How to apply for temporary residency in Mexico 2017

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If you’re like many people you go online to find information on how to do things. However, we found a lot of outdated information on how to apply for temporary residency in Mexico so I thought I would share our process of getting a Temporary Residency Card.

This is for those Americans who intend to live in Mexico (for non-lucrative purposes) and obtain a temporary residency card for the first time.

This is what we did:

First I emailed the Mexican Consulate in Seattle to see if there was anything we needed that wasn’t listed on their website. I finally got a response back. This is what they said.

It’s not necessary to Schedule an appointment, you can walk in from 8:30am to 11:00am from Monday to Friday in order to start the process of the Visa. These are the documents you need:

·         Valid Passport and 1 photocopy

·         Visa application form (you can download it from their website)

·         1 photo passport size

·         Proof of income from social security income (Last 6 months) if you’re retired (This didn’t apply to us since we are not retired)

·         Bank statements from checking or saving accounts (last 12 months)

·         Documentation of legal stay in the USA (if needed) (This was not needed by us)

·         Original Marriage Certificate and 1 photocopy

So, I collected all the documents as well as a small size and regular size passport photo as I couldn’t find what size we needed. Turns out they wanted the small size (3.2 cm x 2.6 cm). I made 3 copies of each thing just in case they needed more than what was mentioned.

Turns out they didn’t need more copies than what was mentioned but you never know.

So we went to the Mexican Consulate (go early as they close at 1pm and it can take several hours) and told the person at the desk what we wanted and showed her all our paperwork. She asked us a few questions about what we wanted to accomplish. She then took our passport photos, attaching them to our application, and other documents and asked us to wait.

Finally after almost 2 hours of waiting we were called and told that we would have our photo and fingerprints taken which they did. She took our passports and we were told to wait again.

Finally we got our passports back which had our  temporary visa photo they took of us in it. It was stamped and put inside our passport. We were told we would have 30 days to apply at the Immigration office in Mexico for a Temporary Resident Card similar to the characteristics as the Visa given at the Consulate.

The woman at the Mexican Consulate said to bring all the same paperwork with us to the Immigration office when we went as you never know what they might need. The Mexican Consulate kept our bank statements so I printed out more copies to bring with us.

When we crossed over the Mexican border, we went to the immigration office (as we usually do at the border) and they took our passports and filled out immigration forms which we signed. They told us we would have 30 days to apply for our Temporary Resident Visas at the Immigration office in La Paz (closest one to Todos Santos where we were going).

A couple days later, we went to the Immigration office in La Paz. It was not crowded and we were able to talk with the person at the desk. He explained we needed to fill out a form online at and gave us all the steps to fill it out. He said we needed 3 copies and to also get 3 small passport photos (chico) which we could get down the street at a specialized photography studio. Also he gave us a form to bring to the bank to pay a fee and get a receipt. It came to 3715 pesos each.

We went to Office Depot to get on the computer and fill out the form and print it out.

To fill out the application, follow the steps below. Go to:

• Condiciones y estancia en Mexico

• Expedición de documento migratorio por canje

• Formato para solicitar trámite migratorio de estancia, llenado de manera electrónica a través de la página de internet con firma autógrafa del promovente

On this page called Tipo de Tramite

Que desea hacer?*:
• Canjear o reponer documento migratorio

• Canje de FMM por Tarjeta de Visitante o de Residente

• Estados Unidos de America

Nacionalidad actual*:
• Estadounidense (this means American in Spanish)

I didn’t put in all the answers as you will have to fill that out yourself but it’s things like your name, sex, date from your passport, passport expiration date, what state you live in, etc. It helps to know spanish or use the Google Translate to help fill it out.

Then we went and got the passport photos and to the bank to pay the fee.

The front photo must be the chico size and in color with a white background. No wearing glasses or earrings in the photo and hair must be pulled back, behind the ears. No smiling allowed. Also a side view is taken. Polaroid or cellular phone pictures will not be accepted. We got our photos taken at the place the immigration officer recommended. I forget how much they cost but not that much.

We went back to the Immigration office to give them the receipt, the application forms and photos. We signed some papers and were told to wait for an email. I also will note they didn’t need 3 copies of anything, just the one but you never know.

Within a day or so an email arrived from that had a number (el número de pieza) and a password (contraseña) which was used when we got another email a day or so later that had a link. After I logged in there was a notice that said we were to go the immigration office again and bring with us a sketch and/or map location (photographs) of our Mexican address and it must contain street name, number, adjoining streets that are of our location. And current proof of address such as CFE (electric) or Telmex (telephone) bill. So I made a map of where we live using Google maps.

