From the cost of a Mexico temporary resident visa & the financial Mexico residency requirements to the Mexico temporary resident visa processing time, this guide walks you through the process from start to finish.
At first glance, the visa application process may seem complicated. But, tackling the immigration process is an important first step to building your dream life in Mexico.
In 2020, I got a Mexican resident visa from the Mexican consulate in Detroit, Michigan, and received my temporary residency card from the local immigration office in Querétaro Mexico.
I’m on track to get my permanent residency card in 2024 after four years of legal residency in Mexico 🥳
Whether you’re planning on moving to Puerto Vallarta or Playa del Carmen, this post has all the important information you need to apply for a Mexico temporary resident visa in 2023!
Note: The process for getting permanent residency in Mexico is very similar to getting temporary residency in Mexico. The Mexico Residency Roadmap (which is updated annually) highlights the differences in the two processes.
Is applying for temporary residency in Mexico worth it?
Listen, I know firsthand just how confusing visa stuff can be. It’s easy to see why so many foreigners live in Mexico on the standard-issue 180-day tourist visa (which resets immediately after you exit the country) rather than applying for temporary residency.
But, if like me you decide that becoming a temporary resident of Mexico is the right next step, then this post will serve as your guide.
After reading this post, you will know:
- the benefits of the Mexican temporary resident visa vs. permanent resident visa
- the cost of the temporary resident visa in Mexico
- the financial requirements for temporary residency in Mexico
- my tips for how to apply successfully
In Dec. 2020, I received my temporary residency card from the Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM) in Querétaro after starting the process in June 2020 at the Mexican consulate in Detroit, Mich.
Across Mexico, the National Immigration Institute is working to expedite the residency process for foreigners. In some locations, you get your card and do your fingerprints the same day you submit your paperwork.
- Are you applying for residency in Mexico in 2023? Get the most up-to-date info about the Mexico residency process in this 2023 Mexico residency requirements post.
What is a Mexico temporary resident visa?
The temporary residency visa is for anyone planning on staying in Mexico for more than 180 days but less than four years.
Even if you do plan on staying for more than four years, you usually have to be a temporary resident before applying for permanent residency in Mexico.
The process of applying for a temporary resident visa for Mexico starts with making an appointment at a consulate outside of Mexico. This website has a directory of Mexican consulates.
If you’re married to a Mexican national, you can skip the consulate step and apply directly at an INM office (Instituto Nacional de Migracion) in Mexico. There are INM offices in every state in Mexico.
After getting your temporary resident visa, you must travel to Mexico to finish the process at a local immigration office where you will exchange your Mexico temporary visa for a Mexico temporary resident card.
Benefits of Temporary Residency in Mexico
Some foreigners will try to live in Mexico on the tourist visa, leaving every six months to reset their stay.
Now, don’t let my use of the word “visa” throw you. The tourist visa ISN’T something you apply for. Rather, it’s the 180-stay that is granted to passport holders from countries on Mexico’s no visa required list.
The Mexican government calls these foreigners “perpetual tourists,” and in late 2021, Mexican immigration decided to crack down on foreigners living in Mexico on the tourist visa.
Instead of automatically granting the typical 180-day stay, Mexican immigration officers were reviewing each foreigner’s travel history individually. People with a history of traveling to Mexico were given significantly shorter stays (sometimes only a week).
The number one benefit of the Mexican temporary resident visa is that you can freely enter and leave Mexico. There’s no 180-day limit.
If another immigration crackdown were to take place, you don’t want to run the risk of being separated from your life in Mexico. For anyone who plans on living in Mexico, applying for temporary residency in Mexico (residente temporal) is absolutely worth it.
The benefits of a Mexican temporary resident visa include:
- Freely entering and leaving Mexico (no 180-day limit)
- More options when renting an apartment in Mexico
- Eligible for an RFC – the tax ID number you need to buy a home in Mexico
- Enrolling in IMSS & accessing the best public hospitals in Mexico
- Legally registering a vehicle in Mexico
If you’re thinking about importing personal goods to Mexico, know that you must have your temporary or permanent resident card. The visa itself (even with the NUT authorization) is not sufficient.
