Getting Permission to Leave Mexico While Your Resident Card is Being Processed

Source: Q-Roo Paul

The process to obtain a temporary or permanent resident card begins in a Mexican Consulate in your country of origin. That is where  you submit your documents, get interviewed by a consulate official, and hopefully get approved for a Mexican resident card.

I often refer to that part of the process as the “quick part” because most applicants can get it all done in a single day.

Part two of the process occurs once you arrive in Mexico. This part involves paperwork, more photos, a few trips to immigration (INM), fingerprinting and a lot of waiting. When I say a lot of waiting, I really mean a lot of WAITING.

The friendly folks at the Mexican Consulates will often tell you that the second part of the process will take about four weeks, but that’s in a perfect world. In reality, many of the INM offices are backed up and we have seen the process take as long as three months to complete.

During the time that the resident card is being processed, you are required to stay in Mexico. This requirement wasn’t a problem for us since this is where we wanted to be anyway, but some applicants get stressed out at the thought of being “stuck” in Mexico for a few months.

Fortunately for those people, there is a solution — they can apply for permission to temporarily leave the country.

Permission to Leave and Return

In Spanish, this is called el permiso de salida y regreso and the administrative fee to obtain one is $405 pesos (2018 fee schedule).

Each permiso can only be used once and it will allow you to remain out of Mexico for a maximum of 60 days.

If you want to leave and return multiple times, you’ll have to apply for new permiso each time.

Get Professional Help

I highly recommend that you use a professional to handle all of this for you for two reasons: 1) it’s 100% in Spanish, and 2) part of the process includes a letter that contains the compelling reason why you can’t stay in the country. We know several expats who have tried and failed to get one on their own.

If you do choose to use a professional, you can expect to pay around $100 USD for the whole process. That includes both the administrative and professional fees. In my humble opinion, it’s definitely worth the added expense.

For the Do-It-Yourself Folks

If you’re feeling adventurous or you just enjoy spending hours of your life dealing with government bureaucracy, here’s everything you need to know to do it yourself:

Instructions for el permiso de salida y regreso

Let’s Wrap This Up

Whenever I write a post about focusing on a particular law or procedure related to immigration, we get inundated with emails from readers asking about other immigration related matters. After the last immigration article, we received around 200 emails like this.

We would love to be able to answer everyone’s questions, but unfortunately, we just don’t have the time. Even though we’re both retired, we lead a very active lifestyle.

Thanks for understanding and for continuing to follow us.

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About the Author

Qroo 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. They later started a blog called Two Expats Mexico ( to share their experiences as well as information about the logistical and legal aspects of retiring south of the border.

26 Comments on "Getting Permission to Leave Mexico While Your Resident Card is Being Processed"

  1. Great posts Paul.
    We’re about 3 years out from retiring and I’m following these closely for guidance, suggestions and recommendations.
    I’m glad your topics remain archived and I’ll be collating the most recent and relevant to help get us started when we get closer.
    We’ll retire on the west coast of Mexico – PV – and I believe most of your content is applicable for there as well.
    Can’t thank you enough and will pay this forward when the time comes.

  2. Great post, as always.

    I’ll leave the details for over that promised beer (LBV happy hour good for you?). In short, our applications were approved early last week (that took 3 weeks). The soonest we could get an appointment for fingerprints was March 20.

    Yup, things are backed up in PDC.

  3. We did exactly that. In retrospect, it might have been better to just stay in Mexico through the whole process, but getting the permission wasn’t that bad. We had to get ours RIGHT THEN, as we had a flight back to the States booked. We actually pushed the flight back a week to allow for I think 3 working days for the PDC immigration office to complete the letter. We then dallied in the US thinking 60days was plenty, only to suddenly realize we needed to get back, which we did on day 58! TBH, the PDC INM has been great working with us. Neither of us really speaks Spanish, but we’ve managed to stumble through . I can attest that the PDC INM office has very little English, but it’s doable. A big help is that there is an office right outside the INM that can take the necessary photos, let you print forms, etc, all for a low fee. I think a set of Temp Res photos (5) was 100 pesos

  4. My understanding is that the residency process takes a different amount of time in different parts of Mexico. For example, the second half of our residency process took only 7 days to complete in Cabo San Lucas. We turned in our paperwork and came back a week later and everything was ready!

    P.S. We did the entire process of our own. (I speak minimally basic Spanish.) But if you don’t speak Spanish, it’s definitely worth paying for assistance.

    P.S.S. We were never temporary residents. As retirees, we were able to obtain permanent residency right off the bat. (I know there are questions as to whether that is possible. It is.)

