Everyone who intends to move to Mexico for a period longer than six months must have a Resident Visa and a Resident Card, depending on the duration and purpose of their stay. Foreigners who want to settle in Mexico permanently must have a Mexican Permanent Resident Card.
The Permanent Resident Card for Mexico is a popular option among retirees, which is why it is also often referred to as the Mexico Retirement Visa.
Benefits of the Mexico Permanent Resident Card
A Permanent Resident Card gives the holder similar rights to an actual Mexico citizen, excluding the right to vote. As such, with a Mexican Permanent Resident Card:
- You are allowed to work without having to get a work permit
- You may apply for free health insurance. Here you can find details about the Mexico healthcare system and health insurance for expats.
- You only have to apply once – since it is indefinite, there is no need to renew it every one to two years
- You can enter and leave Mexico as many times as you want
How to Become a Mexican resident?
You can become a Mexican resident if you fulfill one of the following conditions:
- You have close family relations in Mexico
- You have found a job in Mexico
- You intend to retire in Mexico
- You start studying in a Mexican educational institution
- You have amassed at least four years of temporary residence and now qualify for permanent residence
As a foreign citizen, you will receive temporary residence in Mexico (a Temporary Resident Card) if you find employment, want to join a family member who is also a temporary resident, or you start studying in Mexico. The Temporary Resident Card for Mexico is valid for one year initially, and can be renewed for a maximum of four years. After four years, you can apply for permanent residence (a Mexican Permanent Resident Card).
However, depending on your case, you may be eligible for permanent residence from the start.
Who is Eligible for the Mexican Permanent Resident Card?
You are eligible for a Mexico Permanent Resident Card if you fulfill one of the following requirements:
- You are retired and intend to live in Mexico permanently without employment/income from Mexico (Mexico Retirement Visa)
- You have close family relations in Mexico:
- You have a child who is a Mexican citizen or permanent resident
- You are a child or adolescent and you have a parent who is a Mexican citizen or permanent resident
- You are a child or adolescent and you have a step-parent who is a Mexican citizen or permanent resident
- You are the sibling of a Mexican citizen or permanent resident
- You have lived in Mexico for at least four years with a Temporary Resident Card
- You have lived in Mexico for at least two years with a Temporary Resident Card issued on the grounds of marriage to a Mexican citizen or permanent resident
What is the Duration of a Mexico Permanent Resident Card?
The Permanent Resident Card for Mexico does not have an expiry date – it is issued for an indefinite amount of time. As such, it does not have to be renewed every few years, like the Temporary Resident Card does.
How to apply for the Mexican Permanent Resident Card?
You have to apply for a Mexican Permanent Resident Card at the National Immigration Institute (Instituto Nacional de Migracion (INM)) upon arrival to Mexico. Prior to that, you have to apply for a Permanent Resident Visa at a Mexican embassy in your country, depending on your purpose of travel. The application process for a Permanent Resident Visa for Mexico is as follows:
- Contact a Mexico embassy to set up an appointment. You can find a list of Mexican embassies here.
- Complete the Mexico Visa Application Form. You can find the application form on the website of the Mexico embassy where you will apply or at the embassy itself.
- Collect the required documents. See the requirements for a Mexico Family Visa below.
- Submit the application and pay the visa fee. On the date of your appointment, you will give your biometrics and may also have to enter an interview.
- Wait for the visa to be processed
- Pick up your passport. If the application is approved, the visa will be affixed to your passport.
If your Permanent Resident Visa is approved, you may use it to enter the country, where you have to convert it into a Mexican Permanent Resident Card at the National Immigration Institute.
Converting the Permanent Resident Visa into a Mexican Permanent Resident Card
Within 30 days of arriving in Mexico, you must apply to convert your Permanent Resident Visa into a Mexican Permanent Resident Card. It is the Card which allows you to live in Mexico long-term, not the visa itself.
Changing a Temporary Residence Card into a Permanent Residence Card
If you are already living in Mexico on a Temporary Resident Card, when your current Card is about to expire, you have to apply at the INM to switch it into a Permanent Resident Card (provided you have lived in Mexico as a temporary resident for four years). You must apply at least 30 days before your current residence card expires.
Mexican Permanent Resident Visa processing time
The processing time for a Mexican Temporary Resident Visa changes from embassy to embassy, so you can expect to wait anywhere from one week to a month to receive a visa. As such, apply for the visa at least one month before you intend to travel.
