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  • Writer's picture Michaela & Ricardo

Which Mexico Visa Is Right For You?

Updated: Feb 16



The following is an excerpt from our soon to be published Ebook "The Ultimate Guidebook To Visiting & Retiring To Lake Chapala" to be sold in Kindle edition on Amazon.


Okay, you've finally decided that Lake Chapala is right for you and you're ready to make the move. Whoa! Hold your horses! There is lots to consider before rushing into this and one of the major considerations is what type of Visa you will apply for. Carefully examine the information below before making any decisions. Knowing what visa to apply for can make a big difference! So what are the considerations and what can you do, or not do, with each one? Let's break it down.

 

There are 3 types of Visas. The Tourist Visa (issued only for a maximum of 180 days) ; the Temporary Visa (good for a maximum of 4 years with renewals) ; and the Permanent Visa (good forever once received). If you are just starting to explore Lake Chapala as a retirement destination, then the tourist Visa is perfectly fine. You can even start renting here, just be sure to leave the country before the 180 days and you can return with a fresh 180 day visa.

 

Note: Mexico is cracking down on the 'perpetual tourist' and being given the maximum 180 day visa is not always granted if they consider you a 'perpetual tourist'.

  

Tourist Visa


Banking – You are allowed to open a bank account at only a few select banks (not National Banks).

Purchasing A Car – You are not able to purchase a car in the state of Jalisco.

Bringing A Car Down To Mexico – You can bring your own U.S/Canadian plated vehicle but you need to obtain a Temporary Import Permit (TIP) to bring your car into the country. This TIP is valid for the length of your Tourist Visa. Remember to obtain a Mexican Insurance policy.

Drivers License – You can drive with your U.S/Canadian drivers license.

Moving – You are not allowed to bring household goods duty free into the country except for the limited items allowed under a Tourist Visa

Real Estate - Good news! There is no problem buying real estate on a Visitor Visa but note that if you purchase under a Tourist Visa, you cannot get the utilities changed to your name until you obtain your Temporary or Permanent Visa AND receive your CURP (social security) and RFC (tax) number. If you sell under a Tourist Visa you are paying 35% capital gains tax.


Temporary Visa


Banking – You can open an account at any bank including National banks

Purchasing A Car – You can purchase a car in Jalisco but you are required to show additional paperwork. Anyone is allowed to drive a Mexican plated car with a license.

Bringing A Car Down To Mexico – You can bring your own U.S/Canadian plated vehicle but you need to obtain a Temporary Import Permit (TIP) to bring your car into the country. This TIP is valid for the length of your Temporary Visa. This will need to be extended when you extend your Temporary Visa as it is tied to the length of your Visa. Therefore, if you extend 1 year you can extend your TIP for one year. If you extend your Temporary Visa for 3 years, you can extend your TIP for 3 years. Fortunately, you do not need to return to the border for this. You can extend your TIP while living in Lake Chapala.

Drivers License – If driving a U.S/Canadian plated vehicle, you can drive with your U.S/Canadian drivers license. Only the registered owner can drive (or must be in) the car. If you purchased a Mexican plated vehicle, you should obtain your Mexican drivers license.

Moving – You have a maximum of 1 ½ years to bring your household goods into the country. The clock starts from when you receive your Temporary Stamp in your passport at the consulate and ends at the conclusion of your first year as a Temporary Visa holder.

Real Estate - Good news! There is no problem buying real estate on a Temporary Visa. You can get the utilities changed to your name after you receive your CURP (social security) and RFC (tax) number. As a Temporary Visa holder you are able to use the capital gains exemption and pay less or no tax upon selling.


Permanent Visa


Banking – You can open an account at any bank including National banks.

Purchasing A Car – You can purchase a car in Jalisco. Anyone is allowed to drive a Mexican plated car with a license.

Bringing A Car Down To Mexico – As a Permanent Visa holder, you cannot bring your own U.S/Canadian vehicle into the country unless you Import your vehicle. This can only be done at the border with a border broker and only some vehicles are allowed to be imported. The cost runs around $3000-5000 and can take a full day at the border.

Drivers License – You must have a Mexican Drivers License.

Moving – You have 6 months to move your household goods into the country from the date you receive your Permanent Visa Card in Mexico. You will need to return to your home country to present the “menaje de casa” to the Mexican consulate for approval and stamping.

Real Estate - Good news! There is no problem buying real estate on a Permanent Visa. You can get the utilities changed to your name after you receive your CURP (social security) and RFC (tax) number. As a Permanent Visa holder you are able to use the capital gains exemption and pay less or no tax upon selling.


The Importance of Establishing Proof of Residency


This is really important for almost anything you do in Mexico! “Prueba de Domocilio” or Proof of Residency is tied explicitly with your CFE (electrical) bill, Internet Service Provider or Water Bill. You must get your name on one of these documents in order to do just about anything in Mexico. So if you are renting long term, ask your landlord to have the Internet Provider changed to your name or open up your own account with another provider. Opening a Mexican Bank account (along with your rental lease agreement) is sometimes another acceptable way to prove where you live.


Conclusion


It's important to have an understanding as to what you can and cannot do on each Visa.

The next chapter in the book covers the monetary requirements and how to go about applying and obtaining your Mexican Visa. After looking at these requirements, you may have to go back and review which Visa you will apply for.

Choosing the correct Visa to begin with in accordance to your plans to move to Mexico will save you a tremendous amount of grief.


Consider taking one of our Personalized Seminars and find out in detail all about immigration matters, banking, owning a car, moving, healthcare, and so much more.

Information is power and peace of mind.

Thank you for reading.





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