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Which Mexican Visa is Right for You

FMM – Tourist Visa

_ New Immigration Law

In May 2010, the Immigration rules changed and instead of an FMT, you now need an FMM, which is your Tourist Visa. This is a simple piece of paper you fill out and keep while you're in Mexico (whether you are flying or driving into Mexico). (Note! You will be asked to surrender your FMM tourist visa when you leave the country – do not throw it away). There is a small cost and it is good for up to six months. Often they will stamp it for a lesser period of time, especially if you are flying - to coincide with your departure date. However, coming into the Guadalajara airport in Jalisco, or when you drive through the Mexican border crossing, you can ask for it to be for the full 180 days. You cannot have more than one 180 day FMM per calendar year. You never may want to stay here longer than you thought. It has happened many times during our programs!

The FM3 and FM2 are the most common Visas for people who live in Mexico, part or full time and there are different benefits attached to each, depending on your own situation. 


FM3 (Visitante Rentista Visa)

The FM3 is designed for someone who wants to live in Mexico at least part time. You must make a formal application for this visa and, once approved, you will receive a little green visa book similar to your passport book. It is much easier to apply for within Mexico (see Different Rules for North of the Border), and you can do so while being here on your tourist visa. There are qualifications and income requirements, and you will learn all about these during your “8-Day Focus on Mexico Program.” 

Although you can obtain your FM3 or FM2 visas by yourself, if you don’t know the language or don’t have the patience, it may well be worth the cost to hire an expediter to process the documentation for you, especially the first time. During our Focus Program, you'll meet all our Experts and have recommended contacts for everything you need regarding moving to or living in Mexico (Lake Chapala in particular).


FM2 (Immigrante Rentista)

The FM2 is designed for those who intend to reside permanently in Mexico. Again, you must make a formal application for this visa and, once approved, you will receive a little grey visa book similar to your passport book. The criteria, qualifications, income requirements and restrictions are more strenuous to obtain an FM2 and again, you will receive all the details during your “8-Day Focus on Mexico Program.” After five years of having your FM2, you may become eligible to apply for Inmigrado status. As an Inmigrado, you may no longer drive your foreign-plated vehicle in Mexico. On the upside, however, there are numerous benefits to having Inmigrado status, all of which you will learn on a Focus program.

NOTE: Another change that came into effect May 1st, 2010 is they no longer issue Visa Books (that look like passports). Now they issue laminated cards. It is not necessary to rush out and change your current book for a new card, however, they will automatically be issued on applying for a renewal or for a first time visa.

Although the changes were intended to make getting your visa easier, the new rules are still being circulated so there is still miss-information out there. There is also additional confusion as the Mexican Consuls north of the border have the discretion of not only interpreting the rules, but also creating additional or different requirements. For instance in Canada and in the U.S., often you will be asked to provide a police clearance certificate and a certificate of good health and possibly a higher amount to demonstrate your monthly income requirement. They may also tell you that you cannot work in Mexico and must be 55 to live here. The different rules and miss-information are just two of the reasons why taking a Focus on Mexico program makes a lot of sense. You get factual, up to date information from all our Experts plus we make it easy as pie to give you a smooth transition into your new life in Mexico.


There are different ways to go about the business of getting a visa. The most recommended way, and one which Focus on Mexico endorses, is to get a tourist visa (FMM) and then go through the process of getting your FM2 or FM3 in country with the help of an expert who knows the ins and outs of the whole immigration process. We sincerely believe that what money you spend will be worth the time and hassle you’ll save.

You will also need to know what documents you need to get an apostille for. For any legal action in Mexico (including getting a visa), you must have a certified or notarized document. The most common documents are birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates and divorce decrees. Using a professional, experienced apostille service will save you much time, headaches and red tape. It will relieve any concerns you might have about your international move.

Note: In Canada, Apostilles are not available. It is necessary to first go to the Mexican consul and have your documents legalized. They will advise you which Canadian government agency you must also go to, as in Canada it is a two-step process.


Capital Gains Exempt

During a Focus on Mexico Program, our Immigration Specialist will discuss in detail the various different types, the requirements for each as well as the limitations and costs involved. You’ll find out which Visa will exempt you from having to pay Capital Gains if you buy and then sell a house in Mexico. There are also additional new rules that were introduced in 2010 regarding how often you can sell a home and still be exempt from capital gains and the size of the property is another variant that you will learn about during the Focus on Mexico 8-Day Educational program to Lake Chapala.

You will also discover how you can attach working papers to any form of Visa. Getting working papers and working in Mexico is possible but not in all fields. During our Focus program you will meet our Immigration Expert who can facilitate this process for you and answer any questions you have. It's easy when you know how. Our Focus Immigration Expert has been working with Focus and our clients for more than a decade and really knows the ins and outs of Immigration.

Participants in our Focus Programs tell us time and again that they could never have gathered all the ‘correct’ information nor had such a positive experience without attending our program.

 Pat & Dave Barker, Grimsby, Ontario
“For anyone considering living in Mexico (Lake Chapala) whether full or part time, the Focus on Mexico Program is an extremely worthwhile venture. We don’t know how long it would take an individual to put together all the information we were given, but we’re convinced it would take a great deal of time! All of the legal, cultural, medical and real estate information about Mexico one could ever need was presented to us by a team of highly skilled, experienced, practicing professionals.” 

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On your Journey of Discovery to retire in this land of enchantment, we cover topics that will be important to you…immigration, health options available in Mexico, legal and financial topics, and information that will guide you through the decision-making process of buying or renting a house, options for moving, bringing your pets, and a myriad of other details that we have collected during Focus on Mexico’s 15 years of experience guiding our participants through the Lake Chapala area.

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