Mexican Permanent Resident Card processing time
A Mexican Permanent Resident Visa takes about 10 – 15 working days to be processed, starting from the day you submit your completed documents at the National Immigration Institute.
Mexican Permanent Resident Visa/Card fees
The Mexican visa fee is about US$36, but it can change slightly depending on the country you are applying from. The required payment method also changes: some embassies may ask you to pay in cash, while others request a bank transfer.
Additionally, when you apply to get a Permanent Resident Card at the National Immigration Institute, you have to pay a fee for the Card as well (around 5,000 Mexican Pesos or US$250).
Requirements for the Mexican Permanent Resident Card
When you apply for Mexican Permanent Residence, you must have several documents which support your application, such as:
- Completed and signed Mexico Visa Application Form
- Your passport along with photocopies of the relevant pages (first and last page, any visas and stamps you have received)
- Passport-size picture with a white background and taken in the last six months.
- Visa fee payment
- Booked flight ticket. You do not have to actually pay for the ticket until your visa application is approved.
- Additional documents related to your purpose of travel, as detailed below:
Requirements for Mexico Retirement Visa
If you are applying for a Residence Permit on the grounds of retiring in Mexico, you must have the following documents:
- Cover Letter, addressed to the Mexico embassy, explaining the reason for requesting the visa and stating:
- Your full name, address, and passport number
- Information about your pension, such as where you receive it from and the amount
- Whether you have any investments
- Your address in Mexico and the address in your home country
- The date when you will travel and which port you will enter through
- Bank statements from the last six months, proving you have received a set monthly income (the amount may change from country to country, but it is around US$2,000-US$3,000)
- Proof of investments in the form of bank statements from the last twelve months (if applicable)
- If you have a dependent:
- You must have an additional 25% of your monthly income for them per month as well
- You must include proof of family relationship (birth certificates, marriage certificates etc)
Requirements for Mexico Permanent Resident Visa for Family Unity
If you are applying for a Mexican Permanent Residence on the grounds of family reunion, you must present the following documents:
- If you are the parent of a Mexican citizen/permanent resident: Your child’s birth certificate, stating your name (original and photocopy)
- If you are the child of a Mexican citizen/permanent resident: Your birth certificate (original and photocopy)
- If you are the sibling of a Mexican citizen/permanent resident: Both yours and your sibling’s birth certificates (original and photocopy)
- If you are the child of the spouse/common law partner of a Mexican citizen/permanent resident:
- Proof of your parents’ marriage/common-law union
- Your birth certificate
- If your family member has a Mexican Permanent Resident Card: Their valid Permanent Resident Card (original and photocopy)
- Proof your family member can support you during your stay:
- Bank statements or investment receipts (original and a photocopy)
- Proof your family member has an income through employment or investment
Keep in mind:
- All the official documents you submit (birth certificates, marriage certificates, etc) have to be legalized before via an Apostille or the Mexican embassy.
- All the documents you submit have to be in English or Spanish. If they are not, you must have them translated and submit both the original and the translation.
- This is not an exhaustive list of requirements. The Mexico embassy may request any additional documents as they see fit.
What Happens if you Lose/Damage your Mexican Resident Card?
If you lose or damage your Mexican Resident Card, you must visit the local immigration office and apply for a replacement. You must have the following documents with you:
- Your passport (original and a photocopy)
- Residence card replacement fee
- Three pictures, two showing you face-front and one from your left side profile
- If your resident card was damaged: Submit the Tourist Card (FMM) and your entrance Visa along with the residence card
- If your resident card was stolen/lost: Submit the the Tourist Card (FMM) and your entrance Visa
- Form to request immigration procedure stay (here)
- Any additional documents the immigration office may request
If you lose or damage your Mexican Resident Card while you are abroad, you must approach a Mexican embassy to request a replacement.
Mexican Permanent Residency to Mexican Citizenship
You may apply for Mexican citizenship after five years of residency in Mexico, regardless of whether you have lived as a temporary or a permanent resident. Mexico allows dual citizenship, so you do not even have to renounce your current citizenship to obtain it.
As a citizen, you would have full rights to vote and live without fear of being deported. The Mexican passport is also one of the strongest, allowing visa-free access to well over 100 countries.