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Mexico Visa

Updated: Jun 22, 2020

Mexico, which is officially known as the United Mexican States, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world. People travel from all over to visit its sunny beaches or its ancient historical ruins. Additionally, the cultural festivals, colonial cities and architecture, and the natural beauty make it so much more than just a place to go to when you want to lounge on a beach and a memorable place to visit.

However, depending on your nationality, if you want to visit Mexico, you may have to apply for a Mexico visa beforehand.

This article is a guide on Mexico visas: what are the types, who needs one, how to apply for a Mexico visa, and other frequently asked questions.



Who Needs a Mexico Visa?

Not everyone has to apply for a visa before going to Mexico. There is a list of countries whose nationals are allowed to travel to Mexico without a visa for stays of up to 180 days. This includes the United States, the member states of the European Union and the EFTA, Canada, Australia, etc.

Nationals of visa-exempt countries can travel to Mexico with just their passport and obtain a tourist card on arrival.

Types of Mexico Visas

There are three main types of Mexico visas, depending on the duration of your stay:

  • Mexico Tourist Visas, which are issued for a short-stay of up to 180 days. They are issued to visa-required foreign nationals who want to enter Mexico for tourism, business, a visit or any other purpose which does not require employment.

  • Mexico Temporary Resident Visa, which is issued to foreigners who want to move to Mexico for a period longer than six months but less than four years. Temporary resident visas are then further divided into:


  • Mexico Permanent Resident Visa, which is issued to foreign nationals who want to live in Mexico permanently. This type of visa is most common for retirees who will live in Mexico with an independent income, which is why it’s also referred to as a Mexico Retirement Visa. Foreigners with close family ties to Mexico as well as those who have lived in Mexico as a temporary resident for at least four years are also eligible for permanent residency in Mexico.

Is There a Mexico Transit Visa?

No, you do not because there are no Mexico Transit Visas. If you will change planes in a Mexican airport, and your transit is for less than 24 hours, once your plane lands, an immigration officer will take your passport and escort you to the airport transit hall, where you can wait for the connecting flight.

If you want to enter Mexico for any purpose, even just to transit, then you must have a valid Mexico Tourist Visa and a Tourist Card.


Where Can You Apply for a Mexico Visa?

You can apply for a Mexico visa at a Mexican embassy abroad. However, if you are from Turkey, Russia, you may be eligible to get a Mexican Tourist Visa online through the Electronic Travel Authorization (Sistema de Autorización Electrónica, SAE).

When Should You Apply for a Mexico Visa?

The time it takes to process a Mexican visa depends on the specific embassy in which you are applying. Some only take about two days to process your visa while others may take up to four weeks.

So, it is advisable to set up an appointment for a Mexico visa at least four weeks before you intend to travel.

How to Apply for Mexico Visa?

You have to apply for a Mexico visa at a Mexican embassy in your country (or the one nearest to you). The application process is as follows:

  • Contact the Mexico embassy to set up an appointment

  • Complete the Mexico Visa Application Form

  • Collect the required documents

  • Submit the application and pay the fee

Contact the Mexico embassy to set up an appointment

The application process for a visa for Mexico may differ depending on the country from which you are applying. Different Mexico embassy offices may have their own specific requirements, including the visa fee payment method, opening hours, and appointments.

This is why the first step when you apply for a Mexico visa is to contact an embassy. You can find a list of Mexican embassies around the world here.

Complete the Mexico Visa Application Form

Next, you must download and complete the Mexico Visa Application Form. You can usually find the application form on the website of the Mexico embassy where you will apply. In some cases, you will receive your application form at the embassy when you submit the application.

You can either complete the form by typing it on your computer (if possible) then printing it or by writing with legible typed letters after you have printed it. The first option may not always be available, so follow the instructions on the form or of the embassy.

You have to answer questions such as:

  • Your name, birthday, sex, and birthplace

  • Passport information

  • Marital status

  • Country of residence and address

  • Information about your job/profession

  • Questions regarding your purpose of travel to Mexico

After completing the Mexico visa application form, you must sign it. If the applicant is a minor, his/her parents have to sign the form.

