After moving to Merida, we wanted to do a few things: get the pets in safely from India and find a local vet, learn Spanish, buy a car, and get our temporary Mexican residency. We did all these things, but the permit for residency takes time and you are not allowed to leave Mexico during that time. I needed to leave Mexico for work and had to apply to leave – which is necessary or your application will be canceled and voided. This is how to get an exit permit from Mexico while your temporary residency is pending.
I wrote a detailed guide to getting residency for Mexico with how I did it (interviewing at the Mexican consulate in Atlanta then following up to finalize the permit in the INM office in Merida). You can read all about that here. But, while you are waiting on that permit to be finalized, you cannot leave and that can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.
How to Get an Exit Permit from Mexico While Your Temporary Residency is Pending AKA “El Permiso de Salida y Regreso”
This is the exact page to find the information from the Mexican government on this. It’s in Spanish, but just right click and say “translate page” and you can read it in English if you need to. You can also look at the requirements to leave on this page and the form you need to fill out here.
Where do you go to get permission to leave Mexico while your temporary resident visa is pending? The INM (immigration office)
What is the cost of the exit permit? Currently 405 pesos, but this changes each year.
How many times can you use the permit? It can be used only ONCE.
How long is the permit good for? It expires in 90 days from the day it’s issued.
TIP: If you apply way ahead of when you need to leave, they will wait to issue it closer to your flight date thinking that you want as much of those 90 days as possible but if you are only leaving for a short time, not a full 90 days, let them know they can process it right away.
What you need to take with you to the INM to get the exit permit
- Copy of the application form pending the resolution (original AND a copy of the pending paperwork for your visa)
- Proof of payment of rights (405 pesos). You can do this online with this form (which is of course, in Spanish), print, then take it to the bank and make the payment.
- A child-sized photograph (size 2.5 x 3 cm.) In front, white background, with forehead and ears uncovered, without earrings and without glasses
- This form filled out online and then printed
- A copy of your flight itinerary or other travel outside of Mexico
- Proof or writing with which the foreigner accredits or states causes of force majeure when he requests this procedure before the immigration authority of the place destined for the international transit of persons through which he leaves the national territory.
Here are some screenshots from the government site saying what is needed in case you want to see that:
Here is another place that listed what is needed:
Do not make mistakes on the form in #4. This is what causes delays. Remember when you type your “Calle” which is your street number, you must put the streets it’s between. Example: you live on Calle 50 between 30 and 32, you need to write Calle 50 x 30 y 32. The form is fairly easy to get through IF you know Spanish. If not, you really shouldn’t guess as you’ll just be running around like a chicken with your head cut off back and forth to the office with fixes.
This is what the online form looks like. Fill it out online, submit it, but also print it out.
Number five is pretty important. You need to prove that you NEED to leave Mexico and they give you a letter that has blanks on it that you just fill in. You have to apply at the same office that your visa is pending. I had flight tickets that were my proof.
I had all these documents photographed but honestly, it takes ages to black everything out in my photo editor and I don’t think it’s important to see the forms, they are linked :)
This is what they say is their process on the website:
“Upon entry of the foreign person, the migratory authority of the immigration screening filter will record the income of the foreign person, in the status of stay indicated by the exit and return permit. The foreigner has the obligation to obtain in the permit of departure and return, the migratory stamp upon leaving the national territory and upon his return. The foreign person must complete the FMM for statistical purposes, both at departure and upon return.” FMM is just that form that they give you on the plane to fill out when you land in Mexico, so you’re basically going to do this backwards.
What is happening is when you enter the country on the temporary residency but it’s not finished, you have that FNM paper. You have to go to the INM office and change that FNM paper to the plastic residency card – which is how you finish the residency. You have to give them over that FNM paper. Since you don’t have it, you cannot leave Mexico as that is the paper you show to leave Mexico when you aren’t a resident.
So, you have to get the exit permit which is a literal piece of paper that you will show at immigration when you leave Mexico that says you can leave. You have to keep this paper! It’s like the opposite of the FNM form. When you go to leave, you will get an FNM form from the airline staff and do it backward like you would as a resident – it seems odd, but you will fill out the BOTTOM part for them to stamp with your exit details (fill out the top, too but that is for when you come back with your airline and date information) and you will take that with you to immigration to leave Mexico. They will stamp that and your exit letter. You need to keep the exit letter and the TOP part of the FNM paper. If you were a resident, you would just have the FNM paper.
Then when you re-enter Mexico, you will show that again. On the plane when they are passing out FNM forms, you don’t need one because you have that top half with your entering flight information. Show it with your letter. They will stamp your incoming letter, passport, and keep that FNM paper.
I did this three times. One time, they forgot to stamp my FNM paper when I exited from Mexico City and the immigration in Merida just rolled his eyes about it and still let me go through without issue when I re-entered Mexico.
That’s the gist of it. Then you’ll go to the INM and hopefully finish your residency that is pending. Take them the final exit permit letter which is stamped in and out. You need to keep this!
The process is easy at the airport. Just make sure you get that FNM form when you check into your flight. One thing you need to keep in mind is that you don’t have a forced immigration line in Mexico City if you are doing a “through” flight from somewhere else in Mexico out. AKA, I went from Merida to Mexico City then took my international flight from there.
In Mexico City when you get off your first flight, you are already in your terminal. There are kiosks you will see signs for foreigners who are residents. Go there. You cannot board your flight if you don’t have the stamped paper. This is for all residents of Mexico temporary or permanent. The sign is pictured below. They will be the ones to stamp your bottom half of FNM and give you the empty top half to keep for your return. It’s literally just across from a Starbucks.
If you are like me and have 5 trips lined up and have to keep getting exits permits (haha, I highly suggest avoiding this!), then you’ll want to go to the office and submit the next one right after you get back.
I needed so many exit permits for trips to Panama, NY, New Orleans, Florida, and Ohio and had so much lined up to do here like buy a car and work, that I just needed help with this. I couldn’t be running back and forth to Centro fixing errors from forms I couldn’t read in Spanish. I had actually done all this research already to share about it on the blog and had read so much about the process and even then, I didn’t want to do it myself.
Hiring Help to Help Get my Exit Permits
When I first came to Merida, I had joined an expat group so I could learn about living here called Expats in the Yucatan. It’s run by Yucatan Transitional Services (YTS), a company that helps people move to Mexico (buy cars, immigration, translation, you name it). When we arrived at Cancun airport with two dogs, a cat, and a ton of luggage, we knew a taxi wasn’t going to cut it. I hired YTS to pick me up at the airport. They were helpful and professional and with good rates, I ended up just working with them on basically everything I needed help with since moving to Merida – like finishing my visa process and making sure everything was in order for buying a rental car.
This process isn’t that difficult if you have time to fix mistakes and can understand Spanish. I lacked both time and Spanish skills and this was something I didn’t think twice about getting outside help with. I live in Norte, so with the Ubers back and forth and waiting at the office and the headache… not for me! I highly suggest them. If you want to connect with them, you can message them or email Erick at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on your temporary visa, this is my original post which has how to get the visa, which I did partly on my own and part with the help of YTS.