Following the ‘New’ Immigration Rules for Mexico . . . links checked and updated 10/14/2014!
SPECIAL NOTE FOR 2015 BAJA HA HA FOLKS
There is a detailed article related to how to do this if you are coming down with the fleet located here:
and some ‘clarifications’ here:
These postings also detail some of the ‘confusions’ that Lat 38 believes exist in the new Temporary Import Permit process for boats and their associated dingys in Mexico. I do not vouch for its accuracy, only the location of the information in Lat 38.
Opening note: the new information dated 1/3/2014 is in the post ‘Transitioning from the ‘Immigrante’ to the ‘Residencia Temporal’ in the pull down bar from this post … if you have already read this go there.
If you haven’t kept up, the rules for entering Mexico changed on November 10, 2012.
The rules had been revised about a year and a half before that but not implemented. They actually held up the implementation in Baja California Sur and Baja till the day after the Baja Ha-Ha 2012 fleet entered Mexico since many of the boats had filled out forms to enter in San Diego and were at sea when the new rules went into effect.
The first thing ( and maybe the most important) you need to know and get in your internet research head is that any information on travel sites … vacation home sales sites … tourist sites et al is most likely “out of date.” I had to research the new rules when my wife was heading to Mexico from Australia about a week and a half ago (February 5, 2013 arrival).
Any internet information dated before October 2012 (last fall is out dated and most likely wrong). I went thru dozens of sites thinking the rules were just like the ones I entered Mexico on in November …. WRONG!
To help you with the new rules I am adding 4 links at bottom of this article to help … they are authoritative and up to date as of February of 2013. Please note, at this time training of Mexican Immigration staff is ongoing so implementation may be rough but it is progressing even as I write this.
Your travel agent and the consulates may tell you that Mexico is a visa free entry from the US. This is true but unhelpful. True, you do not need or get a “visa” stamp in your passport. But, you still have paperwork to fill out and a Mexican form you need to enter and leave Mexico.
If you are visiting Mexico as a tourist, boater, or cruiser for a short period of up to 180 days only, the name of this form has changed. It used to be the FMM and is now called the “Visitante”. Its full description and name is Visitor Visa without Permission to Engage in Lucrative Activities or in spanish Visa de visitante sin permiso para realizar actividades remuneradas. They are currently still using the actual FMM form. It is good for as long as 180 days and you must leave Mexico and reenter with a new FMM/visitante if you wish to stay longer.
This is the easiest way to enter but a little bit of a pain to keep as every six months you have to exit back to US (or somewhere outside Mexico) and reenter.
It is important to understand how the form works.
If you are coming in by airplane as a tourist, you will receive the form in the airplane. The $20.00 USD or so price is included in you airline ticket price. You fill it out. It is a multipart form so the information needs to be filled out several times. You will end up with one of the forms as your FMM card. In theory, you need to have this card with you at all times.
You turn it back into Mexican authorities at the border when you leave. Even if it still has time left on it. This is really important!
When you come back into Mexico, you will get another FMM with 180 days on it. Each time you leave and enter the country, you must repeat this process.
If you are coming in by boat, along the West Coast of the US, you get it (in Baja) at Ensenada or the first Port of Call, meaning the first place you anchor in a bay in Mexican waters. Not all small harbors have and immigration office or Puerto Capitan (Port Captain), so in reality, the first place you stay/anchor/enter a slip that has the right offices is where you have to go to Immigration and fill out the form. If you enter by boat, you will have to pay the $20 USD or so fee. (( I will describe the rest of the check in process in detail in another post but the short version is: You will need to complete a crew roster. You will also have to complete a customs declaration for your boat. You have to get a Temporary Import Permit (good for up to 10 years) for the vessel, and a fishing license if you “have fishing gear on board”.))
Again, you MUST turn in the FMM when you are ready to leave Mexican waters, usually your last port before you head out to the South Pacific, down the coast to the Canal, or when you start bashing your way up the west Coast back to San Diego and points north.
This type of entry has changed very little …mostly the name. The form and how you get and fill it out remain the same.
UPDATE ON FMM or now “Visitante” visa. (4/28/2013)
Carolyn and I just returned to and from the US of A Friday. We flew to San Diego from Cabo San Lucas and spent three days in San Diego.
Purpose: Renew the Visitante (FMM) visas to allow us to stay another 180 days.
There has been talk in the marinas that you could just turn it in at immigration and not return to the US to reenter Mexico. This talk is wrong. You must exit Mexico so they can cancel your existing FMM; then, when you reenter, you fill out a new one. Then you are good for another 180 days. (The new form follows)
Other Accomplishments. Closed out a bank account (had to be at bank in person to do that). Filed taxes with the CPA (yes, we already had an extension) because we only got all the forms, payroll, and Social Security information last week. Remember it can easily take 6 weeks for something “forwarded” to you in Mexico to reach you. Packages can take even longer. But flat mail takes forever to get to us.
