VISAS, FMM – Part 1 of 3


Part I of 3


for Mexico

Okay – I did warn you in my reminder mailing that my next article would be about Visas…this is important info, albeit a tad dry…maybe it’s time to get that second cup of coffee?  Well, here goes…Each immigration office can, and does, set local requirements, and the final word is theirs on Visas – to their interpretation, apparently – however, no one can or should impose extra charges to secure a visa.

First, in this series, we can easily and quickly cover the visa most of you are already familiar with – it was called the FMT – it’s now called the FMM Visas.

FMM Visas

This is the form you fill out when you fly into Mexico for short visits and vacations – also used on ships, if you are going to be in Mexico for a while, and when you drive into Mexico, and are going further than the “free zone”.  An FMM is required by all individuals entering and exiting Mexico (except Mexican citizens), including holders of FM3 and FM2 visas.

This visa, FMM, covers a maximum time period of 180 days, if you enter Mexico by car. 

FMM visas are only good for a maximum time period of 90 days if you arrive by plane or ship…but then, you can request an additional 90 days through any Mexican Immigration Office.

  • This permit comes in two parts, one half is retained by immigration when you enter Mexico, the other half, green, is yours to keep and protect.
  • You must return the green half of your FMM form upon exiting Mexico.

 As of 2010, there is no rule that states you can only have one FMM approved per year.

There is not a legal limit stating you can only stay in Mexico 180 days per year.

An FMM is a permit to enter the country as a visitor…period… and is turned back in, when your visit is over.

FMM visa does not give you permission to work.

You are limited to the amount of household items you can bring into the country with an FMM. 

visas fmm

Cruiseline monkey towel art

You must have SOME type of a visa to be allowed into Mexico (past the free zone – The Free Zone, also known as the the Liberated Zone, the Perimeter Zone and/or Free Trade Zone is a customs’ designation for that area located along the Mexican international land borders, and they run inward up to the point at which the Mexican Customs authorities have their first “interior” check point (usually about 20 to 26 kilometers into Mexico from the border towns – exceptions are on the peninsula of Baja California and places like Puerto Peñasco (Rocky Point) where it runs to the ocean front, along the main highways.)

You must turn your visa in when you leave Mexico.  Treat it as preciously as you do your Passport.  If you should loose your visa, report it immediately to the nearest Mexican Immigration office and be prepared to show proof of citizenship (Passport). 

To secure FMM visas:

  • Have proof of citizenship (passport or certified copy of your birth certificate, plus a photo I.D.);
  • Divulge all info requested e.g. your place of birth, your destination, the reason for your visit, etc., on the required form;
  • Visa cost will be approximately $23 U.S.D.;
  • Where:           
    • If by vehicle, request FMM Visas at the border; (In my book, Retire In Luxury, I tell of how on our first trip into Mexico, at the serious checkpoint border, we just sort of followed the lines – hoping someone knew what they were doing and where they were going – it worked.);
    • If by plane, at the check-in counter at the airport or on the plane while en route (and this is the usual, you are handed a form and will fill it out while flying – then the cost is included in your ticket);
    • Your travel agent;
    • Any Mexican Consulate.

If you have received an FMM, you then have 30 days in which to exchange that visa, if you want, in the town of your residence, for an FM2 visa or an FM3 visa.  Articles explaining these two visas will be the next two that I post on site.

I do make a disclaimer here – I’m no lawyer – this info is offered to you in an attempt to make things run a bit smoother for you in transition – contact an attorney if you have specific questions on visas.

Do you have any questions about retiring to Mexico or getting your paperwork in order? Just let me know.

If you don’t see the comment field right after this paragraph, click on “read full article” and let me know what you think about my Visas article.

On Facebook? Comment on this post...


20 Responses to VISAS, FMM – Part 1 of 3

  1. Debra Robinson

    September 6, 2010 at 6:51 am

    Hi Barbie, I just wanted to write and let you know that my husband and I have been flying in and out of Cancun for the past two years. We always put 180 days on our FMM and they have always approved it so far. We do not put just 90 days. We have not decided if we want to get am FM3, or just keep being a tourist, as far as Mexico is concerned. Of course this requires us to leave the country every 180 days or less, but we do not have a problem with this, since our kids and parents still live in the states. Thanks, Debra


    September 7, 2010 at 8:20 am


  3. Larry

    September 8, 2010 at 6:22 am

    I read all of your blogs and find them very informative, especially this one.