Collect the required documents

When you apply for a Mexico visa, you must have several supporting documents, such as:

  • The Mexico Visa Application Form

  • Your passport (or other travel document), which is valid for at least another six months and has blank pages to affix the visa to

  • A passport size picture

  • Proof of sufficient financial means to cover the duration of your stay

  • Booked return flight ticket

  • Invitation from someone in Mexico, such as a company or organization, if applicable

  • If applying from a country that’s not your nationality: Proof of legal residence there, such as a residence permit

  • Any additional documents related to your purpose of travel


Find a more detailed list of Mexico visa requirements here.

Submit the application and pay the visa fee

On the date of your appointment, you must submit the documents and application form at the Mexico embassy. You also have to pay a Mexico visa fee.

How Much is a Mexico Visa Fee?

A visa fee for Mexico is about $36. However, the visa fee may change depending on the type of visa you’re applying for as well as the country in which you submit your application. The payment method also differs from country to country since some may require you to pay upfront via bank while others ask you to pay in cash.

Additionally, you will also have to pay for the Tourist Card, which may be between $15-$30. The prices for a Mexico Tourist Card may change slightly from time to time.

Mexico Visa Processing Time

You must check the website of the Mexico embassy where you will apply or contact them to learn about how long it will take to process your visa. That’s because not all embassies work at the same pace, and while one might process your visa within 2 working days, another might take 10 working days. In fact, some embassies recommend you schedule your appointment at least four weeks before your trip.

What is the Duration of a Mexico Visa?

The duration of a Mexico visa depends on the type of visa you have.

The duration of a Mexico tourist visa is a maximum of 180 days. However, once you arrive at the point of entry in Mexico, the immigration officials could give you a tourist card which is valid for 30, 60, or 90 days, not the full 180.

A Mexico temporary residence visa is valid for one year, but it can be renewed and extended for up to four years. After four years of temporary residency, you can apply for permanent residency.


Can you Extend a Mexico Visa?

Whether you can extend a Mexico visa or not depends on the type of visa you have.

If you receive a Tourist card which states that the number of days you are allowed to stay in Mexico is less than 180, you may be able to get an extension to the full 180 days. However, you cannot extend a Tourist Visa/Card beyond the 180 days.

You can apply for a tourist card extension at an immigration center in Mexico, but keep in mind that oftentimes, the immigration officials do not allow visa extensions.

If you have a Mexican temporary residence visa, on the other hand, you can extend/renew it for a maximum of four years, which is when you’ll be eligible for permanent residency.

What Happens if I Overstay my Mexico Tourist Card?

If you overstay your Mexico Tourist Card, you must go to an immigration office in Mexico or the immigration center at the airport and pay a fine, which is calculated based on the number of days you have overstayed. Then, you must make arrangements to get an exit visa before you leave.

What Happens if I Lose my Mexico Tourist Card?

If you lose your Mexico Tourist Card, you must visit an immigration office in order to get a replacement. You will also have to pay a replacement fee.

Can you get a Mexico Visa On Arrival?

You cannot get a Mexico Visa on Arrival. What you are most likely referring to is a Mexico Tourist Card, which is most often issued at the point of entry in Mexico – yes, on arrival.

Every foreigner who enters Mexico as a tourist, whether they need a visa or not, will get a Mexico Tourist Card before they can enter the country.

However, if you are from a country which is subject to Mexico visas, you must obtain one before you travel to Mexico.

Can You Apply for a Mexico Visa Online?

Only nationals of the following countries can apply for a Mexico visa online:

  • Russia

  • Turkey

  • Ukraine

The online Mexico visa is called an Electronic Travel Authorization (Sistema de Autorización Electrónica, SAE), and is valid for one entry, and allows the holder a maximum stay of 180 days in Mexico. However, you can only get a Mexico visa online if you intend to travel by air. If you will enter the country by sea or land, you won’t be eligible for the SAE.

If you are eligible for an Electronic Travel Authorization, you may apply here.

Do I Need a Visa for Mexico if I Already Have a US/Schengen Visa?

