Living

Becoming a Naturalized Mexican

Mexican Passport

While many foreign residents arrive in Mexico for a time and return to their home countries within a few years, a significant number of expatriates do stay in Mexico long-term — perhaps for work or lifestyle reasons — but more usually when their partners and families have settled here, or when they retire.

If you’re in Mexico for the long-haul, at some stage you might choose to take your residency status to the next level: naturalization.  Naturalization is the process by which you apply for and, if successful, subsequently adopt Mexican Citizenship.

Mexican naturalization offers several benefits to foreigners.  Among them (in no particular order of importance):

  • you can cast a vote in Mexican elections;
  • you can change address or jobs without having to inform the National Institute of Immigration (INM) of your moves;
  • you can avoid having to visit Immigration kiosks at airports when you leave to check-out, and wait less time in immigration lines at airports on your return;
  • you avoid having to pay to change your immigration status and/or renew your visa each year to extend you stay in Mexico; and
  • you can own property situated near coasts and land borders in your own name without the need to operate a bank trust (fideicomiso) — which can save you thousands of dollars in fees over the years — although some people choose to operate a trust for estate planning purposes.

There are a few matters you should be aware of in regard to becoming a Naturalized Mexican.  Following your naturalization, while you are in Mexico, you are not allowed to seek consular protection by virtue of your ‘other’ nationality; so if you become caught up in any problems with the authorities you cannot rely upon your home country’s Consulate to support you. Depending on your country of citizenship, you might have to surrender your home country’s passport – and citizenship – when you acquire your Mexican nationality. (This is rare: most countries allow their citizens to hold dual or multiple nationalities.) You should also check with a financial adviser about the implications that your naturalization may have on your personal and business tax affairs.

The procedures which lead to Mexican naturalization demand a number of requirements for qualification.  These depend upon an assortment of factors such as your links to Mexico, your current immigration status, and how long you have been physically resident here.  Our Mexico Immigration Guide includes a chapter that covers these details; a good immigration lawyer can also help you establish your eligibility; or you might consider using our Relocation Consultancy Service for a consultation to talk in detail about your situation.

Once you file the application, the procedures take about a year to complete, and may take longer in some cases.  Toward the end of the process, you will be asked to sit an exam.  In years past, the exam consisted of studying 100 “multiple choice” type questions, answering 5 and getting at least 3 correct.  Since January 2018 the exam process has been revised to test your knowledge of Mexican culture and history, and a reading comprehension exam to test your Spanish language.  Minors, those over sixty years old, and refugees are exempt from the exam: proving that they have a basic grasp of Spanish in conversation at the naturalization interview will suffice.

At the completion of the journey that leads to your Mexican naturalization, you will get a handshake from an official at the SRE (Mexico’s equivalent of the US State Department), and a Naturalization Certificate.

With this certificate in hand, you may apply for your Mexican passport and, just as importantly, your IFE card (known colloquially as simply, el IFE) – that is technically a voter registration document, but also serves a de facto National ID Card in Mexico. The card incorporates features such as scanned fingerprints, holograms and other security devices. It’s the size of a driving license and is thus readily portable.

Need further information?

For detailed information about how to apply for Mexican Citizenship (including details about the new exam and its study guide), download the Mexico Immigration Guide.

If you need detailed advice about your specific circumstances, you might consider using this Mexico Relocation Consulting service.

You can also find extensive guides to living in Mexico here on Mexperience.

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37 Comments

  1. Rose says

    Excuse me does your guide 2018 includes a better study guide than the bibliography posted on SRE page? Or is the same? Because I haven’t been able to find anything new about the current exams. Only the old 100 questions thanks.

  2. Shari says

    Hi,
    I’ve been living in Baja Norte for 5 yrs, no visa only random 7 day tourist visas, I am marrying a Mexican in Mexico. Where is the best place to start getting legal?
    Best
    Shari

    • Mexperience says

      Hi Shari,

      After marrying a Mexican national you will be able to apply for residency right away and (if you want to afterwards) you can then apply citizenship after 2 full years of permanent residency.

