Mexico is a wonderful place for Expats to move to. But, the idea of moving abroad can be overwhelming. Don’t worry – here is the complete guide for How to Move to Mexico. We’ll cover Mexico visas and residency, banking, accommodation, and language, plus much more besides.
- Relocating & How to Move to Mexico
- Mexico Visa and Residence Permits
- Short Term Visas (non-immigrant visa)
- Long-term Mexican visas and residence permits
- What if you stay longer?
- Moving your things
- Opening a bank account in Mexico
- Moving to Mexico from the USA
- Rent vs. Buy – Mexican Property options
- Do you need to learn Spanish?
- 7 Bonus tips – How to move to Mexico
- What’s your next step to move to Mexico?
Relocating & How to Move to Mexico
Relocating to a new country takes time and planning. You have to wrap up life in your home country while ensuring everything is in place in your new home. This guide will focus on making the nuts and bolts of the move as easy as possible.
For information on finding work, healthcare, or schooling, read our guide to Living in Mexico. And, we’ve also got the complete guide to Retiring in Mexico for those lucky enough to have the opportunity.
Mexico Visa and Residence Permits
When it comes to immigration permissions, how you move to Mexico will depend on why you want to move and how long you want to stay. The answers to those questions will decide the type of Mexico visa you need.
- A non-immigrant (No Inmigrante, FM3 visa) Mexico visa is for visitors staying less than four years with the intent of moving back home.
- An immigrant (Inmigrante, FM2 visa) Mexico visa is for stays longer than six months and those who plan to take up permanent residency.
Note about income requirements: Mexico is making the transition from Minimum Salary (MS) to Unit of Measurement and Updating (UMA) for calculating economic solvency. The switch is not yet complete, which means you’ll find some consulates using MS and others using UMA. The UMA figures are significantly lower than the MS figures, making qualifying easier for those on fixed incomes to move to Mexico.
Short Term Visas (non-immigrant visa)
Visitors Permit / Tourist Visa (Visitante‘)
If you’ve never been to the country and want to know if Mexico is right for you a short visit may be best. For this type of trip, you can enter on a tourist visa called the Mexico visitors’ permit. This permission is not a standard visa; it is a permit you receive when you arrive in the country.
The visitors’ permit allows you to stay for 180 days. This is plenty of time to find out if you’re ready to move to Mexico and if you want to pursue residency.
Temporary Resident Visa (Visa de Residente Temporal)
If you are staying longer than six months, you can apply for a Temporary Resident Visa at your local Mexican consulate before you travel. You may be able to apply when you are already in Mexico, but only in specific cases, including families and spouses of residents. In most cases, if you’re currently in the country as a visitor, you’ll need to return to your home country to apply.
This Mexico visa is a one-year residence card that you can renew for up to four years. After that, you need to apply for a permanent residency visa.
Once approved, you’ll get a sticker on your passport. You then have 30 days from when you arrive in Mexico to register with the local immigration office and obtain your physical residence card. A one-year temporary card costs $4,413 MXN (around $220 USD), and a permanent residence card costs $5,379 MXN (around $270 USD).
Ways to qualify for the Temporary Resident Visa:
- Show you’ve had an average monthly investment balance of USD$36,000 during the past twelve months.
- Prove a monthly tax-free income greater than USD$2,170 during the past six months.
- Be a scientific researcher in Mexican waters.
- Have an invitation from a public or private organization to participate in unpaid activity in Mexico.
- Applying for the Youth Mobility visa (see below.)
- Family Unity (your common-law partner or spouse is a temporary or permanent resident in Mexico.)
- Own property in Mexico of at least MXN$5,668,000 (roughly USD$280,000.)
- Have shares in a Mexican company of at least MXN$2,834,000 (roughly USD$142,000.)
Youth Mobility Visa
If you’re under 30 and thinking about moving to Mexico for less than a year, look into a Youth Mobility Mexico Visa. If you’re a citizen of Canada, France, Germany, South Korea, or New Zealand, you may be eligible for a Working and Holiday Visa. To qualify, you must be between 18 and 30 years old. This visa lets you live and work in Mexico for up to one year.
Note: you may need a letter of government support to undertake this type of visa.
If you are a citizen of Chile, Colombia, or Peru you may be eligible for the Pacific Alliance Working Holiday Visa in Mexico.
Mexico Investment Visa
Investors can obtain a temporary residence permit with an investment of MXN$2,464,400 (roughly USD$125,000). You can renew your temporary permit for up to four years and then apply for a permanent residence permit.
Long-term Mexican visas and residence permits
Permanent Residence visa (Visa de Residente Permanente)
This Mexico visa is for anyone who wants to become a Mexican citizen eventually or intends to become a permanent resident in Mexico. You will almost always need to apply for this in your home country and meet one of the following criteria:
- Have close family in Mexico.
- Show adequate income if you wish to retire in Mexico.
- Have lived 4 consecutive years under a temporary residence permit.
- Have lived 2 consecutive years under a temporary residence permit while married to a citizen.
- Obtain residency through asylum or humanitarian grounds.
Mexico Retirement visa
You can apply for a retirement visa (pensionada) you can prove your monthly income is at least USD$2,500. Or, you can show investment or bank accounts with an average monthly balance equivalent to USD$145,000 for twelve months.
Using the retirement Mexico visa means you are not allowed to engage in any paid employment. If you wish to start your own business or do something on the side you will probably need different immigration permission. If you don’t meet the income requirement for permanent residence, you can enter the country under a temporary visa for retirement. Have a read of our comprehensive guide to retiring to Mexico for more information
Mexico Family Visas
- If your spouse is a citizen or permanent resident of Mexico, you are probably eligible for residency. If your spouse is a citizen, you can apply for citizenship after living together in Mexico for two years. Please note that your status of spouse needs to be legally recognized in this country.
