There are two categories that determine whether a visitor needs a visa for Mexico: free nationalities, which only need to fill in a form at the port of entry, and restricted nationalities, which need to obtain a visa before travelling to Mexico.

Citizens, permanent residents and holders of a multiple-stay visa for the USA, Canada, Japan, the UK or the Schengen countries can visit Mexico without a visa. Foreign nationals that do require a visa to visit Mexico should apply at their nearest Mexican consulate before arriving in the country. Visitors can remain in Mexico for up to 180 days.

Those who need a visa to enter Mexico will need to apply for a tourist visa in advance of their visit. This is best done at least a month before the date of departure. Applications can be made online or at the nearest Mexican consulate or embassy. Supporting documents must be delivered in person.

It’s important to note that it isn’t possible to change visa categories while in Mexico – so expats who decide to work in the country will need to exit Mexico to apply for the relevant work and residence permits.

Forma Migratoria Múltiple

Though commonly referred to as a visa, the Forma Migratoria Múltiple (FMM) is not a visa but a tourist card that is obtained by filling in and submitting a form at the border or online. All foreigners must obtain an FMM to enter Mexico.

The FMM should be kept safe as it will be needed to exit the country. The Mexican government has set up an online portal for obtaining an electronic FMM up to 30 days in advance of a visit.

To apply for a work permit for Mexico, expats must have a job offer in hand as the employer is central to the application process.

Employers hiring foreign nationals have to be registered with the National Immigration Institute and must obtain approval for any expat employees. Once approval is granted, an authorisation number (NUT number) will be issued. This number is used in the work permit application.

Holders of work permits will need a temporary resident visa in order to live in Mexico.

The temporary resident visa allows expats to stay in Mexico for one year. Once the visa expires, there is an option to renew for one, two or three years. This is the most common visa for expats employed in Mexico and their dependents who intend on living in the country for longer than six months but less than four years.

Expats are required to apply for a temporary resident visa at a Mexican consulate before arriving in the country. Once in Mexico, the holder of the visa is required to register at their nearest immigration office within 30 days to obtain a temporary resident card.

Expats can apply for a permanent resident visa after living in the country for four years on a temporary resident visa.

A permanent resident visa needs no extensions and is for expats who plan to live in Mexico permanently. Permanent residents may work in Mexico without having to apply for a work permit.

After five years, holders of permanent resident visas can apply for Mexican citizenship.