Being a Mexican citizen means unfettered access to jobs, education and social services in the North American country. That’s a serious advantage given the country’s rich heritage, beautiful landscapes, excellent cuisine and welcoming people.
Obtaining citizenship in Mexico usually requires you to be resident for 2 to 5 years depending on your situation. You’ll also need to prove you can speak Spanish and have a reasonable understanding of the history and culture of Mexico.
This guide will take you through some of the most important points and processes for obtaining your Mexican citizenship. You'll also learn about Wise and its method to manage your finances internationally.
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Both the US and Mexico allow their citizens to hold dual citizenship. This means that, as long as you fit all the eligibility criteria, which we’ll lay down below, you’ll be able to become a Mexican dual citizen. Read on for more about how to become a Mexican citizen and how to get dual citizenship in Mexico.
The process of naturalizing as a Mexican citizen is managed by the Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores (SRE). There are various ways you might be able to become a Mexican citizen, including by birth or adoption, by marriage, or as the descendent of Mexican citizens. The exact process you follow will vary based on the route you take, with different paperwork needed, and varying residence requirements to consider.
If you’re wondering how to apply for Mexican citizenship, one common route for US citizens is to apply based on residency. In this case you’ll have to live in Mexico for 5 years or more, and prove you have a good understanding of the language and culture.
Let’s walk through the basic steps of naturalizing as a Mexican citizen through fulfilling the residence requirements¹:
Step 1. Gather all the required paperwork based on your application route
Step 2. Appear in person at your local SRE office to present your paperwork and pay your fees
Step 3. The SRE will assess the case and send a written response either granting or denying your application
Step 4. You’ll have to swear loyalty to the Mexican government through a signed affidavit
Step 5. Your Naturalization Card will be issued
When you submit your documents to the SRE you’re likely to need to speak some Spanish to prove your language ability, and may be asked to answer questions on both language and Mexican culture to fulfill citizenship requirements.
If you fail the test on culture, history and language, you’ll be able to retake it 10 days later. You have 3 shots to pass, and then if you fail the third attempt you will be unable to reapply for citizenship for a year. Study materials are available on the SRE website to guide you.
As we mentioned above, one of the key prerequisites for becoming a Mexican citizen is becoming a permanent resident first, and then remaining a resident for a minimum of two to five years depending on your application route.
You’ll also need to provide a pack of supporting documents to the SRE office you apply through. Those documents vary based on the context under which you’re applying for your citizenship — let’s take a look at those needed for a US citizen naturalizing as a Mexican citizen based on residence:
You’ll need to check the details of the paperwork required for your application, including where translations and copies may be needed in addition to the original documents.
Once you’ve handed in your paperwork, the next step is to wait for your naturalization to process, which can take multiple months. Occasionally, you’ll be asked to provide additional information during that process, which can slow it down even further.
Once your paperwork has been processed and approved, you’ll be issued a Certificate of Naturalization, which can be picked up at the same office at which it was applied for.
In order to become a Mexican citizen and get your Mexican passport, you’ll need to fall under one of the eligibility categories.
Currently, Mexican citizenship is granted under the following main circumstances:
- If you’re the descendant of a Mexican citizen
- In case you have a Mexican spouse
- If you’ve been a permanent resident of Mexico and are entitled to naturalization
We’ll cover each of these categories in a little more detail, but first, let’s go through the main differences between being a Mexican citizen and permanent resident.
While it can seem easier to pursue and remain a permanent resident in Mexico instead of becoming a citizen, there are some important differences to note when you’re making that decision.
For starters, if you aren’t married to a Mexican citizen and don’t have Mexican ancestry, it’s impossible to become a citizen of Mexico without turning into a permanent resident first.
That means many people don’t feel compelled to pursue the citizenship step thanks to their relatively unrestricted rights in the country.
However, if you do decide to go through with the process you’ll be granted the ability to do a few more key things like vote, buy and own property in Mexico and change your address or job without needing to notify the National Institute of Immigration (INM).
