Before You Visit - Visas and Money
While it might sound crazy, it’s really not uncommon to hear of someone who planned a two week vacation to San Miguel, decided to stay a month, and ended up buying a home. Knowing that the charms of San Miguel are hard to resist and that there’s a strong probability that you will want to stay longer than you ever anticipated, we suggest you plan ahead when it comes to your visa.
To help ensure that you have any eventualities covered, we suggest the following: 1) When you enter Mexico, whether it be in Immigration at the airport or when driving across the border, always ask the immigration officer for 180 days (the maximum days given) and explain that while you expect to return sooner than that, there’s a chance that your plans will change. Be aware that some entry points are known for automatically writing in 180 days when they issue your visa, and at others, the immigration officer will ask you how long you are staying and will only give you the exact number of days you state that you will be in Mexico. In the second case, it’s fine to ask for more than you expect you will need, just in case.
Having those extra days on your visa can come in very handy if you end up staying longer than anticipated. One, it will prevent you from having to pay a fine when leaving the country. Airlines commonly disregard this offense, but sometimes customs requires you to pay a fine, which will take both money out of your pocket and time out of your day, time that you might very well need to board your flight. In addition, if if there is any chance you may purchase a property in San Miguel, as a foreigner, you will need a permit from the Ministry Of Foreign Relations to do so. Generally, after you leave the country, your realtor, via the notario you will use for closing, will process the paperwork necessary for this permit on your behalf, but your visa needs to be valid at the time that this paperwork is being processed.
2) For a more comprehensive understanding of these issues, read the Legal Matters section in our Newcomers Guide to San Miguel. [LINK] It covers both Visas and Buying Real Estate.
Although it happens less commonly now than it did a few years ago, visitors to San Miguel still sometimes ask how to bring in the cash necessary to pay for their stay or to purchase a home here. For various reasons, bringing in large wads of cash just isn’t done anymore.
Today most visitors simply use their credit or debit card for their travel needs. However, if you are not an experienced international traveler, read through the Money section in our Newcomers Guide To San Miguel [LINK] so that you have an idea of what precautions you need to take when using credit or debit cards while you are here. Also, before you travel, you’ll want to investigate what your bank will charge you for withdrawing cash and transferring money.