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 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.
This Mexico immigration form is a type of tourist 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, and your passport is one of the “no visa required” countries, then you get an eFMM in Mexico when you land and go through immigration.
If you are traveling by car or walking across the border by land, you must process your own FMM tourist visa at the border by stopping at INM and presenting your passport. This is YOUR responsibility. If you do not stop at INM, you will not get a paper FMM and could be deported from Mexico if caught.
Who Needs This Mexico Immigration Form?
Any tourist from a country that does not require a visa 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 or Mexican immigration form either at a border or at immigration stations at airports.. It just so happens that people who live near the border tend never to apply for an FMM when they come to Mexico. But you are entering Mexico illegally and can either be fined or be 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 six months) on an FMM tourist visa. So you can fully explore Mexico for six months before you even have to think about the end of your FMM tourist visa.
Since 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.
Additional Reading eFMM in Mexico- New Digital FMM
Once you do that, make sure an INM official stamps this piece of paper. Which is essentially 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 in to them. That’s it. You’ve done your part.
When you return to Mexico, you can fill out the top part of the FMM (see below). And when you pass through immigration, you must 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 problems, you can pull out your resident card when you hand them this paper and your passport.
I hope this helps clear up any questions on whether you need an FMM or not. Check out my other posts to learn more about retiring and living in Mexico!