Mexican Immigration Rules Update

by Judy King 14. May 2010 21:50

Just like in the United States, foreigners who visit or live in Mexico are required to have valid immigration status in order to remain legally in the country. Unlike the situation regarding Mexicans who wish to travel to the US, all visitors from the US and Canada who travel to Mexico are automatically given an FM-T (tourist card). 

Mexico’s Department of Immigration recently announced a new slate of rules and regulations governing the application and issuance of immigration documents to foreigners to be effective May 1.

Yesterday I visited my immigration facilitator, Gina Franco, in Ajijic -- her office is just east of the Lake Chapala Society.  Gina told me that she has cut back her office hours in this slower than usual period so that she has more time in Guadalajara at the main immigration office and can participate in the training classes being given there for office employees and other facilitators. 

According to Gina, most of the new regulations affect the facilitators and office  personnel far more than they do the foreigners who currently hold Mexican immigration documents, are renewing them or are about to apply for them.

Gina tells me that almost all of the paperwork needed to apply for or renew an FM-3 here in Mexico remain the same:

  • Current immigration document (FM-3 or FM-T tourist card (for new applications)
  • A valid passport
  • A letter (in Spanish) requesting either renewal of the current FM-3 or conversion from FM-T to FM-3
  • Proof of income ($1000 US per month for the head of household and $500 US per month for each dependent)
  • Proof of your address in Mexico (A copy of a lease or deed and a electric or phone bill with the matching address)
  • At times you may be asked for an original certified birth certificate and original certified marriage certificate (translated into Spanish by an official translator)

The remaining piece of the FM-3 puzzle has changed – the application. While in the past facilitators filled out a printed application form for clients, now these applications must be requested online – from Mexico City. The rest of the paperwork is still submitted to the Guadalajara office.

There is another change for homeowners who have FM-3 documents. In the past homeowners only had to prove 50% of the income requirement. That exemption is no longer available.

Those applying for a new FM-3 (either for the first time, or those who have completed a five-year period) will no longer be issued the passport-like booklet. Instead they will be issued a scanable card about the size of a credit card. Renewals, exits and returns will be registered into the computer data base associated with the cards.

The tax paid to the Mexican government this year  is $1,300 pesos (just over $100 US) for a simple FM-3 and $2,300 pesos for those with work papers.

We’ll continue to update the new rules and regulations as they are put into practice and the system is ironed out. Stay tuned for more!

Judy King is publisher of Mexico Insights—Living at Lake Chapala, a monthly online magazine for people interested in Mexico's Lake Chapala region, in the state of Jalisco.

Judy, a 19-year resident of Ajijic on Lake Chapala's north shore, conducts weekly newcomer's seminars and shares her expertise about Mexico in her ezine at, and in the "Mexico Lindo" column of the Lake Chapala Review.

Judy also is a speaker for local organizations and visiting tour groups about the Lakeside area about Mexican customs and holidays.


5/23/2010 8:31:25 AM #

I like your site. Really practical and very motivational. Thanks a bunch. It’ll help me a lot.

Jon Sparks United States |

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About Judy King

Judy King

Hi There — Welcome to my little corner of the world. I'm Judy King and I live in the centuries-old village of Ajijic on the north shore of Lake Chapala, Mexico's largest natural lake.

I've lived here full time since 1990, and... [ more ]

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