      You can contact an immigration lawyer locally to discuss your situation, or if you want to get a handle on the rules yourself, full details about the residency and citizenship requirements and processes to follow are in the Mexico Immigration Guide: https://www.mexperience.com/ebook/mexico-immigration-guide/

      Alternatively, if you want some one-to-one counsel over the phone/email to discuss your individual situation, you might consider the “Relocation Consultancy” service that covers immigration/naturalization matters: https://www.mexperience.com/lifestyle/living-in-mexico/relocation-consulting-request/

      Wishing you well with your plans.

  3. Creagh says

    I am 67 from USA. I will apply for naturalization in May. Do I need to have my birth certificate apostilled in Oklahoma and the translated into Spanish or vice versa? I live in AZ so it would be easier to get the translation done after it is apostilled. Also I have been in and out of Mexico during my five years with permanent residency. Will my application be denied because I have spent more than 180 days outside of Mexico during the last two years.

    • Mexperience says

      Hi Creagh,

      Any foreign-issued documents you use as part of your application (e.g. Birth Certificate, Marriage Certificate) need be Notarized and translated into Spanish. Translations must be done by approved translators–ask the local INM office for a list of locally-certified translators, and/or search online. You can find information about Notarizing your documents here:
      https://www.mexperience.com/getting-your-documents-apostilled-for-mexico/

      In regard to being away from Mexico, while you are exempt from the exam at 67, you must still qualify under the other criteria which include having to be physically in Mexico full-time for the period leading up to the application: the applicant must prove 5 consecutive years with either Temporary Residency or Permanent Residency and the last 2 years prior to the application must have remained in Mexico at least 9 months out of 12, each of those 2 years. If you are married to a Mexican national, the qualification period may reduce to 2 years.

  4. Don says

    I am 65. Do I need to be in Mexico for 16 months out of 24 as one of the conditions in order to become a citizen?

    • Mexperience says

      Hi Don,

      While you are exempt from the exam at 65, you must still qualify under the other criteria which include having to be physically in Mexico full-time for the period leading up to the application. Other than very occasional and brief visits abroad (for a short holiday) you should ideally be in Mexico for at least the last 12 months.

  5. Sam says

    I have read that naturalized Mexican citizens cannot do some things natural born citizens can, like: serve on a mexican aircraft as a pilot or cabin crew or join the military in a time of peace. Can you please clarify? Thanks!

  6. G Marie says

    Hi..
    Trying to gain a Mexican passport. My father is born in Mexico and my mom in the US.
    What documents do I need? And…
    If I need his passport, can I obtained his birth certificate without him even if he is still living? He is uncooperative at times.

    • Mexperience says

      Hi G Marie,

      You can make an application for nationality (and thereafter, apply for a Mexican passport) based on your Father’s Mexican nationality. You don’t need his passport, but you will need a copy of his Birth Certificate which can be acquired from the state where he was born.

      You can find full details about the requirements and processes to follow in the Mexico Immigration Guide: https://www.mexperience.com/ebook/mexico-immigration-guide/

      Or, if you want some one-to-one counsel over the phone/email to discuss your individual situation, you might consider the “Relocation Consultancy” service that covers immigration/naturalization matters: https://www.mexperience.com/lifestyle/living-in-mexico/relocation-consulting-request/

      Wishing you well with the application

  7. Abigail says

    My father lives in Mexico and my mother is with me in the US, both of my parents were born in Mexico, but I was born in the US. If my mother doesn’t have her papers but she’s working on them, can I still get dual citizenship through my dad who is still living in Mexico? I was thinking to use my dual citizenship to reduce my cost of tuition as well other things.

  8. joe says

    Hello, I was born in Mexico and moved to the US when my parents divorced. During the divorce my name was changed to my mothers maiden name. I have my original Mexican birth certificate but the name on that document is different than my drivers license and US passport. Do I have to go to Mexico to change my name on my Mexican birth certificate? Do I need to hire an attorney in Mexico to do this without going to Mexico?

  9. Cameron says

    This question may seem silly, but if I have had my permanent visa for 1.5 years, which I got after having the temporary visa for 4 years, and I have been married to a Mexican national for 2 years, would I be able to start my naturalization process now, or do I have to wait until I’ve been with my permanent residency card for 2 years? I’ve basically been a resident here for 5.5 years. The law doesn’t seem to be clear about that.

    • Mexperience says

      Hi Cameron, you would most probably have to have 2 full and continuous years of permanent residency status before you can apply for citizenship as a foreign resident married to a Mexican national.

