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. This is because the process takes months to be revised on the Riviera Maya.

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).

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 at a Mexican bank (e.g. Bancomer). Make two copies of the payment receipt and attach them to your paperwork along with photos (tamaño infantil – child size).

With all the documentation in order and signed in blue ink (matching your passport signature), then go to the INM (Immigration Office) to apply for your canje. In Playa del Carmen, you must first request an appointment in order to submit and apply.

After some weeks, you will receive an email from the INM approving your application. The length of time varies from one city to the other. Then, you will have to schedule an appointment at INM to provide fingerprints and signatures, and recieve your resident card.

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