Immigration & Visas, Transportation

Mexico Immigration & Visas FAQs

The most frequently-asked questions we receive in relation to Mexico immigration and visas—updated regularly

Mexico visa in passport

In this article, we’ve gathered together the most frequently-asked questions we receive in relation to immigration and visas in Mexico

Last Updated: June, 2021

Covid-19 and Mexico Visas/Residency Permits

If you are in Mexico with a visitor visa, or have a Mexico residency permit that’s near expiry, or expired, you can find additional information our article:
Coronavirus and Expiring Mexico Visitor and Residency Permits

Visitor Visa Related Questions
Resident Visa Related Questions
Car Permit Related Questions

Visitor Visa Related Questions

Q: Do I need a visa to visit Mexico?
Whether you need to apply for a visa before you visit Mexico depends on what country’s passport you hold, or other criteria. This article: Do I need a Visa to Visit Mexico explains the details.

Q: If I normally require a visa to visit Mexico, but I have a visa to visit or live in the USA, do I need to apply for a separate visa to visit Mexico?
If the country you are a passport holder of is on Mexico’s ‘visa required’ list, and the United States of America has granted you a visitor’s visa or a residency visaand that visa is current (not expired)—you can visit Mexico without the need to apply for a separate visa. You can find further details on this article.

Q: How long can I remain in Mexico with a Visitor’s Permit (FMM)?
If you enter Mexico as tourist or business visitor, then the immigration official at the port of entry will usually grant you the maximum allowance of 180 days’ stay; this will be written on the visitor’s permit for your reference. If the official writes a number less than 180 days then your stay in Mexico will be limited accordingly; the FMM cannot be extended.  In all cases, the Visitor’s Permit will always expire after a maximum of 180 days: it cannot be extended or renewed and you must leave the country before it expires. You can find further details about this permit on our article Your Mexican Tourist Permit, FMM

Q: How long do I have to remain outside of Mexico before I can return using a new Visitor permit (FMM)?
There is no time limit on how long you must remain outside of Mexico before returning under the auspice of a new Visitor permit. (You could leave and return the same day.)  However, if you continually leave and re-enter in Mexico using a visitor permit, you may have your intentions questioned by an immigration official when you re-enter.  You can find further details about this permit on our article Your Mexican Tourist Permit, FMM

Q: How do I replace a lost/stolen Visitor’s Permit (FMM)
You can find the answer to this question on our article Your Mexican Tourist Permit, FMM

Q: What do I do if I over-stay on my Visitor’s Permit (FMM)?
You can find the answer to this question on our article Your Mexican Tourist Permit, FMM

Q: If I have a previous criminal record, will this prevent me entering Mexico?
Whether you arrive in Mexico and complete a FMM (visitor permit) or have  visa sticker in your passport issued by a Mexican consulate, permission to enter Mexico is always determined by the Immigration Officer at the port of entry.  There is no way for Mexico to determine whether a person has a prior criminal record unless a foreign state has shared that information with Mexico beforehand.  (Mexico’s immigration system might alert border officials about ‘wanted’ criminals and other high-risk individuals who attempt to enter Mexico.)  Mexican consulates usually advise that people with a criminal record contact their own country’s authority and ask whether any background information has been shared with other countries.  If you have any doubts, we suggest you contact your nearest Mexican consulate for advice.

Q: What permits do I need to get married in Mexico? Are same-sex marriages allowed in Mexico? Will my Mexican marriage certificate be valid in my home country?
You can find answers to these questions on our Guide to Getting Married in Mexico.

Q: I took my tourist visa (FMM) home with me because there was no one to give it to when I drove across the border. What do I do?
You can find the answer to this question on our article Your Mexican Tourist Permit, FMM

Q: Can I exchange my Visitor’s Visa (FMM) for a Residency Permit?
Before November 2012 it was possible for anyone to exchange a visitor’s permit for a residency permit, but this is no longer the case. In a small number of specific circumstances you still can, but in most cases, you cannot exchange your Visitor Permit (FMM) for a Resident Visa.  If you are currently in Mexico decide that you want to apply for legal residency here, you will most likely need to leave Mexico and apply via a Mexican Consulate abroad.  See the next section about residency visas and permits for additional information.

See Also: Travel & Leisure in Mexico

Residency Visa/Permit Related Questions

Q: What are the requirements to acquire a living/working/retirement permit in Mexico?
You can find an extensive overview about acquiring permits for living, working and retirement on our Mexico Immigration page. You can also find extensive information about living our Mexico Lifestyle guides. For detailed information about visa types, qualification criteria, fees, and procedures, download a free copy of our Mexico Immigration Guide.

Q: Are there minimum financial requirements required to live/retire in Mexico?
Mexican immigration law stipulates that foreigners applying for residency in Mexico must be able to prove sufficient economic means to sustain themselves while in Mexico.  Read the article about Financial Criteria for Residency in Mexico.

Q: How long do Mexican residency permits last for?
Temporary residency permits last for up to 4 years, a permanent residency visa gives the holder indefinite leave to remain in Mexico and does not expire.  See Time limits on Mexican residency permits for details.

