Mariana Lima-Lange was born in Mexico and immigrated to the U.S. when she was a child. She spent every summer visiting family throughout Mexico and is very knowledgeable about Mexican culture, lifestyle, and traditions. She is fluent in both Spanish and English.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Roxanne says

    This is a great resource! I saw your updated page for 2021, but can you update this Residency-Cost-in-Mexico page for 2021, too? Also, can you discuss the UMA figures that are lower than required incomes for 2021? There has been talk that the Mexican immigration requirements for income will be tied to UMA in the future. Thank you so much for your hard work!

  2. Mita says

    Didn’t see much about retirement visa. Could you please explain
    Thank you

    • Mariana Lange says

      Hi there
      There are two types of residency visas in Mexico. A permanent and temporary visa.
      The qualifications for each are different. Most retirees apply for permanent
      I detail the permanent visa in the article. Hope this helps!

      • MD. TOWHIDUL ISLAM says

        how can i get pr in mexico?

        • Mariana Lange says

          The article covers how to get permanent residency 😉

  3. Marlene Jenkins says

    Hello, I have my temporary visa from USA, now that I’m moving to Mexico what do I need to bring to get my residency card? Thanks

    • Mariana Lange says

      Hi Marlene!
      You should bring your temporary visa stamp along with your passport.
      You have up to 180 days to travel to Mexico to do the “canje” or exchange for your residency card. Once you enter Mexico, you have up to 30 days to go to INM and start the “canje” process.
      When you go to INM (immigration in Mexico), they will tell you what you need to exchange your residency visa for a residency card.
      Where in Mexico are you moving to?

      Thanks!
      Mariana

  4. Jay Taylor says

    Hello Mariana,

    Under the requirements for a Temporary Residence visa, it says: emonstrate a minimum balance in investments or savings of approx USD $43,000 for the last 12 months. But shouldn’t the amount be quite a bit higher than just $43,000? To compare, the amount needed for a Perm. Resd. visa is listed at over $170,000.

    Just wondering.

    Sincerely, Jay

    • Mariana Lange says

      Hi Jay!
      The amounts posted are correct. The differences between temp and perm residency in terms of savings is very large.
      Each consulate has its own income requirements but they won’t vary too much from these amounts

  5. Jay Taylor says

    Hi Mariana,

    Thanks for your reply. I was just coming on to say that I found the same amount ($43,000) listed elsewhere, so no need to bother replying. lol

    I guess the reason the difference in amounts required for Temp. and Perm. visas is so large is that, since people only have to apply once for the latter, the Mexican government wants to be fairly certain that people will be able to cover ever increasing cost of living expenses once they become permanent residents.

    Thanks again!

    Sincerely,

    Jay (Taylor)

    • Mariana Lange says

      My pleasure!

  6. J T says

    I am interested in applying for the permanent residency visa, could you refer an attorney or agency to help me with the process? I am living in Dominica currently.
    Thank you.

    • Mariana Lange says

      Hi JT,
      Great! Yes in our Complete Mexico Relocation Guide we have a directory of immigration facilitators that can help you out.
      Learn more here https://mexicorelocationguide.com/guide/

  7. Elise Aiwohi says

    Hello,

    What’s the additional amount needed for a spouse if using investment or savings accounts? I know that when using monthly income there is an additional amount needed when adding a spouse but, can’t find an answer regarding savings or investments.

    Thank you!

    • Mariana Lange says

      About $800 USD a month- but it varies by consulate

      • Elise Aiwohi says

        Thank you for your response. I might not be understanding correctly. You are saying $800 more a month but, if we are qualifying on savings what does that calculate as? Is it $800 x 12 months? If my spouse qualifies with a retirement account and I bring in $1900 a month can that qualify as the $800 or does it need to come from one spouse only?

        • Mariana Lange says

          You should talk to an immigration facilitator/expert about your specific situation

  8. Owen Evans says

    After 4 years of temporary residence, when you apply for permanent residency. Do you need to show the 170,000 Financials?

    • Mariana Lange says

      Hi! you do not

  9. Thomas L Dennis says

    If you are married, can you apply for a temporary or permanent (Mexico) residence card without adding your spouse?

    • Mariana Lange says

      Yes

      • John says

        I am a handicapped adult that would like to move to mexico with my mother. I receive adult disability payments from the u.s. government. My mother is retired and receives social security. I recieve 1,200 per month. My mother receives 1,500 per month. Together do we qualify to live in Mexico? What about leaving the country every six months and reentering under a tourist visa as well and also. Thank you.

          • Pamela Van Arsdel says

            Hello Maria,
            My sister is a permanent resident and Mexico. She obtained this status several years ago. If I move to Mexico could I start the process of Residency for Family Unification…once there?
            Thank you

          • Mariana Lange says

            Hi Pamela,
            Normally, siblings don’t qualify as family unification.
            Mariana

  10. GWC says

    As far as the 12 months of income rule goes does it have to be guaranteed you will make that income while in Mexico? Let’s say I’ve made $10,000 a month for the past 3 years but will most likely lose my job when I move to Mexico. Does that mean I’d still be able to get Temporary Residency?