If you want to open a bank account in Mexico, you will need to show your temporary or permanent residency card along with your RFC number.
Benefits of Permanent Residency in Mexico
Even though some applicants qualify for permanent residency in Mexico (residente permanente), they may still choose to opt for temporary residency in Mexico since only temporary residents are allowed to bring a foreign car into Mexico.
Your foreign-plated car is linked to your temporary residency & you can legally have it in Mexico as long as you’re a temporary resident (up to four years). Permanent residents cannot have a foreign-plated vehicle in Mexico, and most people find it cost-prohibitive to import a car.
The benefits of Mexican permanent resident visa are:
- All rights of Mexican citizens except voting
- No need to renew residency (this saves time & money)
- Maintain legal employment or self-employment (no Mexica work visa necessary)
- All the same benefits as the temporary resident visa except bringing a foreign-plated car into Mexico
When should I start applying for temporary residency in Mexico?
I understand the desire to have all your ducks in a row prior to moving to Mexico, but I strongly encourage you to come to Mexico and give living here a trial run before committing money, time and your sanity to the residency process.
With Mexico’s generous 180-day tourist visa, passport holders from the U.S. and Canada (as well as other countries on Mexico’s “no visa” list) can stay in Mexico for up to six months without needing to apply for residency.
During those six months, you should travel around and check out different places to live in Mexico.
You can use this list of the safest cities in Mexico as a starting point. Then for more in-depth info, check out these posts to learn about expat life in La Paz and what it’s like to live in Queretaro.
Once you know you want to make Mexico your permanent home, start the process of applying for temporary residency in Mexico. At least six months out from your move is a good time to start gathering the necessary documents and booking an appointment for the visa interview at a consulate.
Many Mexican temporary resident visa applicants find that making an appointment at a consulate is the most time-consuming part of the process. You’ll have better luck booking an appointment sooner if you’re willing to travel for your visa interview.
Is a temporary resident visa the same as a Mexico work visa?
Having a temporary resident visa doesn’t automatically grant you the right to work in Mexico. If you want to work in Mexico, you must apply for a separate work visa.
Since I work online as a freelance writer, I am technically not working IN Mexico. When I met with the immigration official at the Mexican Consulate in Detroit, I explained that I earn money online.
Mexico is open to offering temporary residency to remote workers and digital nomads as long as you’re able to prove economic solvency. You won’t pay income tax in Mexico if you earn your money outside of Mexico.
Permanent residents of Mexico are allowed to own a business in Mexico or be self-employed.
If you wish to get a job in Mexico, your temporary resident visa won’t be enough. You must also apply for a Mexico work visa.
Mexico Temporary Residency Requirements
Every Mexican consulate has its own temporary residency requirements. These different requirements can range from the amount required to demonstrate economic solvency (more on this in a second) to what you need to bring to the visa interview.
The kicker is that many consulate websites do not list all the Mexico temporary residency visa requirements. Some applicants are only find out they’re missing something when they show up for their visa interview.
If possible, I recommend contacting the consulate where you plan on applying for a list of their specific requirements prior to your appointment. Not all consulates are responsive, but your best best for most is reaching out via email.
Unless you have a job lined up in Mexico, an organization or an institution is sponsoring your move there, then this economic solvency portion is very important. The country of Mexico wants to know that you are not going to be a burden to them.
According to the Mexican Consulate website, individuals applying for the temporary resident visa must submit proof of economic solvency. You can demonstrate economic solvency either through monthly income or savings/investments.
This is not the only pathway to getting temporary residency in Mexico, but demonstrating economic solvency is the most common method.
Mexico Temporary Resident Visa Financial Requirements
Every year, the financial requirements for applying for temporary residency in Mexico increase. As of 2023, the typical monthly income consulates want to see in 2023 is $3,275 US over the last six months. Some consulates request 12 months worth of statements.
