Mexico's visa "canje" process can be frustrating.

Based on first-hand experiences from those that have obtained their temporary residence visa, we have created an accurate and simple checklist* that can help you complete the "canje" process and obtain your residence visa in Mexico.

* At the moment this checklist is only for those applying for a temporary residence visa. You must have a visa sticker obtained from a Mexican consulate prior to beginning this process. Additionally, this is from the perspective of U.S. nationals, so this process may not apply to everyone.

Filling out the canje forms

The "canje" process is outdated and can be time-consuming.

Additionally, it can be difficult figuring out where to start and where to find the required forms. If you can answer yes to any of the below questions, then you're at the right place.

Filling out the canje forms

You're unsure where to start.

Filling out the canje forms

You're already frustrated with the inaccuracies and hidden nuances within the process.

Filling out the canje forms

You want to avoid paying high fees for lawyers to complete the forms for you.

Mexico's "canje" process, simplified.

Appropriately splits the list of required documents by visit

The required list provided by Mexico's federal government lumps all of the required documents into one list without specifying which documents are needed for the first visit, second visit, and so on. This can be confusing and time-consuming, especially when you're not supposed to fill out certain forms until after the first visit.

Filling out the canje forms
Filling out the canje forms

Includes additional requirements not specified by federal government websites and front-desk staff

There are additional documents required for the "canje" process that's not outlined within the federal government's website nor within the help sheet provided by front-desk staff at the immigration office.

Identifies nuances within the process that are unique to certain jurisdictions

To add to the complexity of the process, some jurisdictions require for certain fields to be filled out differently, which can be time-consuming as you aren't allowed to make changes to the forms during your visits to the immigration office.

Filling out the canje forms

Why should I get a residence visa?

The benefits obtained from completing the "canje" process are invaluable, whether you're only staying for a year or indefinitely.

Filling out the canje forms

You can open a bank account in your name and forgo ATM fees

Filling out the canje forms

You can enjoy local discounts and benefits in commercial establishments, museums, and federal/state parks

Filling out the canje forms

You can eliminate uncertainties relating to the tourist visa

Filling out the canje forms

You're not required to leave and re-enter the country every six-months per the tourist visa requirements

Filling out the canje forms

You can buy and register a Mexican-plated car instead of having to deal with stringent import laws

Filling out the canje forms

You can apply for free or low-cost medical insurance and healthcare

Save time, money, and frustrations with SimpleCanje's accurate and simple checklist.

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Have questions about the checklist? Want to pass along suggestions on additional features that should be included? Feel free to contact us below!

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Filling out the canje forms

What is the "canje" process?

Once you complete your appointment at a Mexican consulate and obtain the sticker within your passport for either the temporary residence visa or permanent residence visa, then you can officially start your "canje" process upon arrival within Mexico. The residence visa sticker is only valid for 6 months, so plan your next trip to Mexico appropriately.

When going through Customs the next time you arrive in Mexico, you're expected to show your residence visa sticker within your passport that you obtained from the consulate. The Customs agent will officially kickoff the "canje" process by checking the "canje" box within your Forma Migratoria Multiple (FFM). Here's the kicker: you only have 30 days to formally start the "canje" process at the Instituto Nacional de Migracion (INM) office closest to you. This will be noted on the FMM by the Customs agent as well.

The "canje" process can be frustrating and at times a bit stressful, as the FMM doesn't provide instructions on where or how to start. Additionally, the instructions provided by INM's website and their front-desk staff is outdated, and there are a handful of websites that you'd have to navigate just to find all of the forms needed.

As someone who went through this process in January 2020 and wasted hours at the INM trying to sort through the requirements, my frustrations drove me to create this website in hope that others will experience a simpler and less stressful process.

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Filling out the canje forms

Contact Us

If you have inaccuracies to report, please reach out to us and provide additional details pertaining to the location where the "canje" exchange took place, your nationality, and the approximate timeframe of when you went through the process.

For those that have gone through this process and want to share your experience, please contact us so that we can provide additional context for others!

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Filling out the canje forms

Temporary Residence "Canje" Checklist

Last Updated: 13 February 2020

First Visit

Upon arriving in Mexico after receiving your visa sticker from the Mexican Consulate, you're expected to formally initiate the process within 30 days.

Note: The INM is not open on the weekends, so if your 30-day expiration date lands on a Saturday or Sunday, they will likely determine your actual expiration date to be the preceding Friday.

1. Original and copy of your passport or ID that is valid under the international law

This may be one of the most straightforward pieces of this process. It's highly recommended to use your passport in case if the staff member that processes your "canje" application compares your form responses to what's shown on your passport.