    • Mariana Lange says

      Great question- they don’t need proof that you’ll have that job when you move to Mexico. Only that you have the income requirements when you show up to your interview

  11. Lucy says

    Hi ,can a person born I’m MEXICO and has lived for the past 45 years as a permanent resident in CALIFORNIA and is retired ,move back to MEXICO (Baja California) as a retiree and buy property ? Thank you for your time 🙂

    • Mariana Lange says

      Hi Lucy
      Yes- as a Mexican National you will always be a Mexican. And yes you can buy property in Mexico

  12. K. Andrews says

    Stated above under temporary resident is “You can also submit official documents issued by Mexican Notary proving the ownership of a property/company/business and one photocopy with a minimum value of $320,000 USD.”

    I’m assuming this property/company/business would be located in Mexico but want to confirm.

    • Mariana Lange says

      Yes- you are assuming correctly. The property has to be in Mexico

      • Sebastien Charles says

        Hello Mariana,

        For proof of ownership, will a certified copy of the original deed by notario be sufficient to prove ownership of property or you need to provide the original of the deed?

        Thanks,
        Sebastien

        • Mariana Lange says

          A certified copy should be good enough. Although you may want to check with your local consulate if this would be sufficient as each consulate has its own rules.

  13. Desert Dog says

    Hi – just a quick question regarding permanent residency in Mexico; my wife and I are Canadian citizens, but we live in Arizona full time as we legally own and operate a business here, I’m wondering if we EACH have to “Demonstrate a minimum balance in liquid assets of approximately USD $170,000 for the last 12 months with bank statements showing this minimum balance each month”……?

    I have approximately 700K CAD dollars worth of retirement investments back in Canada, she has approximately 130K CAD – plus we have a house in Arizona (mortgage free) worth 650K USD which we’d sell upon moving to Mexico.

    Thanks in advance…

    • Mariana Lange says

      Hi there
      No- only one of you has to meet the income requirements. The spouse has to meet $800-$1000 USD extra depending on the consulate.
      The mortgage won’t be taken into consideration by the consulate but they will consider all of your financials. Bring copies of everything.

  14. James E Cook says

    Great info!

    I was wondering if there are any limitations on the length of time a person who becomes a permanent Mexican resident can be traveling outside of Mexico?

    I can imagine wanting to be on the road in the US and other countries four or five months a year, but obviously wouldn’t want to jeopardize the permanent Mexican resident status.

    • Mariana Lange says

      Hi! You don’t have to live in Mexico to remain a permanent resident
      Once you’ve been given permanent residency you can leave and come back as many times as you want and for as many months or years as you would like

  15. DJ says

    I am wondering about working remotely in Mexico. If you work for a US company but want to live in Mexico, do you need a Mexican work visa? I anticipate travelling back and forth every quarter or so staying longer than 180 days is not an option. The job is 100% US and can be conducted anywhere there is internet connection.

    • Mariana Lange says

      As long as none of the services you offer are rendered in Mexico, you don’t need a work permit.

  16. Eric L says

    Hello, My girlfriend and I, with our two kids, would like to get temporary resident visas to live in Mexico. We are unmarried, but we have been planning to get married. I’m wondering if the paperwork at the consulate would be simpler if we were married (or not). I know we have to bring our marriage license if we are married. But for couples who are not married, I am having trouble finding information on if we have to bring any documentation or “prove” anything about our relationship. We plan to have her submit her bank statements and have myself and the two kids all be dependents. She has the money in her bank account to cover it. I believe it would be around $46,000 that she would need. Thanks so much for any help.

    • Mariana Lange says

      In most cases, they will need proof that you two are a common-law marriage. Such as joint bank accounts, lease agreements in both names, and such.
      BUT It all depends on the consulate.
      And yes, a marriage certificate will always be the most straightforward way to prove your marriage.

      • Eric L. says

        Thank you!! That’s very helpful.

  17. Gilbert says

    Hello. I am approaching the end of my 4 years as a Temporary Resident. What is the process at the INM to change to the Permanent Resident. Do they have paperwork there for me to complete or is it an online process? Thanks (great website!)

  18. KJ says

    Hi Marianne,
    My ex-husband and I would like to get a temporary residency for ourselves and three kids. Would we need to book separate appointments at our consulate or could we do it together? He will have two of the kids under him financially and I would have one.

    • Mariana Lange says

      Hi! It depends on the consulate. In most cases each one of you needs to have their own appointments or the co sulfate has to be aware that it is multiple people. It just depends on their booking system

      • KJ says

        Got it! Thanks Marianne!

  19. K.C. Wright says

    Very informative! I am a US citizen planning to move to Mexico next year. For permanent residency, can I apply now or do I have to wait until I’m actually moved or have planned intentions to move? Also, any tips on moving household goods? I am in a border town but I’m hearing you can’t take a u-haul across. Appreciate your site!

