When you are granted a residency visa at a Mexican consulate abroad, you are issued with a visa sticker in your passport. This sticker grants you one-time entry to Mexico as a legal resident, and you must arrive at a port in Mexico within 180 calendar days of its issue date.
30-day window to make the exchange
You then have 30 calendar days from the date of your arrival in Mexico to begin the process to exchange your resident visa sticker for a residency card. If you fail to initiate the exchange process (in Spanish termed el canje) in this time frame, the visa will become void and you will need to restart the application process.
The residency sticker-to-card exchange process
The process begins by completing a form online, and you also have to write a letter (in Spanish) requesting the exchange of the resident visa for the resident card. Afterwards, you attend the local immigration office where your application will be processed, and your picture and fingerprints taken digitally. You’ll need to pay the residency permit fee, and the local immigration office will soon afterwards print a residency card for you to use. Our Mexico Immigration Assistance service can help with your application, including the exchange process.
You need to present this residency card each time you leave and re-enter Mexico. Learn more about entry and exit procedures.
Temporary vs Permanent residency cards
If you applied for temporary residency (Residente Temporal) your first card is always valid for only one year; you need to return to the immigration office to apply for a renewal if you intend to stay in Mexico. Renewals after your first year can be requested for 1 to 3 years (for a maximum of 4 years total).
If you applied for and were granted permanent residency (Residente Permanente) your card doesn’t carry any expiry date. It doesn’t expire and does not need to be renewed.
Learn more about the difference between temporary and permanent residency in Mexico.
Our free Mexico Immigration guide offers you comprehensive information about visas and residency in Mexico. Download your free copy from the Mexperience eBooks Library.
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 ‘regularization’ procedures and troubleshooting.
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