We went to the immigration office bringing our Map and CFE bill. These were taken from us (can’t remember if we signed more papers) and we were told we’d get another email and we’d have to come back to have our finger prints taken.

Sure enough, in a few days another email arrived. We went into the Immigration office and they took our finger prints, we signed some papers and they gave us a paper with our special number (Clave) on it which is used for other things such as getting a drivers license, etc. They said to come back in 7 to 10 days to get our Temporary Resident Cards.

Wow, who knew it would take this long! If you’re going through the same thing, this might be helpful to know what to expect. Although I understand different Consulates and Immigration Offices could have a different process. Best of luck!

19 thoughts on “How to apply for temporary residency in Mexico 2017

  • September 11, 2018 at 1:40 pm

    Hola Lindy 🙂 Hope you are doing well! We connected last year together, as I was asking guidances to fill the form to get my temporary residency – thank you again for your help.

    I’m about to renew my temporary residency for the next 3 years. I would like to ask you about the online application form. Do you remeber when you went back online to fill it? If so, can you guide me which categories and sub categories I must choose? I remember to go first at his website:
    than choosing Migracion, visa y passeporte
    than condicions y estancia en Mexico
    and than for renew…I don’t know?
    Can you help please.
    Thank you.

  • July 9, 2018 at 11:31 am

    Hi Lindy,

    First I have to say – THANK YOU!!! you are amazing and your article is literally a walkthrough of what you need to do in order to get a temporary residency in Mexico.
    Without that – I would be lost or it would have take me a lot longer with much more exploring.. thanks again 🙂

    Here are a few extra points I’ve learned on my journey:
    – I live in Cozumel. Following this post I’ve decided to fly back to the US, to a city where the Mexican consulate there doesn’t require an appointment… I had an option to go to Miami but they have appointments so I flew to Austin, Texas instead where I stayed with a friend. I planned my trip for 5 days which was pretty much what I needed.
    – I flew in to Austin on a Thursday and went to the consulate on Friday. I printed out the last 12 months bank statements, regular passport size photos taken at a local Walgreens, a copy of my US passport, my US passport itself and the required visa application form filled out, printed from the consulate website.
    – I got to the consulate on Friday, I had to go to window #1 where they accept all visa requests, no number or long line, I simply sat there until I was called. The guy there “Enrique” super cool guy, told me that I could have probably gone for the permanent residency application, which looking back I should have done.
    For the permanent residency you’ll need to have a little more than $75K in your bank statements. If you do you’re going to get the permanent residency no questions asked. The reason to have a permanent instead of a temporary is because you don’t have to renew it every year and go through a similar process… much better.
    When I filed my information, Enrique set up an appointment for the fingerprinting and that was for Tuesday the following week, I had to postpone my flight back in one day 🙂
    – I came in Tuesday, I was immediately called by window #11, I just had to let them know I was there for the appointment. They took my fingerprints, my photo and asked a couple of questions. They gave me a paper to go to the cashier and pay the $36. Be advised – they only accept cash! I had to drive out to Wells Fargo nearby to get cash… I paid, then returned to window #11 to get my passport back with the temp residency sticker in it.
    – Next day I flew back to Cozumel. One thing to mention – the person in the Austin consulate told me to fill out a different form than the FMM when I enter Mexico, that’s because in the past people were sent back for not having the right form. This is incorrect! you do need to fill out the FMM because you need to convert it to the temp residency later. However – show the border officer the sticker in the passport and in the FMM fill in “Other” for the purpose of your visit (not “tourism”), make sure he fills out all the other info on the little stub you keep with you from the FMM.
    – They have an immigration office on the island of Cozumel which is really nice. I got there the next day and they had a loooong list of papers needed. Here’s the list:
    — Filled out online document that Lindy suggested here above (make sure your street address is exactly as it says on the copy of the water or power bill). They needed one printed copy of it.
    — A few other forms to fill and sign.
    — One photocopy of: my passport, temp residency sticker in the passport, FMM, water or power bill from the last 30 days, my local rental agreement – if it’s in English have it translated to Spanish. Here’s a cool tip about translation, if you can get your documents in a PDF format (or exported as PDF), go to this URL:, This is a free service that translates PDFs and saves them in exactly the same format only in Spanish! This is a very cool, free solution. You can donate something to them if you want, but it’s not mandatory.
    — 3 months bank statements like I gave the consulate in Austin, TX, as well as the same statements translated to Spanish. Again I used the online service and got it done within 2 mins.. looks amazing, as if it was originally done in Spanish 🙂
    — If you have someone in the form you filled online helping you, get their document photo and make sure the IFE number is the correct one when you fill it out.
    — Pay the immigration fee (around 3900+ pesos) in any local bank and bring in the pay stub and two copies of it.
    — Fill in ALL the information in a blue pen! very important, not black, red or green.

