Rule changes, higher prices, and rumors all contribute to the confusion surrounding your legal status here in Mexico, especially since November 9th, 2012. We would like to help clarify some of this confusion. Lets start with the 3 basic statuses in which you can be here in Mexico.

1) FMM – Better known as a Tourist Visa. This is the migratory document you receive when entering Mexico, either walking, driving, flying or arriving by sea.

2) Temporal – This is your temporary residency migratory document which can only be applied for at a Mexican Consulate outside of Mexico. Good for 4 years, renewable ever year or can be paid up for the 3 years so there is no yearly renewal. Scroll down for the requirements for this visa.

3) Permanente – This is a Permanent Residency Visa. Scroll down for the requirements for this visa. Once this status is obtained your dealings with Immigration are finished unless you move or your civil status changes, Immigration must be informed within 30 days. You can apply for this status at after being on the Temporal for one year or at a Mexican Consulate outside of Mexico. Not all Consulates will grant this visa, so please inquire as to the availability at the Consulate you intend to visit.

Most common myths for these 3 migratory statuses

Tourist Visa – Need a passport to obtain? True. All that is required for an Tourist visa is your passport and the new fee of $360 pesos. This fee is included in the price of your airline ticket is you are flying.

Temporal – Must be a least 55 to apply? False. Some Consulates in the U.S. and Canada state this. Any age can apply as long as you meet the requirements such as the monthly income requirement.

Temporal – As long as my Temporal visa is up to date, my foreign plated vehicle is also legal? True. It has been rumored that one must drive back to the US/Mexico border and re-register their vehicle, which is false, even if the windshield decal is expired. As long as the registered owners migratory status is legal, so is their vehicle. As of June 11, 2011, you must now pay a deposit for the car you are bringing in.

Temporal – If I’ve obtained my Temporal visa outside of Mexico, I must register it when I come to Mexico? True, this procedure is called a Canje. This process MUST be started within 30 days of entering Mexico.

Permanente – I cannot leave the country for more than 6 months a year on Permanente? True, sort of. They have not yet included that into law, but it will be coming.

Permanente – I must have a Temporal visa for a number of years before I can apply for an Permanente? No, some consulates will offer this one is you meet the income requirements.

Permanente – I’m no longer allowed to drive a foreign plated car in Mexico? True.

Other Facts

Some other facts to remember: when applying for these documents (except for the Tourist Visa) they also require a proof of address, such as a lease, deed, phone bill etc. Proof of income, bank statements from Canada, the US, or your offshore investment house are all accepted from Immigration. If you want to work in Mexico, you can have a work permit added to your visa.

The renewal requirements are much simpler as of April 30th, 2010. Bank statements and proof of address are no longer required. You do have to provide new photos of yourself to obtain the new visa cards which you will need to go to Immigration to sign for. The photos need to be “Infantile” size and must be obtained by a studio. Infantile measures 2.5 cm’s wide by 3 cm’s tall.

Here are the basic requirements for the Temporal:

A new Temporal Visa can only be applied for at a Mexican Consulate outside of Mexico. Please visit the nearest Consulate to you and ask for the requirements there. They will vary between each Consulate somewhat. Generally they are a passport, pictures, bank statements (showing either an income of $22,000 pesos or a balance of $365,000 pesos), and a form to fill out that they will either provide or you can download.

You can renew your Temporal Visa if you are on your first, second, or third renewals. You can also apply for the Permanente status is you wish, please see the requirements under the Permanente link to the right.

If you are renewing to the Temporal, the requirements are:

1. Passport
2. Current Temporal card
3. Pictures – 3 front and 2 right profile, instant photos will not be accepted
4. Fee to Immigration + fee to a service if one is assisting you
Note: If you have moved since your last renewal you will need a proof of address as well

Here are the basic requirements for the Permanente:

If you have legally been in Mexico on an current Temporal Visa card for 4 years or more financial statements are no longer required for the Permanente Visa’s.

1) Passport

2) Temporal Visa

3) 12 last months most current statements translated into Spanish proving minimum income of $36,600 pesos per month or a balance of 1.5 million pesos or the dollar equivalent. These are not required if you are upgrading from a 4 year Temporal visa.

4) Proof of address in Mexico

5) 3 front and 2 right profile pictures Infantile Size. Pictures must be taken with no jewelry or eye glasses, and your hair must be off your forehead and ears. Cannot be instant photo paper.

Please note: Immigration requires that all the above requirements be originals – Immigration will keep copies (except the visa) of the originals, but must have the originals to compare the copies.