Practical information for living in Mexico

Visas and permits

Student residency

If you are studying in Mexico for less than 180 days, you do not need to apply for a visa. Instead, you can stay with a tourist card, or Forma Migratoria Múltiple. This allows you to live and study in Mexico for up to six months; in order to renew a tourist card, you must leave the country before the 180 days is up and then return. You simply fill in your card on the airplane and get it stamped once you land. Do not lose your tourist card as you’ll need it to leave the country again in 6 months.

Otherwise, if you are staying for more than 180 days, you can apply for a Temporary Resident Student Visa. You’ll need to attend an interview to obtain the card, but it lasts a whole year and you can come and go as you please on this single visa, which is great if you want to do some travelling! You’ll also need to provide:

  • Your valid passport

  • Your completed application, preferably with typed entries

  • A single passport photograph

  • Proof of payment of consular fees

  • Your letter of acceptance from the Mexican university

You must also provide a medical health certificate (not proof of health insurance) which certifies that you are in good health and free from contagious disease.

Within 30 days of entering the country you must sign up to the Registro Nacional de Extranjeros so that you are officially registered as being in Mexico.

Working permission

If you want to work in Mexico, either part-time while you study or as an intern, you will need a Mexican work permit. This is obtained from the Instituto Nacional de Migración, or INM, and you must already have an offer of work or a contract from a Mexican company in order to apply. Your company will have to submit various documents and jump through a few hoops on your behalf, but the process is usually pretty painless.

You will hear back from your visa application within 20 days.

Opening a Mexican bank account

Opening a bank account in Mexico is usually a straightforward process. You’ll need to choose a bank; while it doesn’t matter too much which one, the most popular are: HSBC, BBVA Bancomer, Banco Santander, Banorte and Banamex. Arrange an appointment to open the account. You’ll need to provide the following documents:

  • Your tourist card or visa

  • Proof of residence in Mexico

  • Two financial references (who can vouch that you are financially stable)

Getting a SIM card in Mexico

When you first arrive in Mexico, it’s probably worth getting a prepaid SIM card which you can just pop into your device and use straightaway. Once you’re a little more settled, shop around for a contract deal with the likes of Telcel, Movistar, Virgin and ATT. Mobile plans aren’t expensive here compared to other countries, so you should get a lot of data and good service for your money.


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