For example, they may compare your response for birth state on the form to what you have on your passport.

2. FMM paper slip

This is the "admission document" that you're required to fill out every time you visit Mexico. Upon giving it to Customs, they will give you the bottom portion of the form and the number of days you're permitted to stay in the country. When you show the Customs agent your visa sticker obtained from the Mexican consulate, they will mark 30 days on your FFM paper slip and indicate that you're expected to initiate the process upon arriving in Mexico.

You will need to bring this paper slip to your initial visit at the INM.

3. Original and two copies of the receipt of payment

This part of the process is not specifically outlined on the guide and can be challenging to find. Click on the button below to follow a guide for completing this process.

4. Copy of the Mexico Visa sticker obtained by the Mexican Consulate

This isn't explicitly outlined by the federal government as a required document; however, it is needed, particularly if you're going through the "canje" process in Mexico City. You'll want to bring a copy of the visa sticker that you obtained from the Mexican Consulate.

5. Formato para solicitar trámite migratorio de estancia

This is probably the trickiest part of this initial visit. Depending on where you're completing your "canje" process, there may be nuances associated with some of the fields in the form. We'll try our best to outline them when we go through the form. Click on the button below to follow a guide for completing this process.


Second Visit

After completing the initial visit, you'll need to wait some time before you're approved to go back to the INM for the second visit.

1. Three photographs

You will need to bring three small photographs (2.5 x 3cm). Two of the photos need to be of the front and one of the right profile of the face. They must have a white background, with your forehead and ears uncovered, no earrings, and no glasses.

These can easily be taken by local businesses nearby the INM, which charge a fair price for them. If you feel pretty motivated, you might as well get those done when you walk out after your first visit. However, these photography businesses can also be found nearby foreign consulates, and should be easy to explain to them what needs to be done.

2. "Formato básico" or basic form

Click on the button below to follow a guide for completing this process.


Third Visit

Insert text here

  • [TBD]

If you find any inaccuracies, don't hesitate to reach out to me and I'll make sure to get this list updated as soon as I can.

Original and two copies of the receipt of payment

To begin this part of the process, you'll want to fill out INM's "formato para el pago de derechos", which can be found here.

It should take you to a website that will have you select an option for "tipo de persona" (type of person). Your two options are as follows: "Física" or "Moral". You'll want to select the "Física" option.

You'll then have the option to fill out fields providing information about yourself. Shown below are the details pertaining the fields.

pago de derechos
FieldTranslationDetailsRequired
Primer apellidoFirst last nameFor those of us with just one last name, this is where you would put it.Yes
Segundo apellidoSecond last nameIf you have a second last name, type it here.No
Nombre(s)NamesPut your first name here. If you have a middle name that's listed on your passport, type it here as well.Yes
RFC (con homoclave)Tax identification number for MexicoYou shouldn't have one at this point (but if you do, type it here).No
CURPMexico's unique identification number (i.e., their version of Social Security as seen in the US).You shouldn't have one at this point (but if you do, type it here).No

The below screenshot is probably what your form will look like at this point.

pago de derechos datos generales

Clicking on "Continuar" will take you to the next screen, which will ask you why you're filling this out. For the question "Tipo de trámite o servicio" (Type of procedure or service), you'll want to select "Derecho de Residente Temporal (DRT)", meaning temporary residence.
For "Trámite" (Procedure), I had a lot of options pop up that seemed to contain the same information, but I went ahead and selected the first one (see screenshot below for reference).

pago de derechos datos generales

For the "Ubicación" (Location) section, you'll want to choose the location of the office that you'll be going to.

If you live in Mexico City, once selecting "CIUDAD DE MÉXICO" for the "Estado" (State) field, you'll see that you're provided with two different options for the "Lugar donde se realiza el tramite o se presta el servicio" (Place where the procedure is performed or the service is provided) field. The two options are "ÁREA CENTRAL" and "CIUDAD DE MÉXICO/METROPOLITANA". I haven't noticed a difference between selecting one versus the other, but my interpretation is that "ÁREA CENTRAL" is for people who live in downtown CDMX (e.g., Condesa, Roma, Napoles), and "CIUDAD DE MÉXICO/METROPOLITANA" is for people that live on the outskirts of CDMX.

Once you finish selecting your location details and click "Continuar", you'll then be taken to a page that has your "Clave de referencia" (Reference key) and "Cuota" (Fee) information on there. Don't worry about writing this down. Click on the "Imprimir" button to take you to the sheet that you actually need to print to take to the bank. It should look something similar to the below screenshot:

pago de derechos datos generales

You might want to save the document as a PDF for safekeeping purposes, but if you have the ability to print it on the spot, do so at this point. Once you have a copy on hand, there are a couple of ways to go about paying this fee.

