Mexico Retirement Visas 101 — A Step by Step Guide

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Retiring abroad may not be the easiest path, but it is certainly worth it — for the adventure alone! But you can’t just show up in Mexico and stay forever. There are proper methods and routes you’ll need to follow to get your Mexico retirement visa.

And since you may not want to retire full-time in Mexico, there are three visa options to give you the flexibility you need. The duration of your stay will determine which visa you’ll need to apply for. 

For the purposes of this article, we will only delve into the three most common types of visas: a visitor visa, a temporary visa, and a permanent residency visa. 

Visitor Visas or FMM Visas

Visitor visas are short-term permits for everyone entering the country. They are issued upon arrival regardless of how you arrive. When you fly, the airlines will give you forms to fill out called Forma Migratoria Multiple or FMM.

The FMM visa allows you to stay in Mexico for up to 180 days. However, this visa cannot be extended or renewed. You’ll have to leave the country upon its expiration. 

The fee for the FMM visa is around US$25 and is often included in the price of the flight. But if you are entering by road or ship, you’ll have to pay it separately. 

Because the FMM is valid for six months, many retirees who want to live in Mexico part-time, like snowbirds, never get any other visa. 

However, if you want to stay longer, you have two other options.

Temporary Resident Visa

If you want to live in Mexico for more than six months but not longer than four years, the temporary resident visa is for you. 

This visa is issued one year at a time, and unlike the FMM, you can renew this visa for another 1-3 years. It also allows unlimited entries into Mexico (and exits from Mexico), so you don’t need to worry about your visa permissions if you plan to travel. 

A temporary visa can also permit you to work if you hope to get a job while there. But you must apply for a lucrative temporary visa versus a non-lucrative one. It’s a simple classification difference when applying.  

Main Requirements for Getting a Temporary Visa

One of the critical requirement factors for any type of visa is proving to the Mexican government you have sufficient funds or investments to sustain yourself while living in Mexico. 

That can be done by showing a consistent monthly income. For example, the minimum monthly income for a single applicant is US$1400+. However, that number can change depending on which consulate you apply from and which calculation they use. For that reason, it’s best to contact your nearest consulate for details about Mexico residency requirements for 2021 or 2022 depending on when you are reading this article.

Suppose you are applying as a couple or family. In that case, your spouse or dependent will add a minimum of US$520 to your proof of monthly income.

Or you can provide your last 12 months’ bank statements with an average balance of at least US$24,000+. Again, contact your consulate for the exact number.

Another way to achieve a temporary residency visa is if you own a property in Mexico with a minimum value of US$207,000.

Temporary Resident Benefits

  • You can open a bank account
  • Import household goods without paying duty
  • You’ll have unlimited exit/entry
  • You can retain a permanent residency after four years
  • You can temporarily bring your US car into Mexico
  • You can buy a Mexican car

What Can’t Temporary Residents Do? 

  • Sorry, but you can’t vote. 
  • You can’t extend the visa after four years. After that, you must either convert your visa to a permanent visa or leave Mexico.
  • You can’t buy beachfront land unless you put it in a trust. 

How to Apply For a Temporary Residence Visa

Step 1: The process must be started from a Mexican consulate in your home country.

Step 2: Once you’ve proven you meet the requirements, the consulate will process and pre-approve your application. They will add a visa sticker in your passport.

Step 3: When you arrive in Mexico, you’ll need to find the local immigration office within 30 days. When you meet with them, they’ll give you a temporary resident permit which is a plastic card.  

Step 4: Have a margarita. You did it!

Permanent Residence Visas

If you want to live for more than four years or permanently in Mexico, your best bet is to apply for a permanent residence visa. And if you’re wondering how to get permanent residency in Mexico, believe it or not, it’s pretty easy. 

Who is Eligible for the Mexican Permanent Resident Card?

