Interested in moving to Mexico? This is our simpleMexico Immigration Guide, containing all the info you need to get started. From getting a visa to finding work and (eventual) citizenship – it’s all here. Read on!
Mexico: Quick Facts
- The Mexican border with United States of America is 1,989 miles long (3,201 km), making it the second longest border in the world to USA and Canada.
- Mexico is the most populous Spanish speaking country in the world.
- The country is number ten on the list of most populated countries with 129.2 million inhabitants (2017).
- It is recorded that the very first civilization in Mexico were called the Olmec’s that built a network of cities on the Eastern Gulf of Mexico shores from 1400-300 B.C. The Olmec’s were most famous for the Colossal Heads or Helmet Heads: 11 have been unearthed to date.
- The current day Aztecs played a significant role in the history of Mexico: in the 14th century, the ethnic group known as the Aztecs originated from a group of warrior nomads called the Chichmecas, when they settled they saw an eagle standing on a cactus clutching a snake. This is the image in the middle of the Mexican flag. The coat of arms represents when the Aztecs settled in the area and built Mexico City which is built on a lake bed, their gods told them to build a city where they spot an eagle on a nopal eating a snake.
- The Great Pyramid of Cholula is the largest pyramid in the world, standing 55 meters high.
- Mexico is the number one producer or silver and salt in the world.
- Currency: Mexican Peso. The US dollar is accepted in many places.
- Spoken languages: Primarily Spanish but 6% of the population speak an indigenous language, there are 68 different indigenous languages in total. English is spoken in tourist areas and city centers for business.
- Major religions: 87.2% of the population is Roman Catholic, 8% is Christian, 4.7% don’t have a religion, and the rest make up other or unspecified.
- Major races: Mostly Spanish and Indian mixture known as Mestizos, 56 other indigenous groups, small population of African descendants and Caucasians.
- Largest cities: Mexico City. Guadalajara, Ecatepec, and Puebla.
Why move to Mexico
- The climate is very moderate, many places you don’t need air conditioning or heat all year.
- It is much cheaper to live in Mexico than it is in USA of Canada and other countries, this makes it a very popular place to retire.
- The country welcomes foreign investments and it is not hard to obtain your residency.
- Mexican people are very friendly and are used to having foreigners in the country.
- Flights are cheap and fast connecting to USA and Canada for when you want to visit home or have a visitor from home.
- The health care is very good with many doctors studying in the US and it is also affordable for home doctor visits and dental.
- Many expats already live in Mexico so it will be easier to make new friends.
- The lifestyle in Mexico is very laid back, Mexico is the perfect place to just relax.
- Despite what many people think, Mexico is very safe in most locations.
- Because of the proximity to the USA this makes it one of the cheaper countries to import a vehicle and the import taxes are not too high, thanks to NAFTA some items have zero tax.
Reasons Not to move to Mexico
Note: these are common expat complaints, and may not apply to you.
- Some expats complain about slow service at places like banks and government buildings. If you are a person that likes things done perfect or fast, Mexico may frustrate you.
- You won’t find everything that you are looking for that is available in your home country.
- Many locations are very hot and humid if you don’t like the hotter weather.
- Some expats complain about the lack of garbage collection.
- There are no noise violations, in Mexico the locals don’t really care if you want to go to sleep.
- On occasion, you will get poor people begging you for money or to buy their merchandise.
- The streets and sidewalks are narrow and hard to maneuver. Stray dogs are a common sight.
Getting a Visa and Finding Work
- Tourist visa: residents of most countries are given a 180 day visitor’s visa when entering in to the country, also known as an FMT. There are some countries that require a visa prior to entering however. There is a $22 fee to obtain the FMT and is usually collected by the airline then paid to the government. The law says that you must have the filled out tourist card with you while traveling so always make sure you have a copy on hand.
- Student Visa: if classes are longer than 6 months then the student must apply at the National Registry of Foreign Citizens within 30 days of arrival. Enrollment must be through an accredited school, be taught in Spanish and any changes are not prohibited. The student is not able to work for money while studying.
