MX Phone: 415.185.8311 or 415.185.8407

US & Canada Phone: 1 (214) 550.4898

Legal Matters

When you need help with matters such as renewing your passport, notarizing a document, and receiving assistance if you have been arrested or are the victim of a violent crime, you'll want to go see the US Consular Agent in San Miguel de Allende.

The U.S. Consular agency is located in the La Luciernaga Mall. It's open Monday - Thursday from 9-1 and Fridays by appointment only. During office hours you can call the agency at 415.152.2357.

Here's what U.S. Consular says about renewing a passport: You can renew your U.S. passport in my office in San Miguel de Allende. There is no appointment required to renew an adult's passport.

It normally takes 6 weeks for your new passport to arrive in our office, but if you need it faster, we can ask that it be rushed. There is no expedited service in Mexico, even at the Embassy. If you must have your passport quickly, you can apply for an emergency passport in our office and we will get it in 7-8 days.

Alternatively, you can go to the American Embassy in Mexico City and receive one the same day.

The American Embassy in Mexico City deals with matters such as births, deaths and arrests of American citizens, violent crimes against Americans and passport issuance and renewal.

Here's what the American Embassy web page says: During business hours, U.S. citizens in distress requiring immediate assistance should call the Embassy at 555.080.2000 , ext. 4440.

If you are an American citizen with an after hours emergency, please call the Embassy switchboard at : (From the U.S.) 011.52.555.080.2000, dial 0 for an operator

From Mexico) 555.080.2000, dial 0 for an operator and ask to speak to the Duty Officer.

To reach the Canadian Embassy in DF (Mexico City), follow the link below: Canadian Embassy For emergency consular assistance, you may dial one of the following numbers: From Canada: 011-52 + 55+ 5724.7900 From Mexico 01 + 55 + 5724.7900

According to the Canadian Embassy Website, for After- Hours Emergencies, The Emergency Operations Centre of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. An experienced officer is always available to respond to emergency calls.

Toll-free from Mexico: 001-800-514-0129
Shall this number fail to work, you can dial the Embassy toll free number:01-800-706-2900.
Your call will be rerouted to Ottawa.
Call collect : (613) 996-8885
TTY: (613) 944-1310

Visa-getting can be a challenging endeavor. While there are several types of visas available for non- Mexican citizens, it should be understood that types of visas seem to change every few years and the process to obtain them even more often. In addition, rules seem to vary from one Mexican Consulate to another, so it may be helpful to check for updates at the consulate nearest you. What follows is a description of the various types of visas as of this writing. It bears repeating, however, to verify that these rules and procedures are valid at the time you read this.

Tourist Visa - Although it has changed names a couple of times in the past 10 years, a tourist visa is very easy to obtain. If you are a citizen of the US, Canada, the U.K., the EU or any of the 65 countries listed here

you do not need to obtain a visa before arriving in Mexico. Instead, when you enter Mexico, you will be issued a tourist visa as long as you have a valid passport, and if you are flying, a return ticket.

Most tourist visas are issued for up to 180 days, but this sometimes varies by port of entry. If you are not a citizen of one of the countries listed in the link above, you can find more info here:

Temporary Resident (Residente Temporal) - There are many categories of resident visas, including those giving permission to work or own a business and those that do not (lucritivo and nolucritivo). The most common type of resident visa is based on retirement, which requires either proof of monthly cash flow or investments sufficient to support yourself while living in Mexico. It is important to note that you can no longer obtain a resident visa while in Mexico. The process must begin in your home country, but is a relatively painless one.

The Temporary Resident visa allows for multiple entries and exits with no travel restrictions.

Permanent Resident (Residente Permanente) - The conventional wisdom in the past has been that this visa generally requires having a temporary resident visa for a number of years before you can apply.

However, there is nothing in the law that states this and we know of more than one visa facilitator who successfully takes clients directly to the Resident Permanente status.

Permanent Resident cards do not expire and also allow you to earn income, provided that you notify Immigration within 30 days of any change in economic activity. They also allow for multiple entries and exits with no travel restrictions.

However, if you intend to eventually apply for citizenship, there are limitations on how long you can be outside of Mexico within the five years prior to application.

If you have any visa issues once you are in San Miguel, you will need to go to the immigration office, also known as INM, or Instituto Nacional de Migración, located on Calzada de la Estación, 415.152.2542. Most employees don't speak English, so it's wise to take an interpreter with you if you are not relatively fluent.

If you would like someone to help you through the process, email us and we will connect you with a bilingual visa facilitator.

For real estate buyers, it is not necessary to have a resident visa before you purchase a property. In fact, you can own a property in Mexico for many years with only a tourist visa.

However, the advantage to having a resident visa once you own a home in Mexico is that permanent resident (Residente Permanente) status will allow you to claim the homestead tax exemption

on capital gains if you sell your primary residence.

Although there are often other tax strategies that can be used to minimize or avoid a capital gains tax without the permanent residency status, it may be wise to move toward obtaining permanent residency, since almost all of the tax changes since 2004 have been designed to eliminate the tax exemption loopholes in the law for nonpermanent

residents. If you are concerned about potential taxable gains on selling a property, contact one of the agents in our office. They are generally up to date with current trends and can set up a consultation with a notario* if necessary.

*Here in Mexico, a notario is a special attorney authorized to close real estate transactions.