    The immigration office is open until 1, there’s no line there at all so just show up anytime, sign up in the book and wait your turn, there could be one or two people in front of you.

    The lady in the front desk is super nice and speaks good English, she checks it all very thoroughly and if everything checks out, you get your copies and you can leave.
    An hour later or so I got an email with the username and password to log in and check my application status online.

    That’s it! Easy as pie… just make sure you have your last 3 months statements with the necessary amount in your bank account. You can literally borrow the money, place it in your account for 3 months or so, print the statements and get your card. Then you can return the money to whom you borrowed it from.

    This is the fastest way to get residency in Mexico.

    Good luck.

    • July 13, 2018 at 11:37 am

      Hi Eli,
      Wow, thanks for all your information on your experience getting your visa. I am sure this will help other people a lot.

      The translation url is great. Thanks for mentioning it!

      I might mention…when you go to renew your temporary resident visa next year, ask for a three year renewal so you don’t have to go back each year (the temporary resident visa is for 4 years).

      We made the mistake of letting the people at the immigration office decide which one to give us for the renewal and they gave us another 1 year. So you can ask for which one you prefer.

      all the best,

  • May 22, 2018 at 12:21 pm

    Hi Lindy

    This was a really great guide. I relied on it a lot when applying for my temporary residents card in Mexico City. Thanks so much for taking the time to write it.

    To help people doing this in Mexico City, here is my advice for here:

    – Follow the same process for completing the online forms as described by Lindy. If you are not great at Spanish, use Google Chrome (it will translate the pages for you). Take care to complete the forms accurately otherwise they get rejected – mine got rejected first time because I didn’t include all the names in my passport on the forms.

    – In Mexico City it will take two trips to the Office to get your card. Allow half a day per trip.

    – The office I used is: Avenida Homero 1832, Polanco, Los Morales Polanco, 11510 Ciudad de México, CDMX. Please note that you need your passport and another form of ID. You leave this additional ID at reception in order to get the pass to allow you into the building.

    – It opens at 0900hrs. Try to arrive at 0830hrs – they will let you into the waiting area (this is on Floor 1). Take a number from the person sitting at the desk on right (if they are not there, wait around the desk for them to come). Then sit in the seats on the left.

    – You will need: The forms you completed online (there will be two, the form for applying for the card and the ‘basic’ information form – have three copies), two photocopies of your passport name page, two photocopies of your visa page, two photocopies of your landing card (the immigration card you got on arrival) and the original, and a set of small photos of the front and right of your face. Get the photos done at a Mexican photo shop – don’t do what I did and try to trim down European photos, they won’t be accepted. There is a photo shop on the ground floor of the mall opposite the Immigration Office. They cost about $12 USD. You’ll need four front, four right side. The guys at the photo-shop know the drill. I am not sure what time the mall opens, so maybe get these the day before.

    – When your number is called, go to the counter and hand them the papers. They don’t ask you any immigration-type questions. You will be given a bank payment slip which you now need to take to any bank and pay the bill (I think its about 3,500 MXN Pesos). There is a bank next to the entrance of the mall opposite the office on the right side. You will need your receipt for paying the bill plus two photocopies of that receipt (don’t forget this!) – you can ask the bank to make the copies or find a store that will do it for you, like an Office Depot).

    – Now go back to the Immigration Office and repeat the above process. You will now be in for a bit of a wait as the line in front of you will have got bigger. You will need a new number from the clerk.

    – Once you get called up – give them the receipt for payment. They will ask you to sign some forms, and take your email address. You’ll get a document to confirm you have handed them in and then you can leave.

    – In about 2-3 days you will get an email with a log-in code and website address. Every few days check this site to see if there has been an update for your case. It isn’t clear on the site when there has been an update – you are looking for an upload of a PDF document on the site.

    – When you have the PDF document, look for the final paragraph. Hopefully that will tell you that your application has been accepted.

    – Print out this letter, and with your passport and the remainder of your photographs, go back to the Immigration Office.

    – Follow the same rules as above except this time you will be given a different colour ticket and you should sit on the right. Go to the window when called, they will take your letter and find your file. You will probably need to sit back down while this happens. You will then get called by your name to give your finger prints and asked to sign some more documents and copy out a written declaration from a piece of paper pinned to the wall.