For temporary visa applicants showing savings/investment account balances, they must show a minimum balance of $54,000 US over the last 12 months.
Permanent visa applicants must demonstrate a monthly income of $5,460 US over the last six months. Again, some consulates require 12 months of statements. The other option is showing savings/investment accounts with a balance of $218,000 US over the last 12 months.
Understandably, some foreigners find these income requirements frustrating since they exceed normal cost of living in Mexico.
You will need to show up to your appointment with printed financial statements that show you have either sufficient monthly income or enough in savings/investments.
As more digital nomads want to work remotely from Mexico, Mexican consulates have become more open to accepting average monthly incomes. This is great news for freelancers and independent contractors whose income can vary greatly from month to month.
Since proving economic solvency is the central part of your visa interview, I recommend emailing the Consulate if you have any questions regarding the documents you need. Consulates aren’t good about answering the phone, but they generally respond to emails.
If you’re traveling a long way to go to the Consulate, it’s worth it to check in advance to make sure you have the documents you need in order to prove economic solvency and meet the financial requirements for temporary residency in Mexico.
How do I get a temporary resident visa for Mexico?
Before I explain how to get a temporary resident visa for Mexico, I want to make it clear that I’m NOT an immigration lawyer.
This post and the information in it is based on my experience at the Mexican Consulate in Detroit and the Instituto Nacional de Migración in Querétaro. I’ve also drawn on the experiences of people who have undergone the immigration process using the Mexico Residency Roadmap and reported back to me
The first part of the temporary residency process is applying for a Mexico temporary resident visa. Applying for the temporary resident visa must be done at a Mexican Consulate (which is OUTSIDE of Mexico).
There are some exceptions, including being married to a Mexican citizen or having close family ties to a Mexican citizen, but most people will need to leave Mexico in order to apply for temporary residency.
How to Make an Appointment at a Mexican Consulate
For most foreign nationals, the process of applying for temporary residency in Mexico will start in their home country. Often, one of the consulate requirements is that the applicants bank statements are in the same currency as the country where the consulate is located.
For example, if you are applying for a Mexican temporary resident visa at a Mexican consulate located in the United States, the consulate will likely ask that your bank statements show financial holdings in United States dollars.
As soon as you know you meet the financial requirements to apply for the temporary residency visa, I recommend making an appointment.
There are two ways to make an appointment at a Mexican consulate.
Some consulates only accept appointment booked through this official website. This is how I booked my appointment at the Mexican consulate in Detroit.
You can’t book too far in advance, but you also don’t want to wait until the last minute to grab an appointment slot because there aren’t many available.
- Create a login
- Select a time slot
- Receive a confirmation email with a PDF attachment
- Print the confirmation PDF
- Take the confirmation to your visa appointment
The other way to book an appointment is to email the Mexican consulate directly. This is how you book an appointment at the Las Vegas and McAllen consulates (just to name two).
Not sure where to book your visa appointment?
Just Google the name of your state plus “Mexico Consulate.” In the search results, you’ll see which consulate is closest to you.
What to Bring to Your Temporary Resident Visa Appointment
You will need to bring the following to your visa appointment:
- Appointment confirmation
- Visa application form
- Passport-sized photograph
- Passport (original & photocopy)
- Payment method for visa fee ($51 US)
- I paid with a credit card.
- Proof of economic solvency (see the above section for details)
What to Expect from Your Temporary Resident Visa Interview
I had my temporary resident visa interview at the Mexico Consulate in Detroit, Mich. Well, actually, the Consulate is in Madison Heights which is a 20-minute drive from Downtown Detroit.
For the complete story of how my interview went, check out this YouTube video.
One thing I forgot to mention in this video is that, when I first sat down with the official, she asked me if I spoke Spanish. I answered yes, and from then on, the rest of the interview was conducted in Spanish.
