Immigration & Visas, Mexico Essentials

Changes to Time Allowed in Mexico Using a Visitor Permit

The way visitors are admitted to Mexico is changing in regard to the amount of time granted to stay under auspice of a visitor permit (FMM)

Mexico Visa

People who come to Mexico for leisure or business visits lasting 180 days or less, and who are passport holders of one of the many countries which don’t require a visa to enter Mexico can complete a Visitors permit, known as Forma Migratoria Multiple or FMM, at the port of entry.  You can learn more about the FMM here.

The 180-day maximum is no longer the default

Under Mexico’s immigration rules, the maximum time you are allowed to stay in Mexico under the auspice of a visitor permit (FMM) is 180 calendar days.

The number of days granted has always been at the discretion of the immigration official at the port of entry and until now, most (but not all) visitors arriving in Mexico for leisure and business trips tended to be issued with visitor permits granting the full 180-day allowance.

We’ve heard that the practice of granting most visitors 180 days by default is changing and visitors will now be granted a number of days commensurate with the intention of their visit.

What this change means for visitors to Mexico

If you are visiting Mexico under the auspice of a visitor permit this change to the way visitors are admitted might or might not affect you.  If you intend to stay longer than a couple of weeks, then you should explain this to the immigration official who will ask about your intentions and may ask to see evidence in support of your plans; for example, accommodation arrangements and return flights.

Leisure tourists and short-term business visitors

If you arrive in Mexico for a short vacation or a short business trip, you’re unlikely to be affected by this change.  Be sure to communicate your plans to the immigration official so that they provide you with sufficient days for your visit.

Longer-term visits

If you intend to stay in Mexico for more than a couple of weeks, or are accustomed to using Mexico’s visitor permit for longer-term visits —for example, if you spend winters in Mexico or own a home here and live part-time as a visitor— and you automatically expect to be granted 180 days because that has been the norm to now, you should talk to the immigration official at the port of entry and explain your plans and intentions before they write the number of days on your permit, and ask for the days you need to suit your plans (it cannot exceed 180 days).

‘Perpetual visitors’

This change is likely to impact ‘perpetual visitors’ as they may not be granted 180 days by default.  As we have remarked in the article about the FMM, some people have been using the flexibility of the Visitor permit to continually return to Mexico to remain here longer-term.  We also remarked that immigration officials have been checking the arrival records of people coming to Mexico for some while now and questioning the intentions of those who continually return—and we’ve thus been recommending that you consider applying for legal residency if you intend to be in Mexico for longer.

Special Procedure for Residency Applications

Under a special procedure announced by the INM some people with expired visitor permits may exchange these for residency permits in-country without having to leave MexicoLearn more about the special procedure to find out if you qualify.

Visitor permits cannot be extended or renewed

The number of days written on your visitor permit (FMM) by the immigration official at the port of entry is the maximum time you are allowed to stay in Mexico, even if that is less than 180 days.  You might be able to exchange your visitor permit for a residency permit in certain situations.

  • You cannot have the number of days extended, and you cannot renew this permit.
  • If you are in Mexico and wish to apply for legal residency, you must leave Mexico to begin the application, except:
  • if you have certain family connections in Mexico you may apply to exchange your visitor permit for a residency permit in-country; or;
  • under a special procedure announced by the INM some people with expired visitor permits may exchange these for residency permits in-country without having to leave Mexico; or
  • the visitor permit may also be exchanged in-country for humanitarian reasons, but the circumstances must be exceptional and the procedure is at the discretion of the immigration office.
  • You must otherwise leave Mexico before the permit expires.