    – You then wait about 15 minutes while they prepare your card. You collect the card when your name is called from the third window from the right.

    – That’s it. All done. It was a much more straightforward process than I feared it might be. And with pretty poor Spanish I managed it with ease. Some staff there speak English fluently. They can help if you get really stuck.

    Good luck!

    • May 22, 2018 at 10:56 pm

      Thank you Jonathan! It’s great to have the info on how you were able to get your card in Mexico City. I hope people find it helpful! 🙂

  • March 27, 2018 at 6:45 pm

    I already have a passport Do I still need to take more pics? I will be retiring but .. need to just ask questions. like income. qualications etc Do I need an appt. to ask guestions.

    • March 28, 2018 at 11:15 pm

      Hi Faye,
      We didn’t need an appt. when we went to the Mexican Consulate in Seattle. You can usually email them with questions too. Look for your nearest Mexican Consulate office with a google search and sometimes there will be an email address.

      They took photos of us when we were in the MX Consulate in Seattle when we first applied which they used on our temporary visas. Then when we got to MX, we had to have photos taken again. They are not the normal U.S. passport size, they are smaller. The photography studio that we went to in La Paz, knew what size we needed. They took our photo which we got in about 15 minutes time. You can find the income qualifications online with a Google search. Best of luck to you.

  • March 24, 2018 at 12:17 pm

    Thanks for sharing your info. ? While you were wait for this process to end Did you find a apt while you were waiting. Guessing you needed to have an apt to hive them your address? How can I find out what the retiree income is or how much money do you need in your savings account ? Again Thanks

  • December 22, 2017 at 10:54 am

    Hola Lindy 🙂 Thnak you so much for your step-by-step process to get the temp. residency card.
    I follow your instruction and we finally get ours last October – hip hip hourray!

    Quick question about helath insurance: I’m try to get familiar with IMSS and Seguro Popular (health insurance/program in MX). Very difficult to get clear information about the difference between these 2 programs, the costs and how to register. What is your experience about it? Do you have a mexican health insurance – which one?


    • December 23, 2017 at 8:34 pm

      Hola Christine,
      Thanks for stopping by. Glad you were able to use the info in my post. I don’t have any info on Mexican Health Insurance though. All the best, Lindy

  • December 18, 2017 at 3:39 pm

    Hi Lindy,I

    Thanks for the great detail. I live in Seattle and in La Paz. As I can no longer access on-line without a resident the Bancomer account I use to pay electricity and phone in La Paz, I am contemplating starting the process. It looks like a consuming task. You say the Seattle Consulate closes at 1PM, but it says on line it is open till 5:30 PM. Or do they only offer interviews till 1 PM? And it is better to walk in than try to get an appointment?

    Thanks again for the detailed post.


    • December 18, 2017 at 7:32 pm

      Hi Ellen,
      I think the interviews are until 1 PM. But it might have changed by now as it’s been 6 mo. since we were there. I would just walk in and go in the a.m. That is what we did. Best of luck to you!
      ~ Lindy

  • November 2, 2017 at 1:10 pm

    Hi, I am an Indian, aged 62 years and at present in St. Louis, M.O., USA on Visitors’s Visa. I want to apply for Mexico temporary resident visa. Can anybody knowing full details in this regard, please guide me the step-by-step procedure.

  • September 27, 2017 at 11:52 pm

    Hi Mam ,,,
    My self ,Grace Albert
    I m Indian i want to migrant at Mexico, by professiona i m working as regestred staff nures wth reputated University and Hospital Himalyan Hospitsl .I want PR @Mexico plz guide me
    Thank u
    Email ,,,

  • September 27, 2017 at 1:04 pm

    I appreciate the details provided in this post. Really great attention to detail. I’ve already been pre-approved by a MX consulate in the USA. I will be going through the rest of the steps (crossing the MX border forward) of this process starting in October (next month).

    Thanks again Lindy, comforting to gain knowledge about what is upcoming.

  • September 22, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    Thanks I am going through this now. It’s much more intense than I imAgined. Your post listing the step by step process is e tremendously helpful. Thanks again.

  • August 13, 2017 at 12:41 am

    Hi! Reading this helped me a lot! I’m working on figuring out the details for me to get my temporary residency in México right now. So that is all the documents you needed? Everything I have read on the consulate says I need an invitation from a school or work.

    • September 9, 2017 at 11:48 pm

      Hi Macy,
      Yes, sounds like you will need an invitation from a school or work if you can’t prove you have sufficient funds/income to live there by showing your bank accounts for the past 12 mo.
      Thanks for stopping by.
      ~ Lindy


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