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If you are a citizen or permanent legal resident of Canada or the United States you may enter Mexico by showing your passport and the “migration forms for tourists”, in which you will provide information regarding your visit such as where you are visiting and where you are staying. This form is provided for you onboard commercial aircraft or you can fill one out with the Mexican Immigration officials at your point of entry into Mexico. You may need to prove that you have sufficient economic funds for your stay and return to your country of origin.  Please note, you are allowed to prove your nationality with a passport together with other public documents such as a birth certificate, voter’s registration card, or a Naturalization Certificate, though you do require having a picture ID.

After January 2008, Canadian and US citizens do need a passport to enter into Mexico, the National Institute of Migration recommends one to expedite passage through that point of entry.  Additionally, since December 2006, the US Immigration Service requires you to present a valid passport to reenter or pass through the US.

As a tourist, you may stay in Mexico for up to 180 days. If you want to prolong your stay in Mexico as a tourist you must visit any National Institute of Migration office or delegation to apply for an extension to your tourist migration form.  This procedure takes only a few minutes and the requirements are as follows:  A passport or valid identification and travel document, a valid tourist immigration form, proof that you have sufficient economic recourses to prolong your stay, and payment of duties if applicable.





Living Full Time

 If you want to stay in Mexico for retirement or simply just come to live in Mazatlan with funds received from the outside of Mexico you must go to the “Instituto Nacional de Migracion” to apply for your FM3 Visa.  You may need to take with you and present passport  and your “Migration Forms for Tourists” (which your received when you entered into Mexico), copies of your last three months bank statements from a Mexican or Foreign bank or financial institution or trust institution  proving that you  have a minimum monthly balance of approximately $ 2,000 USD. The required amount increases by $500 USD for each of your economic dependents (spouse, children, or parents) that will live with you and you must provide their status. You will also have to supply five recent photographs, 4x4 cm in size which must include three front and two right face profiles on a white background with forehead and ears uncovered. Do not wear earrings or eyeglasses when taking these photographs. Instant photographs are not accepted.

Also note, all foreign nationals must obtain permission from the National Institute of Migration prior to changing or expanding their activities or status.

Your FM-3 nonresident status is for five years and it must be renewed every year at the same location.  After the first five year period, you will be given the option to move to FM-2 status as an Immigrant for another five year which must also be renewed every year. After completing five consecutive years as an Immigrant with an FM-2, you are considered a Landed Immigrant and you do not have renew your visa any longer and you may work, though you still have no rights to vote or purchase real estate without a fideicomiso.  

You can file for citizenship after five years full time residency in Mexico if you marry a Mexican Citizen, have Mexican dependent children or operate a business and pay taxes. The process takes between 12- 18 months and is not guaranteed. Once you are a citizen you every right under the laws of Mexico that every other Mexican enjoys except the right to run for Presidency.

If you are considering the purchase of coastal real estate to enjoy on vacations or to retire in later, you are not required to apply for an FM-3 Visa unless you intend to remain in Mexico for more than 180 consecutive days each year.


Benefits of getting the FM-3:

The benefits for foreigners acquiring the FM3 temporary resident status permit in Mexico as opposed to having a FMT tourist permit:


  • To keep your foreign car in Mexico indefinitely.
  • To bring your household possessions to Mexico
  • To obtain a local driver’s license
  • To get 50% discount on your property taxes
  • To be eligible for a capital gains exemption on your home when you sell
  • To work temporarily in Mexico (in some cases)


  • To open a bank account (in some cases)
  • The FM3 permit is available at the local immigration office.


Contact Information for Immigration Offices in Mazatlan

ADDRESS:  Calle Prolangacion Alquiles Serdan (no number), Playa Sur

PHONE NUMBER: (669) 981- 3813

Note: Open from 8am- 12pm, Monday – Friday

For more information on Immigration laws in Mexico, please visit

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