  10. Sheila says

    HI, I can’t find any information on how and when the ebooks are delivered, or what format they are in. Can you help me with this?

    • Mexperience says

      Hi Sheila,

      Thank you for your question. Our Mexico eBooks are delivered in PDF files and you can download them immediately after payment. Our eBooks Shop sends you an email with an encrypted link that enables you to download the eBook file(s) to your computer.

      You can find full information on our FAQs page, here:
      https://www.mexperience.com/shop/ebook-faqs/

  11. Mamad says

    Hi guys
    Can i get visa or mexican citizenship with investor like start business???

  12. John says

    I’m looking for information to gain Mexican citizenship. I have a son from a Mexican national. He was born in Mexico and has both US and Mexican citizenship and passports. Can this benefit and expedite the naturalization process for me or will 5 yrs be the standard. Thank for any assistance.

    • Mexperience says

      Hello John,

      Normally, you would have to be married and living in Mexico to qualify for the shorter (2 year) nationalization period; although you might qualify for the exemption if your dependent son is Mexican.

      If you are seeking some detailed advice based on your personal circumstances, you might consider our Relocation Consulting Service, that’s offered in partnership with immigration lawyers in Mexico. You can find details of the service here:
      https://www.mexperience.com/lifestyle/living-in-mexico/relocation-consulting-request/

      Wishing you well with your plans,

  13. Akinyande fun so says

    Please kindly advice me , how long can I use my permanent resident before applying for nationality in Mexico?

    • Mexperience says

      Hello Akinyande,
      You would normally need to be permanently resident for 5 years before being able to apply for Mexican Citizenship. However, if you are married to a Mexican National, then this can be reduced to 2 years. You can find full details about applying for Citizenship in the Guide to Mexico Immigration: https://www.mexperience.com/store/vuitem.php?itemid=26

  14. Jan says

    I understand that when applying for Mexican Citizenship, the applicant cannot be out of Mexico for more than 180 days in two years. Is this correct or has the number of days allowed out of country changed?

    • Mexperience says

      Hi Jan,
      That information is correct: when applying for Mexican Citizenship, the applicant cannot be out of Mexico for more than 180 days in two years.

  15. ben says

    Hi I am looking for some information as to gaining Mexican citizenship, if you are married to a Mexican national does the wedding and marriage certificate have to be in Mexico or will a US mmarriage be acceptable? Also we live in the US, in order for me to gain citizenship would I have to live in Mexico for a certain amount of time before gaining naturalization, and if so are there any ways around that? Thank you for your time and help

    • Mexperience says

      Hi Ben, if you married a Mexican national outside of Mexico (e.g. in the USA) then your US marriage certificate will be valid as proof, but you will need to get it apostiled by US authorities (contact State Department for details) for it it be recognized in Mexico. As a foreigner married to a Mexican national you need to have permanent residency status for at least 2 years to apply for naturalization.

      You can find out about how to Apostille your documents on this article:
      https://www.mexperience.com/getting-your-documents-apostilled-for-mexico/

  16. Ray says

    my mom was born in Mexico. I was born in Detroit. I would like to obtain Mexican citizenship. What do I need to do?

  17. matthew says

    My son was born in the usa and he just got his Mexican Citizenship. I want to buy property but i need to know what we need to do for him to make ME a citizen. Is this possible and how? Any links? i am fluent in spanish but the consulate web site is no help.

  18. For Emma says

    Emma: you need to live as a legal resident in Mexico at least 2 years before obtaining the Mexican citizenship. Your child can have it immediately because she’s the daughter of a Mexican. He only has to register her in the nearest Mexican Consulate.

  19. Emma says

    Hi,
    I’m a French citizen and I’m married to a Mexican citizen. We recently decided to move back to Mexico and I would like to get the Mexican citizenship. Do I have to get a FM3 before requesting the citizenship? We also have a 2 year old daughter and we’ve been living together for about 3 years in Mexico and in Canada.
    Thank you,
    Emma

  20. John Howse says

    If you are over 60, do you still need to be able to speak Spanish to get Mexican citizenship?
    I thought their was an exception in the past.

    Thanks,
    John

    • Mexperience says

      Hi John,
      At the age of 60+, you are not required to take the test, but there’s still an interview that needs to take place with an officer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the applicant will need to speak some Spanish at some point of the interview – so a basic conversational grasp is recommended.

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