New Immigration Laws for Mexico as of 1 May 2010

April 14, 2010

New Immigration Laws for Mexico as of 1 May 2010
This post is a reprint as noted below and repeated here as a service to the North American Community. I have no additional knowledge about the subject at this time, Sid

This information came from an article in and’s “How to move to Mexico”. More information will be added as it becomes available. This document is by no means definitive or comprehensive. It is presented as information only, and the final regulations will not be known until the Mexican government publishes its rules. There are a lot of questions and concerns about volunteerism. On this, LCS is waiting for more definitive information before we publish additional information.


Summary: Mexican consulates in the US and Canada will no longer issue FM3s. The FMT will be replaced by the FMM.

FM3s and FM2s will no longer be in booklet form like a US passport but will be plastic cards with imbedded data strips. The bar codes on these visa-like cards can be updated much easier with address changes, marital status changes, employment changes, and so on. There will be no more problems of having to wait for these kinds of updates to be put into print booklets.

The FMT will be replaced with an FMM that will have three options*: one is a regular tourist permit like the current FMT, and the other two options will be for business people who come to Mexico for up to 180 days to conduct business for their foreign-based corporations. It is not true that the new FMMs will allow tourists in general to work during their 180 day maximum stays in Mexico. The rules overall are going to remain the same but the intent of the changes is for the process to be simplified.

Mexican Consulate

*1) The regular tourist permit (Visitante con Actividades no Lucrativas);

* 2) Business (Visitante Persona de Negocios); or

*3) Business (Visitante con Actividades Lucrativas).

FMM will be the common tourist visa that is issued as you enter the country and which you must turn in as you exit the country.

The FMM is good for 180 days. It cannot be renewed. If you require more than 180 days, you will have to leave the country and re-enter with a new FMM good for another 180 days.

With an FMT (now FMM) you can come and go as often as you like, but each time you leave you give up your current FMT and come in on a new one.

An FMT is for one visit only. If you have brought in a car on a temporary vehicle importation permit on that FMT, you must take your car out with you when you leave, and you may not be able to bring in your car on your second 180-day FMT in a year.

Continuing on the benefits of an FM3 over an FMT, you cannot get a work permit or an INAPAM senior discount card without an FM3.

However, for those who do not have enough income to qualify for an FM3, the FMT is the only option.

The current minimum monthly income requirement being used by Immigration varies from state to state so you must check with your local Immigration office to see what your requirements are.


Do those who currently have FM3s or FM2s have to apply for the new cards that will replace the current booklets?

The answer is no, the replacement cards will be given at the time of their next regular renewal.

Should an expat who has an FM3 or FM2 fill out the forms to get an FMT (after May 1 to be the FMM) that are handed out on airplanes headed to Mexico to all passengers?

Answer: No, because doing so means you will have to two different visa categories, which is illegal and you are subject to a fine. You should show your existing visa to prove you don’t have to submit an FMT or FMM application.

Can I leave my car in Mexico and fly back and forth NOB on an FMM?

Answer: Even though many expats do so, you can’t come in on one FMM with your car, leave by plane with your car staying in Mexico, and come in on another FMM later. Your car is not magically transferred to your new FMM.

NOTE: There is a new immigration manual that goes into effect May 1, 2010 and Immigration has said the intent of the manual is to make the process simpler, including making it easier to work legally.

The goal is to make it simple enough that no one needs to hire a lawyer to help them get working papers; it should be a process you can do yourself.

  • kathy mackenzie

    I am confused about the car issue and the new FMM. If I brought my car in on a FMT on Nov 1, 2009 and took it out on Apr 27, 2010, when can I bring it in again on an FMM?

  • Ruth

    Thank you for the latest information on the new immigration rules coming up. At this point we are planning on visiting for about 6 months to check things out starting in mid Sept after I retire (for the 3rd time). Can you tell me the address of the Mormon church in Ajijic or Chapala. I understand there is a new chapel built about 2 or 3 years ago. The name of the church in Spanish is La Iglesia de Jesus Cristo de Los Ultimos Dias. I know there is a chapel in Tizipan on the other side of the lake but I understand there is one at Lake Chapala/Ajijic as well. If you like you can just email me privately at the above address. Thank you in advance. Ruth

  • Sid Grosvenor

    Hi Ruth, I hope it’s OK to just post the answer to your question because others may be wondering the same thing.