Not everyone is eligible to retire in Mexico. There are rules and requirements you must meet. Typically, there are five different ways to qualify:

  1. You can have family ties in Mexico. For example, you could be of Mexican descent, but born in another country.
  2. You can be married to a Mexican
  3. Have political asylum or residency on humanitarian grounds
  4. Have lived four years in Mexico as a temporary resident
  5. Apply for a Mexico retirement visa through economic solvency

There are two ways to go about it.

  1. You can apply immediately for a Mexico permanent resident visa.
  1. You can first apply to become a temporary resident. After four years, you can apply and transfer your visa from temporary to permanent status. The benefit of going this route is the income requirements to retire in Mexico are significantly less than if you were to apply for permanent residency straight away. 

Requirements for the Mexican Permanent Resident Card

Just as with the temporary visa, you need to prove economic solvency. But to apply directly for a permanent visa, you’ll need substantially more money.

The minimum monthly monetary requirement for a single person is US$2400+. Expect to add at least US$520 for a spouse or dependent.

Or you can show a savings of US$93,000+ over the last year. Because the Mexico retirement visa requirements can change, contact your nearest consulate for exact monetary requirements.

Mexican Permanent Resident Visa Processing Time

Like all things bureaucratic, patience is a virtue when applying for your Mexican permanent residency. Some places are notoriously slow, while others offer same-day service. So, it all depends. But expect to wait 2 weeks. Which is still mighty fast, all things considered.

Changing a Temporary Residence Card into a Permanent Residence Card

After having a temporary visa for four consecutive years, you can apply to exchange it for a permanent residency visa. You can apply for this swap within Mexico. You usually don’t need to show any more documents or prove economic solvency. 

There will be some admin fees and Mexico permanent resident visa application forms to fill out, but it’s pretty straightforward.

Benefits of the Mexico Permanent Resident Card

  • You can open a bank account
  • No need to apply every year. This is a permanent visa
  • You can work or be employed without applying for consent
  • You’ll have unlimited exit/entry
  • Temporarily bring your US car into Mexico
  • You can buy a Mexican car

What Can’t Permanent Residents Do? 

  • Sorry, but you still can’t vote. 
  • You can’t import a foreign plated car
  • You can’t buy beachfront land unless you put it in a trust. 

What is the Duration of a Mexico Permanent Resident Card?

Luckily, your days of dealing with red tape is over. Once you get your permanent visa card, you are set for life.

How to Apply for the Mexican Permanent Resident Card

Step 1: For the most part, permanent resident visas can’t be issued from within Mexico. So, you must find your nearest Mexican consulate in your home country and apply from there. You’ll have to fill out paperwork and pay a fee of around US$36.

Step 2: They will pre-approve you and place a visa sticker in your passport.

Step 3: When you arrive in Mexico, go to immigration and swap your sticker for a permanent resident permit card. You have 30 days to make the swap. 

Step 4: You’re a permanent resident. Have two margaritas. You deserve them!

Temporary or Permanent Resident Visa. Which One is Right For You? 

It’s pretty easy to figure out which visa is for you.

It all depends on the amount of time you plan to stay in Mexico. Want to just try it out for a few years? Want to winter in Mexico and summer in the US? Go for a temporary resident visa.

Want to create a full-time life overseas? Thinking about making Mexico your long-term retirement plan? A permanent resident visa is for you. 

The Wrap Up

There are plenty of retiring in Mexico pros and cons but one of the advantages is the ease of applying for a Mexican visa. As long as you meet the criteria, the process isn’t overwhelming or red-tape laden. It’s unusually straightforward and the process is quick, and painless. 

Now that you’ve learned everything you need to know about the Mexico retirement visa, it’s time to start your research about the best places to retire in Mexico. However, that search will probably be way more intense than getting a visa.

If you are curious about retiring in Mexico and want to start doing serious research, then check out Dream Retirement in Mexico, our online program where you do a deep dive into all the things you need to know BEFORE making your move — location, real estate, healthcare, banking, accounting, and more.

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