temporary residency in mexico

The Ultimate Guide to Obtaining Temporary Residency in Mexico

Do you want to move to Mexico legally? Here is the ultimate guide to obtaining temporary residency in Mexico. We make it easy.

ultimate guide to obtaining temporary residency in mexico

We just completed the process for obtaining our temporary residency in Mexico (all during a pandemic). Overall, the process is fairly easy, however, it can be a little intimidating. There is also a lot of information out there. To avoid confusion, we have created a guide for the entire process! This post focuses on the process in Mexico.

This guide is broken down into the steps required after you enter Mexico. We also include all the relevant links to the required documentation and explain how to fill out the forms.

First, you start the temporary residency process in your home country. For us, that is Canada. If you are starting at this point, check out How to Apply for Mexican Temporary Residency During Covid-19.

Obtaining Temporary Residency in Mexico

Here is a high level flow of the process after you receive pre-approval from the consulate in your country.

  • After pre-approval, you have 6 months (180 days) to enter Mexico.
  • At the Mexican border, your FMM is stamped “Canje”. (This is very important!) Your visa sticker in your passport is only good for one entry into Mexico.
  • After entering Mexico, you have 30 calendar days to report to the INM.
  • Present yourself to the INM with the applicable forms and photos (possibly optional – read on for more details).
  • Return to the INM to collect your temporary residency card.

1. Entering Mexico with pre-approval visa sticker

After receiving pre-approval from the consulate, you will have a visa sticker placed in your passport. When you entering Mexico, you present your passport and fill out an FMM (Forma Migratoria Múltiple).

You can complete the FMM online, pay for it and print it (bring a copy of the receipt). We did not do this and just filled it out at the border.

Instead of checking off the boxes for tourist, the crossing official will check off “Canje”. This selection is under “Estancia Máxima 30 Días” in the bottom section for Official Use. The official will stamp your FMM and the sticker in your passport. Now you have 30 days to present yourself at the INM (National Institute of Migration) (Instituto Nacional de Migración).

temporary residency Mexico - FMM

2. Before presenting yourself at the INM

Prior to presenting yourself at the INM, there are a couple of forms that have to be filled out.

Trámite form

The trámite (Formato para solicitar trámite migratorio de estancia) is the first form you complete. This form for requesting the processing of your immigration paperwork. It also lets the INM know why you are coming and what you need to do.

Complete the form online, print one copy, sign the document, then make a copy for the INM. Choose an email address you check regularly. The INM will send you updates to your residency status through this email.

Here is the link: https://www.inm.gob.mx/tramites/publico/estancia.html

Here is how you fill out the form:

  • Q1: ¿Qué deseas hacer? / What do you want to do?
    • Canjear o reponer documento migratorio
  • Q2: Especifica / Specifies
    • Canje de FMM por Tarjeta de Visitante o de Residente

In the next parts, you do not have to fill out any box that does not have an asterisk (*) beside it (for example the CURP). Make sure that these sections match your passport. For your address, if you do not have a permanent address yet (like an apartment), note that you will have to complete an address change form later.

Protip: translate the page from Spanish to English to make filling the form out easier.

After filling out the form, click “Guardar” at the bottom.

Print the completed form, sign it and present it to the INM.

Pago de Derechos / Payment of Rights

The next step is paying your fees. You pay for your temporary residency before going to the INM. Complete the form online and print a copy for the bank.

Currently, the cost for issuing a temporary residency immigration document (for one year) is $4271.00 MXN or approximately $212 USD.

Take this form to the bank to pay the fee. You will present your passport to the bank teller as well so make sure you bring it.

Here is the link: https://www.inm.gob.mx/gobmx/derechos/

Here is how you fill out the form:

  • Q1: Tipo de persona / Type of person
    • Física / Physical
    • (Moral is for a group of people)

Like the trámite, in the next section you do not have to fill out any box that does not have an asterisk (*) beside it. Here you just fill out your last name (primer apellido) and your first names (nombre(s)). Click “Continuar”.

