Last year, Linda and I had both applied for, and were granted, temporary resident visas to live in Mexico. We were told at the Mexican Consulate in Orlando that we would be able to choose the period of validity from 1-4 years; however, that was not the case once we arrived in Mexico.
The immigration officials in Playa del Carmen advised us that the first temporary resident visa would only be valid for one year. They said that after that time, we could apply to renew it for a period of up to three additional years.
We were a little disappointed, but I figured it wouldn’t be too difficult to renew it in a year. I really expected that it would be as simple as renewing a driver’s license in the United States — it was not.
In order to renew my driver’s license in Florida, all I had to do was confirm that my information was the same as before and pay the fee for a new license. I wasn’t even required to take a new picture.
When you renew your resident visa in Mexico, it is a bit more complicated. You are required to submit a lot of the same paperwork you submitted earlier, including photographs and fingerprints. Due to the amount of paperwork involved — and the fact that even the instructions are in Spanish — most of the expats that we know hired an attorney to handle their renewal.
In our case, we elected to do it all ourselves in order to save money. It was a multistage process that took about five weeks from start to finish, but we were successful. Yesterday, we picked up our new temporary resident cards that are valid for the next three years. In 2019, we will apply for permanent residency.
Since a lot of our readers are unfamiliar with the process, I thought that it was a “blog worthy” topic.
Step One: Paperwork
The first thing that we did was put our renewal packets together. Each one of us had to have a separate packet that contained all of the following:
- Online application (formato para solicitar trámite migratorio de estancia)
- Basic format form (formato básico)
- Proof of economic solvency (bank and pension statements for 6 months)
- Letter in Spanish requesting to renew the resident card for a period of 3 years. They give you the format but you have to type the letter and print it.
- Photocopies of our current resident cards
- Photocopies of our passports
- Photocopies of our proof of residency (CFE bill)
Time required: 2 hours
Step Two: Submit the Paperwork
The government agency that handles immigration matters in Mexico is called Instituto Nacional de Inmigración (INM). We submitted our paperwork at the office located in Playa del Carmen.
The application requires three photos that meet very specific requirements. There is a private business located right outside the INM office that specializes in these photos — what a coincidence. We had our photos taken for $40 pesos each. By the way, these photos were needed to replace the ones we submitted to INM only 11 months earlier.
We took the packet, together with our new photographs, over to an INM employee who then reviewed the packet page by page. When he got to Linda’s photographs, he said that the background had a slight bluish tinge and he rejected them. We went back to the business next door and they retook the photos for free.
With the new photos, the INM employee accepted the packet and issued us each tracking numbers to check on the status of our renewal applications. He also advised us that we would receive an email to notify us if the packet was accepted or rejected for some reason.
Time required: 2 hours (includes 1 hour for travel)
Step Three: Make an Appointment for Fingerprints
After about a week, we both received email notifications from INM that we had been approved for temporary resident cards that expire in 2019.
The next step was to make an appointment to come back for fingerprinting and to sign some documents. The only way to make the appointment is in person, so it required another trip back to Playa del Carmen. Our appointment was set for three weeks later.
Time required: 1 hour 15 minutes (includes 1 hour for travel)
Step Four: Pay the Fees
We paid the renewal fees just prior to our fingerprinting appointment (step five).
INM does not accept any money at their office, so we had to go to a nearby bank to make the payment of $6,825 pesos each ($368 USD) for a three year renewal. After we made the deposit into INM’s account, the bank gave us proof of the deposit.
INM requires additional copies of the proof of payment; however, the bank refused to make copies. We were able to get copies at a nearby copy store at a cost of $2 pesos a piece.
Just so you know, the INM office will not make any copies for you.
Time required: 20 minutes
Step Five: Fingerprinting
We arrived a little early for our appointments because if you are late, you have to reschedule.
They took our fingerprints (again), had us sign several documents, collected the proof of payment to the bank, and asked us a few general questions about our application. The whole process took about 10 minutes once they called our names.
Time required: 1 hour 30 minutes (includes one hour for travel)
Step Six: Pick Up the Resident Cards
They tell you that the cards will be ready within 8-10 days, but you never really know if they are ready until you get there. They only allow pick up of the cards between the hours of noon and 1 PM.
We went back 10 days later and our cards were ready. We only had to wait around 30 minutes before they issued them to us.
Time required: 1 hour 30 minutes (includes one hour for travel)
Let’s Wrap This Up
The whole process took four trips to the INM office and just over eight hours of our time (most of it spent traveling back and forth). Fortunately, we love Playa del Carmen, so it was a great excuse to go and eat at some of our favorite restaurants.
Admittedly, it would have been much easier if we had hired an attorney, but it came down to not wanting to spend the money. By doing it ourselves, we saved around $750 USD.
We don’t mind spending money to go out and eat or to do something fun. In fact, we are going to use some of the money we saved on the attorney to take a mini vacation at an all-inclusive resort later this week. It all comes down to priorities.
By the way, if you want to avoid the hassle and expense of renewing a temporary resident visa, you should push for a permanent resident visa when you begin the initial process at the Mexican Consulate in your home country.
If you want more information about the different visa options and requirements, check out Deciding Which Visa Option is Best for You.