Immigration & Visas, Living, Retirement, Working

Temporary and Permanent Residency in Mexico

Whether you apply for temporary or permanent residency in Mexico will likely depend on your lifestyle intentions and your level of income or savings

Mexico Residency Cards

When you apply for legal residency in Mexico, you have a choice of applying for either Temporary Residency (Residente Temporal) or Permanent Residency (Residente Permanente).  This article describes the differences between the two.

Differences between Temporary and Permanent residency

The most significant difference is that temporary residency permits need to be renewed at least once if you stay more than a year, whereas permanent residency permits never need to be renewed and never expire.

Temporary residency permits

Mexico’s temporary residency permits last for between 1 and 4 years.  Your first temporary resident permit is always granted for only one year* initially and you can thereafter renew your temporary residency for 1 to 3 more years (for a maximum of 4 consecutive years). At the end of a 4-year period of temporary residency, you can:

  • apply to exchange the temporary residency for permanent residency (see below); or
  • allow the temporary residency to expire and enter into a ‘regularization’ procedure to re-apply for temporary residency; or
  • leave the country.

The financial qualification criteria for temporary residency are lower than those needed to apply for permanent residency and, after holding four consecutive years of temporary residency, you can optionally apply to exchange your temporary residency for permanent residency, usually without the need to prove economic solvency.

Note that not all temporary residency permits carry permission to work in Mexico; work permissions need to be requested and granted alongside your temporary residency.  See our free Mexico immigration guide for more details.

When you have temporary residency in Mexico, you can enter and leave Mexico as many times as you wish and there are no time limits on how long you have to remain in Mexico each year to keep your residency status, although renewals and notifications of changes must be processed in Mexico, in person.

*If you are married to a Mexican national, you are granted two years of temporary residency and after those two years you can exchange this for permanent residency.

Permanent residency permits

When you apply for permanent residency on the basis of economic solvency, you don’t have to hold temporary residency before applying for and being granted permanent residency, but:

  • the financial criteria to qualify for permanent residency are higher, and
  • many consulates require the applicant(s) ‘to be retired’ to apply for permanent residency—even if they qualify economically.

For those who don’t qualify for Permanent Residency right away, there is a path to exchange temporary residency for permanent residency (see next section below).

Once permanent residency is granted, your residency card never expires and you do not have to renew your residency status as you do with temporary residency.  However, you do need to notify your local immigration office of any change of address, civil status, as well as any changes in employment if you work in Mexico.

When you have permanent residency in Mexico, you can enter and leave Mexico as many times as you wish and there are no time limits on how long you have to remain in Mexico to keep your permanent residency status; although if you intend to apply for citizenship, you will need to prove you were physically in Mexico for at least one year prior to your application.

Some consulates are not issuing Permanent Residency visas

Our associate has recently encountered cases whereby a small number of Mexican consulates are not issuing Permanent Residency permits to applicants, even if they fulfill all the criteria, including ‘being retired.’  We do not know the reason for this. Mexican consulates retain ultimate discretion to grant or deny any residency visas.  The small few consulates that are not issuing Permanent Residency visas are issuing Temporary Residency visas.

Exchanging temporary residency for permanent residency in Mexico

People who want to live in Mexico indefinitely but only qualify for temporary residency can apply for temporary residency to begin with and, after four consecutive years* of temporary residency can apply to automatically exchange their temporary residency status for permanent residency in Mexico.

Near the end of the four consecutive years holding temporary residency, you can apply to exchange your Residente Temporal permit for a Residente Permanente permit. The transfer from temporary to permanent residency is undertaken at your nearest immigration office in Mexico with an application procedure and payment of the processing fees.

You do not need to demonstrate your economic solvency when you have four consecutive years of temporary residency and apply to exchange this for permanent residency.

*If you are married to a Mexican national, you are granted two years of temporary residency and after those two years you can exchange this for permanent residency.

