We moved to Merida, Mexico in May after 5+ years in India and it was a priority for us to get our residency for Mexico. In this article, I want to walk you through how to get your temporary resident visa for Mexico and what I did to get mine in the Atlanta office, following up in the Merida Mexican immigration office (INM). It will be the same process regardless of which office you go to in terms of paperwork, but timings could be different. Below are the Mexico visa requirements as I’ve come across them in the process getting my visa.
Why get residency for Mexico? Well, it’s not mandatory. Mexico allows me as an American and my boyfriend from the UK to enter for 6 months at a time on a tourist visa. You can leave and re-enter no problem – and it’s free. So, why did we get residency? The main reason to rush it is that we want to buy a used car and register it under our name (article on how to do that here). We can also buy land as foreigners on a tourist visa, but residency will make the process easier for us. We will also be able to have local bank accounts with our residency. Also, our pets are imported to Mexico and we are really living there so it just makes sense. I also will file FEIE in the USA on my taxes as a resident of Mexico.
The temporary residency is for people who plan to stay longer than 180 days (6 months) and less than 4 years. If you want to stay longer than four years, you will want a permanent residency, but it’s easier to get the temporary first, then you can apply for permanent later (it’s much harder criteria to get the permanent resident visa for Mexico but if you had the temporary for 2+ years, then you are basically going to be approved for permanent later without meeting the other criteria). With this visa you can enter and exit Mexico as you like. NOTE: It is only given for one year at a time and needs renewed each year, up to 4 years.
Almost all information on visas for Mexico required buying ebooks or paying for the information. I wanted to try this on my own, and now that I have, I just wanted to share what I did. There is more detailed information online about different consulates, but this is just my experience and the exact steps I took.
Mexico Immigration Laws: How to Get Your Temporary Resident Visa for Mexico
There are two steps to the visa. The first is going for an interview at a consulate outside of Mexico, then the second step is finalizing that in Mexico. You do not have to interview in your home country – you could go to Belize if you want, Ben (being from the UK) could do it in the USA if he wanted. You can search for any Mexican consulate and go there for your interview BUT you will need to notarize your documents from your home country if you go to a consulate outside your country. For example, Ben needs to get his bank statements notarized in the UK to go to a meeting in the USA so he might as well just do it in England.
Mexico Visa Requirements
Step 1: the interview at the consulate
Which consulate to choose:
I am from Ohio and there is no consulate there, so I decided to go to Atlanta. The reason for that is that from Merida to Ohio, I flew through Atlanta. It was an easy process and the immigration interviewer there was very chill, so I recommend it. I am based in Merida so I flew with Southwest from Cancun Atlanta which saved some money but you can alternatively fly straight out of Merida. I took a bus from Merida to Cancun (about 4 hours) which I booked in person at the ADO bus station downtown. The bus from Merida to the Cancun airport doesn’t leave from the downtown CAME station, though, it leaves from the Fiesta Americana Hotel area (you’ll see it on Google maps) where there is an ADO office.
Atlanta airport is South of the city and the consulate is up in the Northeast. You’ll likely have to stay overnight as flights arrive in the evening, then you can make an appointment for the following morning. I wanted to stay near to the consulate so I wouldn’t hit traffic in the morning and decided on the Crowne Plaza Midtown. It is just 10 minutes from there to the consulate. You’ll have your interview in the morning, then you cannot get your passport until 4 pm so you can hang around that area and pick it up (I went everywhere via Uber and there are restaurants and cafe’s nearby). You could also ask for a late checkout and just go back to the hotel.
The hotel was fantastic and worked perfectly for location and budget. I paid $12 in an Uber pool to the hotel from the airport and then $4 to the consulate. There is an ATM in the hotel where you can take out USD to pay for your visa at the consulate. I was told they only take cash, however, it looked like they had a card reader to me. The hotel also has a cafe inside and yummy breakfast. I didn’t want to stress of going into downtown Atlanta, walking around trying to find coffee or an ATM so was glad to just do this at my hotel. The room was nice, bed was comfortable, and I had a view of the Skyline.