Don’t let that freak you out. I’m sure if I’d said no she would have done the interview in English.
But, just a word of warning: If you say you can speak Spanish, you better be ready to prove it.
How much does the Mexico temporary resident visa cost?
As of February 2023, the Mexico temporary resident visa costs $51 US.
You pay directly at the Mexican consulate where you have your visa interview. You can pay with cash or credit card.
How long is your temporary resident visa for Mexico valid?
Once you’re approved for the temporary resident visa, you have six months to use it. The visa in your passport is good for one entry into Mexico.
When you travel to Mexico, you will fill out an FMM (forma migratoria múltiple) just as you would if you were traveling to Mexico as a tourist. As of 2023, this FMM is now digital. You will fill it out online and download it to bring to INM with you.
Instead of writing 180 days in your passport, the immigration official will write 30 days & “CANJE.”
From the day you arrive in Mexico, you have 30 days to go to INM (Instituto Nacional de Migración) to apply for your temporary resident permit card.
Mexico Temporary Resident Visa Processing Time
If you meet the requirements for the Mexico temporary visa, standard procedure is for the consulate official to adhere the visa to a page of your passport the same day as your appointment.
Some consulates might require additional visa processing time (for example, the Chicago consulate has told applicants 10 business days during busy times). If you’re traveling for your visa appointments, it’s a good idea to ask the consulate via email how long you should expect for the Mexico temporary resident visa processing time.
How to Apply for Your Mexico Temporary Resident Card at INM
Some foreigners make the mistake of hiring a lawyer to help them get their temporary residence permit in Mexico.
A regular lawyer is never a good option since they aren’t up to date with the daily happening at the local immigration office (INM). Processes and requirements change frequently and with little notice, so it’s important that if you decide to hire someone they are familiar with the staff & workings of the local INM.
An immigration lawyer is only necessary if you have a complex immigration situation.
If you don’t speak Spanish or you just prefer to have someone walk you through the process, consider hiring an immigration advisor. In Querétaro, Mexico City & La Paz, I recommend Ivonne Pavaan of Host Relocation.
- Ivonne speaks English & has 15+ years of immigration experience.
- Use the code “Alex5” for a special reader discount
- The best way to get in touch with Ivonne is reaching out to her via WhatsApp. Her number is +52 442 365 9402.
Of course, it is possible to get temporary residency in Mexico on your own. I’m proof.
Just know that all the forms are in Spanish and the immigration officers likely only speak Spanish.
What You Need to Apply for Your Temporary Residence Card in Mexico
The process of finalizing your temporary residency in Mexico is called “Expedición de documento migratorio por canje.” You can find the *mostly complete* list of necessary documents online.
Necessary Documents for Temporary Residency
- You fill this out online & print it.
- It’s a document stating why you want to enter the INM building & registering you in the system.
- Passport & color copy of photo/signature page
- Any documents you sign for INM must match the signature in your passport.
- Visa (in your passport) & color copy
- FMM & color copy
- As of 2023, Mexican immigration has largely discontinued the use of paper FMMs. You know need to download the digital FMM to fill out and print.
- Formato básico (basic application form) filled this out using a black pen.
- Proof of address in Mexico
- This can be an internet, water or electricity bill.
- Your name doesn’t need to be on it, but the address must match the state where the immigration office is located.
- Payment method
- Instead of doing a Page de Derecho at a Mexican bank ahead of time, you can now pay directly at INM with a credit card.
- Visa and Mastercard are accepted.
- As of Feb. 2023, the temporary resident permit card costs $5,108 MXN (approx. $218 US) for one year.
- Three photographs “tipo infantil”Size 2.5×3 cm**
- Two photos looking straight at the camera
- One photo of your right-side profile
- White background
- Forehead exposed
- No glasses
- No earrings
- Hair tucked behind your ears
**Depending on which INM office you go to in Mexico, you may or may not need photographs “tipo infantil.”
In this YouTube video, I go over all the documents you need to bring to INM & walk you through filling them out.