    So, here’s the answer:

    Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (The Mormon Folks)

    Services in English and Spanish ,10 am. Riberas del Pilar (across from telecable) Bishop Smith
    TEL. 766 07 92

  • Sid Grosvenor

    Hi Kathy. It’s easy to get confused. Here’s a good rule of thumb.

    If you have a car import sticker on your car and a valid FMT, FM3, FM3 or the new FMM then your car is legal in Mexico even if the sticker shows a past expiration date.

    So, if I understand your question correctly if you re exported your car on April 27th by having the sticker removed and drove the car out of Mexico I believe you could re-enter immediately as soon as you have a new immigration document permitting your person to enter Mexico.

    If anyone out there has better information please help us out. The idea as I see it behind the new FMM doc is just to create a more modern, more difficult to alter/forge immigration document.

    Hope this helps. Siempre tu amigo, Sid

  • Donna M

    Hi Sid,
    The phrase I am having trouble with, within the immigration post, is “May not be able to bring in your car on your second 180-day FMT in a year.” I must be misunderstanding that because makes no sense that we could drive in in September of 2010, drive out in March of 2011, but not be able to come back with our car in the fall of 2011 for our 2nd 180 day visit. If true, we would have to apply for the FM2 before trying to enter the 2nd time? I guess “may not” is what needs to be explained.
    Thanks for any help you can provide.

  • Sid Grosvenor

    Hi Donna, I think you’re referring to article I passed along regarding the new “credit card like visas”. If so, I’m sorry, but don;t have better info now than the article included.

    Each time you drive out of Mexico in a US/Canadian plated car my understanding is that the government wants you to stop and check the car out of Mexico. MOst people who have an FM2 or FM3 and who plan to return to Mexico before their FM2 or FM3 expire do not stop and cancel the import permit (and have the sticker removed from the windshield).

    They run the risk of something happening to the car (like a wreck while out of Mexico) and not being able to export the car formally by canceling the import permit.

    If your first 180 day Tourist visa expires then the car import sticker expires. It’s only good as long as your visa (FMT, FM2 or FM3) is valid or the new replacement document for these visas.

    I hope this helps. I admit it’s confusing. Sid

  • Matthew Green

    Thanks Sid for this info! I have been living in Mexico for three years now and am always worried about not getting the new permit. But I see that my FM2 covers it so good.

    I have a question for you that you might know. I have expired GA plates. Do the Laredo police care that much if I drive there just to shop and return to Mexico the same day?

  • Sid Grosvenor

    Hi Mathew,

    I guess they might ticket you if they had reason to notice you (another violation for example) or if they did somehow notice the expired plates.

    I would worry more about being involved in a wreck and my insurance company looing for a reason not to pay the claim (possible policy exclusion that the car must be legally registered and insured.)

    Neither is likely but both are possible. I think in a serious accident (big claim) the underwriters on your Mexican insurance policy might try to find a policy exclusion not to pay as well … like the car not properly registered.

    Take a look at the article on registering your vehicle in South Dakota a .

    This seems an easy and low cost way to keep your car legally registered in the USA.

    Good luck and safe driving. Siempre tu amigo, Sid

  • Rolly Brook

    Sid, one little correction. A person holding an FM3 or FM2 must fill out the FMM form when entering the country. The INM agent will mark it “for statistical purposes.”

    Here is a video that explains the new FMM

  • Rolly Brook

    On the subject of the new INM procedures: The new forms can be a bit puzzling, so I have put together this step-by-step guide to dealing with them. Start here:

    More information about moving to and living in México is here:

  • Sid Grosvenor

    Hi Rolly Brook, Thanks for your input. Just a note to Chapala Club readers. Rolly Brook is a respected Blogger and very knowledgeable about Mexico in particular. He’s lived in Mexico a long time, but doesn’t live in the Lake Chapala area. So as is the case in the USA or Canada government procedures (even Federal ones) which are administered by local authorities can vary in their application from place to place in Mexico.

    Thanks again for your input friend. Your input is always welcome here. Sid

  • Sid Grosvenor

    Thanks again Rolly Brook. Sid

  • Mitch Mitchell

    Hi Sid Intrestring info on SD plates Thanks
    On FM3 my ieve a a card instead of a book even if I go to the imagation ofice ?

  • Sid Grosvenor

    Hi Mitch, Thanks for the nice words on the South Dakota Plate article.

    Sorry, I didn’t completely understand your question.

    Send me an e mail to and I’ll try to help.

