You might be doing some homework online trying to figure out what kinds of documents you need to come to Mexico. Then you read that you’ll need an FMM visa to enter. And you’re probably wondering, “what’s an FMM, and do I need one?”
I’ll answer that for you! 😀
What Is An FMM?
An FMM stands for Forma Migratoria Multiple, which essentially translates to Multiple Immigration Form. An FMM is a type of visa exclusive to tourists who come to Mexico from either the northern or southern border. However, if you’re coming in as a resident with the intent of processing your residency card, then there are additional steps you need to take. I cover that later.
You can get one if you are entering Mexico by land, or air. If you are flying, your airline usually supplies you with the form either before departing or arriving in Mexico. Your airline includes this fee on the cost of your ticket. 🎫
If you are traveling by car or walking across the border by land, you need to process your own FMM tourist visa at the border or buy it online ahead of time.
Who Needs An FMM?
Any tourist from a NO VISA required country needs to process an FMM in Mexico. Even if you are coming to Mexico as a temporary or permanent resident, you need to process an FMM- however your steps are different. More on that further down.
There is a misconception that if you stay within the free zone near the border or only travel into Mexico for less than 72 hours, you do not need an FMM. However, this is not entirely accurate.
If you are entering Mexico, regardless of distance or duration, you need to process an FMM either at a border or at immigration stations at airports or sea stations. It just so happens that people who live near the border tend to never apply for an FMM when they come into Mexico. But you are actually entering Mexico illegally and can either be fined or end up being deported.
How Much Does It Cost?
As of 2021, the fee for an FMM is $687 MXN (approx $36 USD) to the INM office processing your visa at the border.
The immigration officer will give a break off a part of the FMM when you come into Mexico. You must hold on to this stub from the FMM because you will need to surrender it/turn it in once you leave Mexico. However, if your trip is less than 7 days, you can get an FMM free of charge.
If you are flying, the cost is included in your ticket fare.
If you don’t surrender your tourist visa in Mexico and your FMM expires, then you have overstayed your visa to the Mexican government. Even if you have left the country already, you won’t be allowed to come back to Mexico in the future until your previous tourist visa is settled.
How Long Is It Good For?
But don’t worry. 😅
The Mexican authorities give you up to 180 days (about 6 months) on an FMM tourist visa. So you can fully explore Mexico for 6 months before you even have to think about the end of your FMM tourist visa.
In 2021 there has been several reports of tourists being given less than 180 days on their tourist permits or FMMs. It isn’t clear why this happens to some people and not everyone. I explain more about it in this article
The exception to the 180 days on an FMM is when you are coming to Mexico to process your residency. Then you are only given up to 30 days.
Coming To Mexico As A Resident
Suppose you just received your residency visa approval from a Mexican consulate in the U.S., Canada, or Europe. In that case, you will need to travel to Mexico to finalize the process and exchange your stamp for an actual resident card in Mexico.
And when you come to Mexico, you will still need to process an FMM. However, you must tell them not to mark you as a tourist when you are with an immigration agent. They should mark your FMM as “Canje.”
If they mark you as a tourist, INM (Mexico’s Immigration Service) will not process your resident stamp for a resident card, and you will have to start all over again.
So don’t forget this process when you come to Mexico for Canje. Remember to ask for “canje” and that you not be marked as a “visitante” or tourist.
If You’re A Resident Traveling Out Of Mexico
The process is a little backward when you leave Mexico as a residente temporal or residente permanente.
Whatever you do, DO NOT LEAVE MEXICO without going to the immigration counter (only at international airports), filling out the bottom half of an FMM, and registering your exit with INM (as seen below).
Most likely, your flight crew won’t let you board your flight without turning in this paper unless you have the new eFMM in Mexico– the digital version of the FMM.
Once you do that, make sure an INM official stamps this piece of paper. Which essentially is your notification to INM that you are leaving the country. And before boarding your flight, your aircrew will ask for this piece of paper. Turn it into them. That’s it. You’ve done your part.
