Apply For Your Visa: FMM or FM3
Foreign nationals, (you and I), under an FMM or FM3…
…can visit Mexico for a defined period of time and take part in non-remunerative activities such as vacations, holidays, and/or just visiting.
The Mexican Tourist permit, FMM, allows you to remain in Mexico up to 180 days, and is available from airlines and ports of entry – that’s what you fill out when you’re on the plane – or ship.
You can use an FMM permit to enter Mexico for leisure or when you think you are ready to look for property you may want to invest in – either for retirement or perhaps recreation while you are still working.
You will need the FMM if and when you purchase a property, and usually your realtor or developer in Mexico will be able to help you with any questions you may have about your visa. Check with the nearest Mexican Consul (not tourist office) for current requirements, as they do change from time to time, but not a lot.
Requirements for remunerative (you are planning on making money) visits or longer stays (over 180 days) require special permits from the Mexican Consulate.
It is not necessary to have an attorney for this process.
For extended stays in Mexico, you must apply for a Visitor permit (usually an FM3) and state what the purpose of the visit is. The latest fee information is available at your local Mexican Consulate.
…entitles you to bring household items with you, if you decide to move to Mexico, and withing the first 6 months of holding that visa, your household items you are importing will not be taxes – there are regulations.
With an FM3, you no longer need to renew your car permit every 6 months. An FM3 gives you one year permission to be in Mexico, with four extensions of one year, for a total of five years.
Full resident status entitles you to all rights and benefits of a Mexican National (live, work, claim state benefits and to pay taxes) but you cannot vote in Mexican elections. These permits may also prohibit work in specific industries. You do not have to surrender your natural Citizenship to be granted full resident status in Mexico.
FM3 and FMM article by Barbie. Updated 7-2011: http://moneysavingmexico.com/mexico-visas-passports/permit-visa-for-mexico/
Addition Feb 3, 2013 – the amount you need to move to Mexico has changed – see – http://consulmex.sre.gob.mx/detroit/index.php/info-english