- Work permit visa: first you need to find a sponsor that has a business in Mexico then the sponsor or employer must file a petition on behalf of applicant at the closest Mexican National Institution of Immigration. INM must approve the applicant and send out a form to the employer in which case the applicant must take the form to a Mexican Embassy or Mexican Consulate and apply for a temporary residency card.
- 30 day business trip: if you are planning to visit Mexico for less than 30 days for business such as meetings, marketing or other general business that does not take a job from the local job market you are allowed up to 30 days in Mexico with no work permit.
Permanent Residency and Citizenship
- FM3 or MTRV Temporary resident: the temporary resident visa can be applied for in person at a Mexican Consulate between 8 am and noon if you already have immigration status. If not then you must apply at a Mexican Embassy in your home country. Requirements are that your passport must be at least 6 months from expiring, you must have your original and a photocopy of your passport. You need a letter from the bank or a bank statement that you earn a minimum of $2000 per month or have investments of over $102,000 for each applicant. The card can be applied for 1 one, two, three or four years.
1 year – 3,519 pesos (approx. $180 USD)
2 year – 5,272 pesos
3 year – 6,678 pesos
4 year – 7,914 pesos
If you wish to add work permission to your temporary visa you may do so for an additional $2,624 pesos. If you lose the visa there is a replacement fee of 1,083 pesos. If the temporary resident visa expires while outside of Mexico you have up to 55 days to get back to Mexico and 5 more days to make it to the INM office to renew or apply for a permanent residency.
- Permanent Residency: after four years of temporary residency you can apply for a permanent visa at a cost of 4,289 pesos or you can apply for another temporary visa. You still require to prove that you are self-sufficient and have a monthly income or $126,000 of investments. You are not allowed to drive a foreign plated vehicle while holding a permanent residency card. Once you receive your permanent residency it is good for life. You do not need to surrender you home country citizenship to be granted full residency and when granted it entitles you to all Mexican national benefits and obligations such as taxes, state benefits and work but you are not allowed to vote in the elections. This applies even for voluntary work that you are not getting paid for.
- Citizenship: when you obtain your citizenship you have the right to vote and can obtain a government job. If you are married to a Mexican, have a child that is Mexican or are born in another Latin American country you are eligible to apply after 2 years of temporary residency. If you do not fall in to this category then you must live in Mexico for over 5 years with your permanent residency card. You must pass a history test and speak Spanish to obtain your citizenship.
Starting a Business in Mexico
- Foreign investment is welcomed in Mexico to help the economy thrive and many companies from around the world are moving their headquarters to Mexico to take advantage of lower taxes and lower wages resulting in less overhead.
- The person investing in the business must register the corporate name with the SRE or Ministry of External Affairs before the name is granted, they will make sure the name is not already in existence. This step can be done through a lawyer.
- A foreign company must enter an agreement that holds any non-Mexican shareholders to abide by Mexican laws and not invoke in diplomatic protection of his or her home government.
- An attorney at law will help the investors fill out the appropriate forms for the address, capital stock provisions, management powers, duration of company and provisions when the company is liquidated.
- The shareholders need to decide what powers will be appointed for individuals and how capital will be subscribed.
- Once the company is formed and the paper work is in place the company is expected to pay Mexican taxes of 34% when the company turns a profit.
- Employers must pay %17.4 of their employees wage towards health care and unemployment.
- In order to be fully operational the business will have to check to see if the business needs zoning permits, environmental permissions and ministry of health licenses.
- If the business owner wishes to work for the company and receive a paycheck the individual must obtain a residency card allowing them to work in the country.
Recommended Reading & Resources
- The Gringo Guide to México – Its History, People, and Culture
- Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores – useful links from TransitionsAbroad.com
- A-1 Auto Transport – shipping a car to Mexico
- Brazil Immigration Guide
- Chile Immigration Guide
- Colombia Immigration Guide
- Ecuador Immigration Guide
- Costa Rica Immigration Guide