Moving to Mexico: How Much Is a Resident Visa?

Akumal Bay (Source: Linda Kurtzweil)

Readers often write me to ask how much it costs to get a temporary or permanent resident visa in Mexico. My answer changes every January when the Mexican immigration authority, known as the Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM), puts their latest fee schedule into effect.

Historically, I would just share a link to the fee schedule but it confused more than a few people because it’s 100% in Spanish and contains more information and categories than most folks require.

This year, I decided to translate the sections that people ask me most about and to create an easy to follow chart that you can refer back to whenever the need arises. By the way, don’t panic when you see the prices — they’re in Mexican pesos.

You can find the current exchange rates for U.S. dollars (USD), Canadian Dollars (CAD) and Euros (EUR) on the side bar of this site.

Mobile users: The exchange rates are located immediately after the comments section of this post.

Professional Assistance

Even after your visa is approved at the Mexican Embassy or Consulate located in your home country, the paperwork is still far from over. Once you arrive in Mexico, there are additional forms and procedures to follow. That’s also where you will pay the fees shown in the last section.

If you choose to handle the Mexican side of things yourself, keep in mind that the paperwork is only provided in Spanish and multiple trips to the immigration office are required. That’s why many people opt to hire an attorney or a facilitator (known as a gestor) to take care of the details.

Keep in mind that not everyone who is in the business of handling your immigration visa paperwork is an actual lawyer. He or she might just be someone who is familiar with the paperwork and the process. If your immigration case is complex, you should probably go with an actual attorney.

The cost to hire an attorney/gestor can vary quite a bit but the average is between $3,000-$8,000 MXN per client.

Let’s Wrap This Up

The purpose of this post is only to provide you with the immigration fees for 2018, not to walk you through the process. If you have specific questions related to the process of getting a visa (i.e. paperwork and requirements), please be a patient because we will be addressing those issues specifically in future articles.

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About the Author

Q-Roo Paul
Paul Kurtzweil (Q-Roo Paul) was a deputy sheriff in Florida for 25 years before retiring at the rank of lieutenant in 2015. He and his wife moved to Mexico looking to maximize their retirement income. In 2016, they started a blog called Two Expats Mexico (qroo.us) sharing their experiences, as well as information about the logistical and legal aspects of retiring south of the border. The blog has been viewed over two million times and the articles have been republished in numerous periodicals across Mexico.

37 Comments on "Moving to Mexico: How Much Is a Resident Visa?"

  1. If a person had any inclination of staying longer than a year, why would they not just get a permanent visa? Since the 2-3-4 year visas are more expensive, wouldn’t it just make sense to get a permanent one? Am I missing something?

    • The permanent resident had different requirements and many people don’t qualify for that one right away. If a person is only granted a temporary visa, he or she can obtain their permanent after four years.

  2. Thanks for the info. I am currently in process for the temp residency visa with the work permit. I opted for the lawyer route and glad I did. He informs me of each step and will help me prep for the interviews. And having him do all the leg work, since I am still learning Espanol, has been a huge help also. This isn’t something I want to go wrong so for me it was well worth the cost.

    • Thanks for sharing that Lynn. The “lawyer route” can save you a lot of headaches. Good luck on getting your visa and work permit.

      Thanks for following the blog.

  3. George Corbeil | January 5, 2018 at 8:07 am |

    Had no idea you had to pay annually to live in Mexico. Seems odd since we are basically just pumping money into their economy?

    • If you get a permanent resident visa, that is a one time fee.

    • You are not in Mexico to be pumping money into the economy, you are in Mexico because you can’t afford to live in the US, or you want to live a higher living standard than you can afford in the US.✌️

  4. You do a great job..Patsy Chilson Realtor PDC & Cozumel!

  5. Mike Gregory | January 5, 2018 at 9:44 am |

    You don’t mention the 7 day and the 6 month Tourist Visas. Have they changed?

    • The six month tourist visas (FMM) are automatic for people arriving from approved countries. All they have to do is a book a trip on Expedia and head down. No fuss at all.

      • The list is not complete and only contains the categories that I am asked about on a regular basis. For example, I didn’t mention the Authorization for Temporary Residence When the Foreigner is a Minister or a Member of a Religious Organization.

        Immigration laws and regs can get complex, so I try to limit it to what the majority of readers are looking for.

  6. We have been in Sonora for 9 months now, and are on our second FMM ($25 US). Many folks we know have been here for years on that method. However, I understand that that’s not quite legal, and that the INM is cracking down on it. Do you know any specifics regarding this? We are beginning our research to see if we qualify to go straight to a permanent, or need to go for a temporary first. We’ll try to get all the info and forms completed in advance, as a trip home for us is expensive and a pain in the caboose! Thanks for your great blog!

    • We know several expats who live here on the tourist visa without any trouble. I have heard of some isolated incidents where INM has denied someone entry, but I haven’t confirmed any of them. I am working on several articles about immigration matters and part of my research is to contact INM directly to get their official position on this and other matters.

    • Hi Q-Roo, Judith, and All,
      I am interested in this as well – If I stay in Mexico for 180 days, then return NOB for a couple of weeks, am I able to return to Mexico for another turn of 180 days? I can’t seem to find a clear answer on this despite doing a bit of my own research. The book I bought says “180 days single entry”, but does not say how many entries one can make in a given year or what the amount of time, if any, one would need to remain out of country in order to return, and essentially start a new 180 term.

      Thanks for any guidance you might provide!

      • each entry is good for 180 days but you can make as many entries as you want. For example, every 5 months or so, you can cross a border and come right back into Mexico to restart the clock.