Bought resupplies for the boat. Things we absolutely could not find in Mexico. Turned out to be only a couple of hundred dollars and filled a small duffle-style soft bag. Added a note inside containing a message for TSA in the US and Customs in Mexico stating that the supplies were for a “boat in transit”, adding the name of our vessel, and its current location as well as contact info and a receipt with itemization of what was bought and in the bag.
Spent one entire day at the San Diego Zoo, which Carolyn has wanted to see since she was a small child ’cause as she said, It is one of the best zoos in the world.” It is, indeed!
I had been to the San Diego Zoo many times as a child as I grew up near San Diego in a small community called Solana Beach about 20 miles north of the city.
I think the most remarkable thing for the visit to San Diego was the constant use of taxis to get to-and-from anything. After being in La Paz for almost six-months, the lack of a good rapid transit system connecting all parts of a city was jarringly obvious. Also, having the hotel try to charge us $12.00 a day for internet seemed like having the place you stay try to pick your pockets.
I had forgotten what an American Hotel was like. Interestingly, as we have been taking Spanish for the last couple of months, talking with the staff of the Hotel, many of whom lived in Tijuana and commuted across the border to work, was very, very , very interesting, and fun.
Temporary Resident/Residente Temporal Process
I will begin writing more about this process as we are beginning to prepare to initiate it in the Fall.
The process has two big benefits. First, it allows you to stay one to four years without having to exit Mexico and return to the US every six months. Second, it opens up the possibility of participation in some of Mexico’s social programs for elderly such as discounts and medical insurance in Mexico which are not available to Visitantes. The following two-paragraph description (partial) of the income requirements is from a current PDF located at (should be the first message with a link to the PDF file. http://www.playa.info/playa-del-carmen-forum/68234-fyi-mexico-s-new-immigration-law-2012-kit.html
Residente Temporal – Applicants must submit documents proving they meet one of the following requirements:
- Original and copy of proof of investments or bank accounts with average monthly balance equivalent to 20,000 days of the minimum wage in the Federal District during the last twelve months, or
- Original and copies of documents showing the applicant has monthly employment or unencumbered pension income greater than 400 days of the minimum wage in the Federal District, for the past six months.
The legal minimum daily wage in the Federal District in 2012 was 62.33 pesos, so 400 times that is 24,932 pesos, or $1,963 dollars at today’s exchange rate of 12.7 pesos to the dollar. This amount is increased by 50% for each dependent. So, a married couple applying for the new Residente Temporal visa are required to have a minimum monthly income of $2,945.
20,000 days minimum wage is 1,246,600 pesos, or $98,157 dollars.
Now, pay attention if you intend to more or less permanently enter Mexico. This is for those of you thinking of moving lock-stock-and-barrel (or boat) to Baja or someplace in the Sea of Cortez because you think your retirement fund or Social Security will go further down here.
Because I went to law school, I am adding a disclaimer here. The information I add below and above is to ease your own personal research on this topic. I absolutely disavow any claim or appearance of expertness or special knowledge. Use this information at your own risk. No, I take that last statement back … DON’T USE IT AT YOUR OWN RISK. DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH USING, AT THE LEAST, THE LINKS I PROVIDE BELOW AND ENOUGH SENSE TO SEARCH OUT MORE INFORMATION ON YOUR OWN. What I write here is not a substitute for (1) your own reasoned research or/and (2) legal advice from an attorney knowledgeable in Mexican Immigration.
I am not a lawyer, a retirement financial planner, or even a highly experienced traveler. I am a boat owner, sailor, and person cruising Mexican waters with the current intent of seeing the South Pacific.
The only reason I am writing this is because my own researches caused me to discover that most (maybe 95% plus) of the information that your browser turns up when you research this topic is out of date and plain wrong. This is especially problematic is you are trying to decide whether to “move to” or “sail away” to Mexico with the intention of not returning to the US.
The next two kinds of forms or immigration status is where the most changes and the most important changes happened.
The most obvious and problematic of the changes are in Mexico’s adoption of what I will call “means testing” of candidates for immigration. If you are intending to stay beyond the 180 days meaning a year to 4 years or even longer, you will need to be aware of the new requirements on savings, income, and assets that are quite a bit higher than previously.
IT IS NOW MUCH MORE DIFFICULT TO MOVE TO MEXICO TO RETIRE! That is the short version of what follows.
The four links that follow should get you well into the topic as well as expose you to some of the concerns or problems so that you can make your own informed decision. READ all three.
http://www.playa.info/playa-del-carmen-forum/68234-fyi-mexico-s-new-immigration-law-2012-kit.html (just load and read the linked PDF by an attorney … great current info as of 4/15/2014)