As more and more people are looking to escape the culture wars, the topic of moving away from the United States has never been more relevant.
Perhaps it’s our contrarian inclination, or maybe it’s our appetite for greater personal freedom, but we would recommend looking past Canada.
For years, we’ve been talking about the many positives of living in Mexico, whether you are an American looking to relocate comfortably or an individual from any country looking to enjoy a vibrant culture and greater freedom.
The good news is that the process for becoming a resident or citizen of Mexico is relatively straightforward and allows you to obtain a second passport in as little as five years.
Mexico’s passport allows visa-free access to around 159 different countries, including all of Europe’s Schengen Area.
While the process is simple, we wouldn’t recommend going at it alone.
It can be a real headache dealing with all of the contradicting messages that are out there.
And that’s not to mention the overall inefficiencies in the different governmental institutions.
For example, you will often find that the quality of service varies greatly from one Mexican consulate or immigration office to another.
If you’re a high net-worth individual who values your time, you can work with us to put together a holistic financial plan tailored specifically to your needs.
Here’s what you need to know about traveling to, residing in, and becoming a citizen of Mexico.
The Most Common Ways to Enter Mexico as a Foreigner
A foreigner can enter Mexico in many different ways, depending on his or her circumstances and the reason for visiting.
The first option is to visit as a tourist. Citizens of the United States, most of Western Europe, and parts of Latin America can visit visa-free for up to 180 days.
Citizens from non-visa-free countries can obtain a visa for approximately $40.
For digital nomads or if you run a location-independent business or other online work, you can stay in Mexico for the allotted six months with the Temporary Residence Visa without needing any other procedures or permissions.
If you wish to work in Mexico for a Mexican corporation during the 180 days, you must apply for a different visa that allows you to engage in lucrative activities.
To obtain the “permission to work” visa, you must provide proof of a job offer and pay around $150 in fees. You can apply for permission to work after arriving in Mexico.
Less common visas include the adoption visa and the student visa.
For those seeking a way to move to Mexico more permanently, you will most likely need either a temporary or permanent resident visa.
In the past, you could apply for either visa while in Mexico as a tourist. Immigration reforms now dictate that you apply for your temporary or permanent resident visa at a Mexican Consulate outside of Mexico before traveling to the country. However, there are some exceptions, for example, under the Family Unit application.
Once you have provided the proper paperwork to the Mexican Consulate, you will be given a temporary visa that will be valid for one year.
Upon arrival in Mexico, you will have 30 calendar days to exchange the visa document in your passport for the official temporary or permanent residency visa card.
How To Qualify For The Temporary Resident Visa
Mexico’s temporary resident visa is designed for foreigners who plan to reside in the country for one year and up to 4 years.
It is important to note that having a temporary residence doesn’t automatically grant the visa holder permission to work in Mexico. Temporary residents must apply for the same “permission to work” as those wishing to work within the 180 days mentioned above.
There are various ways you can qualify for temporary residency.
Firstly, if you can demonstrate your financial stability and sufficient economic resources, in that case, you typically need to have at least $54,600 in your savings account or show a monthly income of $3,275 for the past six months.
If applying because of employment, you are required to earn a minimum monthly income equal to 300 days of the current general minimum wage in Mexico City, which amounts to approximately $3,275 after taxes, consistently for the past six months.
The financial requirements may differ based on the particular consulate. Your first residency is temporary and must be renewed after one and three years, meeting the same conditions.
If you are married to a Mexican citizen, you should apply for a two-year temporary resident card before applying for permanent residency or citizenship.
Temporary Residency Through A Real Estate Purchase
If you are interested in purchasing real estate in Mexico, you may be able to qualify for temporary residence automatically.
If you can prove that you have made an investment in real estate in Mexico of approximately $220,000 at the current exchange rate – you can obtain a temporary resident visa.
For that price, you can get a modern two-to-three-bedroom apartment in Mexico City or a luxury home with three to five bedrooms and a swimming pool in most other parts of the country, including the suburban zones of Mexico City in the state of Mexico.
Temporary Residency Through Investment
Your other option to obtain residence in Mexico is to have several different investments in the country, including real estate, stocks listed on the Mexican stock exchange, or a Mexican-owned business.
This equates to around $220,000 (at the current exchange rate, or 20,000 days of general minimum wage).
You must also provide sufficient documents to prove the development of the economic activity, such as invoices, receipts, contracts, business plans, permits etc.
In any of these cases, temporary residence is only granted for one year to begin, after which you can apply for renewal for an additional 1-3 years.
There is no “time on the ground” requirement to maintain your temporary residence card. You can exit and enter the country as often as you wish.
However, if you plan to apply for Mexican citizenship in the future, you should reside in Mexico for most of the year.
How To Qualify For The Permanent Resident Visa
Up until now, we’ve been talking about temporary residence. But what should you do if you want to relocate to Mexico for an indefinite period of time?
Then permanent residence would be the best choice.
It’s granted to individuals who intend to reside in Mexico long-term and who meet at least one of several qualifications.
One handy thing to keep in mind is that a permanent residence must not necessarily be preceded by a temporary residence.
In other words, if you qualify for permanent residence from the beginning of your time in Mexico, you don’t have to apply for a temporary visa first.
And when does one automatically qualify for permanent residence? There are four instances:
- If you are related to a permanent resident to the second level (i.e., grandparent, parent, daughter, son, or grandchildren)
- If you are pensioned or retired and are able to provide adequate monthly income through investments, savings, or pensions
- If you are seeking political asylum
- If you have a Mexican father or mother (if you are an unmarried minor)
- If you have given birth to or are the sibling of a Mexican citizen
You can apply under “Rentista” (Retirement), which requires that you either have close family ties in Mexico or can demonstrate your retirement status and consistent monthly income (or substantial assets) to sustain yourself.
Otherwise, you must first seek temporary residency and then apply for permanent residence after four consecutive years that you’d spend in the country.
And, if you are married to a Mexican citizen, that time period is reduced to 2 years.
How To Obtain Dual Citizenship In Mexico
How would you like to add a Mexican passport to your passport portfolio?
Luckily, Mexico is among the many nations that allow dual citizenship.
Once you have your permanent residency, it is relatively easy to obtain Mexican citizenship.
While there are options to become a Mexican citizen through birth abroad to Mexican parents, marriage, or having Mexican children, most foreigners will qualify for citizenship through naturalization.
Naturalization in Mexico requires five years of residency before the application date, which can include all years of residency, whether temporary or permanent.
Are you originally from a Latin American country or from the Iberian Peninsula? Then, you can become a citizen in as little as two years of legal residency.
And if you don’t want to wait to become a naturalized citizen, we offer a service that helps people claim their Mexican citizenship by descent.
Citizenship by Descent? With our (CBD) Eligibility Checker, you can discover if you can get your second passport with one simple form.
We help you confirm eligibility, collect documents (from your country and from Mexico), deal with the bureaucracy, and file for citizenship alongside our trusted lawyers and agents on the ground.
Just keep in mind that obtaining citizenship in Mexico is not the right answer for everyone – just like with any country.
But it is one of the best options for someone with, say, a manufacturing business that markets to US customers or someone who has a location-independent business that wants to get out of the US but still stay close to family.
If you are ready to get serious about going offshore and want to take a closer look at Mexico or any other country, apply here to become a client. The Nomad Capitalist team will work as the architects and general contractors, designing your financial and personal future.