When you come back to Mexico, you can then fill out the top part of the FMM (see below). And when you pass through immigration, you will have to MAKE SURE that an agent marks you as a temporary or permanent resident. Don’t allow them to mark you as a visitante. To avoid any problems, you can pull out your resident card when you hand them this paper along with your passport.
I hope this helps to clear up any questions on whether you do or do not need an FMM. Check out my other posts to learn more about retiring and living in Mexico!
Linda Lane says
We have an appt. at the Mexican consulate in the US to apply for a permanent visa. Do you know if we need an interpretor that speaks Spanish if we don’t. Also:
Once you have a permanent residence card do you still need to fill out an FMM every time you return to Mexico after visiting the US?
I wish I had seen this article before I paid $99 USD for each of our FMMs online.
Thanks for all the info you provide!!
Mariana Lange says
Hi Linda! Glad it was helpful!
You don’t need a Spanish interpreter at the Mexican consulate in the U.S.
All Mexican consulate agents in the U.S. should speak English to some degree. Good luck with your approval process! Let me know how it goes
Cheryl Sennet says
Wow, it seems like it would be easy to make a mistake either coming or going. I’m happy to have this information. Thank you for a comprehensive post on residency.
On the FMM (Free Money in México 😉) form lines 7 & 8….question….if a U.S. citizen living in Panama as a permanent resident, is Panama the correct answer for line 7? …and line 8 would be the Panamanian Ecedula number? ….
Mariana Lange says
Great question- yes the country of residence would be Panama if you are a resident and currently living in Panama.
However line 8 I would leave blank
It is not for your cédula number
Emy alvarez says
Hello , how does it work if i cross twice a week back into the us? Thank you
Mariana Lange says
It depends- if you are flying you will most likely have to fill one out each time you enter Mexico. You are also supposed to turn it in before leaving Mexico.
If you are driving, the Mexican immigration authorities allow you to use the same FMM for multiple entries as long as it is not expired.
Everyone who is not a Mexican National is required to get an FMM to enter Mexico
Sandy Dodd says
We’re crossing by land and have Permanent Mexican Resident Cards — From reading this I assume I need an FMM, should we list our residency as Mexico?? Our overall stay is over 6 months but we will return to the states twice during that period.
Mariana Lange says
You should absolutely mark the box at the bottom of the FMM that says “Tarjeta de residente Permanente” otherwise your residency card will be canceled. You should be able to use the same FMM to cross in and out of Mexico through land.
I have done myself the disservice of not submitting an FMM to anyone at CBX when crossing from Tijuana to San Diego via the bridge. I flew in at 4am, there was no obvious INM booth (or I missed it) at the CBX entranceway. I have TR with a residency card. I am flying back in. Help!!!! Does this mean they will ban me from coming back in? Cancel my residency????
Mariana Lange says
I fully understand your worry but I don’t believe you need to panic just yet. There is a solution to this.
However, I would advise you to talk to one of our recommended immigration facilitators. They’re contact information is in the online guide
My brother wants to enter mexico with his American permanent resident card but does not have a valid Mexican passport, is it ok for him to only use this as his travel document? would the airport allow it?
Mariana Lange says
He will absolutely need a valid passport to enter Mexico.
I recently left mexico as a temporal resident, i gave up the bottom half of the fmm when entering the plane , but i lost the other half, can i turn in a new one when i enter?
Hi, I recently left mexico as a temporal resident, i gave up the bottom half of the fmm while entering the plane, but i lost the upper half, can i fill a new fmm when entering mexico again?
Hi, I recently left the country as a temporal resident, I turned in the bottom half of the fmm while boarding the plane, however I lost the upper half, can i fill a new one when entering Mexico again?
Hi, i left mexico with as a temporal resident, i gave up the bottom half of the fmm while entering the plane, however i lost the upper half , can i fill a new one when entering mexico again?
Andres R says
Hi, i recently left mexico as a temporal resident, i gave the buttom half of the fmm while entering the plane, however i lost the upper half, can i fill a new one when i return to mexico?