1. If you somehow already have a bank in Mexico, show this document to your bank teller and continue with the process. Make sure to have enough money in your account before wiring the money.
2. If you're like the most of us and you don't have a bank account in Mexico, go to an ATM and draw out enough money to pay the fee. After doing so, go to the bank of your choice and show the bank teller the document and the cash. They should be able to complete the process for you.

Once completed, the bank teller will hand you a receipt of the transaction. You will need this receipt and two copies of it for your initial visit at the INM office. It's important to not lose this receipt.

And that's it for this part of the process!

Formato para solicitar trámite migratorio de estancia

To begin this part of the process, you'll want to fill out INM's "formato para solicitar trámite migratorio de estancia", which can be found here.

The first section on the website will be "Tipo de trámite" (Kind of Procedure). Again, assuming you're here to apply for a temporary residence visa, you'll want to take the following steps.

For the question of "¿Qué deseas hacer?" (What do you want to do?), you'll want to select "Canjear or reponer documento migratorio" (Redeem or replace immigration document).

For the next field, "Especifica" (Specify), you'll want to select "Canje de FMM por Tarjeta de Visitante o de Residente" (FMM Exchange for Visitor or Resident Card).

pago de derechos datos generales

The next section is "Datos del extranjero (conforme a pasaporte o documento de identidad)", or "Foreigner data (subject to passport or identity document)". Use the following table to figure out what information you need to insert into the fields.

Most importantly, fill this out exactly as it's shown on your passport. They will tell you to fill out a new form and come back another time if there are differences.

FieldTranslationDetailsRequired
Clave Única de Registro de Población (CURP)Mexico's unique identification number (i.e., their version of Social Security as seen in the US).You shouldn't have one at this point (but if you do, type it here).No
Nombre(s)First Name(s)Put your first name here. If you have a middle name that's listed on your passport, type it here as well.Yes
Apellido(s)Last name(s)Put your last name here. If you have multiple last names, put them both here as well.Yes
SexoSexIndicate your sex here.Yes
Fecha de nacimientoBirthdateIndicate your birthdate as indicated on the passport.Yes
Nacionalidad actualNationalitySelect your nationality here. If you're from the United States, it will be listed as "Estadounidense".Yes
Estado civil actualCivil stateIndicate your civil status here (e.g. single, divorced, married).No

Friendly reminder that if you're unsure what any of the Spanish words mean, Google Translate is your friend.

On to the next section, "Lugar de nacimiento" (Birthplace).

For "País de nacimiento" (Birth country), you'll want to specify the birth country here.

For the "Estado, provincia o departamento" (State, province or department) field, this is where it gets really tricky. If you're filling out this process in Mexico City, there's a good chance you'll need to specify exactly what's stated in your "Place of birth" field on your passport. For example, if your passport says "Nevada, U.S.A" in the field on your passport, you'll want to put that here as well. It's counterintuitive since you've already specified your birth country before, but this is apparently the process. And lastly, don't convert the state name to Spanish (e.g., Nuevo York instead of New York).

pago de derechos datos generales

The next section is "Pasaporte o documento con el que se identifica el extranjero", or "Passport or document with which the foreigner identifies". Use the following table to figure out what information you need to insert into the fields.

Again, fill this out exactly as it's shown on your passport.

FieldTranslationDetailsRequired
Documento de identificaciónIdentification documentSelect the document type you'll be using here for your identification. Chances are you'll be using your passport.Yes
Número de documentoDocument numberType the document number here.Yes
País de expediciónExpedition/Issued countrySelect the country from in which document was created.Yes
Fecha de expediciónExpedition/Issued dateIndicate the date when the document was issued.Yes
Fecha de vencimientoExpiration dateIndicate the date when the document will expire.Yes
pago de derechos datos generales

In the "Domicilio del extranjero en México" (Foreigner's residence in Mexico) section, this is where you'll specify where you live in Mexico. Use the following table to figure out what information you need to insert into the fields.

FieldTranslationDetailsRequired
Código postalPostal codeIdentify the postal code of your residence here.Yes
EstadoStateIdentify the state of your residence here.Yes
Municipio o AlcaldíaMunicipality or Mayor's OfficeIdentify the municipality of your residence here.Yes
ColoniaSuburb/NeighborhoodIdentify the suburb or neighborhood of your residence here.Yes
CalleStreetIdentify the street of your residence here. Yes
Número exteriorExterior numberIdentify the exterior number of your residence here.Yes
Número interiorInterior numberIdentify the interior number of your residence here. Basically your apartment or condo number, if applicable.No
LadaCountry code for telephone numberIndicate the country code for a telephone number that they can reach you at. For example, if you have a cellphone from a Mexican service provider, the lada will be 52. If you have a cellphone number from the United States, you'll want to put 01.No
Teléfono fijoTelephone numberIndicate the telephone number that they can reach you at. This includes the area code.No

Personally, I didn't add my telephone number details since I don't speak fluent Spanish, and it worked out fine.