I got into Atlanta in the evening, ordered food, had a little spa sesh, and tried to relax. I was nervous for my interview the next morning, but turns out there was no reason to be. It was so easy and simple! I flew out the night of the interview, so one night is all that is necessary in Atlanta. It will be done in one day unless you have issues with your paperwork.
Paperwork needed for the interview & scheduling your interview
For Atlanta, you will start on this website but if you are not going to Atlanta, that’s okay just search “Mexican consulate _(name of the city)” and choose the website which starts with this: “consulmex.sre.gob.mx”, that will be the official one. This is the USA government website which helps you find a consulate near you, which you also might find helpful.
So, once I am on the Atlanta consulate website specifically (or whatever one you are on) you’ll want to select which visa you are trying to get and see what information that they say you need.
You’ll choose temporary residency (more than 180 days but less than 4 years). You, unfortunately, are not allowed to skip ahead to the permanent visa.
I emailed the Atlanta consulate ahead of time with questions to make sure I had everything I needed. They were awesome and the person I emailed, Sophia, is the same person who did my interview. This is the email for her: [email protected]
Scheduling your interview:
You cannot schedule it too early. Actually, I had to wait until June 14th for the July appointments to open up. So wait to book your flight until you know you have the appointment set up. It’s easy. You can call them and arrange it or make the appointment online using this website. Just make a login and set up the appointment. I chose 11 am but the timing doesn’t matter too much as you cannot get the passport back until 4 pm. I was worried that if I did a late one like 3 pm, that I wouldn’t get it back the same day (even though they said I would get it back the same day).
What paperwork you need at your interview:
Once you click on the temporary visa it will show you exactly what you need. That is this page (click here). It’s honestly laid out very easily and you just need to decide which angle you are going to apply from.
These are the steps as outlined by the consulate:
- Fill out the Mexico visa application form. (click here).
- Complete the consular interview in person (outside of Mexico).
- Valid passport or travel documents; original and one photocopy.
- Submit one photo: passport size, visible face, no glasses, frontal view, in color, uncover face and white background. (I got my photo taken in Merida but recommend you go to the exact photo place outside of the INM and do the image that you’ll need for your follow up INM appointment as they require even more like shoulders must be covered and no jewelry, even earring studs – then you won’t have to do photos twice)
- If the Foreigner is not a native of the country where the visa is requested, it is required that an original and photocopy of the documents are provided to prove migratory legal status. (Ben would have needed his UK documents notarized).
- Payment of the visa fee. (it was $36 for me)
- Submit one of the following assumptions: In conjunction with the requested conditions of stay, the visitor must submit an additional requirement of one of the following assumptions: Proof of Property in the country where visa is requested, economic solvency, invitation by a Mexican institution, scientific or educational research for work in Mexico, study in Mexico, relative of a Mexican national or resident in Mexico, frequent traveler, visitors in an adoption process; employee representative directed to give advice to a Mexican company, investor, owner of property in Mexico, and all the assumptions designated by the Law.
So, number 7 is the most important. This one is where you need to read this page to see which one you fall under and can prove the paperwork needed to meet it. I chose A which is what most people choose.
a. Economic Solvency:
1. Original and photocopy of investments or bank accounts with a monthly average equivalent to five thousand days of minimumwage valid in Mexico City (aprox. $22,000 USdls.), during the last twelve months.
2. Original and photocopy of proof of employment or pension with monthly income free of tax equivalent of three hundred days of minimum wage in Mexico City (aprox. 1,300.00 USdls.), for the last six months.
I emailed the consulate to ask about this as I’m a freelancer and would be able to show my bank statement, but I would not be able to show proof of employment. They said having just number 1 was okay. Basically, they want to know you have money before you come to live in Mexico. I printed out 12 months of bank statements from Charles Schwab. She went through every single one. It’s a HUGE stack of paperwork. I also had letters from my top partners from my blog and proof of payments from work, but she didn’t need any of that. It was the shortest interview ever and I was approved, she took a horrible photo of me (lol), and then told me to come back at 4 pm to pick up my passport. I did, the visa was in there, and she told me I should go to the INM in Merida to finalize it and get my permit card.
Step one is the interview which gives you a piece of paper in your passport (the visa sticker). This is not the visa itself which is a “temporary permit card” made of plastic and you will not get that until you go back to Mexico to your local immigation office (INM) and finalize your process with finger prints, etc. You have 30 days to get to the INM after you enter Mexico and start the process.
