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No Exit.

28 March 2017

Mexfiles has been seeing posts like this one (from an “expat” facebook page) more and more.

Once and for all…




There is a fee for tourists entering the country. Given that traditionally tourists have overwhelmingly been entering from the United States, the fee as long as I can remember has been more or less equivalent to about 25 US$. With the alarming drop in the value of the peso against the dollar, it’s been raised to today’s $500 pesos ($26.27 as of my writing this). The FMM (“Forma Migratoria Múltiple”) … the same fee covering what used to be a bunch of different sorts of temporary entry visas with different rates for people like academics, journalist, business visitors, aid workers, and tourists) is acquired when one ENTERS the country. However, Mexican border control has been rather lenient with those who lose, forget, or just blow off acquiring their entry documents, merely requiring they get a replacement when they show up at border control… i.e., when they’re on their way out of the country.

Secondly, there is an “expat legend” that’s gone around too long that foreigners are ENTITLED to a stay of 180 days.  While it has been a long-standing policy to give 180 days to all entrants, border agents here — like everywhere else on planet earth — are permitted to exercise discretion.  My first stay as a resident, the agent took one look at the massive amount of luggage I was lugging (including a whole collection of Junior High level textbooks) and warned me that I couldn’t work in the country on what was then a tourist visa (which I started doing the next day, but that’s another story), but gave me up to 180 days anyway.

Even then, there were well-known exceptions to the SOP.  Entering Chiapas from Guatemala would usually mean a 30-day visa.   At the time, there was a “Mexican stand-off” between the government and the Zapatistas.  Too many revolution tourists were just showing up, expecting to be welcome with open arms (not firearms!) by the Zapatistas.  And, while certainly those of us flying in from the north were known to do so as well, tourists coming from Guatemala were perceived as more likely to be those who expected to “go native” or at least on their own personal vision quest (as the expense of the local Mayans).  In other words… fairly or not… those people seen as likely to cost the State considerably more than 25 US$ in added protection, services, possible health-care costs, etc.

Which brings me to my real problem with “border jumpers” and the assumed “right” to stay up to 180 days at a time.  The story I hear from these people is that, while actually permanent residents (minus a few days a year), they more than pay their dues, “not using the social services network”.  Unless, of course, there’s a hurricane, a flood, an auto accident, their house is robbed, or any of the other vicissitudes of life that require fairly costly state intervention.  Maybe the 25 US$ is enough in the way of insurance to cover these contingencies spread over the 20 to 25 million visitors who are here anywhere from a few hours to half a year.  How well it covers the costs of people who are resident “tourists”… in the way of more police protection for their neighborhoods, higher water usage than your average Mexican family, pressure on local governments for infrastructure development in “gringo ghettos” (often at the expense of development in other parts of the same community)… may not work out.  While the argument can be made that the permanent tourists “create jobs” (mostly cleaning up after, or serving the whims of said permanent visitors),  that argument seems to come most strongly from real estate sales people.

Nothing against the people living here, on a quirk in policy (unless they are whining that the policy isn’t generous enough for them) but it does seem as if the real estate types, selling those who otherwise don’t qualify for immigration, to settle here, are privatizing profits, while socializing expenses.  They are the ones pushing for special governmental services for the “community” that claims not to live here, but merely visit, while reaping the rewards of home and condo sales, with bathrooms beyond the imaginings outside of telenovelas for the mass of us, and (subsidized) electrical rates that allow them to use every appliance known to man.

Given the recent moves by the US administration to crack down on even the most innocuous violation of immigration policy north of the border, its a wonder that border agents still allow people to enter for six months at a time at all.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. mexicomystic permalink
    29 March 2017 12:03 am

    I just thought… when you enter Mexico you can’t pay that $500 pesos in cash it has to be done through a bank (Just like in the perfect USA)…so when these people paid an “exit fee”, did they pay cash? If so did they get a receipt? If it happened to me I’d be writing down names and times and insisting on a receipt which I’d report to Hacienda (IRS of Mexico).
    It’s a scam folks at least so far. Where is FDR with the Good Neighbor Policy ?


  1. No more “special rights” for serial tourists? | The Mex Files

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