Important note about Temporary Residency to Permanent Residency

Whether you are overseas or in Mexico, if you’re intending to exchange your current Temporary Residency card for Permanent Residency after having held 4 consecutive years of Temporary Residency status in Mexico, you must not let your residency card expire.  If you do not renew your temporary residency card before its expiry date, you can opt to enter the regularization process to apply for a new, 1-year temporary residency permit, but you cannot make the exchange from temporary to permanent residency.

Should I apply for temporary or permanent residency in Mexico?

Choosing to apply for temporary or permanent residency will depend on whether:

  • you plan to live in Mexico only for a defined (temporary) period and then leave the country; or
  • you are not yet decided about your longer-term plans when you apply; or
  • you intend to stay in Mexico very long term (indefinitely); or
  • you intend to stay very long term (indefinitely) but don’t qualify for permanent residency right away.

Applying for Temporary residency is the better choice if:

  • you plan to stay in Mexico for a while and then leave; or
  • if you want to stay indefinitely but don’t qualify for permanent residency right away.

If your plans evolve and you decide to stay in Mexico for longer, you can extend your temporary residency (for a maximum of 4 years) and after four consecutive years apply to exchange temporary residency for permanent residency if you want to.

Applying for Permanent residency is the better choice if:

  • you intend to live in Mexico indefinitely and qualify with the higher income or savings / other criteria required for permanent residency.

Applying for and being granted permanent residency right away negates the need for you to apply for renewals of a temporary residency permit, which translates into less processing time and less cost.

Mexico Immigration Assistance

If you need assistance with your Mexico residency application, renewals, or regularization procedures, our Mexico Immigration Assistance Service provides consulting, advice, and practical support that assists you through the entire residency application or renewal process, including visa exchanges, regularization procedures, and troubleshooting.

Learn more about residency in Mexico

Mexperience publishes information and resources to help you learn about how to apply for and obtain legal residency in Mexico:

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22 Comments

  1. Liza Fernandez says

    Hi there! Thanks for the amazing information. I have a couple of questions. My boyfriend and I want to apply for temporary resident visa so we can live in Queretaro. I qualify for solvency but he does not. If I add him to my bank accounts so they are now joint, will we be able to qualify that way? Also if we obtain the temporary residency CARD in Cozumel, is it valid to live in Queretaro? How long do I have to change the address and how do I go about it? Thanks!

    • Mexperience says

      Hi Liza,

      You have to apply separately unless you and your boyfriend are married or common-law partners. Having your boyfriend’s name on your bank account will not qualify as family unit.

      When you have a residency card you can live anywhere in Mexico, regardless of where the card was originally issued. You must advise the INM of your address change when you move to your new address, that’s all.

      If you need assistance with your application, our associates can provide advice and support:
      https://www.mexperience.com/get-assistance-with-your-mexico-residency-application/

  2. Peter says

    By the way, when I applied for my temporary residency based on my marriage to a Mexican national in December 2021, INM (Tlaxcala office) specifically informed me that I could apply for more than one year up front.

    She said that temporary residencies based on marriage to a Mexican National are not subject to an initial one year limitation.

    As you mentioned, she said that I can exchange the temporary residency to a permanent residency after only two years.

    • Mexperience says

      Hi Peter,
      Thank you for your comment and for sharing that important caveat. We’ve added footnotes to the article to bring attention to the fact that if you are married to a Mexican national, you are granted two years of temporary residency to begin with and, after those two years, you can apply to exchange your temporary residency for permanent residency.

      See also Family Unit applications, here:
      https://www.mexperience.com/applications-for-residency-from-within-mexico/

  3. Carol says

    Is there a time period for entry. If possible plan to sell my home and go to Mexico on temporary visa. I have dog who I will take with me. I don’t want to wait until sell and have to rent but timing is the issue. Also, the timing for getting the dogs paperwork and shots. How long after receive visa so I have to enter?

  4. Ellen M. Winstead says

    Hello-
    If I am seeking employment in Mexico, but unsure if I will obtain it, do I jeopardize my chances of getting a visa to work in Mexico by getting a temporary visa as well? Said another way, I want to keep my options open- work remotely in Mexico (via a temporary visa) AND apply for jobs teaching at international schools in Mexico. Can I apply for the temporary visa or will that cause issues if I get a job and need a work visa? Thank you.

