Please note that this article does not have the most complete information on FMMs, FM2s, FM3s, etc, but we are keeping it around because it has some good reader comments. The best, most complete, and most recently updated information of immigrating to Mexico can be found at: Moving to Mexico: FMM, FM2, or FM3?
Mexico’s immigration department (National Migration Institute: Instituto Nacional de Migración – INM) has issued changes to immigration rules to simplify and clarify the requirements for immigration to México, effective May 1, 2010. These changes greatly improve the process for DIY (Do It Yourself) folks.
FM2 and FM3 holder requirements basically remain the same, except INM now issues smart cards to replace the paper booklets, and they offer on-line registration for both first-time applicants and renewals, eliminating the need for first visits at a Mexican Consulate or INM office. The FMT (Forma Migratoria Turista) is replaced with the FMM (Forma Migratoria Múltiple). (more on-line preregistration and on-line appointment scheduling described below.)
The National Migration Institute (INM) has issued changes to immigration rules to simplify and clarify the requirements for immigration to México, effective May 1, 2010. The FM2 and FM3 holder requirements basically remain the same, except INM is issuing smart cards to replace the paper booklets. FMT (Forma Migratoria Turista) is replaced with the FMM (Forma Migratoria Múltiple). The new FMM is good for up to 180 day stays per year, and it applies to basically every immigrant to México who is not coming on an FM2 or FM3: tourists, business visitors, people who make money on their visits, and technical visitors. Business visitor criteria are more clearly defined under the new regulations. The FMM, FM2, or FM3 also serves as proof of foreign national’s immigration status while in Mexico.
New Requirement for all Visitors or Residents After May 1, 2010:
When entering México: U.S. citizens traveling “by air, land or sea” must present either a valid U.S. passport or passport card or other “trusted traveler” ID such as a SENTRI card. Since US travelers must already present one of these documents to re-enter the US, this does not really change things. Canadians transiting through the USA have already needed to present passports, so, nothing really changes for them either in this area.
Types of FMMs:
INM agents have 3 different options for characterizing people entering on FMMs:
1. Business people entering for meetings etc. (Visitante Persona de Negocios,
2. Visitor with Income Generating Activities (Visitante con Actividades Lucrativas), and
3. Tourists: Visitor with Non Lucrative Activities (Visitante con Actividades No Lucrativas). **
Business activities for Category One are restricted to only meetings. If the business visit extends more than 180 days, the foreign national will have to file for a change of immigration status to request the appropriate working FM3.
Visitors from Asian countries may use their ABTC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation business travel card). Since we have had no information requests from Asians, I will say no more.
Changes in the visitors activity, domicile, marital status, etc. no longer have to be logged on the migratory document, thereby allowing the foreign national the ability to travel in and out of the country while a change of status/conditions application is in process without having to request an exit and re-entry permit.
FM2 / FM3 Application Changes:
Mexican Consulates no longer issue FM2 or FM3 booklets. Instead, the Consular Posts simply place a visa sticker on the foreign national’s passport, upon receipt of the petition’s approval from the INM. The sticker allows entry into Mexico within 365 days of issuance. Upon entry, the foreign national must obtain their new FM2 or FM3 migration card within 30 days. Online applications for FM2s & FM3 are now allowed and encouraged (see link above).
After April 30, 2010, applicants for Mexican visas and renewals of visas are to apply on-line. The current plan is for applicants to log-on with INM; create a personal account; enter personal data; and . . . 3 days later receive notification (by e-mail?) that their application has been approved or denied. As of May 6, this system is not working for people with FM3′s who want to change to FM2s.
Helpful INM website:http://www.dof.gob.mx/nota_detalle.php?codigo=5129775&fecha=29/01/2010 and http://www.inm.gob.mx/ which include some options in English.
As of today, Jan 1, 2011:
- Applications made on Mozilla Firefox browsers are not working well (or at all) – use Internet Explorer.
- Allow or Enable “Pop-Ups”.
- If the main FM2 and FM3 application also had dependents, you must make a separate on-line application for every dependent – describing the purpose for application and describing the relationship between the applicant/dependent and the main applicant in the comments box at the bottom of the form.
- Be sure to enter the person’s First and Middle Names or initials in the “Nombre(s)” box – EXACTLY as is listed on the person’s passport.
- Do not include any dashes or spaces in your phone number entry.
- Check all entered information before saving and then again before “approving”.
- Record the official number that INM issues for each application – when the number is displayed briefly in a pop-up box.
Latest Twists for people able to visit an INM Offfice – in addition to those listed in an earlier post:
If you are making an application from within Mexico, currently (until things change again) it can help speed things to visit your local INM office. Here are our local Merida INM office steps for an FM2:
* They currently want an application letter describing what you want, but they have a new twist where they require a precise legal phrase that says that everything you have written is the truth.
* They want a copy of just your passport’s photo page & personal info (not all pages), plus your passport for them to compare w/the foto-copy.