  • Q2: Tipo de trámite o servicio / Type of procedure or service
    • Derecho de Residente Temporal (DRT)
  • Q3: Trámite / Processing
    • Por la recepción, estudio de la solicitud y, en su caso, la expedición del documento migratorio que acredita la condición de estancia de Residente Temporal. Hasta uno año (DRT).
    • You pay for your temporary residency in one year increments (unless you have special permission otherwise).
  • Q4: Estado / State
    • Choose the state where you are going.
    • We chose Baja California Sur.
  • Q5: Lugar donde se realiza el tramite o se presta el servicio / Place where the process is carried out or the service is provided
    • Choose the city.
    • We chose La Paz, B.C.S.

On the next page, you will be given a reference number and the amount you need to pay. Click “Imprimir” to print the document.

Take this completed form to the bank. We went to Citibanamex and paid cash.

Pago derechos - example

Formato Básico

The next form you have to fill out is the formato básico. This form is filled out in Spanish. If you speak Spanish or have access to Google Translate, then it is pretty straight forward. There are a couple sections that may require some clarification.

Print a copy, fill out the form completely (en español), sign the document, then make a copy for the INM.

Here is the link: http://www.inm.gob.mx/static/vun_tramites/Formato_basico.pdf

Here is how you fill out the form:

  • S1: Datos Personales / Personal Information
    • Enter your basic personal information
  • S2: Pasaporte o documento con el que se identifica el extranjero / Passport or document with which the foreigner is identified
    • Enter the type of document you are using and the document number
  • S3: Datos complementarios / Supplementary data
    • Enter your highest level of education and area of expertise, do you speak Spanish, number of children, religion, and the streets where your residence in Mexico is
  • S4: Media feliación / Half affiliation
    • Enter your height, weight, skin color, and any tattoos or other markings
  • S5: Lugar de procedencia / Place of origin
    • Enter the country, province/state, and city where you are coming from
    • “Estado, provincia, departamento o distrito” is your province/state again
  • S6: Para menores de edad / For minors
    • Enter the fields for this section if the applicant is a minor
  • S7: Actividad en su país de residencia / Activity in your country of residence
    • This section is for what you did for work in your country of residence
    • Here is an example:
Actividad en su pais residencia - example
  • S8: Actividad en México / Activity in Mexico
    • Remember that a temporary residency does not give you permission to work in Mexico. This is not a work permit. You are not supposed to be working in Mexico
    • Be careful what you put in this section. Indicating that you work online could confuse the immigration officials and give you problems
    • Here is what we put:
Actividad en mexico - example
  • S9: Solo para trabajadores fronterizos / Only for border workers
    • This section is for border workers only.
    • Leave blank (unless applicable)

Sign the form and make a copy for the INM. The accepted date format for Mexico is DD-MM-YYYY.

Checklist for going to the INM

Before you head to the INM for your temporary residency in Mexico, check this checklist to make sure you have everything.

Here are the requirements from the Government of Mexico. I break it all down below of what you actually need and what we did.

  • Trámite – filled out online, print, sign, bring a copy.
  • Pago de Derechos – filled out online, print, pay fees at the bank. The bank will give you a receipt which you need to bring.
  • Formato Básico – print, fill out completely, bring a copy.
  • Passport – original and color copy.
  • Valid visa issued by the consulate – original (in your passport) and a color copy.
  • Valid and current FMM – original (half from the border crossing official) and a copy.
  • Three photographs with these specifications:
    • Size 2.5×3.0 cm, two front and one right profile, white background, ears uncovered, no earrings or glasses.
    • Note about pictures: we brought photos to the INM but they did not accept them. Instead, the INM took our photos.

3. Presenting yourself at the INM (first visit)

So once you have all your documents, copies, photographs, and fees paid, it is time to present yourself at the INM. Remember, once you enter Mexico, you only have 30 calendar days to present yourself.

We completed this part of the process at the INM in La Paz. Due to the global pandemic, the INM had different hours – check with your local office. Our office was opened Monday to Thursday from 9:00 am until 1:00 pm. We showed up at 8:30 am to mitigate any long lines.

Once the office was opened, we signed into a log book, a security officer took our temperature and provided hand sanitizer. We then took a number and waited in the waiting area. The wait was only 5-10 minutes.