    Thamks again, Sid

  • michael kelley

    I would like to drive my car to Mexico ( 1997 Honda) and leave it there. I have leased a place there for 10 years. I plan on going back and forth to the states . I cannot find anything about what forms I need to get to leave the car there for my personal use. Thanks.

  • Sid Grosvenor

    Hi, Thanks for your comment/question.

    There are no forms. Technically when you leave Mexico you’re supposed to export the car yo brought in.

    This is a must if you leave on a Tourist permit since they collect this as you leave Mexico,

    If you’re leaving Mexico and already have an FM3 or FM2 most people don’t do anything and just leave their car behind. But, if your FM2 or FM 3 expires while you’re outside Mexico you could have some serious problems.

    Hope this helps. I would leave the car in Mexico, be sure I was back before my FM 2 or FM 3 expired by about a month and if I was leaving Mexico after being hee on Tourist permit, I would take the cr with me.

    Tu Amigo, Sid

  • dan Rueffert

    I was unaware that I could drive an American car while holding an FM2. My last American car was stolen and they told me I’d have to pay the equivalent of 50% of the value in order to be able to bring in another, and pointed out what a hassle that would be. I bought Mexican.
    here’s my question, how often do you have to renew an FM2?
    one other, where can I find out what liquidation costs for Mexican employees. We’re about to close our restaurant and the accountant is only familiar with how to screw the employee. I’d like to know what the law says.
    Thanks, Dan

  • Sid Grosvenor

    HI Dan, I’ve heard the same thing about driving a US plated car with an FM2 visa.

    Not sure, but I many people do so. I have both Mexican and US plated cars.
    I doubt you would be bothered unless you ran afoul of some other rule/law.

    Termination of employees is strickly controlled.

    Here’s some links I found that should help.

    Also here’s some other sites that should solve your problme.

    # Secretaría del Trabajo y Previsión Social (Ministry of Labour):
    # Sistema de Información Jurídico Laboral (Labour Information System –a database maintained by the Ministry of Labour and the National University of Mexico).
    # Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación (Supreme Court of Justice):

    Hope this helps, Tu amigo, Sid

  • Sid Grosvenor

    Hi Again Dan. Sorry, I forgot to mention that your FM2 must be renewed yearly just like your FM3.

    You must prove a bit more income coming in from oputside Mexico and they count the days you’re out of Mexico over the 5 year period of your FM2. You’re allowed 189 days outside of Mexico over this time.

    At the end of the five years you can apply for Mexican citizenship (a year long pluse adventure or for Immigrado status (make you a permanent resident with no m,ore renewals, you can work at what ever you want etc.. but you can’t vote. (much like a green card holder in the USA) Tu amigo, Sid

  • Rick and Judy VanDeWeghe

    Hi Sid,

    We have a question: We will stay in Sayulita for three months in 2012. We’ll drive there from the states. If we had to fly back to the states during that three month stay, do we just return our tourist visa at the airport and then get a new one when we fly back to Mexico?

  • Sid Grosvenor

    Hi Judy, Thanks for your question.

    You mentioned you’re planning on driving ‘to Mexico from the States on just a Tourist visa.You must take the car back out with you or face some serious problems You’re required to return your tourist visa when you exit Mexico and check the car out.

    If you can get your tourist visa changed from a Tourist Visa to an FM 3 or FM2 while in Mexico for at least which ever of you is shown as importing the car this should solve the problem. The car sticker will remain valid as long as the person who imported it has an FM3 or FM2.

    It’s common for people here on an FM2 or FM 3 to leave Mexico leaving a car behind, but they’re afraid you’ll not be back and the car will have illegally been imported into Mexico. The car permit is a TEMPORARY Importation.

    Sorry, I could not give you better news.

    Tu amigo, Sid

  • http://planningvacationandmayberetirement dan meyers

    hi.sid just finished your car trip to las fuentes very enjoyable. 5 months ago my family did the same trip we ate at two of those rests.great service and food my grandson had a ball on the band platform and running around. i want to stay with you i hope you dont mind danny regards danny

  • Sid Grosvenor

    HI Danny, It was great having you and your family here for a visit. Just sorry it was so short.

