If you plan to stay in
México for something more than 180 days up to the rest of your life,
you want an Residente
. It’s a
little harder to come by and costs more than a Visitante, but it is good
for four years – renewed each year with a small
amount of paperwork.
You will be issued a little plastic ID card.
Useful in opening a bank account, signing up for utility
does not expire thus never needs to be renewed. It gives one all the
privileges of citizenship except the right to vote or to hold political
office or to own property in the
Applying at a Consulate:
You MUST apply for your first Residente visa at a
Mexican consulate in your home country or in a country where you are a
legal resident. You cannot change from
Visitante to a Residente while in México. This rule
applies to first time applications for both Residente Temporal and
When you apply at a consulate, the actual card will not be issued at that time.
You will get the card from the INM office after you arrive in your new
home. After receiving your application and fee payment, the
consulate will attach a special form to your passport. With this
attachment, you will have 180 days to make your move to México.
Once you arrive in México, you will have only 30 days to go
to the INM office in your city to
complete the application for your
When you cross the border,
you will need to get an FMM. This will not be a
regular tourist visa, rather it is a special document for your
Be absolutely, positively sure that the agent writes or marks CANJE on
the FMM. That means you will be
exchanging your border paperwork for the final paperwork at INM.
present your documents at the INM office, they will want you to bring a filled
out application form and a Formato Básico. Instructions for these
two online forms are here. They will want
2 front and 1 right side
color pictures with no jewelry. They will also want proof of
address, usually a utility bill or letter from your landlord.
If you are applying for a
Residente Temporal, you will only be allowed to buy a one-year
permit. At the end of the first year at renewal, you will be
allowed to buy a multiyear card if you wish.
The Family Plan allows other
members of a family to receive a Residente card without having to
show financial means after the head of the family has met the financial
requirement for him/herself.
It works like this: The head of the
family secures a Residente card (Temporal or Permanente).
The rest of the family enters with Visitants. Then each
member fills out all the application paperwork, gets
photos, passport copies, etc. Take all this to the INM and apply
as a family. There will be more paperwork at the office.
You should bring your
marriage certificate. If you have minor children, you should bring
their birth certificates. These documents will need an
apostille. You will
need to make a separate online application and
Formato Básico for each dependent including
children. Again, be sure to save the file numbers.
There are a few special cases where one is allowed to change from
Visitante to Residente at an INM office in México. They are Vinculo
Familiar, refugees and changes from student visas
income requirement is a monthly income from outside México equal
to 300 times the basic minimum wage in México City. . For
2014 the min wage is $
pesos. (It goes up a little each
January.) So the min monthly income requirement for one person in 2014 is $20,187 pesos. See
the note below for the family plan.
300 x $67.29
The financial requirement can also be met
by submitting an original and copy of proof of investments
or bank accounts with average
monthly balance equivalent to
thousand days of general minimum wage during the
last twelve months.
requirement is a monthly income from outside México
equal to 500 times the basic minimum wage in México City. . For 2014 the min wage
pesos. (It goes up a little each January.) So the min monthly income requirement for
one person in 2014 is
See the note below for the family plan.
The financial requirement can also be met by submitting proof of
one of the following:
Original and copy of proof of investments
or bank accounts with average monthly equivalent to twenty-five thousand days
of general minimum wage during the last twelve
Original and copy of written proof from a
Notario confirming that you own real property,. or have trustee
rights, with a value equal to forty thousand days of the minimum wage.
There are other options that apply to
large-scale businesses or investments. These are beyond the scope
of this discussion.
Checking on the progress of your
application can done from this
The Pieza is your application ID number. The
INM office will give you the Contraseña
(password) and the NUT numbers when they accept your papers.
After you enter the Pieza and
Contraseña, click on
Buscar, and a new page will come up asking you to select the NUT --
probably only one choice. Then all the particulars of your
application will appear.
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your stuff to México
What can I bring?
Basically it's your household goods and personal effects. As stated in
Article 90 of the Mexican Customs Law, all items must be used personal
items and furniture of a house, such as clothes, books, furniture,
appliances, computers, entertainment electronics, musical instruments,
and artwork. The artwork must not constitute complete collections for
the installation of expositions or
an art gallery.
You may also include scientific instruments and tools that are needed
for your profession or hobby. The scientific instruments and tools
that you bring cannot form complete equipment for the installation of
laboratories, clinics or workshops.
Medical equipment such as a wheelchair, a blood pressure or sugar
monitor, oxygen generator, etc, are duty free. Most medicines in
reasonable quantities are allowed. The meds should be in the original
pharmacy packaging with the doctor's name. Schedule 2 and 3 drugs are
much more iffy, and you absolutely must have a doctor's prescription.
What can I not bring? Most important on that list are
guns and ammunition. México is very strict about these. A single
bullet will land you in jail.
You cannot bring fresh or frozen food, including cheese. Packaged and
canned goods are usually allowed. Fresh or dried plants and plant
material including spices and seeds are prohibited.
Now we can talk about
moving your household belongings to your new home in México. You have
two choices – use a moving company or do it in your own vehicle,
perhaps pulling a trailer. You cannot take a rental truck into México,
so you must use your own vehicle in order to do it yourself.
You will have to pay an
import duty on many of the items – furniture, dishes, appliances, etc.
Personal items and a few other things are duty-free.
Menaje de Casa
The government will
give you a one-time-only wavier of the import duties. A Menaje de
Casa allows you to move your used household belongings to México
without paying any import duties. (Note the word “used” defined as at
least six months old.)
