Tourist and Immigration Visas - Mexico

Visiting or Retiring Mexico

Back to Sparks Mexico

Please realize that every Mexican Consul or Immigration Office will have different standards and requirements so these listed below are only the most common situations

Mexican Immigration Website - English


The first thing you’ll need to begin your new life in Mexico is a visa. The type of visa you choose to apply for can dramatically affect your freedom of movement, or freedom to stay in Mexico. You’ll want to choose the right visa for your needs.

The FM-T Visa

An FM-T Visa, or Tourist Visa, allows you to remain in Mexico for up to six months at a time. If you intend to keep a home in the United States or Canada, and visit Mexico for less than six months at a time, this may be the best option for you. If you plan on staying in Mexico for longer then 6 months at a time, or if you wish to work in Mexico, you should obtain a “resident” visa, either an FM2 or FM3 (see below). FM-T Visas are extremely easy to get and only cost about $22us. You will receive the form on your flight to Mexico, and will have it stamped at the immigration office at the airport (the cost is included in your airline ticket). If you cross the border in a car, you should stop at the immigration kiosk to get your form. Extending an FM-T visa to 180 days can be difficult and costly which is why you ask for 180 days at immigration.

The FM3 Visa

An FM3 Visa allows you to remain in Mexico for up to one year at a time. At the end of each year, the FM3 Visa may be renewed (renewals should be requested 30 days before the expiration date of the visa). With an FM3 Visa, you may leave and enter Mexico freely, at any time, and you are allowed to work in Mexico. Getting an FM3 makes bringing your household items (including one car) into Mexico very easy.

Besides the list below, you need to submit a request letter ... but here in Manzanillo they give you a questionnaire that they then take the information from and complete the request letter for you.  You just sign it!

You will need to submit the following:

  • Your passport and copies of every page.

  • Proof of income. This figure changes constantly. It is based on minimum wage (250 times the minimum wage in Mexico City) and fluctuates with the exchange rate. The current amount is $13,100.00 pesos per month (half that again for a married couple). This proof could be in the form of a bank statement showing your investments generate that amount or more, it could also be a letter from your consulate stating you receive social security, a pension, etc. 

  • The monthly income requirements are possibly reduced by 50% if you own and reside in your Mexican home. If this is the case, be sure to include a notarized copy of either the deed (escritura) or trust.

  • All that is required is proof that the minimum income is deposited in any financial institution, anywhere with credibility, be it the US, Europe, or offshore institution. Even a stock brokerage account, showing the requisite income, has proved sufficient, both in obtaining an original FM-3, both within Mexico at the local immigration office and at an overseas Mexican Consulate.

  • If you are married and your spouse also wishes to apply for an FM-3, have your original marriage certificate authorized and translated at the Mexican Consulate nearest the place of marriage.

  • Proof of residence - Utility bills, rental contract, letter from the local municipio

  • A number of pictures to their specification

Once you have all of the above mentioned items, make three copies of each and submit your package to immigration.

Normally, immigration stamps the original documents plus two sets of the copies with the date it was received. They keep the originals and one set of copies, the second set is for your files. It is habit to make the third set of copies as things can sometimes get misplaced.

The administrative "Fee" is about $1400.00 Pesos for your first FM3 and $1200 following years.

The FM2 Visa

An FM2 Visa might be a good option for those who wish to become Inmigrados (Permanent Residents who are not required to renew their visas every year. See the Inmigrado section for information on Inmigrado status). As an FM2 holder, you are considered an Immigrant, and may apply for Mexican citizenship after 5 years. FM2 Visa holders may not leave the country for more than 18 months during any five-year period, or they will lose their eligibility to apply for Inmigrado status; if an FM2 Visa holder leaves the country for longer than two years at a time, they will lose their status as an Immigrant. As an FM2 Visa holder, you may work in Mexico if you also apply for a work permit from Immigration , as long as the work is legal. You must also show proof of a certain amount of income when applying for an FM2 Rentista (Rentista Immigrante) Visa (see the Rentista section for information regarding Rentista Visas). The income required is less if you own your own home in Mexico. If you wish, you may also settle as a retiree, provided you can prove to the Mexican government that you can live on your savings, or on income from your investments, without needing additional income. While an FM2 removes the pain of having to renew your visa each year, it is more expensive and harder to receive than an FM3, and it is not recommended for retirees who intend to go back and forth to the US more then once a year. Click Here for applicable fees, documents you will need to file for an FM2, and a lawyer who can help you get it.




Rentista status may be issued to those who are 51 years of age or older, who intend to settle in Mexico without working. Applications for Rentista status must be accompanied by a letter from a bank or other financial institution, or from a government Social Security or pension agency, certifying the amount of money that the applicant receives each month. Copies of banks statements and proof that the account is really yours (check book, letter from your bank or even original statements may be enough). Those over 51 who intend to retire in Mexico are encouraged to apply for a Rentista type of FM2 or FM3 Visa.

“Inmigrado” (Permanent Resident Status)

After living in Mexico for five years on an FM2 Visa, you may make a “Declaratoria de Inmigrado,” and apply for Inmigrado status. As an Inmigrado, you may qualify to receive Mexican nationality, and you do not need to give up your home country citizenship.


FM3 Visa request form to practice with

Here's a PDF file that I put on my site that is the VISA request form. The trickiest part of dealing with this form (the only one you fill out) is translating the questions on your physical make up. Also don't use your mothers maiden name - use the name on your passport.

This is the first thing you do ... and they will create the actual request letter for you from the info you give.

This PDF file was prepared by a hotel in Mazatlan for it's employees. If you clear the form and move your cursor to box ... a little translation box will pop up. You can also just print it out and study it ahead of time.

FM3 for Actividades Lucrativas

In this case, you must submit: ( From the Immigration Web Site - English )

  • Application for change of migration status to Resident Professional.

  • Passport or valid identification and travel document.

  • Letter to the National Institute of Migration, in Spanish and with your signature, stating your reasons for wanting to establish residency in Mexico.

  • If you intend to work independently, you must submit a sworn, signed statement specifying your intended activity and where you intend to work.

  • Letter to the National Institute of Migration, on letterhead stationery, in Spanish or translated to Spanish, from the Mexican or foreign public or private institution that intends to employ you, specifying:
    The nature of the project or activity in which you will be employed.
    The remuneration you will receive.
    Your intended workplace.

  • If your employer is an individual, s/he must submit:
    Proof that s/he engages in business activities.
    If she is a foreign national, valid migration document.

  • If your employer is a legal entity, it must submit:

    Articles of incorporation.
    Last tax return filed (or electronic receipt).
    If it is a foreign national, proof of entry in the National Registry of Foreign

    These requisites do not apply if the prospective employer is a government agency or organization or public institution of higher education or if the company has an up-to-date basic file.

  • Professional degree and, if applicable, professional license issued by the Directorate General of Professions of the Ministry of Public Education ( If you practice a profession that requires a degree, you must comply with the regulatory conditions of Article 5 of the Mexican Constitution in relation to professions.