  4. Milton Platt

    September 10, 2010 at 6:19 am

    I have read in your article as well as elsewhere that you must turn in your tourist visa when leaving the country. I have been driving or busing into Mexico one or more times per year since around 1995 and have never turned one in upon exiting, nor has anyone I have spoken to about this.

    Additionally, I would include in this three part series instructions on bringing a car into Mexico as well, which is a separate process.

  5. iabeachlvr

    September 10, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    Also having flown into cancun many times, ive never had to pay for an FMM. I have been told however if you lose the stub that needs to be returned on ur departure, they will charge you $50. thanks for the info!

  6. Barbie


    September 12, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    Hi Josh – the airlines and cruiselines simply include the service in the cost of your ticket, so you paid for it, without knowing. :) Barbie

  7. Barbie


    September 12, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    Hi Milton – interesting – don’t know where you cross into Mexico – I’ve never heard of that – or do you just do business in the “free zone”? Barbie Thanks for the suggestion too – a good one.

  8. Barbie


    September 12, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    Hi again – Barbie here – there are step by step directions for bring a car into Mexico in my book, Retire In Luxury. Barbie

  9. Barbie


    September 12, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    Hi Milton – One more reply tonight :) Have you read my article that does pretty well cover bringing cars into Mexico. Barbie

  10. Rick

    September 13, 2010 at 11:26 am

    I did my FM3 at the consulate in Phoenix. When issued, they informed me I would have to go to the Immigration office in Mazatlan to have it validated. In Mazatlan, I was told I would have to provide all the documentation (bank statements, criminal check, water&elec bills) and come back in 2 weeks. I was on a one week vacation so returned to Phoenix with nothing.
    I’m married to a Mex. National (from La Cruz one hour north of Mazatlan), so after all the work, I by-passed the FM3 and went for the FM2. I did it in Rocky Point (Puerto Penasaco) Sonora (4 hours from Phoenix.
    I have a good contact so if anyone needs help please feel free to call or email me.
    Retireing 1/01/11. Looking forward to my dual life.

  11. Barbie


    September 14, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    Hi Rick – Gave me a smile – shows you can’t count, too precisely, on things getting done as expected, in Mexico. Glad you worked through it!! Barbie

  12. Juanita Brown

    September 15, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    Could you pass on my email address to Rick in Phoenix who is retiring 1/1/11? I would like to have his contact he offered to share in Puerto Peñasco. Many thanks for the great service you offer, Barbie.

  13. lax car service

    November 16, 2010 at 11:25 am

    Thank you so much for this post! I didn’t realize you needed a visa. I thought you were fine as long as you had a passport!

  14. Barbie


    November 23, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    Just depends on your length of stay – and what you need to do. Barbie

  15. mahesh

    October 14, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Hi Barbie ,

    I am from india. i got mexican business visa sticker on 27 april 2011. and it has expiry date of 27 oct 2011. i came to mexico on 24 Aug 2011. i have been here for since last 50 days. i was given FMM with 180 days stay granted.

    i want to ask.. these 180 days in FMM starts from 27 april 2011 ( the day visa was issued to me in new delhi ) or these 180 days starts from my date of entry in mexico that is 24 Aug 2011.

    hope to get your promt reply..


  16. Barbie


    October 19, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    Please, check with a Mexican official. Barbie

  17. Mahesh

    October 20, 2011 at 5:35 am

    Thank you barbie,

    i went to INM center last week and they told me FMM days are calculated from date of entry and i dont have any problem.


  18. Barbie


    October 22, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    Excellent – glad you found good news! Barbie

  19. GLENN

    December 18, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    Do you need a FMM if driving from Phoenix and staying in Rocky Point only for more than 7 days.?

  20. Barbie


    December 20, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    Tourist and other Visitor requirements have not changed much. For the Tourist, you’ll still fill out and use the Visitor’s Permit (FMM), available at the border, from the airline or ship as you travel.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *