To visit San Felipe for a few days you do not need a visa or a passport. However, you must have documents (preferably a US passport or birth certificate with picture ID such as a driving license) to return to the USA. Foreign residents of the USA will need their Green Cards and passport from their country of origin. Note that passports or passport cards will be required of all persons entering the US (both citizens and non-citizens) starting in June 2009. (see more details here).
There are 3 classes of visas for visiting or living in Mexico : FMT, FM-2 and FM-3.
FMT: Is a Tourist Visa. If you stay MORE THAN 7 days in San Felipe, or if you go to mainland Mexico, you need a Tourist Visa. The cost is approximately $262.00 pesos. You will need a valid U.S. (or other country) passport and picture I.D. to apply. This visa must be picked up at Immigration office as you enter Mexico. (If you cross the border from Calexico to Mexicali, the Mexican immigration office is immediately on the right as you cross the border.) You may no longer purchase a tourist visa in San Felipe.
FM-3: is a Visa for temporary residents, i.e you are technically in Mexico on a part-time basis and you return to your mother country periodically. The visa is renewable yearly for up to 5 years and a new FM-3 can be obtained when the old one expires if desired. You must have an FM3 to enter into any binding legal contract in Mexico - for example to sign a contract to buy a house or to lease property. The vast majority of people who come to live in San Felipe get an FM3. Normally you will be residing in Mexico without permission to work. You are then called a Resident Pensioner. If you plan to invest at least $150,000.00 dollars in real estste or similar, you are entitled to apply to be a Resident Investor. There are other classes of FM-3 that may be appropriate to your situation if you are coming to Mexico to accept an executive position with a company or if you are involved in the arts or professional sports. See the classes and general requirements on the Mexican government website here.
You can apply for an FM3 at the immigration office in San Felipe but you must have a valid FMT before you can get an FM3. You can also apply at your local Mexican consulate in the States. It's quicker and you don't need the appostille, but you must register in Mexico at any Immigration Office within 45 days after the date received. If not, FM3 isn't valid.
FM-2: is a Visa for permanent residents. Requirements for FM2 - you must live in Mexico full time and have had an FM3 for at least 5 years .
New Immigration Policy: Effective October 2006, all Tourists Visas (FMT's) must be obtained at the immigration offices at the respective borders. You may no longer purchase one at our office here in San Felipe nor the airport. The seven day rule still applies (visitors here for 7 days or less do not need one), however, if you are going to purchase property or sign a lease of any kind, you must apply for an FM-3.
In order to get an FM-3, you need an FMT (Tourist Visa) to complete the application process. In the past, we were able to go to the office at the Glorietta or airport, but no longer as they do not have the authority to issue visas. In addition, if you need to have your FM-3's or FM-2's stamped, this must also be done at the border, as you enter or leave Mexico. With an FM3, when you leave the country because of illness or an emergency, it is a good idea to have your FM3 stamped by immigration in the event you do not return in time to renew. There is a fine for failing to renew in a timely manner, however, if your FM3 is stamped on exit and entry, you avoid the fine. If you have an FM2, because you are now classified as a person resident 100% of the time in Mexico, you must have it stamped each time you exit and enter the country. Crossing from Calexico to Mexicali, stay in the extreme left lane and park just before the entry booth. The white building houses the immigration offices. There are similar offices at the Calexico East crossing, at Tecate and the Otay Mesa and San Ysidro crossings to Tijuana.
FM-3: $1,038.00 pesos for an FM-3/ rentista without working papers; FM-3with working papers $1,685.00 pesos; If you want one of the local businesses to do the paperwork for you, the going rate has now jumped to $235 dollars.(2/07)
FM-2: $2,245.00 pesos (+ 536 pesos are paid when FM2 is applied forfirst time)... For a total of $2,781.00 pesos. Call immigration for more detailed explanation 577-l083.Renewals each year will differ as immigration raises the prices approximately 3 times a year. We recommend that you hire a competent professional if you wish to apply for an FM2.
Tourist visas are no longer required for car trips of up to seven days to San Felipe. Over 7 days, check at Immigration.
For information or complaints, please contact Lic. Gabriela. The phone number of the office is (686) 577-1083.They are open Monday - Friday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The office is located at the Glorietta (traffic circle) on the righthand side of the street as you are heading out of town. If you have anyfurther questions, please email us through the link at contact us and we will try to answer your questions.
WHAT'S REQUIRED FOR AN FM-3 NOTE THAT THE REGULATIONS HAVE BEEN UPDATED IN 2008
For those of you who either lease lots, rent houses, or have purchased property through a Fideicomiso Irrevocable, you must have an FM-3 to be legal in Mexico. Once you have signed any sort of contract,you are no longer a tourist. If you do not have an FM-3 and you find yourself in a property dispute or other entanglement which puts you inthe arms of juris prudence, you literally have no rights as an "illegal alien." This means your property, bank accounts, vehicles and personal belongings, are in jeopardy. The very minimum you need for owning orleasing property is the FM-3 which is renewable every year for 5 years. The following is a listof items you will need to obtain your FM-3:
Take all these to the Immigration office. The administrator speaks excellent English and can help you with your papers. Upon completion of yourfile, you will be asked to take the "Form #5" to the bank where feesand IRS are paid and receipted. They will keep a copy, and you willreturn the rest to the Immigration office. Now you're finished. It willtake about a month for your file to go to Mexicali and be returned withyour new FM-3.
You can do all the paperwork and running around yourself; or you can contact Yolanda at YetMail 577-1253, or Lupita Foudy-Mora (see accountants in Business listings) for assistance in filling out required paperwork.
Example Application letter:
San Felipe B.C. 19 de Abril, 2009
Lic. Doreida Palafox
Por medio de la presente, solicito muy atentamente prorroga por un ano mas para radicar en el puerto de San Felipe, B.C., y depender economicamente de mis rentas que recibo de los [Estados Unidos de Norteamerica: name of country here], Pais de el que procedo.
Esperando verme favoredico con me peticion, me despido no sin antesenvirarle un cordial saludo.
FM3 1st time: CAMBIO DE CARACTERISTICA
REQUIREMENTS TO IMPORT HOUSEHOLD GOODS INTO MEXICO(HOUSEHOLD-VISA) SUBJECT TO CHANGE!!!
The furnishings import does not include weapons or explosives,alcohol, beverages, medicines, food, spices, motorcycles, trucks and cars. For motorcycles and vehicles, applicant must contact a customs broker. Business hours: from 8:00 - 13:00, Monday to Friday 408 Heber Avenue, Calexico, California 92231-2811.
Revised January 2009
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