No, if you are from a country which requires you to apply for a visa for Mexico, you do not need one if you already have a valid Schengen visa or a valid visa for:

  • The United States

  • Canada

  • Japan

  • The United Kingdom

Additionally, if you have a residence permit issued by any of the following countries, you are also exempt from holding a Mexico tourist visa:

  • European Union countries

  • Canada

  • Chile

  • Colombia

  • Japan

  • Peru

  • United Kingdom

  • United States

How Can I Work in Mexico?

To work in Mexico (legally) you need a job offer as well as a Mexican work permit. Your employer has to obtain a work permit for you from the National Institute of Immigration (Instituto Nacional de Migración, INM).

Then, you must apply for your work visa to be allowed to enter the country for employment purposes, and apply for a temporary residence card.

How Can I Stay in Mexico Longer Than Six Months?

Everyone who wishes to stay in Mexico for longer than six months, regardless of their nationality, has to get a Mexican Temporary Residence Permit, which is valid for one year and renewable for up to four years. Additionally, if they want to work, they have to get a work permit.

You cannot enter the country on a tourist visa or a tourist card and then extend it for longer than six months. Although some visa-exempt nationals had started to enter Mexico on a tourist card, left before it expired, and then re-entered and got another 180 days of residence, that is not advisable. That’s because you cannot work on a tourist card, which means any work you do during this time will be illegal.

So, if you want to legally live and work in Mexico, you need a Temporary Residence Visa and a work permit.


Mexico is considered to be one of the most visited countries in the world, according to the World Tourism Organization. There’s so much to do and see, even when you don’t include the sunny beaches. Its natural reserves, colonial cities ancient ruins and the festivals on the one hand, and the modern architecture on the other have made it such a popular destination for years.

But, while planning your Mexico trip, you may have found yourself wondering, “Do I need a visa to go to Mexico?” Well, the Mexico visa policy depends on your nationality and the duration and purpose of your stay.

This article will detail who needs a Mexico visa and who is exempt.


Do I Need a Visa to Go to Mexico?

Nationals of most countries need a visa to visit Mexico. You don’t need a visa for Mexico only if you are from a visa-exempt country or you are in the category of people which makes you exempt from Mexico visas, as detailed below.

Mexico tourist visa exemptions (up to 180 days)

If you have a regular passport issued by one of the following countries, you do not need a visa to visit Mexico for tourism or business purposes for up to 180 days. You may also transit in Mexico without a visa for up to 30 days.

European Union citizensAndorraArgentinaAustraliaBahamasBarbadosBelizeBrazilCanadaChileColombiaCosta RicaEcuadorHong KongIcelandIsraelJamaicaJapanLiechtensteinMacauMarshall IslandsMalaysiaMicronesiaMonacoNew ZealandNorwayPalauPanamaParaguayPeruSan MarinoSingaporeSouth KoreaSwitzerlandTrinidad and TobagoUnited Arab EmiratesUnited StatesUruguayVatican CityVenezuela

Everyone who is travelling to Mexico for tourism, visit, business or other short-term purposes (up to 180 days) needs to get Mexico Tourist Card, even if they don’t need a Mexico Tourist Visa.

You can get a Tourist Card at a Mexican point of entry upon arrival or you can get it online before you travel.

Other Mexico visa-exemptions

However, even if you would normally need a visa for Mexico, you are exempt from a Mexico visa (for up to 180 days) if you fall under one of the following categories:

You already have a valid visa for:

  • Canada

  • The Schengen area

  • Japan

  • The United Kingdom

  • The United States

You have a residence permit for:

  • Canada

  • Chile

  • Colombia

  • The Schengen area

  • Japan

  • Peru

  • The United Kingdom

  • The United States

You have a diplomatic or service category passport issued by:

  • Algeria

  • Antigua and Barbuda

  • Armenia, Barbados

  • Bolivia

  • China

  • Cuba

  • Guatemala

  • Guyana

  • India

  • Indonesia

  • Kazakhstan

  • Laos

  • Malaysia

  • Mongolia

  • Morocco

  • Pakistan

  • Philippines

  • Russia

  • Saint Lucia

  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

  • Serbia

  • Thailand

  • Tunisia

  • United Arab Emirates

  • United States

You have a diplomatic passport issued by:

