Home How To Guide How to Get Your Mexican Visa: Step 1

How to Get Your Mexican Visa: Step 1

Getting Your Visa Outside of Mexico

by Brent May

If one topic preoccupies all foreigners looking to relocate to Mexico temporarily or permanently, it is how to get a visa. We’ve been there. This article will help you navigate the procedure that may seem daunting at first, but that really is straight-forward once you get a clear picture of the process. It is crucial to always check with your consulate and local immigration office for the latest requirements as they change often.


The 2-Step Application Process

Know that getting a visa and the subsequent resident permit for Mexico is a 2-step process. You must first apply for and obtain a visa at a Mexican consulate outside of Mexico to be able to enter Mexico with the appropriate status. Secondly, you will complete the process by applying for your resident permit (either Residente temporal or Residente permanente) at your local immigration office in Mexico, the INM (Instituto Nacional de Migración.)

If you’re not yet sure of which visa and permit you will need, read our article How To Know Which Mexican Visa is Right For You.

Let’s have a closer look.


Can I Do It Myself?

Although the application process may seem complicated, it is possible that you can complete it yourself. But if you are not fluent in Spanish or if you lack patience, you may want to find some assistance. In fact, I would highly recommend contacting an immigration attorney to get things started. Ask around and find out who other expats in the area have used.

If you choose to work with an attorney for the process, always verify the paperwork yourself even if the attorney has filled it out. Make sure all signatures have been applied, etc. Many an application has been denied because of small errors. Do not only rely solely on the expertise of the legal assistance. You should keep an active role in the processing of your paperwork.

As is common in many bureaucratic processes, usually, the procedure is easier in smaller towns or cities. Attention is more personal. Chances are that if you are applying in a smaller town and feel you have good contact with the INM employees, you can likely do the process yourself.

Smile, be patient and remember why you want to live in Mexico.

Read more: How Long Can I Stay in Mexico?


Step 1: How To Get a Mexican Visa

With a few exceptions, neither the Permanent Resident Permit nor the Temporary Resident Permit can be issued to you in Mexico. You must first apply for a visa at a Mexican consulate outside of Mexico by submitting an application and having an interview.


What Documents Will I Need for Step 1?

Visit the website of the Mexican consulate where you will apply for your visa. You will find a list of requirements and documents. You may also email the consulate to double check the list of documents to be sure it is complete and up-to-date. Keep the record of any emails exchanged. 

Although a national process, there are regional and local specificities. It is crucial to have the list of documents and requirements from the consulate you will visit. They can be different from one consulate to another.  For example, the monthly earnings or savings required to obtain a permanent or temporary resident visa can vary! You may decide to consulate shop.

Some of the documents you will be required to assemble include:

  • A completed Visa Application (online). You will find this on the consulate’s website.
  • A passport valid for at least one year.
  • If you are not applying in your home country, proof that you are legally in the country where you are making application. Original and photocopy.
  • One or more photographs measuring (3.5 cm X 3.1 cm)
  • Payment of visa application fee
  • You will be required to provide your fingerprints at your appointment.
  • Proof of sufficient monetary funds to sustain a livelihood in Mexico. 
  • You will need to show documentation of your income – statements of your bank account and any investments that are relevant.


  • In the case you are applying for a visa that will allow you to work, a letter from your future employer indicating: salary, work hours, job description, why the employer needs your specific skills, etc. See our article on How To Get a Visa To Work in Mexico here.



Make an Appointment at Your Consulate


Once you gather your documentation, you will make an appointment to appear in person at the consulate with your documentation. Appointments can be made for U.S. and Canadian consulates online via the Mexican government’s portal. You will create an account and then select your consulate. Or you can call 1 (424)-309-0009 to make an appointment.

At the appointment, the consulate will process and pre-approve your application, interview you and will put a visa sticker in your passport. Usually you will receive the visa the same day or it could take up to 3 days.


Step 2: What To Do When You Arrive in Mexico

When you arrive in Mexico, you must go to your local immigration office, the INM (Instituto Nacional de Migración). You may only go after having completed a few steps on their online portal. Then you must go to the INM office within 30 days of arrival. Do not wait until the last minute.

For the full process, please read our article here about Step 2, or How To Get Your Mexican Residency: Step 2

At the end of both of these steps, you will receive a plastic card that looks like a driver’s license. This card enables you to pass through Mexico’s borders as if you were a Mexican national. You are now ready to renew your relationship with the lovely sunsets, beaches and mountains.


Savvy Tips

  • Please note that this information is being provided as a general guide. The regulations and requirements frequently change so please confirm them with your attorney, a Mexican embassy or consulate.
  • There is a difference between a visa and a permit. The visa, obtained outside of Mexico, allows you to enter Mexico with the correct immigration status. The permit is obtained by visiting your INM within 30 days of arriving with your visa and completing the immigration process. The “card” is the physical document you receive once the entire process is complete.
  • If you don’t know the language or don’t have the patience, it may well be worth the cost to hire an expediter or lawyer to process the documentation for you, especially the first time.
  • With a few exceptions, the Temporary Resident Visa or the Permanent Resident Visa cannot be issued to you in Mexico; you must apply for it at a Mexican consulate outside of Mexico. 
  • Be sure to get information on the renewal process for your new visa from the INM offices. Be sure to undertake the renewal before your present card expires. Ask your office when you should start the renewal process.

To find your Mexican consulate,  you may go to the websites below:

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