The Fullest Guide on Mexico Visas for Americans and Canadians in 2023

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Moving to Mexico visas are an essential consideration in a world plagued by skyrocketing costs for housing and healthcare, escalating political tensions, and uncertain economic prospects, Mexico beckons with open arms. With its lower cost of living, retirees from USA and Canada can stretch their hard-earned pension and savings further, embracing a life of comfort and even abundance. 

Mexico offers a perfect blend of affordability, top-notch healthcare, ease of visa acquisition, a favorable climate, and a vibrant lifestyle. It is estimated that over 1.6 million (2020 stats) expatriates live in Mexico either full-time or part-time, making it the largest concentration of North American expats globally.

There is a growing amount of Europeans coming to Mexico lately and a pretty substantial amount of people coming for many years from other Latin American countries, for example, Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina, and Peru, as well as small Central American countries.

To make this dream a reality, Mexico provides a range of visas tailored to the needs of expats. Let’s explore the three most popular Mexico visas options:

1. Mexico Visas for Tourists 

If you are a citizen of Canada or the US you don`t need a Tourist Visa to enter Mexico, as both of these countries have visa-exempt regulations. However, it is mandatory for all citizens of these countries entering Mexico for tourism, visiting family, doing business, or other short-term purposes (up to 180 days) must apply for a Visitors Permit, known as Forma Migratoria Multiple or FMM, even if they don’t need to obtain a Mexico Tourist Visa. Note, that you do not need to apply for this permit in advance, but receive it at the international airport, upon arrival.

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Under Mexico’s immigration rules, the maximum validity time of the visitor permit (FMM) is 180 calendar days. 

You will not be charged a permit fee if you arrive by land and leave within 7 days of arrival.  If you fly into Mexico from overseas, the fee is usually included within your air ticket’s “fees and surcharges”. Otherwise, the fee is approximately US$25.

Recent computerization of the immigration system eliminates the need for you to fill out any paperwork before you arrive. The immigration officer stamps your passport with the duration of your stay in the country after you enter the country by land, sea, or air.

Visitor permits may be valid for up to 180 days, but it isn’t automatic, and the length of stay that is granted is often arbitrary. You may get the full 180 days or you may only get a few weeks. It’s up to the immigration officer. 

Be sure to communicate your plans to the immigration official so that they provide you with sufficient days for your visit. You should tell the immigration official at the port of entry your plans and intentions before they write the number of days on your permit, and ask for the days you need to fit your plans if you intend to stay in Mexico longer than a couple of weeks, for example, if you intend to spend the winter in Mexico or if you own a home here and live part-time as a visitor. To support your plans, you should provide some evidence, such as accommodation arrangements and return flights.

The number of days written on your visitor permit (FMM) by the immigration official at the port of entry is the maximum time you are allowed to stay in Mexico, even if that is less than 180 days. But you can enter and leave Mexico as many times as you want during the validity period. Visitor permits cannot be renewed or extended. 

This visa also allows one to bring a car into the country with foreign license plates. However, it cannot be used to open a Mexican bank account, apply for a Mexican driver’s license, or buy or register a car.

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So, entering on a Mexican tourist visa is a good option for backpackers or those who want to get a taste of what it’s like to live in Mexico, but are not ready to commit. But if you plan to stay in Mexico longer than 180 days, and want to live with less number of limitations and feel more comfortable, it is better to think in advance about obtaining a temporary or permanent visa. Fortunately, Mexico has made it relatively easy to get visas that are valid for more than six months.

2. Mexico Temporary Resident Visa

One of the two types of Mexican visas that gives you a high level of permanence in the country is the Temporary Resident Visa. It is also called non-lucrative, a visa suitable for digital nomads and retirees.

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One of the core benefits of holding a temporary resident visa is the ability to reside in Mexico for up to 4 years, providing ample time to explore, discover and enjoy the delights of this beautiful country. The initial Temporary Resident permit is valid for only one year. However, you can renew your Temporary Residency for up to 3 more years, allowing for a maximum duration of 4 consecutive years.

Temporary Residents can also enjoy other benefits such as the opportunity to register a Mexican-plated car, receive social security, and open bank accounts in Mexico, ensuring that they have every opportunity to settle into their new life easily. In addition, foreign residents in Mexico can also bring their household goods from abroad without paying any duties, making the transition to Mexican life even smoother.

What Temporary Residents cannot do – is to vote in local elections and national referendums, and own land directly if it’s located within 50 kilometers of the beach or 100 kilometers from the Mexican land border. 

To qualify for a Temporary Resident Visa, one of the following must apply to you:

  • You are “economically sufficient ”

You’ll need proof that you have an average monthly balance of US$3,275 in a banking account for 6 months (some consulates request 12 months), and a letter from your bank/financial institution signed and stamped saying that the applicant has employment or a pension with a monthly tax-free income of over required balance.

This requirement is waived if you can show that you have a savings/investments account with an average monthly balance of US$54,600 or more over the last 12 months. Income/savings can be demonstrated from multiple sources and/or multiple types. 

In most cases, these amounts are only for the main applicant. If you’re a couple applying together, your spouse will need an additional US$800-$1,060 monthly to qualify.