Step 2: Finalizing the process at the INM to get your temporary permit card
When you get to Mexico, you’ll go to the INM within 30 days to finalize your visa. This is actually the hard part. You need to fill out an online form (the formato solicitud) and get two forms from the INM that are not online (the formato basico and the carte dolicitud canje). You’ll have to go to the payment page and fill out a pago de derechos and print it. Take that to th bank and make your payment there and bring that proof to the INM. You’ll then have to wait for an email that you can go back to the INM and make a fingerprint appointment. This can take a couple of weeks. Once you make the appointment, you’ll go in and do fingerprints and give them your photo (you can take this at a place just next to the INM, don’t wear white, no jewelry, they’ll know the size). Once this is submitted you’ll wait for approval.
At the time I did my visa, August of 2018, the visa cost was 3961 MXN. This could change, but when you do the form for payment, it will come up with the cost so you know what to take to the bank.
It sounds like a breeze, right? Well, the forms are in Spanish. The office workers speak only in Spanish. If you make even a tiny mistake on the form, you have to re-do it and start again. Many people take months going back and forth until they get it right which is fine if you have the time to do so. I didn’t! I have so many trips lined up and every time I leave while my visa is pending, I need an exit permit, so I really just wanted to do this right and get it done.
I hired Yucatan Transitional Services (YTS) who I have hired in the past to pick me and my dogs up at the airport when we moved here from Mexico. They are just a great team and when I looked at rates, there’s are half what other places charge. I had a lot going on and it was just an easy choice to say, okay, let’s let someone who does this literally every other day for hundreds of people do it so I don’t have to run back and forth to INM fixing mistakes. I found them through a Facebook group called Expats in the Yucatan which is full of expats here who help each other out with questions ranging from “has anyone seen Hormel chili at the grocery store?” to “I need a notario for a house I want to buy, any suggestions?”. I’ve been asking stuff in there a lot since I moved and find it really helpful.
If you want to hire someone, I recommend them highly. You can message them or email Erick at [email protected] All their rates are on their Facebook page but it’ll be between $200-$300 (they cap it at $300). You can also do parts yourself and if you get stuck, reach out to them at that point. It doesn’t hurt to try – I just didn’t have the time (and to be honest, the patience). It’s affordable to get help and most people I met who did it themselves lived in Centro and walked to INM a few times a week sorting this out. I live in Norte and have things to do (like work!) and couldn’t be going to Centro in an Uber all the time to check on this. They do all of that. They go to the bank. You just show up on fingerprint day! Best decision I made!
Once you get approved you’ll get an email. In my case, Erick did, as he did my paperwork for me. Then you’ll finally go pick up your little plastic residency card (best feeling ever( and have a CURP number so you can buy a car, get on the national health insurance, and much more! I wish you the best of luck with the process, as I know how daunting it can be. I go into these things thinking “I can do it myself” but honestly, just let someone help you, lol, it’s much better that way so you can enjoy your move and get settled in!
PS: I had all these documents photographed but honestly it takes ages to black everything out in my photo editor and I don’t think it’s important to see the forms, they are linked :)
Getting Mexico Permanent Residency:
I will eventually do this. You can do it right away, and skip the temporary residency but I did not meet the requirements yet. The following are the requirements for which you need to meet one:
- Have certain close family connections in Mexico
- Apply for retirement status and prove they have sufficient monthly income (or substantial assets) to support themselves
- Have 4 consecutive years of regular status as Temporary Resident
- Have 2 consecutive years of regular status as Temporary Resident where that Temporary Visa was issued through marriage to a Mexican National or a foreign permanent resident
- Be granted residency on humanitarian grounds or through political asylum.
Since one requirement is having 4 years of temporary residency, I may wait until my temporary runs out OR I might try for #2. I actually didn’t check into how much money you need each month for this, but most people in Merida told me it was difficult and they mostly only let retirees or those who bought land in Mexico already be approved for it.
NOTE: You cannot leave Mexico while your visa is being finalized. This can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months depending on which INM office you are at in Mexico. I had to leave which means that I needed to apply for an exit permit, which I have written a separate post about you can read here.
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