  7. Geri anderson | January 5, 2018 at 10:39 am |

    Don’t you have to be a temporary resident before you can apply for permanent?

    • Not necessarily, it depends on your particular circumstances. Retirees can often go right for the permanent if they meet the financial requirements. I will be doing a separate article discussing that.

  8. We have been through all that–Thank goodness! Planned for over a year and a half, and we are finally here! Embassy went well in Florida, and Immigration wasn’t too bad! We had a very good lawyer and she handled most of it! Excellent advice… get a good lawyer! If you don’t know Spanish, this is a must! We could not have done this without her! Well worth every expense we had to pay for our dream of Paradise in Playa!!
    We are officially residents, and love it! Evelyn

  9. Thank-you for this information. As always, clear and easy to understand. I enjoy your posts. Cheers

  10. thanks again. Your post is so helpful, and entertaining! Jan G

  11. Just wanted to mention that for anyone wanting to peruse the Mexican Embassy website (or any other site in Spanish), I have found using Chrome as my browser with its translate function to be invaluable.

  12. There is no such thing as a four year visa at once. One pays for first year and must renew 30days to anniversary date for 2/3 year visa….correct?

    • That is often the case, Nora, but INM still lists a price for a 4 year option on their fee schedule. The Mexican Consulate that we visited in Orlando told us that we could choose the four year option once we arrived in Mexico with our canje, but the INM officials in Playa del Carmen said no way.

      There are a lot of inconsistencies when it comes to the Mexican immigration system.

  13. Our property is scheduled to be released sometime in March. We hope at that time to be able to go through the Closing process. How far in advance should we be visiting a Mexican Consulate for the application process? We would need to travel to a different state to be able to do that since our state does not have one.

    • They can usually process your application on the U.S. side in one day. Once you are granted either a temporary or permanent visa, you have 180 days to get to Mexico and report to immigration to start the second part.

  14. As always thanks for the information. We had the great experience in Merida at INM, but only after we hired the Yucatan Expat Service (YES) group to manage the process. After reading a number of “how to” blogs and a few personal experiences, we thought we’d tackle it ourselves – big mistake. The INM office people were nice but not forgiving or helpful for any mistakes. Once we hired YES and it was all done in two weeks. Now we’re waiting on our household shipment from the states and we were told we had six (6) months to get it all across the border; so we entered the country in August, got our Permanent Vista and though that is when the clock started to tick – that was an incorrect assumption. The six months started the date your Visa application was approved by the Consulate — So the rush is on to get it across the border (ahead of the construction of the Wall) and Mexican Customs. Our hope is that our moving company can convenience Mexican Customs now that since they closed their offices from December 21 to January 3rd in Laredo Texas- that we made the deadline. That is yet to be seen.

  15. My friend, was applying for her permanent Visa after 3 years, She was on a trip to Cancun and by mistake she filled out a visitor visa. She didn’t realize the big mistake. INM told her her Temp. Visa is cancel and she must leave Mexico. Can she do anything to resolve this?

    • This is a common problem and I actually have an article coming out on it next week.

      Her only hope is to go see an immigration attorney but in most cases, the affected person has to start the whole process over again in their home country.

  16. Vincent Brickner | January 31, 2018 at 1:00 pm |

    My wife wants to get a work Visa what side of the border should she start. We been told so many different stories. If US side what forms and were do you find them thanks.

    • In order to get a work visa, you’ll have to have a job offer down here. I know it sounds like that old riddle, which one came first, the chicken of the egg?

      If you come to Mexico and then get a job offer, I would recommend consulting with an immigration attorney. We know a few that handle immigration issues like work visas.

      • Vincent Brickner | January 31, 2018 at 4:26 pm |

        Thank you very much I guess I should gave more info. Like she will want to open her own business she is a hairdresser and has here license . We were told we should start in the US at the Mexican Consulate. But it sounds to me we should start in Mexico.

        • If you want to start your own business, that can be a little different. Take a look at this blog post from an immigration attorney in Mexico, she does a great job breaking it down:

          https://mexlaw.ca/applying-job-offer-visa-mexico/

          A foreigner can start a business without a visa but then you’ll have to take steps to allow you to legally work at your own business. They really don’t make it easy.

    • Here is some information about it from a Mexican Consulate’s web page:

      Work permit for Mexico

      According to Mexican Immigration Law which came into force on 9 November 2012, foreign nationals who are going to undertake “Lucrative Activities” the Mexican company/Institution must request the work permit at the National Migration Institute in Mexico http://www.inm.gob.mx.

      Visitor to perform lucrative activities in Mexico

      “In the case of visitors entering Mexico to perform lucrative activities, the application for the entry permit is made directly before the National Institute of Immigration by the Mexican party interested in the visit of the foreign national. Foreign artists hired to perform presentations in Mexico as well as foreign nationals hired to work in Mexico request an entry permit from the INM”. (I understand that the process in Mexico it takes approximately 30 days).

      This authority will send you a notification confirming that you have 15 days to come to the Consulate in order to issue the visa. Useful information about requirements and offices addresses of the INM can be found on http://www.inm.gob.mx

      Once the Consular Section receives the entry permit directly from the National Institute of Immigration, (INM) the foreign national must apply in person at the Consulate and hand in his/her a) passport valid with photocopies of the pages where the personal details and holder’s photograph are found, b) Application form. It is recommended you fill in the form in Microsoft Word version, one recent (less than 30 days as of the date of application) equal passport size frontal photograph, without glasses, uncovered head and white background (when applying a visa), and payment of Consular fees . Processing time.- It takes two working days to issue the visa.

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