Visitor permit time allowance changes: summary

Here are the key points to note about the changes:

  • Mexico’s visitor permit (FMM) allows visitors to remain in Mexico for a maximum of 180 days but the number of days granted has always been at the discretion of the immigration official at the port of entry
  • Visitors may no longer be granted 180 days’ stay in Mexico by default; instead visitors are granted a number of days commensurate with their intentions and immigration officials may ask for supporting evidence of those intentions.
  • The decision about how many days are granted remains at the discretion of the immigration official at the port of entry and the number of days granted (written) on the permit is the maximum time you are allowed to stay in Mexico: it will never exceed 180 days, but it may be less than 180 days.
  • Visitor permits (FMM) cannot be extended or renewed; they may be exchanged in-country in a limited number of special circumstances as described above.
  • You must leave Mexico before your visitor permit expires.
  • If you intend to be in Mexico longer-term, or you come to Mexico for a few months each year and want to facilitate your entry and exit with the least amount of friction, we recommend you apply for residency in Mexico by applying at a consulate abroad, or through the special procedure, if you qualify.
  • If you are already in Mexico and have concerns or questions about an existing visitor permit, you should contact your local INM office for advice and guidance.

Mexico Immigration Assistance

If you need assistance with your plans, our Mexico Immigration Assistance Service provides advice and practical help that helps you through the entire residency application or renewal process, including special regularization procedures
Learn more and make a service request.

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44 Comments

  1. Bi says

    Hello,

    Did anyone have any experience with their visitor visa being refused in Mexico and the passenger being sent back to their origin country?
    If yes, do you know if there’s any waiting period before you can try to enter Mexico again?
    I cannot find this information anywhere.
    They did not add anything in the passport nor did they give any kind of official paper saying any attempt for future visas will be denied.

    Thank you in advance!

  2. Bruce Brooker says

    Have your documents together (itineraries, return tickets, proof of $$ solvency, lodging, tour/adventure bookings) and your attitude checked. Be business like. Communicate with the border personell in a courteous manner. Do not offer ANY attitude about your perceived freedoms and liberties you are born into in your mother country. In Mexico, you have no god given exceptualness.
    Get it?

  3. Michael Kundrat says

    I am wondering about the FFM online form. I know my airline should provide one included in the cost of my ticket…and that there is a charge for the online form (between $20-$25 US, yes?). I thought I had read that if going online, the maximum of 180 days would be granted. Does anyone know if that is true, or will my number of days still be at the discretion of the airport agent? Our trip is for 3 months…I plan to have appropriate documents…but I thought paying $25 might be worth it to avoid any problems….

  4. Dale Oderkirk says

    When planning our winter stay in Mexico again and we have already purchased return airfare, would the date of the latter influence the Mexican immigration officers when granting the number of days in country?

    • Mexperience says

      Hi Dale
      Yes, you should talk the immigration officer at the port of entry and communicate your plans *before* they write a number of days on your permit. Showing temporary rental contracts, flight itineraries, etc. as supporting evidence can also help.

      • Dale Oderkirk says

        Thanks for the reply. We are wondering why this sudden change. I feel certain the Mexican government does not want to discourage the inflow of expat money, i.e., it doesn’t really make sense to us. Any thoughts?

        • Mexperience says

          Hi Dale,
          I don’t think that this intends to discourage visitors or investment; and some visitors may still be granted 180 days (the law in respect of maximum time allowed on a FMM has not changed).

          The change in pattern at the port of entry appears to be aligning the time granted with the visitor’s intentions (most tourists need 2-3 weeks at most) intead of granting the maximum time allowed by default. People who are using the FMM to live in Mexico might find this cumbersome and probably ought to consider applying for residency.

          For people coming to Mexico for longer periods, e.g. a sabatical, overwintering, etc., the key is to communicate the intentions with the immigration official and ask for the days needed–it can’t exceed 180 and vistiors may need to show evidence to support those intentions.

  5. Marie Budny says

    My husband did not know of this change and is being detained in Cancun for at least 3 days. He is there to have dental work done. He obviously did not tell them he has a return flight for March 1 2021. Is there anything I can do? Will he be deported after the weekend?
    I’m sure this is happening to anyone that stay longer than a week. Why was it not published on travel websites?

