Next steps after you get your Mexican visa

You had a successful meeting at the consulate and got the Mexican visa in your passport. Congratulations! In this article, we answer the most common questions about the next steps to obtaining your resident’s card.


How long can I wait before I have to enter Mexico with my visa?

In theory, it is 180 days. However, if you are completing the canje from the Riviera Maya, I advise you to (re)enter within 120 days to begin the canje procedure (exchanging your visa for a resident’s card) .

Why? Because, if you start the canje procedure when your visa is about to expire, it may take longer. This is because your visa will have to be physically sent to Mexico City to be validated. Therefore, it could result in a longer period of time when you have neither a visa nor a resident’s card.

What do I show at the airport or border when I enter Mexico with my visa?

Firstly, and most importantly, remember you are not a tourist anymore.

Therefore, on the FMM form (distributed on the plane or at the border) make sure to tick the box marked ‘canje’. Do not tick the box marked ‘tourism’ when asked why you are travelling to Mexico.

At the immigration desk, you must show your FMM and passport with the new visa in it. If not, the immigration agent may think you are a tourist and give you the usual 180 days tourism stay in Mexico. Showing your new Mexican visa, you will get 30 days marked on the FMM form to begin your canje procedure at the local INM (Immigration Office).

Please note that some airports are trialling a new procedure without the FMM form. In this case, the INM agent will stamp the visa and write 30 days next to it in your passport.

After I arrive in Mexico with my visa, do I receive my resident card automatically?

No, the canje procedure involves various steps. Firstly, you will have to complete paperwork and write a letter of request in Spanish. Also, include the original and a copy of your passport, visa and proof of address in Mexico.

In addition to this, you will have to pay the immigration fees. You can do this by debit/credit card (Visa or Mastercard) at the INM office on the day. Otherwise, you can pay at a Mexican bank (e.g. Bancomer). Make two copies of the payment receipt and attach them to your paperwork.

Next you must request an appointment at your local INM to submit and apply for the canje. (To do this in Playa del Carmen, visit the office between 9 am and 12:45 pm to get an appointment slot. We advise going as early as 7 am to be one of the first.)

Attend your appointment with all the documentation in order and signed in blue ink (matching your passport signature). Usually you will receive your card on the same day as you submit your paperwork. In Playa del Carmen, there are often delays and you may need to return later to pick up your resident’s card.


If you work with us, we will make the appointment, prepare and submit paperwork in your name, and accompany you to the INM office. 


We assist you at all times until you get your resident card. In case you have to return for any step due to issues at the INM, we will be there with you.

Always remember to bring your passport with you when you visit the INM.

For a quote or more info on immigration to Mexico, please email Adriana Vela at