Editor’s Note: This article was first published in February 2014, and updated again in January of 2018.
The following article outlines the necessary steps that must be taken by foreigners who intend to live in Mexico (for non-lucrative purposes) to obtain a temporary or permanent resident card for the first time.
This process starts at a Mexican Consulate and finishes in Mexico by doing something called canje (exchange in English) at the Immigration Institute. Through the canje, foreigners who hold a Mexican VISA in their passports, granted by a Mexican consulate, apply at the Immigration Institute for a resident CARD of the same characteristics as the VISA given at the Consulate.
Here is the detailed process divided in two main steps:
- REQUESTING VISA AT A MEXICAN CONSULATE
Applying for the visa
Submit the following documents:
- Online form, which is available at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website www.sre.gob.mx as well as at any Mexican Consulate. This form must have the signature of the applicant. In case of minors, the person signing must be the parent or guardian.
- Original and copy of passport or other valid identity and travel document.
- One frontal picture (passport size, minimum: 3.2 cm x 2.6 and maximum: 3.9 cm x 3.1 cm) in color with white background. Applicant must not be wearing glasses or earrings in the photo and hair must be behind the ears. Pictures should be taken in a specialized photography studio. Polaroid or cellular phone pictures will not be accepted.
- Payment of the VISA fees: 36 USD.
If the foreigner is applying for a TEMPORARY RESIDENCY:
- Original and copy of statements as proof of investments or statements of bank accounts with a monthly average balance equivalent to five thousand days of general minimum wage in Mexico (88.36 MXP for 2018), approximately $24,000 USD for the past twelve months (considering a rate of exchange of 19 pesos).
- Original and copy of bank statements with a monthly income or pension (free of liens) greater than the equivalent of three hundred days of general minimum wage in Mexico (88.36 MXP for 2018), approximately $1,400 USD for the past six months (considering a rate of exchange of 19 pesos)
- If the foreigner is applying for PERMANENT RESIDENCY:
- Original and copy of statements as proof of investments or statements of bank accounts with a monthly average balance equivalent to twenty thousand days of general minimum wage in Mexico (88.36 MXP for 2018), approximately $94,000 USD for the past twelve months (considering a rate of exchange of 19 pesos).
- Original and copy of documents showing that the applicant has a pension (free of liens) greater than the equivalent of five hundred days of general minimum wage in Mexico (88.36 MXP for 2018), approximately $2,400 USD for the past six months (considering a rate of exchange of 19 pesos).
It is worth mentioning that only pensioners can apply for the Permanent Resident VISA without having the Temporary Resident VISA first.
In an interview with an officer of the Mexican Consulate, the applicant will be asked to provide information such as personal data, purpose of the trip and any other relevant. During the interview, the officer will analyze the information and documents received and will authorize or deny the VISA.
Printing the visa in the applicant’s passport
The VISA will be issued within the following 10 working days and will be valid for 180 days and just for 1 entry to Mexico. Once the applicant is in Mexico, he/she has 30 days to start the canje application as follows:
- REQUESTING YOUR RESIDENT CARD AT THE IMMIGRATION INSTITUTE
Submit the following documents:
- Online form, which is available at the Immigration Institute’s website https://www.inm.gob.mx/tramites/publico/estancia.html. This form must have the signature of the applicant. In case of minors, the person signing must be the parent or guardian.
- Letter requesting the canje of the VISA.
- Original and copy of the passport.
- FMM form, provided at the port of entry, marked as canje for 30 days.
- Formato básico (“basic form” in English), which will be given at the Immigration Institute, and filled out by the applicant.
- Payment of Immigration fees:
TEMPORARY RESIDENT: $3,961 pesos (for one year)
The canje procedure only allows the applicant to obtain a one year resident card. The next year when the applicant renews it, he/she can request a 1, 2 or 3 years card.
PERMANENT RESIDENT: $4,828 pesos.
NOTE: in order to make the payments, an Immigration officer will provide an E5 form to the applicant and with it the applicant can go to any bank to make the payment and then return to the Immigration office with the receipt.
Follow the procedure
Once the applicant has submitted at the Immigration Institute all the documents mentioned above, he/she will receive a document with two numbers (one is called “NUT” and other is called pieza) and a password; these numbers will help the applicant to follow up on his/her procedure online at:
The applicant can follow the status of his/her application and when a note saying Registre los datos para la expedición de su documento migratorio shows, that will mean that the canje has been approved.
The time frame of this to happen is between 10 to 15 working days, starting from the day that the documents were submitted until the day of the approval.
Once the procedure has been approved, the applicant must go the Immigration Institute to request an appointment. On the day of the appointment, the applicant must be at the Immigration Institute 10 minutes before and must bring 3 pictures as follow:
Three color photos with white background, infant size (2.5 x 3 cm):
- Two photos taken from the front.
- One photo taken from the right profile.
- Applicant must not be wearing glasses or earrings in the photo and hair must be behind the ears.
- Pictures should be taken in a specialized photography studio. Polaroid or cellular phone pictures will not be accepted.
In this appointment the applicant will sign some documents and have his/her fingerprints taken.
Resident Card ready
After the appointment, the card will be printed at the Immigration office and be ready for pick up approximately 1 week after.
At Yucatán Expatriate Services, we can advise you and/or assist you in this important process, which if done correctly, will keep you from going many times to the Immigration office and incurring additional expenses. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org or 927 24 37.