  • Andorra

  • Austria

  • Azerbaijan

  • Belgium

  • Benin

  • Czech Republic

  • Denmark

  • Dominican Republic

  • Ecuador

  • El Salvador

  • Ethiopia

  • Finland

  • Honduras

  • Hungary

  • Kuwait

  • Lithuania

  • Marshall Islands

  • Micronesia

  • The Netherlands

  • Norway

  • Palau

  • Portugal

  • Slovakia

  • South Africa

  • Trinidad and Tobago

  • Turkey

  • Ukraine

  • Uruguay

You have an APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) which contains the “MEX” code on the back. ABTC eligible countries are:

  • Australia

  • Brunei

  • Chile

  • China

  • Hong Kong

  • Indonesia

  • Japan

  • South Korea

  • Malaysia

  • New Zealand

  • Papua New Guinea

  • Peru

  • Philippines

  • Russia

  • Singapore

  • Taiwan

  • Thailand

  • Vietnam


Who is Eligible for Mexico Electronic Travel Authorization?

Nationals of the following countries are eligible to obtain their Mexico visa through a facilitated process online, known as the Electronic Travel Authorization (Sistema de Autorización Electrónica, SAE):

  • Russia

  • Turkey

  • Ukraine

The Electronic Travel Authorization for Mexico allows the holder to travel to Mexico for tourism, business or visiting purposes and stay in the country for up to 180 days. You must use it within 30 days of being issued and may only enter the country once.

Additionally, you can only enter the country by air, not sea or land.

Do I Need a Visa to Transit Through Mexico?

If you are from a country whose nationals typically need a visa to visit Mexico, you do not need a visa to transit in a Mexican airport, but only if your transit won’t take longer than 24 hours and you do not leave the transit hall of the Mexico City International Airport.

Once your plane lands at the airport, an immigration officer will take your passports and escort you to the transit hall, where you can wait for the connecting flight.

If you want to leave the transit hall and the airport, you will have to apply for a Mexico visa, because that counts as entering the country.

What Can I Do If I Need to Apply for a Mexico Visa?

If you need a visa for Mexico, you have to apply at one of the Mexican embassies abroad. The application process for a Mexican visa is as follows:

  1. Contact a Mexico embassy to make a visa application appointment

  2. Complete the Mexico Visa Application Form

  3. Collect the required documents along with your passport and pay the visa fee

  4. Submit the documents on the date of the appointment

  5. Wait for the visa to be processed

  6. Collect your passport and documents. If the application was successful, you will receive your visa.

You can find a list of the Mexican embassies here. Keep in mind that the exact Mexico visa application process and requirements change slightly from one embassy to another, as do the working days or hours, which is why you should contact them before you submit your application.


Mexico Visa Requirements

When you apply for a Mexico visa, you must have several documents to support your application. The Mexico visa requirements depend on the purpose as well as the duration of your stay.


Documents Required for a Mexico Visa

The documents you need to submit when applying for a Mexico visa include:

  • A Mexico Visa Application Form.

  • A valid passport or other travel documents.

  • Photocopy of your passport.

  • Passport-size pictures.

  • Booked return travel ticket.

  • Proof of sufficient financial means.

  • Proof of accommodation.

  • Employment status documents.

  • Cover letter.

  • Mexico visa fee.

  • Any additional documents related to your purpose of travel.

A Mexico Visa Application Form

The first document you have to collect when you apply for a Mexico visa is a Visa Application Form. Some Mexican embassies offer it at their offices when you submit your application, while for others you have to download it from their website.

Then, depending on where you are applying from, you can either complete the form by typing it on your computer then printing it or by writing with legible typed letters after you have printed it. However, the first option may not always be available, so follow the instructions on the form or of the embassy.

You have to answer questions such as:

  • Your name, birthday, sex, and birthplace

  • Passport information

  • Marital status

  • Country of residence and address

  • Information about your job/profession

  • Questions regarding your purpose of travel to Mexico

After completing the Mexico visa application form, you must sign it. If the applicant is a minor, his/her parents have to sign the form.

A valid passport or other travel documents

Other than the Application Form, the other main document you need for a Mexico visa is a valid passport or other travel document. The passport must have been issued in the last ten years and have at least another six months’ validity from the time you enter Mexico.

Additionally, it must also have blank pages so the Mexican embassy staff can affix your visa.