Q: How long can I remain outside Mexico when I have legal residency status?
When you hold legal residency in Mexico, you can leave and re-enter Mexico as often as you like, and there are no time limits on how long you can remain outside of Mexico; however, temporary residency renewals and reporting changes in personal circumstances must be undertaken in person, in Mexico—they cannot be done abroad nor by proxy.  See Time limits on Mexican residency permits for details.

Q: What happens if my residency visa or card expires?
If you have a residency visa (sticker) in your passport issued by a Mexican consulate you must arrive in Mexico and exchange it for a residency card within 180 calendar days of its issue date.  If you have a residency card and it expires, the rules depend on whether you are inside or outside of Mexico when the card expires. This article on Expired and Renewal of Residency Cards explains the rules. We strongly recommend that if you hold a resident permit and you plan to remain living in Mexico you do not let it expire before applying for it to be renewed. Resident permits can be renewed up to 30 days prior to their expiry date, and renewal requests must be filed in Mexico.

Q: How can I apply for a work permit in Mexico?
For information about applying for work permits in Mexico, see our Mexico Immigration page and our extensive section about Working in Mexico. If you would like personal advice based on your individual situation, you might consider using our Mexico Immigration Assistance service.

Q: Does Mexico have a Points-based System to qualify for residency?
The 2012 Immigration Law references a Points-based qualification system as one of the routes non-Mexicans may use to acquire residency in Mexico.  However, the Points-based System has not been implemented and there is no known date as to when it might be implemented.  Until then, foreigners seeking residency in Mexico need to pursue other routes, e.g. financial qualification, family unit, etc.—see also our Mexico Immigration page.

Q: Can I leave Mexico while my Resident Permit is being processed or renewed?
When you are exchanging your Residency visa for a Resident card, or renewing your existing Residency Permit (card) you have to remain in Mexico.  In exceptional circumstances, you can request a one-time temporary exit and re-entry permit from the local immigration office that is processing your residency permit.  Read our article about Renewing your Mexico residency permit for details.

Q: How can I import my personal goods to Mexico when I relocate there to live?
Mexico allows foreign residents to import personal effects tax-free when they first move here under a procedure known as the Menaje de Casa. You can find details about this procedure by reading our article: Importing Your Personal Goods to Mexico.

Q: Am I covered by Mexican Social Security for healthcare if I am legally resident in Mexico?
You can find answers to this question on our article about Health Insurance options in Mexico.

Q: How long do I have to live in Mexico before I can apply for citizenship?
You can find the answer to this question on our article: Becoming a Naturalized Mexican

Q: Do I need to supply financial information every time I renew my temporary resident permit, or when I exchange my temporary resident permit for a permanent residency permit?
Normally you don’t, but in some circumstances you may have to. Read this article about renewing your residency permit for more details.

Q: How do I replace a lost/stolen Resident Permit
If you are inside Mexico when you lose your residency permit, you’ll need to attend your local INM office to apply for a replacement; you can find details here. If you are outside Mexico when the loss happens, you should contact your nearest Mexican Consulate for guidance. Note that these procedures apply to permits which have not expired—see question above about resident permit expiry. If you need help with the procedures to replace your lost/stolen residency permit our Mexico Immigration Assistance service can help.

See Also: Living & Lifestyle in Mexico

Car Permit Related Questions

Q: How can I import my foreign-plated car to Mexico?
This is a simple question with complex answers. You can find guidance on the Mexperience article Bringing Foreign Plated Cars into Mexico as well our article about Mexico’s Temporary Import Permits for foreign-plated vehicles and our guide to Driving in Mexico.

Q: I didn’t surrender my car’s TIP (Temporary Import Permit) at the border. How can I tell the Mexican government I have exported my car?
You should always surrender your TIP, unless you plan to come back to Mexico in short order, in which case you might apply for ‘multiple entries’—see next question/answer. If you didn’t surrender your TIP, you will probably need to drive the same car back to a border crossing (it does not have to be the same one you entered through) and surrender it. Some—but not many—Mexican Consulates offer a ‘TIP Cancellation’ service. Contact your nearest Mexican Consulate to ask if they do, or which one nearest to you does. There are fees, penalties, and paperwork involved: it’s always best to surrender your TIP at the border.

Q: We plan to drive our foreign-plated car across the border, but return a week later and/or We make regular crossings back-and-forth across the land border with our car. Do we have to surrender the TIP and get a new one when we return?
There is a procedure that you can undertake at the MX/US border to register your vehicle for “multiple exits and entries” from Mexico while the TIP remains current. Visit the link provided above for further details.

Q: I drove my car into Baja California in Mexico, and am using a FMM visitor’s visa for my stay here.  Do I have to leave with my car, or can I fly out of Mexico using my FMM?
A car’s Temporary Import Permit (TIP) is tied to the FMM; and you must leave Mexico with the car and the FMM you entered with before its expiry date. However, as you do not require a TIP to drive your car on the Baja California peninsula, your FMM will be valid for you to enter by road and fly-out.

See Also: Transportation in Mexico

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