    Tu amigo, Sid

  • Jeannie

    Wonderful……i have just found your site. Very helpful thank you.
    I have now lived in Mexico for 6 years. Had FM3 for 3 years and now the FM2 for almost 3 years. I really, really, need my naturalizacion. My husband who was a naturalized Mexican citizen died last year and we have built a great place here but the property is ejido…….so seems legaly I can’t even be here. No problems at all thus far. I drive the same old 94 Ford pick up that we arrived in and occasionally am asked for driver licence etc. but no real problems. I have just begun to try to study for a naturalization exam but the information as to where, when and what to study seems very confusing. I speak enough Spanish to shop in the market, chat with neighbors and friends but certainly not enough to do business. I now have all utilities in my name and a zillion copies of everything…….
    I would really appreciate any encouragement and advice you or your followers can offer…….
    Our home is in a rather remote area north of Acapulco. Right on the ocean with a lovely lagoon in the back, views of the southern sierra madre mountains…..paradise.
    Thanks again for all the information so far provided.

  • Annette

    Hi Sid,

    I have a few questions. I drove my car from the US to Mexico in the middle of January this year, 2011. Of course I got the 6 month permit for my car. I started working for a company who was doing the FM3 paperwork. But they cancelled the paperwork since I had to return back to US for 2 months (they also feared I wouldn’t return back and didn’t want to go through all the paperwork if I wasn’t coming back) So they gave me back my tourist visa in June and I flew back to the US for two months, then I flew back to Mexico in August. Obviously during this time my car permit expired (in July). So they started the whole process again with my FM3 in August and I’m told I should be receiving the FM3 tomorrow.

    My concern is I am planning to drive my car back up to the US at the end of December, since my car permit expired in July and my FM3 is being given to me in November, will I have any trouble at the boarder, since my car permit has been expired for four months? Or is not a problem since my FM3 will be valid, despite the expired permit.

    Thanks in advance!

  • Sid Grosvenor

    Hi Annette

    I can;t guarantee that you will not have a problem, but I seriously doubt that you will have any problem.

    I’m not a immigration specialist, but try to keep up on things.

    As I understand it as long as your personal status in Mexico is legal your car permit is legal by operation of law.

    When they changed the law several years ago to allow the automatic validity of the sticker many Mexican authorities were not aware of the change, so we all had to carry a copy of the change in the law along with us.

    The laws about immigration status, capital gains, and just what year model cars can be nationalized are changing again.

    It takes a while for everyone to get on the same page so to speak. Things you find on line may be years old.

    Always chgeck to find the most up to date posts.

    Hope this helps, Tu amigo, Sid

  • Sid Grosvenor

    Hi Jeannie,

    Thanks for sharing your touching story.

    Hopefully once you have your dual citizenship you will be able to secure title for certain in your name. I seriously doubt if you would ever have a problem uless someone wanted to make waves. Just be sure and pay the taxes, be a good neighbor, and work on improving your Spanish.

    The test questions available for the exam are several years old, but they have not issued new ones yet.

    Since you still have 2 years to go on your FM2 until you will be eligible to apply for citizenship more than likely new exam questions will be out by then.

    There are 100 multiple guess questions currently available to study. Sorry, I’ve misplaced the web link, but you should be able to find a copy with some internet searching, but remember the exam is usually given orally in Spanish and the examiners don;t always ask questions from the list. So, in my opinion Spanish is equally important as the correct answers.

    I understand you can take the exam over at some point if you fail. Most people that have done it tell me it was a piece of cake. I suspect the difficulty level varies a lot from office to office and examiner to examiner. Hope this helps. Good Luck. Tu amigo, Sid

  • Jeannie

    Thank you so much Sid for your support…………
    I am leaving today for Guanajuato …….have connections there for help in all this……..someday hope to visit lake Chapala.

  • Sid Grosvenor

    Hi Jeannie,

    Thanks for your kind words. We wish you well and look forward to meeting you at Lake Chapala when ever you work us into your schedule.

    We like Guanajuato very much too, but our first love is Lake Chapala. Tu amigo, Sid

  • Dr. Lowell

    What is the “new” process to get a working permit?

  • Sid Grosvenor

     Hi Again Dr. Lowell,

    We’re still waiting for the bureaucrats to write the new procedures down based on the recent change sin the law. So, we’re operating under the old rules until then.

    The new Mexican President takes Office in December and there may be personnel changes in the various immigration offices then. My advise is to move forward quickly
    so as not to get part way through the poccess and have to start over or to wait for the new interpretation of the changes.

    Hope this helps. Any of the local immigration specialists can process your papers under the existing law. Send me a private e mail for information on several trusted immigration specialists in our area.

    Tu amigo, Sid

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