And lastly, the "Correo electrónico para notificar al promovente" (Email to notify the applicant) section.

For both of the "Correo electrónico" (Email) and "Correo electrónico (confirmación)" (Confirm email) fields, you'll want to put the email address that you'd like for them to send notifications to.

And lastly, the "Correo electrónico para notificar al promovente" (Email to notify the applicant) section.

For both of the "Correo electrónico" (Email) and "Correo electrónico (confirmación)" (Confirm email) fields, you'll want to put the email address that you'd like for them to send notifications to.

If you do have individuals that should be included within the "En su caso, persona autorizada para tramitar, oír o recibir notificaciones" (Where appropriate, person authorized to process, hear or receive notifications) section, please put them here. However, if you're going through this process by yourself, this is likely not the case.

You do have the option to provide additional commentary in the "Comentarios" (Comments) section. Feel free to provide any anomalies or information that INM should be made aware of.

And that's it! Go ahead and save it (click on "Guardar"), save PDFs of the form, and have a copy of the form printed and in hand before your initial visit at the INM!

Formato basico

To begin this part of the process, you'll want to fill out INM's "formato basico", which can be found here. The document should look like the one below.

pago de derechos datos generales

How you fill this document out is entirely up to you. I prefer to keep things as easy as possible for others to read, so I used the Preview application on my MacBook to insert text boxes over each field. Use the following tables based on each section within the form to figure out what information you need to insert into the fields.

Datos Personales (Personal Data)

FieldTranslationDetails
Apellido(s)Last name(s)Put your last name here. If you have multiple last names, put them both here as well.
Nombre(s)First name(s)Put your first name here. If you have a middle name that's listed on your passport, type it here as well.
SexoSexIndicate your sex here.
Fecha de nacimientoBirthdateIndicate your birthdate as indicated on the passport.
Pais de nacimientoBirth countryIndicate your birth country here.
NacionalidadNationalityIndicate your nationality here. If you're from the United States, you should use "Estadounidense".

Pasaporte o Documento con el que indentifica extranjero (Passport or Foreigner Identification Document)

FieldTranslationDetails
Documento de identificaciónIdentification documentList your identification document type. For most of us, it will be the passport.
Numero de documentoDocument numberList your identification document number here.

Datos Complementarios (Complementary Data)

FieldTranslationDetails
Nivel máximo de estudiosMaximum level of studiesIndicate your maximum level of studies (e.g., bachelor's).
Área del conocimientoKnowledge areaList your area of knowledge or expertise obtained either from school or industry experience.
Habla español?Do you speak Spanish?I interpreted this as a "Yes" or "No" question. Provide the answer that you're most comfortable with. Just be cautious that if you answer "Yes" here, they may speak to you in fluent Spanish.
Numero de hijosNumber of kidsIndicate the number of kids that you have here.
ReligiónReligionIndicate
Entre que calles se encuentra su domicilioTextText

Media filiacion (Text)

FieldTranslationDetails
EstaturaHeightText
PesoWeightText
Color de tezSkin colorText
Señas particularesTextText

Lugar de procedencia (Text)

FieldTranslationDetails
Pais de residencia antes de su internación a MexicoTextText
Nombre de la ciudad o poblaciónTextText
Municipio, condado o sectorTextText
Estado, provencia, departamento o distritoTextText

Para menores de edad (Text)

FieldTranslationDetails
Nombre del padreTextText
Nombre de la madreTextText
Nacionalidad del padreTextText
Nacionalidad de la madreTextText
CURP del padreTextText
NUE del padreTextText
CURP de la madreTextText
NUE de la madreTextText

Actividad en su país residencia (Text)

FieldTranslationDetails
Actividad principalTextText
Sector o rama de trabajaTextText
Situación en el trabajoTextText
Occupation en el trabajoTextText
Ingreso promedio neto mensual en pesos mexicanosTextText

Actividad en Mexico (Activity in Mexico)

FieldTranslationDetails
Actividad principalTextText
Sector o rama de trabajaTextText
Situación en el trabajoTextText
Occupation en el trabajoTextText
Ingreso promedio neto mensual en pesos mexicanosTextText