How to obtain Mexican nationality


Before you can apply for Mexican citizenship you need to be able to prove that you have legally resided in Mexico for one, two or five years (depending on your situation) prior to application.

With the growth of Mexico as an expat retirement destination, many people may choose to take their long-term residency to the next level: naturalisation. Acquiring Mexican citizenship is a long process, and nobody can apply if they have not yet been granted the permanent resident status. Exceptions apply to this, like marriage to a Mexican national, which may allow you to apply for citizenship throughout a shorter period (this is subject to your marriage being registered in Mexico).

Note that citizenship applications are not handled by the Immigration Office, but by the Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores (SRE)  . The naturalisation process is quite simple in Mexico if you have already been granted your permanent residency.

According to Mexican law every citizen must be able to speak Spanish and have a basic knowledge of Mexican history and culture. You will therefore be asked to undertake an exam in order to acquire Mexican citizenship.

Although almost every country today allows dual or multiple citizenships, make sure you double check with both your country of origin and the Mexican law to make sure you will not have to surrender your previous citizenship.

Rights of a naturalised citizen

Full naturalisation entitles you to most rights and benefits of a Mexican national (i.e. the right to live, work, claim state benefits, pay taxes and vote or be elected in all elections). However, as a naturalized citizen, you are not allowed to serve in certain positions (mostly in the government) such as policeman, crew-member of Mexican vessels or aircrafts, President of the Republic, Member of Congress, enroll in the military, amongst many others.

It’s important to also keep in mind that once you obtain Mexican citizenship, your consulate can no longer provide protection. Should you find yourself involved in any problems with authorities, you will be dealt with as a Mexican citizen and your consulate cannot step in to help.

Lastly, keep in mind that the process, documentation and requirements will be defined by different factors: your links to the country, marriage, son of a Mexican citizen born abroad, whether you have given birth to a child on Mexican soil, if you are of Latin American descent, or how long you have resided in the country.

Although the process is quite simple and straightforward, we recommend you find a good immigration lawyer to help you through the process.

How long does it take?

The naturalisation process takes about one year, or even longer (there have been cases of up to five years). Once the application has been reviewed, you will be asked to take a multiple choice exam for which you need to demonstrate a basic knowledge of Spanish knowledge.

Once you have received your Mexican citizenship, it is important that you apply for your Mexican passport and more importantly your INE card  (Instituto Nacional Electoral or Electoral National Institute), formerly called IFE, but still colloquially referred to as it.

Further reading

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Other comments

  • Kevin, 24 February 2009 Reply

    FM-2 or FM-3

    There is a 5 year requirement to apply the last two years you can't leave mexico. you can use a FM-2 or a FM-3 to apply. I just went through it with a FM-3.

    • William Clark 14 Sep 2009, 12:53


      I don't understand what you mean when you say "5 year requirement to apply the last two years you can't leave mexico". I have an FM-2. During the 5-year duration of the FM-2, I am allowed to be out of the country for a total of 18 months to be distributed as I like during the 5 years. At the end of the 5 years, I can apply for "immigrado." If I spend more than 18 months out of the country, I may still keep my FM-2, but I may not apply for inmigrado at the end of the 5 years. If I spend more than 2 years out of the country during the 5 years, my FM-2 is canceled and I have to apply for new residency papers, either an FM-3 or an FM-2.

  • Tish, 04 March 2011 Reply

    Citizenship (naturizalization)

    Correction to this article. When you become a naturalized citizen you do indeed have the right to vote.

    • Ah-non-a-mouse 29 May 2012, 08:53

      Citizenship (naturizalization)

      A naturalized citizen does have the right to vote.

      What they can't do:
      Naturalized Mexicans cannot occupy any of positions in the following:

      The Mexican military during peacetime


      Captain, pilot, or crew member on any Mexican-
      flagged vessel or aircraft

      President of Mexico

      Member of the Congress of Mexico

      Member of the Supreme Court of Mexico

      Governor of a Mexican state

      Mayor or member of the legislature of Mexico City

  • My Thoughts, 30 September 2012 Reply

    Not all that complex

    "Because the naturalization process is quite complex and time-consuming we strongly recommend that you hire an immigration lawyer if you want to apply for Mexican citizenship."

    The naturalization process is not all that complex. In most cases, there's no need to hire an immigration lawyer in my opinion. It's usually just a matter of following the steps and instructions given by officials working in the SRE office.

    As for the written exam, a list of current questions from which the exam questions are taken is posted on line on the government web site. A new list of questions is posted about every 6 months. It's simply a matter of finding the answers to the questions in the list and studying them in preparation for the exam.

    As for how long the naturalization process takes, that may have changed during the past several years. I don't know. Total time from start to finish used to be about 18 months.