49.6 million tourists visited Mexico in 2018 with the majority of them arriving via plane or car according to SECTUR, the Secretary of Tourism Mexico. While you don’t need a visa to visit Mexico, you will be issued a tourist visa that will be valid for 6 months or 180 days. The time frame starts from the day you enter the country and expires exactly 180 days later. Know this, most of the time you will be subject to a fine when you overstay your tourist visa in Mérida Mexico.
But what if you have an emergency and can’t leave the country? Let’s explore all the ins and outs of the process including entering, exiting, and re-entering Mérida Mexico.
What is the Forma Migratoria Multiple or FMM?
First, when you enter the country you will have to fill out a visitor’s permit known as the Forma Migratoria Multiple or FMM. As you pass through customs, the customs official will keep half of the form and give you back the other half.
It’s important to note . . .
Always keep your FMM with your passport. Not only will you need to surrender this when you exit Mexico, but you may also be asked for it at banks or other establishments.
If you lose this form, you will need to visit the immigration office in Mérida and pay about $40 to replace it.
The FMM form is the official notification to the Mexican authorities of the date you entered the country, the address where you will be staying, the airline or ship you arrive on, and other pertinent details.
Not surprisingly . . .
In order to complete the information needed, you will have to fill out the FMM form exactly as it appears in your passport. If at some point during your stay, you’ve provided false information, you could be subject to a penalty.
Staying over 180 days could mean paying a fine
If you overstay your tourist visa in Mérida Mexico allowance of 180 days, get ready to pay a fine. You will be sent to the immigration office at the airport. The fine is based on how many days you’ve overstayed. Typically, the fine is approximately $40 USD per day and not more than $350 USD in most cases.
Want to avoid the fine? Plan accordingly and don’t break immigration rules while in Mérida.
Big news . . .
The longer you stay, the more you will pay. According to some sources, legally the price cannot exceed $6,000 MXN (which is about $320 USD).
Be prepared if you have overstayed:
- Arrive at the airport early
- Go to immigration before your check-in for your flight
- Have cash on hand to pay the fine, preferably pesos
There are several checkpoints where you may be caught if you don’t abide by the above suggestions. Don’t take the chance of missing your flight. Pay the fine and next time, don’t overstay.
Visa extensions for emergencies or extenuating circumstances
Just like anything else, there can be extenuating circumstances if you overstay your tourist visa in Mérida.
Notably . . .
You may be aware of a reason you will need to be in the country for longer than 180 days when you arrive. It is highly unlikely and unusual for immigration officials to grant an extension upon your arrival.
You can try and ask however be prepared to show back-up paperwork or medical information if you are coming for medical treatment or a procedure.
Speak to the customs official, explain your situation, and show documentation before they stamp your passport.
They may have further questions about your exact return date and travel plans. Prepare in advance to answer any and all questions.
If you are in the country and experience a situation that will cause you to stay past your 180 days tourist visa in Mérida Mexico, you will have to apply for a visa extension at the immigration office in Mérida. Again, if you are applying for an extension, make sure you have all the documentation you will need to substantiate your request.
There could be a fee for the extension and you may have to pay in cash. Do your research for current fees and documentation required prior to making your appointment at the immigration office.
The legal way to extend your tourist visa in Mérida Mexico
You have two options to extend your time in Mérida:
- A few days before your tourist visa in Mérida Mexico expires, leave the country, and then re-enter. There is no rule on how long you must stay out of Mexico before you can return again. Some people travel to a neighboring country such as Guatemala or Belize overnight. While this is proof you left according to your expiration date if you do this continually you could be questioned by immigration officials.
- If you decide you might like to stay longer, it is better to apply for a temporary resident visa. This visa lasts from one to four years. Apply for the first year and then you can apply annually after your first year or you may apply for the remaining three years. After the expiration in four years, you are eligible for permanent residency.
What happens if you lose your FMM?
Yes, sometimes no matter how careful you are, you lose your FMM.
Believe it or not . . .
It can be easy to misplace that little, bitty slip of paper. My best advice is to keep a paperclip in your passport and clip it in securely. Remember, authorities may want to see your FMM along with your passport so it’s best to keep it all together.
Remember, you need to give this form back to customs when you leave the country AND you are subject to a fine if you don’t have it.
You have a couple of ways to handle this situation if you overstay your tourist visa in Mérida:
- Visit the immigration office in Mérida for a replacement. You will pay a fee for it of approximately $30 USD. for a replacement card.
- Wait until you get to the airport. This could mean a higher fine, a potential delay, and the possibility of missing your flight.
Most importantly . . .
Services can help you with a variety of needs during your stay in Mérida. Don’t get stressed out trying to figure it out on your own.
FMM forms for arrival via air or land
If you are traveling into Mexico by land or by air, the FMM can be obtained by electronic means through the https://www.inm.gob.mx/ website. Additionally, it can be obtained through other facilities aimed at the international transit of persons such as a border office, flight attendant, customs office, airport, or the like.
Typically, when you are flying into Mexico, your airline will have plenty of FMM forms for the passengers. The flight attendant will pass these out just before landing.
Check this out . . .
The last time I flew into Merida, my flight did not have enough FMM forms for all the passengers. Not to worry. When you arrive at the customs area of Mexico, they will have forms there. However, you will have to spend a little time filling this out vs. having it prefilled to save time.
This form contains conditions for the visitor:
- can enter the country as a visitor only
- does not have permission to work
- maximum stay of 180 calendar days
- valid for one entry only
The most important information to remember . . . .
The FMM form has two different sections that you will need to fill out before presenting it to your customs official for entry into Mexico. Customs will keep the top portion. You will be given the bottom portion (this is the part to keep with your passport).
Make sure you know the address of where you are staying (sometimes the name of the hotel is sufficient). If you are renting through Airbnb or a long-term rental, have the address handy to save time.
Final thoughts on overstaying your tourist visa in Mérida
Mexico and Mérida rely heavily on tourism to support their economy. No matter where you travel, it is best to obey their rules in regards to tourism and visas. I’ve traveled the world many times over and have found the best advice is to adhere to the local customs, regulations, and even suggestions.
At times, there are things that don’t make sense to us but that’s not what’s important.
What’s most important when visiting a foreign country?
Being respectful of the ways and customs of the country you are in. No matter how others are acting or what they are doing, the best practice is to pay attention, follow the rules, and listen to your instincts. If all signs are no or red, then just don’t do it.
Please be respectful of the culture, rules, regulations, and people of Mexico and especially Mérida. I’ve found the people here are always courteous and ready to help. Reciprocate for a wonderful and legal stay in this beautiful city!
Here are some additional articles you may find helpful during your stay in Merida:
Top 100 Things to do in Mérida
If you have more questions or want to connect with locals and other expats, join the Facebook Group:
Life in Merida: Visitor & Resident Hangout
Hi! I’m Amy Jones, a trusted resource for visitors and residents of the beautiful city of Mérida Mexico.
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