Living but not Working in Mexico
Based on my two years living in Mexico, I recommend making a trip to the Mexican Consulate in your home country before starting the process of applying for a residency papers. The same applies to renewing them each year, it being best to go to the Mexican Migration Institute office in the nearest city that has a full time office. There are websites both private and from the Mexican government that contain basic information. None of them are complete, specific or up to date. On top of that, each consulate or office appears to have a certain amount of autonomy in how it handles the procesdure.
The initial paperwork for entering Mexico as a visitor living on non work income at the consulate in Las Vegas was quite extensive, complicated by the fact I was bringing in TV, stereo, cameras, computers and other electronics. A full inventory including make model and serial number was required plus arrangements with a customs broker to get the shipment cleared resulted in the whole exercise taking 3 months to complete. Throughout the whole process, the people at the consulate were courteous and professional.
Upon entry, I was directed to report in to the immigration office in Zacatecas to complete the requirements for residency papers, called the FM3 at the time. On the first trip I was given a list of requirements that included getting photos, proof of income, proof of address, a copy of every page in my passport and one or two other items. Returning to the immigration office with the documentation, I was given a form to take to the bank to make a deposit in cash to pay the fees, about $200. Back to the immigration office with the receipt, I was given "proof" that my documents were in process and told to check back in about three weeks to see if the documents had arrived from Mexico City. It took exactly three weeks to get the documents.
I just completed the second yearly renewal and things have changed a bit. They are changing from a passport type booklet to a drivers license size card. New photos were required plus proof of income, proof of address, copy of the ID page of my passport and the $100 renewal fee. Turning in the fotos was a second trip to the immigration office when I was given the form to pay the renewal fee. Upon turning in the receipt for the fees, I was given a form proving I paid the fees and a date six days later to pick up the card.
Well, the procedure is a bit bureaucratic but fairly efficient nonetheless considering how long it takes to get a US passport renewed.
I should note that all requirements vary to some extent depending on your country of origin.
As with my experience in Las Vegas, all the people in the immigration office treated me courteously, patiently and professionally
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