    • Mariana Lange says

      Thanks! You don’t have to wait until you move to actually apply for residency. Many people get their residency nailed down sometimes years before they actually move. Especially since things change quickly.
      I would however not mention you aren’t moving to Mexico yet whenever you are asked at your consular interview.

      No – you cannot take a Uhaul to Mexico. If you need our recommendations on international moving companies or private drivers who will bring a small amount of household goods to Mexico, they are included in our COMPLETE Mexico Relocation Guide
      mexicorelocationguide.com/guide/

  20. Susan van Niekerk says

    Hi Mariana,

    This is incredibly helpful!

    My South African parents are planning to move to Mexico. They haven’t been able to get in contact with the consulate there at all, so they are planning to apply for temporary residency while in California, before traveling to Mexico.

    Their plan is to demonstrate a minimum balance in investments or savings of approx USD $43,000 for the last 12 months. Their investment accounts are currently split between them, however, meaning that together they meet the $43,000 requirement, but apart, they don’t. Do they need to combine their investments into one of their names for 12 months before applying? Or can they use accounts from each of their names that together total $43k?

    Really appreciate your help!

    • Mariana Lange says

      It depends on the local consulate in South Africa. Some consulates will let you combine investment accounts and savings. I would ask your local Mexican Consulate

  21. Peter smith says

    I am English 86 and unvaccinated my girlfriend is Philippines 63. I am not allowed into her country she is not allowed into mine we both speak Spanish and have only communicated by Skype for 2 years. We would like to retire to Mexico to be together.

    • Mariana Lange says

      Mexico might just be your best bet! I hope it works out for you too. If you need a relocation tour check out our tours

  22. Lillie B. says

    Hello, I found your site this evening and read most every comment and submission. All of the information and answers to questions that you provide have been very helpful to me. I appreciate your site. Thank you.

  23. Ava Ellis says

    When you arrive in Mexico and go to the immigration office to get the residency card, do you need to have a permanent address, or can you be staying in some kind of temporary residence like a hotel or Bed and Breakfast while you’re hunting for a house, condo or apartment?

    • Mariana Lange says

      We recommend working with an immigration facilitator who can help guide you through this process. It depends on the local INM office.
      If you need a recommendation we have them in our Mexico Relocation Guide
      mexicorelocationguide.com/guide/

  24. IVCDub says

    Hello,

    Thank you for this valuable information. My wife and I are planning to apply for PR on the basis of 12 months of financial statements. We have two children, one who is 17 years old and the other who is 20. I have two questions for you:

    1) Is it possible to include our daughter in our application for PR? I know that we can’t include our son until after we have our PR when we can apply on the basis of family reunification; and

    2) What is the approximate time it takes to acquire the PR card once we are in Mexico; is there a way to speed up the process? We are planning to arrive in Mexico in the middle of June, but have to leave after only 2 weeks for a weekend wedding in the U.S.. After which we’ll return to Mexico for the foreseeable future. I know that we are allowed only one entry into Mexico on the PR visa, and we shouldn’t leave Mexico until we receive our PR cards.

    • Mariana Lange says

      Yes you can add your daughter to your original application. however, depending on the consulate, they may require each applicant to prove the minimum economic solvency. She’ll likely get temporary then and after 2 years can be a permanent residency.
      In most cases right now, the canje process in Mexico is taking 3-4 weeks. And you normally can’t leave once you’ve started the process in Mexico because you can lose your residency. There is a special permit you can ask for if you had to leave but they rarely approve them.
      There are some INM offices in Mexico that are faster than others such as La Paz, Huatulco, Mexico City, and Juarez. If you need a recommended facilitator in those areas, we have them in our Mexico Relocation Guide
      Mexicorelocationguide.com/guide/

  25. CD says

    Hi Mariana,
    Thank you for your post this is really helpful. Right now I have my resident visa, I am wondering how long does INM to issue the card when I get to Mexico? I am thinking to go to the INM in Mexico City. Since the appointment website was off, I am wondering is that still possible to get my card on the same day I walk in?
    Thank you in advance for your help.

    • Mariana Lange says

      Most INM offices are taking from 1 week to 4 weeks because you have to get an appointment in person first- which is usually for a future date. Then come back and do your biometrics. Then get your card.

  26. Angela says

    I have a mex permanent card how can i change my last name after marriage, i am currently in california where i need continued cancer treatment. Thank you !

  27. jimmy dean puckett says

    information very helpful

  28. Loretta says

    I know they are cracking down on border jumpers my question is can I live in Mexico for 6 months then in panama for 6 months without getting residency visas from either country

  29. Lonnie says

    Hi Mariana,
    I am married to a Mexican national. I am retired. She still works. We, live in the states. We, (in her name), own a casa in BCS. Is there a simpler way for me to gain residency than the usual way for Americans, being married to her?

  30. David W Caldwell says

    As a gay American single male would I have trouble getting a temporary and/or permanent visa in Mexico? And if I were a married gay male couple would there be a problem getting either visa?

    • Mariana Lange says

      Hi David- no. Being gay doesn’t matter in terms of getting a residency. If you are legally married you can apply together

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