- If one of your grandparents is a Mexican citizen or permanent resident, you can live in Mexico. After four years of living in Mexico, you can apply for permanent residency.
- If your spouse has a Mexican grandparent or grandparent who is a permanent resident, you can live in Mexico. After four years of living in Mexico you can apply for permanent residency. Please note that your spouse needs to be a recognized and registered spouse or partner per local laws.
Mexico work permits
If you’ve secured a job before moving to Mexico, your new employer will apply for a work permit with the National Migration Institute. Once they complete their application, you can then apply for a work visa. You can also work with a permanent residence visa without having to apply for a separate work permit.
What if you stay longer?
We have a complete guide to Mexican Dual Citizenship and Passport by Naturalization with everything you need to know.
Moving your things
When moving your personal goods to Mexico, know that you have a unique one-time window to bring these items duty-free into the country. This is known as the Menaje de Casa, or household items exemption.
You’ll apply for this at your Mexican consulate after obtaining your visa and pay a USD$130 fee. You’ll also need to provide a detailed inventory list in Spanish.
If you’re entering under a temporary residence permit, it’s expected that everything you import will be exported back to your home when you leave.
Important: For Mexican customs to release your goods after you’ve arrived, you must have validated your residence permit first. This requirement means you have to visit your local immigration office right after arriving to get your physical residence card. If you do not have this, you’ll have to pay to store your goods until it is procured. This shouldn’t be too challenging if you’re flying in since your stuff will likely arrive after you.
Try to book a reputable moving company at least two months before moving to Mexico to ensure all your stuff gets there in time. See our Guide to picking the perfect International Removal company. We’ll help you find the right mover at the best price.
Opening a bank account in Mexico
In general, you can wait till you get to Mexico to open a local bank account. Be aware: most banking is still done in person in Mexico. So, you’ll have to physically go to a bank to open an account, even with large and popular banks.
That said, the process to open an account can be fairly straightforward compared with other countries. You’ll need some simple documents to begin the process, including:
- ID (like your passport)
- Proof of residency
- Proof of legal entry
Some of the biggest and most reputable banks in Mexico are BBVA Bancomer, Banorte, Citibanamex, and Banco Santander. These large banks offer good service for international clients.
Tip: Much of Mexico is still a largely cash-based culture. You won’t be able to use credit cards in many places, so it is worth carrying some cash at all times.
Please check out our International Money Transfer guide for the best ways to move money to Mexico.
Moving to Mexico from the USA
Moving to Mexico from the United States is significantly easier than moving further abroad. Because Mexico is so close to the U.S.A., many potential residents will visit the country as a tourist first.
The two countries share a 2,000-mile-long border, and most major airports offer direct flights to American air travel hubs. This allows you to explore the country and get a feel for the country before making any big decisions.
Around 1.5 million American citizens live full or part-time in Mexico, so you’re certain to find lots of Expats to help with your transition.
Americans are generally welcomed in Mexico. The Mexican Immigration Department is used for U.S. citizen applications and American documentation. However, we still advise using a quality Mexican Immigration lawyer to ensure you choose the correct residency option and successfully apply.
Rent vs. Buy – Mexican Property options
When you move to Mexico, we always suggest renting a property before you choose a place to live. Mexico is huge, and the climate, economy, and residents vary by region and by city. You’ll get to experience your chosen destination and decide if you enjoy the community. You can check out the real cost of living of your chosen part of the country. Check out our Living in Mexico guide for the best places to rent or buy property in Mexico.
You may be asked to pay the rent in cash, don’t worry, as this is not uncommon. Do insist on a receipt of payment, so there is no argument!
Do you need to learn Spanish?
Many places in Mexico have high levels of English. For example, in Mexico City or Puerto Vallarta, you could get by most of the time with just “Hola” in Expat areas.
However, you’ll generally miss out if you don’t decide to learn at least some Spanish. Small interactions with neighbors, shopkeepers, and such add a real richness to many Expat’s lives. And, in emergencies, you fare better if you can understand what is going on. It will help you with customs, any legal paperwork, find a job, and open a bank account.
And, doing a language course or exchange is common once you arrive in Mexico. The CEPE (Curso de español y cultura mexicana para extranjeros) offered by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) has a great reputation. They offer virtual courses online, or in-person lessons in many Mexican cities and towns. And, they target your specific level, so you get the most out of the class.
7 Bonus tips – How to move to Mexico
- Mexico doesn’t require you to have an international driver’s license or a Mexican license. As long as your license from your home country is current, you can use it to drive legally in Mexico.
- If you’re moving to Mexico from North America, most (if not all) of your electronics will still work. Now it’s just up to you if you want to move them to Mexico. If you travel from Europe, many will not, and you’re better off purchasing new items in Mexico.
- Please make use of our incredibly practical moving abroad checklist to help keep you organized.
- Be patient. If things don’t happen exactly the way (or speed) you are used to, getting frustrated won’t help.
- Don’t get caught out with bad exchange rates and hidden charges at Foreign Exchange stalls. Use our International Money Transfer guide to save.
- Make friends using Facebook groups and services like MeetUp. Both have many Expats groups who share information and friendships. Get started before you leave, so you have some links to your new home.
- The main Mexican emergency number is 911, so no change for US Expats. However, If you’re not from the US, you may want to update your phone contact with this critical number.
What’s your next step to move to Mexico?
Now you know how to move to Mexico. And, getting your paperwork sorted is the next essential step. We’ve hand-picked a brilliant Mexican Immigration Lawyer to make your life easy. They’ll help you to choose the best Mexican Visa and ensure your application is accepted.