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Foreigners may enter Mexico with any proof of citizenship and photo identification. No tourist card or visa is necessary if the tourist is staying fewer that 72 hours and staying within the border zone. Passports are not required, but are preferred. Mexico will accept a certified copy of a birth certificate, naturalization certificate or consular certificate of birth abroad. Drivers' licenses, voters registrations or other documents are not accepted as proof of citizenship.
Tourist Visas

Tourists traveling beyond the border zone (approximately 12 miles into Mexico depending on the location) or entering Mexico by air, must pay a fee for a tourist card (FM-T) which can be issued for stays of 30, 60, 90 to 180 days at the discretion of the immigration officer. If the tourist wants to extend the stay beyond the number of days granted in the initial tourist card, the tourist can go to the nearest Mexican immigration office to obtain an extension. Generally all that is required is proof that the tourist has enough funds to support himself for the duration of the stay. If arriving by air, the cost of the tourist card is usually included in the price of the ticket.

Importing a Vehicle

Tourists who are traveling beyond the border zone and who wish to bring their automobiles, must obtain a permit at the border before continuing on into Mexico. To obtain the permit, the tourist must present two copies each of proof of citizenship, drivers license, a valid credit card, title to the vehicle (including any towed vehicles or boats) and tourist card to a Banjercito branch (usually right there at the border). All documents must be in the name of the title holder of the vehicle. It is important to cancel the permit upon leaving Mexico to insure that you are not charged for the bond on your credit card and to make sure you don't end up on a "black list" which could prevent you from bringing another vehicle into Mexico at a later date. Generally, the permit for the vehicle is issued for the same period of time as the tourist card. If you do not have a credit card, you will be required to post a cash bond of between $200 and $400, depending on the age and value of the car.

Importing Other Items

Tourists entering Mexico by land may bring with them their personal items and up to $50 US dollars worth of non-exempt goods or gifts. Tourists entering by air may bring their personal items and non-exempt items of up to $300 US each. Dollar amounts for family members traveling together may be combined. For more specifics about what personal items may be brought in duty free, contact a Mexican consulate or tourism office in the US or the Mexican customs office at the border.

Extended Stay Visas

If you wish to live in Mexico for more than 180 days per year, there are basically two different types of Visas available, the FM-3 or non-imigrante visa or the FM-2 imigrante visa. The FM-3 is issued for a period of one year and must be renewed at the end of the year. Basically it is for people who want to retire in Mexico or work in Mexico for a period of time and can show proof of sufficient financial resources from outside Mexico to support themselves. There are many variations of the FM-3. It must be renewed every year.

After 5 years, the person may apply for an FM-2 visa which allows the person to permanently reside in Mexico. Some people prefer to keep renewing the FM-3, as there are no restrictions on how often the person may leave Mexico and for how long. With an FM-2 visa, there are some limitations on the amount of time the person may stay outside of Mexico. Also, a person on an FM-3 visa may import a personal vehicle on a temporary permit (which runs concurrent with the FM-3), whereas with the FM-2, the foreigner may not import a vehicle. For more specific information on the requirements for each type of visa or to obtain the visas, contact any immigration office in Mexico or any Mexican consulate in the United States.