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Many people don’t know this, but every Mexican consulate has its own income requirements for residency in Mexico and overall its own way of doing things. Some consulates may have requirements higher than others, and certain consulates may only accept applications from residents within their jurisdiction. Consulates also are known to change their income requirements without notice, so it’s best to obtain the latest information directly from the consulate website when applying.

  • You have a property in Mexico

You may qualify to move to the country if you own property in Mexico with a market value of at least  40,000xMDW/UMA. The property value must be free of any liens (debts, charges, or mortgages). 


Here is the most complicated part that should be broken down. Follow carefully and make some notes for yourself here:

  • If your application is made at a Mexican consulate abroad, the amount required will be calculated using multiples of the Minimum Daily Wage (MDW). For 2023 the MDW is $207.44 pesos (~US$12.14). This means that the house price should be more than ~US$485,600.00.
  • But if you apply at an immigration office in Mexico, the amount required will be calculated using multiples of Unidad de Medida y Actualización (UMA). For 2023 the UMA is $103.74 pesos (~US$6,08). This means that the house price should be more than ~US$243,200.00 which is half as much as it would be if you were using the MDW measurement system.

The trick here is that most initial applications for residency must begin at a Mexican consulate abroad unless your situation is one of the few that allow initial applications for residency to be made within Mexico—most are related to ‘Family Unit’ applications, whereby the applicant has family roots here or other specific cases. 

So, despite being the most lucrative option for the Mexican treasury, it is less attractive to applicants who are careful about their means

  • You work in STEM

If you’re a scientist or engineer, Mexico is waiting for you. You must provide evidence of your qualifications, such as a copy of your college degree, and have a letter from your employer printed on official letterhead. 

  • You have family ties in Mexico

If you are the spouse, child, or parent of someone who has residency or citizenship in Mexico, you must show proof of the relationship, such as a birth or marriage certificate.

If you meet one of the qualifications, you can move further and submit an application to the consulate. You must have the following documents:

  • Valid passport
  • Application form
  • Recent passport photo
  • Proof that supports your qualification
  • Proof of payment of processing fee
  • Additional dependent documentation
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→ The first step is really easy, you need to fill in the application form (online) and collect all the paperwork. It’s not a long list but it can be tedious.

→ Then schedule an appointment to appear in person at a Mexican consulate in your home country or anywhere close to you as long as it is not inside Mexico (be sure to check if the consulate in a foreign country will accept your application). You can schedule an appointment as well as complete some of the application paperwork online. The cost of this consular appointment is approximately US$51.

→ Wait for the invitation to interview (usually by email). When you go to the Mexican consulate, you’ll be asked a few questions about why you want to live in Mexico, and you’ll give them your required documentation. If approved, you’ll get a visa in your passport either on the same day or within a day or two. The visa from the consulate is valid for 180 days, so you’ll need to go to Mexico before it expires. 

Note: When you arrive in the country, ensure that you inform the immigration officer that you require a canje stamp. This stamp signifies that your immigration status is changing. Otherwise, you may only receive a Tourist (Visitante) Visa.

→ Set an appointment with the Instituto Nacional de Migración (Department of Immigration) to take biometrics, photo, and interview. You can do that online.

Note: When you arrive in Mexico, it is necessary to report to INM within 30 days. If you missed the 30 days, you will have to return back to step 1. That`s why I recommend setting an appointment in advance before you leave your home country, because the bureaucracy in Mexico may not take your deadlines into account. 

→ When you visit the local immigration office, make sure to carry all the necessary paperwork that was requested at your home country’s consulate. Additionally, you should bring a printed confirmation page of your immigration appointment and proof of your address in Mexico (a comprobante, such as a utility bill, would suffice). During your visit, you might undergo a brief interview with the immigration official to confirm that you meet the residency requirements. In my personal and many other cases, no interview happened in INM, the officer might only ask clarification questions related to the application.

→ After approval, you will need to pay a fee of approximately US$300 and your resident card will be issued on the same day or shortly thereafter. Congratulations! With this card, you can legally stay in Mexico for a year. 

After the first year, you must renew your residency visa and can only do so for up to 4 years. At the end of a 4-year period of temporary residency, if you want to continue your stay you can:

  • You may apply to swap your temporary residency for permanent residency. 
  • Alternatively, you may allow the temporary residency to lapse and then apply for temporary residency again through a ‘regularization’ process.


I love Mexico because it offers a very straightforward and speedy process to get a Temporary Visa. Unlike many European visas, you don`t have to spend a large sum of money on a lawyer. As a holder of a Temporary Visa, I can confidently say that the whole process from start to finish can be done without difficulties and unnecessary expenses if you know all the nuances (and most of them I have already shared with you in this article).

I received an invitation for the first interview in the Toronto consulate within a month after my request, and that was during the peak of COVID, which is when all institutions were working at half capacity and online. During my interview, I did not receive questions, only about my original country and place of birth. I feel like what’s really important here is that you can prove you are financially capable of supporting yourself while living in Mexico. Surprisingly, my interview only lasted a few minutes!

