Mexico Creates a Guide of Procedures for Foreigners Who Want to Work There Legally

We get quite a few questions from readers about the laws, rules, requirements and procedures to lawfully work in Mexico. We normally just answer them on an individual basis instead of writing a dedicated article because the answer will change based on a variety of factors. For example:

Is the person applying outside of Mexico after having received a job offer from a person or company inside Mexico?

Is the person already in Mexico as a temporary resident without a work permit but now wants to change that status to be able to work?

Is the person a citizen of Belize or Guatamala and he or she wants a special permit to work in the states of Tabasco, Quintana Roo or Chiapas? Yep, that’s really a thing.

The list of factors to consider goes on, but I think you get the point — it can get complicated. And don’t get me started on the procedures for businesses to hire these folks. They have some hoops to jump through too before they can hire foreign workers.

This week the Mexican government came out with a new 27-page comprehensive guide explaining the procedures for both workers and employers. I downloaded it this morning and read it cover to cover while enjoying my morning coffee. I have to say, they really did a good job on this thing.

Some folks will be disappointed to learn that the guide is currently only available in Spanish. Of course if you plan to live and work in Mexico, you should probably be working on your español anyway.

You can download the guide here:


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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.

7 Comments on "Mexico Creates a Guide of Procedures for Foreigners Who Want to Work There Legally"

  1. Great article. My plan, when I retire to Mexico, is to continue my US consulting business, which deals only with US employers. HOWEVER, I might want to hire someone, possibly a Mexican Citizen, as a sort of personal assistant.
    I wonder how THAT would work? I was hoping to just keep it under the radar somehow. I’ve ran businesses almost my entire life and want to be done with the rat race and bureaucracies.. I really just want to keep things as simple as possible..

    • That could complicate things because they have strong labor laws down here with lots of requirements (work contracts, annual bonuses etc.). Even if you find someone who says that they will work “informally” for you — how people refer to “under the table” jobs here — you always run the risk of them later reporting you to the government. If that happens, you may be required to pay out a lot of money in fines, back wages etc.

  2. Nichola Lister-Smith | October 18, 2019 at 10:23 am |

    The article talks a lot about working for someone else, but only skims over being self employed. I would not be hiring any employees and I would work either from home or visit people in their homes. Is their a guide to what documents I would need to present to assist my case?

  3. Kevin Hallisey | October 18, 2019 at 11:19 am |

    When reading your article about what visa to get, it says with a residency visa one can bring in household items without tariff. What constitutes household items? Rugs, lamps, a table, etc.? Thank you for what you do.
    Kevin Hallisey

    • They can bring household items into Mexico duty-free if they apply for a certificado de menaje de casa at the Mexican Consulate.

      Household items are the personal effects, clothing, furniture, appliances and other property that you and your family use on a day to day basis. All items must be at least 6 months old.

      You are NOT permitted to include: vehicles, live plants, weapons, food, alcohol, vehicles, boats, pornography, cleaning supplies or items obtained within the last six months.

      I plan on doing an article that explains this process in more detail.

  4. Paul, this appears to be a recitation of the various INM regulations combined into one place, with no new interpretation beyond the letter of the law, and no mention of tax obligations for those who will have Mexican-sourced income. Useful, but limited in scope.

    The one that has always puzzled me is the requirement to notify INM within 90 days of changing your place of work: “Si eres una persona extranjera que se encuentra en México como residente temporal, temporal estudiante o permanente, tienes la obligación de notificar ante la Oficina de Representación del INM en tu Entidad Federativa de residencia, los cambios de estado civil, nombre, nacionalidad, domicilio o lugar de trabajo.” Does that mean you have to tell them the FIRST time you start working? That is, is there any requirement to notify INM if you change from never-worked-in Mexico to now working?

    Seems simplest to just inform them, since this is just a notification, not an application for permission to work, at least for those of us who are permanent residents.

    Also interesting from the comment above that people who would be law abiding citizens in the US think they can move to Mexico and ignore the law. I’m on the board of a Mexican charity with two employees, and we pay about a 32% overhead in taxes and benefits. It’s costly, but it’s the fair and right thing to do because it qualifies the employees for IMSS medical care, old age pensions, workers comp, paid maternity leave, INFONAVIT housing, and a host of other benefits. And as you mentioned, people skirting the law for what would be statutory employees are leaving themselves vulnerable to large fines and penalties.

    • Hi, Mark. You’re correct. This is just a compilation of various INM regulations but it does make it easier for folks to find what they need. As far as the taxes are concerned, I guess the INM folks are leaving that job for SAT. Come to think of it, it would be beneficial for SAT to create something similar explaining the tax requirements.

      As far as the notifying INM when you work for the FIRST time, I would think that would also apply since you’re changing from no place to some place…lol. Still, ambiguous wording in rules and laws is a common problem in Mexico. It leaves many situations open to individual interpretation and inevitably results in the rules being applied differently in like situations. As a civil law country, we don’t have the benefit of being able to rely on judicial precedents to clear things up like we did back in the States.

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