We crossed the border on October 08 and presented ourselves to the INM on November 03.

Activities at the INM office

When the INM officer called our number, we told them that we were completing the process for our temporary residency. We then presented all our documents and copies. There was very minimal chatting and the officer did not ask us any questions.

While we brought copies of everything, the officer actually made his own copies and gave us our copies back. Bring the copies anyways!

After reviewing and inputting all our documents, we were instructed to sit down until our names were called.

Finger prints & photographs

After a short wait, we were called up individually to do fingerprints and photographs.

The La Paz office has a digital finger print scanner. You scan your four fingers on your right hand first, then your left hand, and then both your thumbs together.

After finger printing, the officer took photographs. They brought out a white background and took a front and right profile picture. Side note: I had earrings in and no one said anything.

More documents

During the temporary residency application visit, we signed a couple of forms. We were given copies of these documents.

The officer gave us a “Comprobante de Registro de Solicitud” or Application Registration Voucher. This form has a “número único de trámite (NUT)” on it which is a unique processing number. This is basically your reference number for the temporary residency process.

The second document we left with is a letter basically stating that we were applying for temporary residency. The subject line is “Expedición de documento migratioro por canje” or “Issuance of immigration document for exchange”. On the back of this letter is the reference numbers and it is signed by the applicant and officer.

The third document is another receipt or certificate with applicable reference numbers.

Finally, the officer told us that the process would be complete in 10 to 15 days and to return at that time. All further communication is sent via email.

4. Getting our temporary residency cards

So after all of that, we waited about 10 days before checking the online portal. You are sent an ID number and password in an email before you even leave the INM office.

In reality, we did not need to wait 10 days! Our temporary residency was completed in 3 days!! The entire process from start to finish took 15 days.

temporary residency Mexico - timeline

We returned to the INM office to finish the process of applying for temporary residency in Mexico. This time, we did not arrive early in the morning. There was a very short wait and we were first in line after the people already being helped.

Unfortunately, we did not bring our file folder of all our documents with us. So when the INM officer asked for our reference numbers, we did not have them readily available. Don’t be like us. Bring your paperwork.

Luckily, the officer was able to pull up our applications by our last names and passports. She then asked us to sit down for a couple of minutes.

We were promptly called back up and handed our temporary residency cards!

Temporary residency in Mexico

Overall, the process for applying for temporary residency in Mexico is easy. While some may opt to have a lawyer help, you certainly can do it on your own. With this Ultimate Guide to Obtaining Temporary Residency in Mexico, you can certainly complete the process on your own!!

We started the process on November 03 and had our cards in hand on November 18. The application was finalized on Mexico’s side in just 3 days.


Have comments or questions about applying for temporary residency in Mexico? Think there is something we should add? Tell us below in the comments!

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ultimate guide to obtaining temporary residency in mexico


          • Randy

            I went down last week and did it! Thanks to you, I had EVERYTHING!!! No need to leave and return, because you literally gave me EVERYTHING I needed. I even showed up with the bank payment receipt!

            There was only one snag – and maybe it was mentioned in your article, but I didn’t see it: The office I went to (Rosarito) told me I needed an address in THEIR city. I could not use my Tijuana address there – I could only register there if I had a Rosarito address. Thankfully I was given a workaround for this, and soon HAD a Rosarito address. But I wonder if this is the case at every IMN office – if you can only register at the office that serves the city/region where you live?

            Again, THANK YOU for your service. Now I am tracking the updates on the website and I love that you have a graphic/screenshot of all the statuses posted, too. So helpful. You solve the mystery for us all!

    • Wes Browning

      Thanks so much for your guidance on this! While your post was on temporary residency, we used it to guide us through getting our residente permanente. Just received our cards today in La Paz!

  • Shirley

    When you went into Mexico did they speek English at the border offices? Did they speek English at the INM office? Could you or your husband speak Spanish to go through the process? Did each of you have to fill out separate forms or was it only one form covering both of you? Thank you for your time and information?