* They want all of your previous FM2 or FM3 booklets (again no copies).
* They use your “Pieza” number9s) from your internet application (one number per person/dependent) to pull up your information, and then issue you NIP(s) and Tramite number(s) for each person/application, when you visit the INM office.
* They want 3 months of documentation of Financial Support (as before), except that (Merida’s) INM has now eliminated the FM2 credit for owning property in Mexico.
* They want a CURP for the main applicant.
* They do not need Comprabantes (no CFE or Japay bills needed).
* With all the previous steps completed, they then issue you an official paper with a NIP (to check status/things online), a NUT (Numero Unico de Tramite), and your Pieza Number.
* Now, they are again issuing special documents to allow applicants to legally travel outside of Mexico, while their FM2 / FM3 application is being processed.
They then told us to check on-line in one week (5 business days), that they expected to be ready to go on to the next step in the FM2 process. They currently expect the entire FM2 process to take about 1 month.
Once your application is in the INM computer system, this url http://www.inm.gob.mx/index.php/page/Seguimiento_de_Tramite allows you to use your Pieza Number and NIP to check the status of your application.
We’ll continue to track updates as the new INM procedures evolve.
We’ll provide more updates on this process as they become available. The new systems seem to be flying along: there were 58 new applications logged during the 15 minutes that we entered information for 3 dependents this morning.
If INM approves your on-line application, the current plan is for INM to include a page/recibo for the user/applicant to print-out and take to a bank and pay. The approval notification will also include a list of the specific documents you need to bring (& number of copies required).
Successful/approved application and payment then triggers INM to issue an an e-mail with a list documents needed, a form for you to print and take to a bank to pay (and get your comprabante as always) and a notice of a date for an appointment (cita) for you to come in to INM; submit your documents; and get your new smart-card FM2 or FM3 that same visit.
This is expected to be their routine procedure, but INM agents described that some personal situations/circumstances may require several visits. (some people are just special.)
INM agents also emphasized that the documentation requirements have been reduced. INM agents at our Merida office are discouraging new applicants from applying in person, instead passing out printed instructions on how to apply on line.
Note: Applications currently being processed and those filed before May 1, 2010 will be analyzed and processed based on the old/current policies, practices and procedures = booklets, lot’s of paperwork, multiple visits, yada, yada, yada…
Short Term Visitor Exemptions:
There are special exemptions for short term visitors entering from cruise ships and those entering briefly & staying close to the border. The regulations will not be applied to short-term visitors ( < 3 days) along México’s northern border (20 km frontier zone) nor to cruise ship passengers who briefly disembark at various approved locations. As before, these folks will not need a Mexican tourist card to visit for 72 hours or less under these special circumstances.
Non-Commercial Tourists are typically allowed to bring in up to $300 household items and other items with an FMM, but you will possibly have to pay import duties. The amount of the duties depends on how and when you cross into Mexico.
According to the General Rules on Matters of Foreign Trade for 2008 that were published officially in the Mexican federal official gazette on April 30, 2008, passengers who come into the country by land, air, or sea may import up to US$3,000 in merchandise without having to use the services of a customs broker and without paying an overall tax rate of 15 percent. According to the Rules, this importation ceiling is in addition to the ordinary duty-free importation allowance of US$75, or US$300 during tax holidays. The Rules, which came into force on May 1, 2008, clarify that computer equipment may be imported without having to go through a customs broker for a maximum value of US$4,000, the total sum of merchandise. (US Library of Congress: http://www.loc.gov/lawweb/servlet/lloc_news?disp3_l20540560_text )
The amount of duty free imports by tourists depends on the items you are bringing in. The general rules are that tourists w/FMMs are allowed to bring in their personal effects duty-free. According to customs regulations, in addition to clothing, personal effects may include one camera, one video cassette player, one personal computer, one CD player, 5 DVDs, 20 music CDs or audiocassettes, 12 rolls of unused film, and one cellular phone. (US Department of State & CIS: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_970.html )
There are different rules for flying than for driving. If you are flying, IATA describes the rules: ( http://www.iatatravelcentre.com/MX-Mexico-customs-currency-airport-tax-regulations-details.htm )
Items for free import when flying:
1. (only for persons over 18 years of age:) 400 cigarettes OR 50 cigars OR 250 grammes of pipe tobacco;
2. (only for persons over 18 years of age:) 3 litres of wine or liquor (alcoholic beverages);
3. a reasonable quantity of perfume, eau-de-cologne and lotions for personal use;
4. a photo or movie or video camera. One additional camera for passengers residing outside Mexico;
5. 12 rolls of film or video cassettes;
6. goods up to USD $300.-.
If you are driving into Mexico, using an arrival point in the international border area (US, Guatemala, Belize), then the duty free limit is $50.00 USDs. worth of merchandise.
Useful INM Websites:
Master INM Page for Immigrants to Mexico: http://www.inm.gob.mx/
INM’s Manual for 2010: (en Español)
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