You will get it from
the same person who fixed your Residente Temporal.. Rules for
preparing the Menaje sometimes vary among the consulates; so get
the instructions on your first visit.
The Menaje consists of
two parts – the list that you prepare and a cover letter from the
More about the list later.
While the Menaje
is a good deal, you might not want it if you are moving only a few
items. If the total value of your dutiable items is less than $3,000
dollars, a Menaje would not be cost effective. For amounts over
$3,000 and for a moving company, a Menaje is the way to go.
The value is the reasonable re-sale
value, not the new or replacement cost.
Taking your Menaje
stuff across the border yourself is not as easy as it sounds. You can
pull a trailer behind a pickup or van, so it is possible to bring quite
a bit of stuff. If you do, you'll have to engage the services of a
customs broker to walk the paper work through Mexican Customs. I’ve
talked to some people who have been through this, and their experiences
vary from a minor nuisance to a major hassle. I recommend this
do-it-yourself approach only to the stout-hearted. (If you use a
trailer, it will be listed on your vehicle permit. You'll need proof of
ownership. It does not have to have plates.)
Somewhere along the
planning for a move to México, one really should carefully address the
question of moving the household furnishings vs. having a giant
garage sale, move to México with personal items and a few treasures that
will fit in your vehicle, and buy all new for a new life in a new land.
What you save by not doing the big move + the yard sale could very well
furnish a house here.
How I did my move
I chose to bring a lot
of stuff because the move would be cheaper than replacing my stereo
recording system and my graphics-enhanced computer system – replacing
them in México would cost more than the moving cost. So I brought
everything that would fit in my new house and then some. If it were not
for those big ticket items, I think I would have come with no more than
would fit in my pickup.
For my move, I
selected United Van Lines because their agent seemed, more than the
others I interviewed, to know what she was talking about. A couple of
the agents were less informed than I was. You may find a different
‘best’ mover in your city. Talk to all you can find because the prices,
services and experience do vary.
In addition to movers
in your Yellow Pages, you might want to consider these two.
In addition to USA
based movers, there are several who are based in México that you may
wish to consider.
offers a door-to-door service moving your household from your home in
the USA or Canada to any place in México. .
offers a similar service. Their website has a free quote request form.
San Miguel Moving
offers door-to-door moving to or from México. Their website has an
online estimating form.
Preparing the Menaje
and getting ready for the movers is where the real nightmare begins.
It’s almost a catch 22. You must have your small belongings packed in
boxes, and the boxes must be numbered, labled and inventoried for the
Menaje. My living room was my box room You also have to keep on
living in your house while doing all this. Some things you can’t box
until the day of the move unless you want to move into a motel or with
family or friends. I solved this problem by packing those things for
the inventory and box numbering, and then unpacking them for continued
use until moving day. I also attached labels to each box listing
contents in both Spanish and English. This was a big help when it came
time to unpack 54 boxes.
All this inventory and
box numbering has to get turned into the Menaje de Casa, which,
sigh, must be in Spanish -- an original and several copies to be
submitted to the Consulate for approval and stamping. There is a fee of
around $130. At the top and the bottom of this page, there are links
to my Menaje with side-by-side English and Spanish to help you
translate. I had help offers from several of my Latino friends -- some
from México, some from other Latin American countries. I quickly
learned that even simple things are not always called by the same word
in various Latin countries. I came to rely only on the Mexicans. I had
trouble finding names for some less common items. I never did find the
word for 'wind chime' -- espanta espiritus, I learned after I
moved. On my Menaje I called it music by the wind - música de
Then there is the
matter of who packs the boxes. The moving company must prepare a
manifest which the Mexican Customs folks can use to compare with your
menaje. The moving company can’t (won’t?) list the contents of the
boxes you pack – their manifest will say “owner packed.” I was told
that this would increase the chances of the boxes being inspected. I
was completely honest in what I packed and listed, but I wanted to avoid
the time delay of a protracted inspection. I also was told that if an
inspection is triggered, the authorities would find something to charge
duty on to pay for their time. A thought that I find believable. So we
agreed that I could pack the boxes and leave them unsealed so the movers
could verify the contents and then seal the boxes. They charged me an
additional $160 to seal the boxes. $160 for 54 boxes = $3.00 per box.
But in the end, it all
went well. The head of the moving crew is from Gomez Palacio the town
next to Lerdo, where I was moving to. He was so surprised, and asked,
like so many others, Why? We had a nice chat.
Two copies of my
approved menaje were attached to the mover’s manifest, and my
stuff was loaded on the truck and taken away. The trailer part of the
truck was loaded on a train and taken to Laredo where it was attached to
a Mexican company’s rig and taken through customs and on to my new home
The move went off without a hitch, and my stuff arrived a couple of days
early and with only one minor cracked glass.
I discovered to my
chagrin that United (and others) will not accept a credit card for an
international move. Cash or check only.
I hope your move goes as
well as mine did.
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husband is a Mexican citizen
If you are married to a Mexican who is
employed in México, you can get a
Familiares without having to show an income
from outside México. Go to your local INM office to get
You will need your birth certificate with
an apostle and your marriage certificate. If you were married outside México, your certificate will need
an apostle and should be registered at city hall before
going to INM.
After living in México for two years with this visa,
you can apply for citizenship if you wish.
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Menaje de Casa
Living in México