    • Jenn

      Hi Shirley, thanks for you comment. They did speak *some English at the border. When we went into the office to pay for our FMM, the border officer spoke English. They spoke minimal English at the INM office – we do not speak Spanish very well but we made it work. Google translate is definitely handy. At INM and the consulate, we had to fill out our forms separately as residency is done by the individual.

  • Joy Balducci

    Wow thanks for this comprehensive guide! We are currently in La Paz and may be able to return to BC in June when we plan to start our process at home which feels really intimidating. Thanks again for your help!

    • Jenn

      Hi Joy! We are in La Paz too! Isn’t it great?
      The process can totally feel intimidating – but hopefully this guide will make it easy!

  • Erin Padilla

    Thank you kindly for this helpful article!! Getting ready to go do the process this week in Mexico. What bank did you use to pay the fee? Did you also do your TIP at the same time? Many thanks, appreciate all of your wisdom!

    • Jenn

      Hi Erin. We paid at a bank that was right around the corner – I don’t think it matters which bank you use.
      We do not have a TIP because we are in Baja. It’s not required. You get your TIP at the border (very important to get it!!) with your FMM.

      • Wes Browning

        Thanks Jenn for all of your work on this guide! Although it is for temporary residency, my wife and I used it to help us with obtaining our residente permanente cards in La Paz. All went as planned other than a mistake by the INM officer in Cabo when we arrived (even though we told her in Spanish that we were completing the canje and opened our passports to the Mexican visas we had obtained in the U.S.) The INM office in La Paz was great and after a couple of days was able to correct the mistake. Make sure to check your FMM when entering that the correct boxes are checked!!

        We had our residente permanente cards 4 days later! Thanks again!!

  • Rob

    HI Jenn! Great work on the details. I did this process last year and it took me 6 months from start to receiving my card. Now it’s time for renewal….seeing that you guys just got you cards, do you know anything/anyone about/who did the renewal process? I know it’ll be a little easier. As you know, finding good info online for this is a challenge to say the least!

    • Jenn

      Hi Rob, we have not yet done the renewal – that will be this winter. But we will for sure put together a guide when we do that! Sorry we can’t be more help, let us know how it goes!

  • Andrew Paez

    Hi folks. Thanks for the great information. I have a question. Did you drive in when starting temporary residency and, if so, did you complete the Temporary Import Permit (TIP) process online or did you wait until you got to the border to do it. I ask because if you get it online you are asked for a pre-authorization from INM (Immigration) and I don’t want to do anything to screw up the Canje process since the TIP form asks you to select from 7 or 180 days for the car import permit. For now, I ‘m planning to just get both my FMM and TIP at the Nogales border (km 21) but if I could do any of that process online it would be much easier. Thanks again!

    • Jenn

      We didn’t get a TIP because we are in Baja and this is the free zone – aka no TIP required. I’d recommend getting your TIP at the border because there are some scam websites online. Plus, you still have to go into immigration at the border.

  • Tracy Clarke

    Process in Playa del Carmen is more complicated. Need to book an appointment online before you can even get in the door of the INM office and the wait time for an available appointment was almost 4 weeks and they require a letter requesting change of residency as well as proof of domicile.

  • Brad

    Thank you so much for this guide! I followed it step by step and did not have to waste money on an immigration attorney. I only had a few name formatting issues that I had to correct ( and the bank where I paid for my temp resident fee made the same mistakes on my receipt so I made a trip back to them for corrections too). But in a few hours I submitted my application, took pics and fingerprints, and had my card in two days. I did this in La Paz and the officials at the immigration office couldn’t have been nicer. Luckily, I also brought an inexpensive printer with me so I could make my corrections and print out the originals and the copies of the corrected documents which made life easier. Looking forward to your guide for renewing too!

    • Jenn

      Glad to hear it went well! The renewing guide is in the works. We just went through the process and had a few hiccups so we will be sharing that soon.

  • Tiffany

    Thank you for the comprehensive guide, did you have to write something specific in the final box of the Tramite form where is says ‘ Si lo deseas, puedes agregar algún comentario a la solicitud.’

    Did you have to write a letter in Spanish requesting the canje?

    Thank you

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