How to Get a Residente Temporal (the Old FM3 Retirement) Visa to Live in Mexico

The FM3 (or FM-3) Mexican Visa has been replaced by the Residente Temporal or Residente Permanente Visa

Live Better South of the BorderMexico changed many aspects of the immigration laws in 2013. In 2014, many taxation laws changed. The year ain't over yet. The changes are major. What used to be called an FM3 is now a Residente Temporal - No Inmigrante or Residente Permanente visa. At the moment, you MUST apply for your immigration visa at a consulate in the USA or Canada.

You will get a sticker in your passport, but the actual visa is issued in Mexico. Your temporary travel permit is good for only 30 days from the day you cross the border. You must appear at the IMN office wherever you are planning to move and apply for whichever visa you choose for living in Mexico. Therefore, I recommend you get your information directly from the Mexican consulate closest to you for the most accurate instructions at that moment.

There is another subset of this visa, the Residente Temporal con permiso para trabajo, which enables you to work in Mexico after you get a federal tax ID (RFC). Things will go much more smoothly if you hire a competent immigration attorney in Mexico before you even get started on the visa process to make sure you follow all the rules. If you become a working Residente Temporal visa-holder, you will be required to legalize your car in Mexico or take the car out of Mexico for good. At the moment this does not seem to apply to non-working immigrants.

Under no circumstances should you get a tourist permit (180 day FMM permit) if you have applied for, or already have, a validated Residente Temporal or Residente Permanente visa. If the one you had is expired, you have 55 days to get a new one. Something new is that you have to get a travel letter from INM before leaving Mexico. If you don't get that, you could lose your Residente status. This is onerous for drivers as it gives you a short number of days to get to the border, but I don't make the rules. While you can get this permit on your own, I think it is worth it to pay your previously mentioned immigration attorney to help you get it. Life used to be easier.

Thanks to Jose G., a thoughtful reader, I can report with certainty that the financial requirements for a visa are:

  • $2000 USD monthly income OR
  • $200K property OR
  • $100K in investments

Another reader (Dennis J) contributed this. He got his resident visa from the Tucson, AZ consulate. Other consulates may ask for more, like your address in Mexico, letter in Spanish stating you are retired and wish to live in Mexico. The key is to ask before you show up.

  • The cost for applying is $36 (per person if married) - That is just to start the process.
  • Proof of income for 6 months ($2,000 for a couple - which contradicts Jose G., but hey, the rules still seem to be flexible)
  • Valid passport
  • 1 passport photo
  • Marriage license and passport
  • If you own property, the income requirement is halved.

The total costs for actually getting a residente temporal visa for a couple is around $400-$500 if you use a broker or lawyer. It could be more or a little less.

I know people who applied in Canada, drove their household goods to the border and imported them under their exemption. When they arrived at their new home, they presented themselves to the authorities and their immigration permit was made official. Now this does not seem right, but that is what they told me. Verify that this will be the case for you if you apply before leaving the USA or Canada.

My general advice below is valuable in the sense that you should take your time before applying for a visa to live in Mexico. Yucalandia.com has continually and accurate information on the residency maze. Meanwhile, the info below is accurate for the general information.

Don't rush into getting a Mexican visa. You don't need a Residente Temporal visa to live in Mexico. You should live as a tourist in Mexico on tourist permits (FMM - Forma Migratoria Multiple - good for 180 days) before making a decision. I recommend you live in Mexico for a year before you decide if living in Mexico is right for you.

Then you can decide whether you want to go through the bureaucratic maze necessary to obtain a more permanent visa.

You will find several different products relating to living, working or driving in Mexico on my shopping cart, as well as a description of my consultation services to help you decide if, and where to live in Mexico.

In the 4th edition of Live Better South of the Border, I have step-by-step instructions on obtaining your FM3 Mexican visas They are definitely useless until the book is updated, but the book is valid for its overview, not its minutia. The book is unlikely to be updated.

Your pet will also need papers (although my dog snorted and said, I don't need no stinking papers; 90% of the time, you will not be asked for your pet's (dog or cat) Mexican immigration papers. It's only a pet certificate of health issued by a vet, but my god, er dog, thinks they are immigration papers. Other pets are difficult to bring to Mexico.

If you decide that living in Mexico is for you, you will want to look into the requirements for a Residente Temporal, No Inmigrante visa or a Residente Permanente visa.

You do not need a lawyer to get your retirement visa, but since things are now so complicated, I recommend you find a GOOD immigration lawyer. In many areas of the country, particularly Guadalajara, the Gobernacion officials speak English. If you are in the Guadalajara area, go to the Lake Chapala Society and you will find someone to help you if you need it. In San Miguel de Allende, you will always find a helpful soul.

If you want to consult with Mike, he will be happy to help you, But he gets so many calls from people that he has to charge for his time and knowledge. See Consultations page for details.