If you want to be a permanent resident in Mexico and want to retire here, the first thing you do is go to a consulate. You take your bank statements with you for 12 months. You take a small photo, US $36, your American passport or Canadian passport, and you make an appointment.
Get all your files together first. Let’s say you live in Sacramento, California. You call the consulate or you look on Google. There are some you can walk right in to like in Vegas and you don’t need an appointment and there are some that are so overbooked that you need to make an appointment to get the visa. You’ll sit down with one of our external affairs agents and they will ask you questions why you want to retire in Mexico. They’ll see your documents and put the visa in your card. You’ll fill in a format.
Once you come into Mexico, you show that visa the first thing you do when you get off that plane in Mexican soil or when you drive across the border. Even if there’s no one there, you make a point to stop and you knock on the window depending on which entry you’re using to come in. if you’re coming in from Nevada, you pull over where you see migracion (immigration) and show them your passport where your picture is, you flip in your book and you show the visa that the Mexican consulate gave you. That is not your finished process. You’re finished with half the process. They will stamp that visa inside your passport and they will give you a quarter sheet that’s called the FMN document. They’re going to put a little check at the bottom of that document. That’s where you fill up how you came in Mexico-- plane, air, or by boat. And they’re going to put on the bottom 30 days for the visa and CAJE. As soon as you have that now you have 30 days to register your visa at your closest migration office.
Remember, external affairs Mexico, which is a SRE, is not the same as migration. They are two different entities or federal entities. They work together but they’re not the same agencies. When you get to migration you usually fill out a form. Immigration doesn’t fill it out for you. You have to do it online and it’s in Spanish. That’s why many people have attorneys or facilitators. Be very careful. Not all the people who do it are attorneys or know well the law because there could be accidents that happen and the customs agent put the wrong date in your passport and your facilitator doesn’t know the law. You have to be very careful whom you hire or you do it yourself.
Our migration agents are very nice. They will give you a format with everything that you need to go for a permanent residency. You pay around 4,000 pesos (about US $220) and they will give you a bank sheet that you paid and you submit all originals and copies to the migration agent.
Once you’re in the migration office, they will look at your passport. They’ll give you back your passport, take your documents, and give you a document that says you’re in process-- the famous NUT (numero unico tramite) document, which has unique number that you’re in transit. It’s your official number in our Mexican system.
This process, depending on their workload and on who does it, can take between 1 and 4 months.
There are two ways to get a temporary residency. I had a friend who came from Calgary. They wanted to be permanent residents but the external affairs agent was in a bad mood and gave them temporary. They’re buying a house. They wanted a permanent. They fill out the information, they came into Mexico and they applied to become permanent. The day after you have that in your hand, you’re allowed anytime to change if you meet the Mexican requirements. The Mexican requirements are the following:
You have to have enough in your pension to live here in Mexico. Your pension needs to be 3,700 pesos a month so that is roughly around $2,000 from your pension. Show the Mexican government that you’re retired or have investment accounts in your private banking over $115,000 roughly. The numbers change because of we base everything on our minimum wage. You have them translated. I know it sounds silly. You take your bank statements and you print it from home. And have them translated by a certified court interpreter from the state where you’re living. if you’re living in Jalisco that will have a little stamp from the state of Jalisco. If you’re living in Baja, California, it will have to be someone from Baja. It can’t just be in Spanish. You take the originals, the translations, your passport, your temporary card, 1,124 pesos and you write an affidavit saying why you want to change. In my friend’s case, in Calgary they do not get authorized permanent. “Could you please authorize me? I have the means that the Mexican government requires.” They will study it. It usually takes around 3 weeks. They’ll answer back positively or negatively. If it’s positively, then you pay 4,270 pesos. You do finger printing again and pictures, and you’re a permanent resident.
The other way is to be on a temporary residency for 4 years and when your visa will expire you submit all your documents again, an affidavit stating that you’ve lived here for 4 years and now you would like to be a permanent resident. And you pay 4,270 pesos.
To renew your temporary visa, you go online on the Mexican webpage, do your application and you put that you’re going to renew for 3 years. First up, go to immigration, ask for the requirements or to make sure that there were no changes in the Mexican law within that year that you were here. They will give you the format and they will tell you where you need to go again. So you’ll fill in the format, you’ll put in that you’ll want to be a temporary resident for 3 years if you can afford it because it is more expensive, or 1 year or 2 years. And then you go to the bank, pay, take pictures again, and right the date that you were allowed to be a temporary resident for 2 years since you have been legally here for a year. “Thank you. Sign John Smith (or whoever you are)”
You don’t have to prove that you have the means to be in Mexico because you already did all of that in the consulate that you went to when you were in the US or Canada. You’re already in the system. It’s much more simple in the succeeding years than in the first year. It’s just a renewal process. As soon as you have that visa in your passport, the process is very simple. I hope you speak Spanish because everything is in Spanish. If you do not, my recommendation is hire someone and know what’s going on. Or if you don’t want to hire someone or you can’t afford to hire someone stop at your local migration. They’re very, very nice people and they will try to help you in English as much as they can. They can’t offer legal advice nor recommend any facilitators. I call them facilitators because not all of them are attorneys.
(Mexican consulate in Sacramento, California, pictured.)