What to Expect When You Go to Instituto Nacional de Migracion in Mexico
There are INM (immigration offices) all over Mexico. If you’re not sure where to go, just Google the name of your city & “INM” to find the one that is closest to you.
You will need to present “proof of address” for the state where the INM office is located. This doesn’t need to have your name on it, but it must be either an electricity, internet or other utility bill with an address in the state where the INM office is located.
In March 2023, INM suspended its online system for booking appointments. Now, at busy offices like Querétaro, you must lineup in person during your first 30 days in Mexico.
Since INM only sees a set amount of people each day, people in Querétaro line up at 11 p.m. the night before to get in. In Mexico City, they also line up but are given a ticket to come back the next day.
The exact process varies from INM to INM so I recommend asking in the local expat or foreigner Facebook group to find out how a local immigration office is operating.
When you enter the building, an immigration officer will instruct you to wait for your name to be called. When it is, you’ll approach the window and submit your documents.
You can’t use your cell phone or laptop in the waiting room so bring a book to pass the time. You could be waiting all day, so bring a snack.
Mexico Temporary Resident Card Processing Time
The processing time for the Mexico temporary resident card is less predictable than the Mexico temporary resident visa processing time.
In 2020, I submitted my documents to INM in Querétaro in August and didn’t receive my resident card until December.
My situation was an outlier, but the time of year you go to INM could affect the processing time. If possible, I recommend trying to avoid the two busiest months of the year: August and December.
At most INM locations, the typical processing time is either the same day or you will be asked to submit your documents and come back a few days later to do you fingerprint and get your residency card.
If you, for some reason, INM doesn’t give you your card the same day and you need to leave Mexico while your temporary residency is pending, you will have to apply for an exit permit. Check out this post by Hippe in Heels to learn more about that process for getting this special exit and re-entry permit.
After four years of temporary residency, you automatically become eligible for permanent residency regardless of whether or not you meet the financial requirements.
More Posts About Moving to Mexico
- Where to Retire in Mexico (The Ultimate List)
- How Much Does It Cost to Live in Mexico?
- An Expat’s Guide for Living in Querétaro
- Ultimate Moving Abroad Checklist
Final Thought on Temporary Residency in Mexico
I won’t lie to you:
Headaches, stress and even the occasional tear of frustration are extremely common when you are applying for residency in Mexico.
That is especially true if you are trying to navigate the process on your own.
Here’s what my subscribers have told me keeps them up at night about the residency process in Mexico:
- My biggest concerns are not speaking and reading Spanish.
- I get stressed at the thought of showing up to an appointment & not having the right documents.
- There’s so much information online & I have no idea where to start…
If you’re planning on applying for residency in Mexico & share those (very reasonable) concerns, then you need a guide that streamlines the residency process and walks you through the most important forms in easy-to-understand language (simple English, not weird & too literal Google Translate).
An easy-to-follow 10-point checklist with in-depth descriptions of each task so you never have to wonder “what do I do next?” while navigating the temporary or permanent residency process in Mexico.
Plus, there’s a translated version of the infamous formato básico that you won’t find anywhere else.
As an added bonus, you’ll get:
- Answers to the FAQs about residency in Mexico
- The handy Residency Phrasebook (tells you exactly what to say in Spanish & who to say it to)
- An audio file to listen along and practice the must-know Spanish from the Residency Phrasebook
See what people are saying about the Mexico Residency Roadmap:
You can get access to the translated forms, checklist, detailed task breakdowns, answers to FAQs, Residency Phrasebook & accompanying audio file for just $47 USD.
Not only is that a fraction of what you’d pay for an immigration lawyer, but you can’t put a price on the satisfaction you’ll feel when you successfully navigate the residency process on your own.
Does the Mexico Residency Roadmap sound like exactly what you need? Slap the blue button below!
Still not sure if it’s right for you? Click here to learn more about the Mexico Residency Roadmap.