  5. Kimball Green says

    Thank you for the information. I tried to read all of it, but missed an answer to my question, so I apologize if you have already addressed it.
    I have 1 year temporary residency. I plan to renew for the full 4 years. If I start the renewal process, can I leave the country while the process is ongoing, but my 1st year is still valid?
    Secondly, my son is also 1 year temporary and plans to renew for 4 years. He was 17 when he got the 1 year, but is now 18. Will he be able to renew in Mexico or will he have to go back to US to start over?
    Again, thanks for your time.

    • Mexperience says

      Hi Kimball,

      In the 30-day window leading up to the card’s expiry date you can apply to renew your residency card; you can renew for up to 3 more years, for a total of 4 years maximum.

      You cannot leave the country while the renewal procedure is in train, although processing times have been reduced significantly of late and it ought not to take more than 2-3 weeks to complete, and might be sooner, depenidng on how busy your local INM office is.

      We cross checked with the INM and your son can renew his residency card in Mexico, even though he has turned 18.

      If you need help with the renewals, our associate will be pleased to assist; you can find details of the service here:
      https://www.mexperience.com/get-assistance-with-your-mexico-residency-application/

      • Kimball Green says

        Wow! Thanks for your quick response. I had 2 follow up questions if you have time: We have to start the renewal process within the last 30 days of our current visa or we can start the process sooner? Once we officially start the renewal process, are we good, even if our current visa expires before the new one is complete? Specifically, ours expires March 13 and we have a tripped purchased that we will be out of country February 11- 25th. Thank you again for your time.

        • Mexperience says

          Hi Kimball,

          You need to start the renewal process within the 30-day window before the card’s expiry date; you cannot begin sooner than this.

          Once you begin the process, your residency status remains ‘regular’ even if the process takes you past the card’s expiry date; there’s no problem.

          Note, however, that you cannot leave the country *while the renewal process is in train*; except in an emergency you can apply for an exit and re-entry permit.

          As you will be back in Mexico before the expiry date, this won’t be an issue for you; but we recommend that you don’t leave filing the renewal to the last minute.

          You can find details on this article:
          https://www.mexperience.com/about-renewing-your-mexico-resident-permit/

  6. Ronald Devito says

    For Economic Solvency by Savings can the money be located in the U.S. and denominated in USD? Does retirement accounts like 401K qualify as savings for residency permit purposes?

  7. Michael Heelan says

    I have a permanent resident card. When I leave and reenter by air I end up filling out a entry card. And each time I go through Immigration the agent keeps the perforated half. The next time I go to leave the country the airline check in person requires that I hand in the part of the form the immigration person kept. Is this normal?

  8. Dalia Diaz says

    My mom has a resident card that doesnt expire. Does she still need to stay in mexico no longer that 180 days or can she stay longer time?

  9. Veneta says

    Hello,

    Almost everywhere I see that first you need to apply for temporary residence and after some years you can apply for permanent. And here, I read, that you say, we can apply for permanent residency stright away, without having temporary residency. Is that really the case?

    • Mexperience says

      Hello Veneta,

      You don’t have to acquire Temporary Residency before applying for Permanent Residency when applying under the route of economic solvency; you can apply for Permanent Residency right away–although the qualification criteria for Permanent Residency are higher than those for Temporary Residency.

      Many consulates (but not all) require the applicant(s) “to be retired” to apply for Permanent Residency right away. People who do not have the economic means to apply for Permanent Residency right away, or if the applicant is not retired and the consulate requires this, can apply for Temporary Residency first and apply to exchange that for Permanent Residency after four consecutive years of holding Temporary Residency.

      You can find further details about this in our free eBook about Mexico Immigration, that you can download here:
      https://www.mexperience.com/ebook/mexico-immigration-guide/

      If you need assistance with your application, consider using our Immigration Assistance service – details here:
      https://www.mexperience.com/lifestyle/living-in-mexico/relocation-consulting-request/

  10. lina says

    How much does it cost to get it
    Mexico Permanent resident card

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