    • Yes, the time varies depending on the INM office that you apply at. In our area, they often fall behind.

  5. Paul, I love your informative posts and the information you have shared has helped my husband and I make the transition to permanent residents in Baja.

    I know you have previously mentioned that Baja is different. We discovered in Baja, once a person has applied for a temporary or permanent resident card, and before he/she gets it, that person may still drive back and forth across the border. We were told this by 3 different people in the immigration office and had no trouble doing so. However, a person cannot walk, fly or cross the border by boat. The reason for this is a visa is needed for everything except driving and as you have mentioned before, a person cannot hold 2 visas at the same time or the government will cancel the first one and the whole process starts over.

    I just wanted to add this information for anyone thinking about locating in Baja.

  6. Does the temporary resident card start when you apply or can you choose a date. Just wondering if I could do it in advance.

    • The date they used is when we started Part Two of the process in Mexico. After you apply at the Mexican Consulate, you have 180 days to get to Mexico and once in Mexico, 30 days to get to INM.

  7. Richard C Scott | February 6, 2018 at 12:12 pm |

    Always appreciate everyone’s comments. The consulate in Austin has been great to deal with so far:
    -told me the form for Temporary Visa they handed me would take 3 days to process.
    -Banjercito told me the old violation of not turning in my car permit when leaving (the same day we entered) had expired for time and would not prevent my getting a new one like it did a couple of years ago. I keep documentation on the transfer of the vehicle to another person in the US with me always because I fear that it might resurface. If this were still on my record, they told me it would have to be mailed to Mexico City and take 3 months to process. The last entry I had to make with my wife applying for the permit. Come to think of it, I do not remember turning that one in either. When we get to the US border we are so happy we just whisk through. Although I believe I would have heard about it if she lost the $400 deposit.

  8. Richard C Scott | February 6, 2018 at 12:20 pm |

    I just realized how important this article was for me. I had been planning to get my visa in Austin, wrap up some business in NM, pick up my dental records in Palomas, load my personal goods and enter Mexico near the start of the toll road west of Laredo. You saved me from a potentially big problem.

  9. We are in Playa Del Carmen and used a highly recommended facilitator, it was good because she spoke Spanish but we still had to go to IMN 5 times and in this location the wait for processing is now 4 months plus. My friend submitted her renewal for her temporary back in August and it’s STILL not done! And they also used the highly recommended facilitator most of us use here. So using a facilitator is great but it certainly does not expedite the process (atleast in Playa Del Carmen)

  10. I wish this blog had existed, only about the US, before I moved here! Moving to Mexico will be easy by comparison with your blog as a resource.

  11. To shorten the process time for a resident card and possibly reduce the likelihood of needing to leave to Mexico during that time, I suggest that, if you can, avoid arriving between mid-October and the first week in January.

    Each year all federal agencies in Mexico close for three weeks for the holidays. Yes, ALL federal agencies — including Immigration offices. The holidays including Christmas, New Year’s and the Day of Kings (January 6).

    Because of that three week extension to the process timeline, my card arrived on day 69.

  12. I went through this process last October/November for a work trip. Here are some things to keep in mind: 1. The process takes a minimum of 1 week, so go to INM to ask for permission more than one week before trip. 2. About 1 week later you will receive an email that the permit is ready or denied. There is also a web site you can check for status. 3. Go to INM to pick up the permit, wait in line sign etc. 4. Show the permit to INM on the way out of Mexico and get it stamped. 5. Show the permit to customs on the way back into Mexico and get it stamped. 6. Go to INM to return the stamped permit.

    • Thanks for sharing that, Tom.

    • Note: Any mistakes with steps 4,5 or 6 or failure to get the permit before leaving, may forfeit you residency application and you need to start all over.

      • BTW: They asked for an exact date of departure and proof of an airline ticket. We could not (because we did not want to purchase the ticket until we got the permission). One person at INM made us feel like not supplying proof would derail our request, another person there said it would be OK, and ultimately it did not affect the request.

  13. Paul Jones | May 6, 2018 at 4:15 pm |

    Hi Paul, your posts have been very helpful.

    I was told by my Attorney that I would not be eligible for the permiso de salida y regreso, because I think I’m in the process of Reposición de documento migratorio

    At the same time, I’m also in the process of: Regularización por unidad familiar

    Have you heard of situations like this where someone is not qualified to obtain the permiso de salida y regreso?

    • Q-Roo Paul | May 6, 2018 at 9:01 pm |

      Yes, I have heard of people being denied an exit visa. I hope you get your visa issues resolved quickly so you can leave the country whenever you want.

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