  6. Jeff says

    Hi, Thanks for all Your Clear Responses.

    I arrived by air in Leon, Oct 28, 2021. My passport has a green box stamp that says GUANAJUATO followed by
    The purple letters.
    28 OCT 21 E

    No box that reads ‘Temporalidad” nor inside with the words: dias/days, which Helene reported above.

    When does mine expire?

    Thanks!

  7. Darlene says

    My husband just received his temporary residence. Does he have to come back every year yo PV yo renew? Can it be done on line or paid in advance?

  8. Bruce L Steinson says

    I have rented a condo for 84 days in 2022.. I have the address and a return airline ticket. Will I run into any problems? (btw) I am a retiree from Canada.

    • Mexperience says

      Hello Bruce,

      If you plan to overwinter for a time in Mexico you should be OK — the key is to clearly communicate your intentions to the immigration officer BEFORE the officer writes the number of days on the permit. Take your rental contract/agreement with you as well your flight itinerary in case they ask to see supporting evidence.

      • Bruce L Steinson says

        Thanks for that. I’m hoping they are just being more diligent and not discouraging snowbird tourism.

  9. Dick Wilson says

    We don’t have a permanente nor a temporal. Is a temporal allowed to drive a US plated vehicle in Mexico?
    We spend between 4-6 months a year in San Miguel and drive down on a tourists with a vehicle permit.

    • Mexperience says

      Hi Dick,
      You can drive a foreign plated vehicle to Mexico with a Visitor Permit, you don’t necesarily need a Residente Temporal permit to do that.

      See this article for details about the import permits (TIP):
      https://www.mexperience.com/temporary-import-permit-tip-vehicles-mexico/

      Note that if you are the holder of a *Residente Permanente* visa/card you cannot apply for a TIP or take your foreign-plated vehicle to Mexico outside of the defined Free Zones.

  10. Helene Last says

    I came through recently. I put down on the form I wanted 160 days. I am elderly, have come down every year for the past 30 years. The agent only gave me 60 days and i am beside myself. I wanted to apply for a permanent visa but covid got in the way plus taking care of my late husband who had dementia for 7 years. This ruling will not be beneficial. How do you make place reservations or book a condo now if the agent has the right to not allow you to stay for the amount of time you asked for? This will not work out for anyones benefit.

    • Ed Zactley says

      Apply for residency. It’s the obvious and simple answer. There is no reason to not do that if you want to stay for long periods of time. It’s their Country and their prerogative to enact and enforce their immigration requirements. Accept it and abide by it, or stop coming.

  11. Helene Poulin says

    In the Blue Box above ‘’How to determine… expiry date’’, it says the expiry date is written on the permit. I see the stamp but I do not see a date. I see a big scribble which could be the officer’s initials, not sure. Does someone know if the number of days permitted is actually written on permit? Thanks

    • Mexperience says

      Hi Helene,
      The expiry *date* is not stamped on the permit, but the *issue* date is.

      There’s a box that reads ‘Temporalidad” and inside that the words: dias/days.

      The officer writes a number in that box. That is the number of days you can remain in Mexico, from the date of your arrival.

      Your permit expires the number of calendar days (cited in the “Temporalidad” box) after the issue date (stamped)–that matches your arrival date.

      • Helene says

        Great. The Temporalidad box is blank; he didn’t write anything therefore I am good for 180 days from the date stamped when I entered. Thanks.

  12. Lady Linda says

    Is an FMM only good for one entry?? Example temple if I receive an FM for a 180 days can I go back-and-forth between the US and Mexico multiple times or must I get a new FMEMM each time I cross?
    Also does this mean that everybody crossing into Mexico must stop somewhere at the border is order to get this it this form stamped? This seems like there will be a great deal of lines to wait
    It’s in period and will slow down the process of entering greatly.

