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What’s An FMM? Do You Need One?

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, sea, or air. If you are flying, your airline usually supplies you with the form either before departing or arriving in Mexico. Your airline charges you the FMM fee in 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 buying it online ahead of time.

FMM Mexico Tourist Visa
Example of An FMM

Who Needs An FMM?

Any person with a U.S., Canadian or European passport 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.

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. Otherwise, you are 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 $595 MXN (approx $30 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 to the Mexican government, you have overstayed your visa. Even if you left the country already, and 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 before you even have to think about the end of your FMM tourist visa.

The exception to the 180 days on an FMM is when you are coming to Mexico with the intent of processing your residency.

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 are getting your FMM in Mexico. 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 at the airport (only at international airports) and filling out the bottom half of an FMM. (as seen below).

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.

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!

Gracias!

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. 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
      Mariana

  2. 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.

  3. Lee says

    Hi Mariana,

    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

      Hi Lee!
      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

  4. 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

  5. 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.

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