Most importantly, a citizen has the right to hold a Mexican passport, while a permanent resident does not.
It’s important to note that despite some scare tactics that exist within the US, becoming a Mexican citizen doesn’t jeopardize your citizenship within your home country, as long as you go through the correct process and channels.
Children of Mexican citizens are eligible to apply for Mexican citizenship and aren’t necessarily required to become permanent residents first if they’re claiming citizenship through parents.
If one or both of your parents have Mexican nationality you may be able to become a Mexican citizen by birth. This process is used when you’re born outside of Mexico, and especially useful if you’re born in a country where you’re automatically granted citizenship based on your place of birth².
If you’re seeking Mexican nationality for a child you’ll likely need to apply for the Certificate of Mexican Nationality by birth. If you’re an adult and want to reclaim your Mexican nationality you may require the Declaration of Mexican Nationality by birth instead.
In both cases you’ll have to provide your own birth certificate and then details and documents relating to your parents including their birth and marriage or divorce papers.
Applying for Mexican citizenship based on being the descendant of Mexican citizens means you’ll only need to reside in Mexico for 2 years usually³. If you can demonstrate that you’re not considered a citizen of any other state, you may not even need to fulfill this residence requirement.
As with all applications for Mexican citizenship, you’ll need to pull together a suite of supporting documents and submit them in person at an SRE office. You’ll also need to show you can speak Spanish and understand an adequate amount about Mexican culture and history.
In addition to many of the documents required to become a Mexican citizen by naturalization, you’ll also need to provide the Mexican birth certificates for the relative or relatives you’re basing your application on.
You can naturalize as a Mexican citizen after only 2 years of residence in the country if you’re married to a Mexican citizen⁴.
The process you follow will be fairly similar to that outlined above — but you’ll need to provide proof of your marriage as well as all the supporting documents needed for other naturalization applications.
If a US citizen, living in the US, marries a foreigner, their spouse can apply for a Green Card through marriage. This confers permanent resident status for the US, and is a first step on the way to becoming a US citizen.
In the case of marriage, a Green Card may be issued on a conditional basis at first, which can then be converted to a full Green Card later. Usually, to apply for a Green Card through marriage, both partners need to live in the US.
|Learn more about the marriage Green Card in our handy guide|
If you’ve been a legal resident of Mexico at least five years you are entitled to apply for naturalization-based citizenship. This is a very common route for US citizens to become a Mexican dual national.
The process and documents usually needed to become a Mexican citizen through residency are laid out above. However it’s worth noting that time spent in Mexico on a temporary student visa may not be counted towards continuous residency for the purposes of this application. Check out all the details before you apply.
You can apply for Mexican temporary or permanent residence at a Mexican consulate in the US before you travel to Mexico. There are various different residency types based on whether you intend to retire, study or work in Mexico, and how long you’re likely to stay.
Check out the options which might apply to you on the website of your local Mexican consulate.
Once you have Mexican citizenship you can apply for a Mexican passport, all you have to do is follow these steps:
Step 1. Make an appointment at your closest Mexican embassy or consulate
Step 2. Attend your appointment in person, taking along your proof of Mexican nationality and proof of identity
Step 3. Pay your fee
Step 4. Your passport will be issued on the same day — usually within a couple of hours
Documents used to prove your Mexican nationality include a Mexican nationality certificate or naturalization letter. To prove your identity, you’ll need to take along a photo ID like a driver’s license, professional license or a state/national ID card⁵.
The fee for your Mexican passport may depend on the validity and your age at the point of applying:
|1 year (issued to children under 3 years old)||$38|
|10 years (issued to those over 18 only)||$181|
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Ready to apply for Mexican citizenship? Use this guide as a starting point to make sure your application process is hassle free. And don’t forget to check out Wise as a smart way to save the next time you need to send money to Mexico.
- SRE - Naturalization by residence
- SRE - Mexican citizenship by birth
- SRE - Mexican citizenship by descent
- SRE - Mexican citizenship by marriage
- Consulmex - Documentos de identidad
Sources checked on 02.28.2022
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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