    • GILBERT DUBEAU says

      you would have to reapply because they take your visa back when you leave mexico

  13. Kimberlay Kiernan says

    What about those escaping to Mexico for political reasons who didn’t have the time or ability to apply for residency. Will the INM look at this and consider issuing a residency permit if the applicants qualify in all other ways? Should those people go to COMAR and apply for refugee status? Refugees don’t necessarily have to be poor . They just have to be having their human rights , and well-being compromised with little or no foreseeable chance of return of those to them as individuals.

    • Mexperience says

      Hi Kimberlay,
      In regard to humanitarian and asylum applications: These are a specialized branch of the immigration rules and you should contact/visit your nearest Immigration Office (INM) to ask for advice and guidance about this if you wish to apply for residency in Mexico on humanitarian grounds.

  14. Constance Muñoz says

    its about time, if you dont qualify for a visa, you shouldnt be living there, since covid so many more since they can work from laptop, everyone else strict with their visas, so glad mexico is. i know so many living there illegally and just border hoping…

    • honeybee says

      It’s Mexico cutting off their nose to spite their face. That’s a lot of money they will lose in revenue. The people that cross a lot are not taking jobs or using any of the system. It’s impossible to use the system. They are doing nothing but bringing in a boat-load of cash to live and spending it in the country. Dumbest thing ever.

      • James says

        Mexico’s isn’t preventing anyone from visiting. The immigration officials are now being more proactive asking arrivals about their plans and granting a number of days that matches those. People continously using the tourist visa to live in Mexico might need to think about applying for residency, that’s all.

      • Ed says

        Honeybee

        You are clueless. Mexico doesn’t need your money. Mexico is self-sufficient and is on a trajectory that will easily surpass the US and their imminent economic implosion.

        • Obi says

          Unfortunately Ed, you are the clueless one.. Every country needs tourism revenues.. And Mexico definitely relies on tourism revenue as part of its GDP.. In 2019/2020 alone, that contributed to a record billions of dollars..

          And yes I agree Mexico should implement this new rule, however, at same time leaving it at the mercy of the individual custom officer could prove to be a terrible idea, leaving the door open to favoritism and such..

          • KC MexicanResident says

            It’s always been up to the individual customs officer just as it is in most countries. Shouldn’t affect tourism, people who are tourists don’t come for 6 months, fly back home and then come right back again for another 6 months. Those people should be applying for residency. Tourists who are planning longer stays only need to show proof of a reservation/return plane ticket, etc., exactly how it is in most places.

          • Bill says

            Fact:
            Mexico – Contribution of travel and tourism to GDP as a share of GDP. In 2019, contribution of travel and tourism to GDP (% of GDP) for Mexico was 17.3 %. It went down in 2020 due to the pandemic.

    • Mexperience says

      Hi Kevin,
      There has been a change in the pattern of admissions and recent reports from travelers arriving to Mexico confirm that immigration officials are no longer tending to grant 180 days by default.

      You may still ask for 180 days, but the immigration official may ask about your intentions and may ask for evidence in support of those; and might or might not grant the maximum 180 days allowance.

      • Richard says

        … a lot of this depends on the port of entry. Arriving via Puerto Vallarta with a planeload of tourist folks on a Alaska or WestJet tends to get scrutiny… Arrive in Mexico City and your liable to get the greasy eyeball, the 5th degree or worse.. if arriving as a tourist on a FMM, NEVER say you have or own a house here.. or NEVER say “you are going home to your house”.. that indicates intention of permanent residency on a FMM… your liable to get deported. Since there has been a change… if possible work the odds in your favour. Also… do it online, don’t use the form given out on the plane.

  15. David Alan says

    Finally, they will be weeding out the gypsies, grifters and thieves …

  16. eddy mcdonald says

    i have had my inm card RESIDNTE PERMENTE for 6 years now and they never question me

    • Bud Thespud says

      Of course not. You’re a permanent resident, not a tourist or snowbird.

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