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Like I said above, it is possible to handle everything on your own. But having an experienced advisor by your side can provide you with confidence and peace of mind. If you are ready to make your dream of living in Mexico a reality, let me be your trusted guide through this process. As someone who has successfully obtained a Temporary Visa and navigated the process firsthand, I understand the intricacies and challenges that may arise. I can provide you with invaluable insights, tips, and tricks to ensure a smooth and hassle-free experience or recommend trustworthy lawyers who specialize in immigration and have a proven track record of success in case your case is more complicated and required lawyer support. 

Don’t let language barriers or bureaucratic complexities hold you back from living your dream retirement in Mexico. Book consultation with me today and I will walk you through the entire process, explaining each step in detail and addressing any concerns or questions you may have. 

3. Mexico Permanent Resident Visa

The main significant differences between Temporary Residence and Permanent Residency are the length of the visa and the income requirements. In the second case, the card does not have an expiry date – it is issued for an indefinite amount of time, but the financial requirements are higher than those for temporary residency. In addition, Permanent Visa automatically provides the holder with a work permit in case he will decide to work in the country.

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There are basically two ways how you can obtain a permanent resident card:

  1. right away;
  2. or through the exchange of Temporary Residency for Permanent Residency.

To be eligible for Permanent Resident Visa right away:

  • You have to be retired and intend to spend your retirement in Mexico without employment/income from Mexico. This means that you should prove your “economical solvency”. You can do that by showing your monthly income of at least US$5,460 over the last 6 months or savings/investments account balance(s) of at least US$218,000 over the last 12 months.
  • The other case is if you have some close family relations in Mexico. It can be a child, parent, step-parent, or sibling with Mexican citizenship.

If any of the above don`t apply to you, then your only way to get Permanent Residence is by going through a Temporary Residence Permit. You can apply for a Permanent Resident Card if you have lived in Mexico for at least 4 years with a Temporary Resident Card. You can also apply earlier if you lived in Mexico with a Temporary Resident Card (for at least 2 years) issued on the grounds of marriage to a Mexican citizen or permanent resident.

When you apply for Permanent Residency right away on the basis of economic solvency or family ties, the process is identical to obtaining a Temporary Residence Permit (see details above). For most expats, you’ll have to start the process for a permanent visa in your country. Upon receiving approval for a Permanent Resident Visa, you will be required to travel to Mexico to complete the necessary procedures. It is valid for 180 days, and once you arrive in Mexico, You’ll then need to report to the Department of Immigration at your destination within 30 days of entering Mexico to finalize your residency – to exchange a Permanent Resident Visa for a Permanent Residency Card.

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In case you want to transfer from Temporary to Permanent Residency, it can be undertaken at your nearest immigration office in Mexico with an application procedure and payment of the processing fees. Note that you must not let your residency card expire. You do not need to demonstrate your economic solvency when you have four consecutive years of temporary residency and apply to exchange this for permanent residency.

As mentioned earlier, the permit is valid indefinitely. It means it does not have to be renewed every few years like the Temporary Resident Card does. After 5 years of legal residency, you may be eligible for naturalization. 

Note, that as a Permanent Resident cardholder, you can enjoy all the same rights as Mexicans with passports, including car registration, access to social security, travel freely in and out of Mexico, and all the guarantees that the Mexican Constitution grants to all Mexicans. The only difference: a. you can not vote, b. get the property title in your name and c. can not use the Permanent Card as an international travel document when traveling to the other country. If you have a valid passport from another country you are OK from the travel side.

To obtain citizenship, you must have Spanish language skills and pass a test and interview that covers Mexican history, culture, and values. If you are a citizen of a Latin American country or Iberia (Spain and Portugal), you may be able to apply for citizenship after residing in Mexico legally for two years. Additionally, you must have physically been present in Mexico for at least 18 months within the last two years before submitting your application.


The journey to becoming a resident of Mexico is a rewarding one, albeit with its own nuances and challenges. While the process can be navigated independently, the guidance of a seasoned advisor can provide the confidence and reassurance needed to navigate the bureaucratic maze. I am dedicated to supporting your aspirations of living in Mexico whether through invaluable insights, practical tips, or trusted legal guidance, my aim is to ensure your transition is smooth, seamless, and free from unnecessary stress.

In a world where the allure of Mexico’s landscapes, culture, and lifestyle beckons, don’t let language barriers or administrative paperwork hinder your pursuit of a dream retirement. Book a consultation with me today, and let’s embark on this journey together. As you take the first step toward living your best life in Mexico, rest assured that you’ll be equipped with the knowledge and support needed to make your dreams a reality. 

Your adventure in Mexico awaits – let’s make it happen together!

Here is what you should read if you’re interested in living in Mexico – whether traveling around the country, retiring in a beautiful and affordable place, or experiencing another culture as a nomad:



Hi, I am Emily Bron.

After living and working in 4 countries (3 continents), experiencing several immigrations, changing several professional fields and being an avid traveler, I created International Lifestyle Consulting to help you to find the best matching place and to relocate abroad for a better quality of life, work, or retirement.

As a professional Baby Boomer and Remote worker, I am relocating again!

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