Photocopy of your passport

You must also include a photocopy of your passport’s relevant pages, such as the first and last page as well as any amendments and previous visas and stamps.

Pictures: Mexico visa photo size

Along with your application, one of the visa requirements for Mexico is submitting a passport size picture. The Mexican visa photo requirements are as follows:

  • Dimensions: 35 mm x 45 mm

  • Colored

  • White background without any patterns

  • Your position: You must be staring straight into the camera, with a neutral facial expression

  • Accessories: No headgear or glasses are allowed

  • Recent: No older than six months

Booked return travel ticket

Another important Mexico visa requirement is submitting proof you intend to depart Mexico after your trip is over. Mexico embassies could ask you to show you have booked a return flight ticket or a travel itinerary – you do not have to actually purchase the ticket before you get your visa.

Proof of sufficient financial means

You must be able to prove you have enough financial means to cover the duration of your stay in Mexico. You can do this by submitting one of the following:

  • Bank statements from the last three months

  • Your last three payslips along with a letter from your employer stating your full name, nationality, passport number, the time you have been employed, your position and your salary.

If someone is sponsoring your trip to Mexico, you must submit:

  • An original invitation or sponsorship letter, which states you full name, the company’s name and registration, what activity you will be doing in Mexico, and an estimated period of your stay

  • Photocopy of the ID of the person signing the letter

  • Bank statements from the last 12 months of the company sponsoring you


Proof of accommodation

You must be able to prove that you have accommodation in Mexico for the duration of your stay. You can submit proof of hotel reservation or another type of tourist accommodation. If you are staying with a friend, include proof of their Mexican ID or residence permit.

Employment status documents

As part of the visa requirements to Mexico is also submitting proof of your employment status, such as:

  • If you are employed: A letter from your employer stating your position in the company, the time you will be absent, and that they do not object to your absence.

  • If you are a student: A letter from your educational institution, confirming your enrollment and providing details of your course.

  • If you are self-employed: Depending on your situation, you may submit investment certificates, property deeds, commercial registration etc.

Cover letter

Some Mexican embassies may require that you submit a Cover Letter, addressed to the embassy. You must explain the reason you want to travel to Mexico and give details of your trip (enter and exit dates, where you will stay etc).

Proof of paid Mexico visa fee

When you apply for a Mexico visa, you must also pay a non-refundable visa fee, which is about US$36. The payment method depends on the specific embassy, as some ask you to pay beforehand via a bank, while others only accept cash at the time of application.

The exact Mexico visa fee amount may also change depending on the specific embassy.

Any additional documents related to your purpose of travel

Depending on what the reason you are travelling to Mexico is, you will have to submit any additional documents that support your purpose of travel. That could be an invitation letter from an organization/company, proof you will attend a conference/event etc.

Mexico Visa Document Guidelines

All the documents you submit have to be in Spanish or in English. If they are not, they must be translated to Spanish by an authorized translator and both the original and the translation has to be included.

All the official documents have to be legalized. You can legalize documents via an Apostille Stamp or (if your country is not included in the Apostille Convention) at the Mexican embassy.

The Mexican embassy requests the right to request any additional documents as they see fit.

What is the difference between a Mexico Tourist Visa and a Mexico Tourist Card?

The difference between a Mexico Tourist Visa and a Mexico Tourist Card is:

  • The Mexico Tourist Visa is an authorization which only visa-required foreigners have to obtain to be allowed to travel to Mexico. You have to apply for a Tourist visa at a Mexican embassy abroad.

  • The Mexico Tourist Card, (Forma Migratoria Múltiple, FMM) is a permit which everyone, regardless of their nationality, must get before they can enter Mexico. You can get the Tourist Card at a Mexican point of entry upon arrival or obtain it online up to 7 days before you intend to travel.

Learn more about the Mexico Tourist Visa and Tourist Card here.


Mexico Resident Visa Requirements

A Mexico Temporary Resident Visa is the type of visa you apply for when you want to stay in Mexico for longer than six months, but less than four years. As such, you must present proof of the reason of your travel to Mexico, such as:

  • Enrollment in a Mexican educational institution; or

  • Work permit and work contract; or

  • Proof of family relations to a Mexican resident or citizen

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