Mexican Criminal Law
Mexico recently completed a comprehensive reform of its judicial system across all Mexican states with the adoption of the adversarial system in place of the inquisitorial system. Key among the substantial changes are the presumption of innocence, due process as well as new trial procedures. Trials must now be held publically, and are based on terms of equality between the victim and the defendant, in which both parties produce evidence (oral arguments) directly before a judge who shall make a judgement based on the evidence presented in court. In this respect, the new system is considerably more similar to Canadian criminal trial procedures.
These are sometimes required in Mexico. Please bring your birth certificate when coming to reside in Mexico.
CURP / SAT / RFC Personal Identification Numbers
CURP (Unique Population Registry Code) is similar to an American SSN or Canadian SIN. Your CURP ID number is usually on the front of your Temporary or Permanent Resident visa. Your CURP may be printed out at the following web site as per the green button. Once in to the web site, when you know your CURP number, select “Clave Unica de Registro de Poblacion” and where it says “Ingresa tu Curp” enter your CURP number and then select “BUSCAR”. It will download and you may print out your CURP page.
If you do not know your CURP number select “Datos Personales”. There are times you may have a number and not be aware you do. Insert your first and second name where it says Nombre(s) and last name where it says Primer apellido. Then insert birth date, month, year. Finally, in the drop down box in the list of states at the bottom select "NACIDO EN EL EXTRANJERO". Then select “BUSCAR”. Your CURP will download and you may print out it out.
SAT and RFC are registrations required to earn income, sourced in Mexico, including as a landlord and to sell property. SAT is the equivalent of IRS or Revenue Canada. They also issue RFC numbers for these purposes. Process involves on-line applications and meeting with government officials of which I have experience.
To bring pets into Mexico via an airline it is best to check your airline's web site. When bringing a dog or cat by car by law health certificates are no longer required. When you click the link you will find the rules for meat, fruit, vegetables, shrimp, lobster, flowers, seedlings, cheese, etc.
Moving household items (typically when using a moving company) to Mexico in large quantities involves special requirements and documentation, including your immigration status and various customs declarations. The goods themselves are restricted to used (not new) items that are normally part of a household, such as furniture, clothing, linens, and appliances. Permissible items generally are allowed without trade duties (duty tax), but requirements vary. Minimize problems and fees by learning about all applicable requirements and preparing your documents and shipments accordingly. The following are some of the basics to get you started.
To be excluded from the IVA tax your items must enter Mexico no later than 6 months from time visa is fully issued in Mexico. Please note if you try to bring in a large number of household items with a moving company and you want to follow the law, you will need a Menaje de Casa from the consulate, a broker at the border and visa fully issued. Those with only a pre-approved visa may be required to have their household items put into storage on the US side of the border; wait weeks for your visa to be issued in Mexico and return to the border to retrieve your items. Some moving companies pay a bribe and avoid many steps.
Here are some of the documents you must provide to bring household goods into Mexico:
Resident card—official document of Temporary or Permanent Resident status
Bill of lading (BL or BOL)—required for transporting goods by sea; if shipping by air, this document is known as the airway bill (AWB)
Packing list—detailed catalog of your goods, including a description and shipping box number for each item
Proof of last entry date—may be an airline ticket or reservation
Proof of address—may be a utility bill dated within three months of your last entry
Passport—from your county of citizenship
Letter of declaration to customs—including your Mexico address, a description of your goods and acknowledgement of the requirement to bring your goods with you when you move out of Mexico.
Letter of empowerment—authorizes a customs broker you are working with to handle and transport your goods
Declaration of Household Goods (Declarción de Menaje de Casa)—required only for Permanent Residents and Mexican citizens; optional but also recommended for Temporary Residents. With a Menaje de Casa one must have a Customs broker to import your items.
Goods that are allowed include household goods and personal effects. Article 90 of the Mexican Customs Law states that the items you take across must be used (purchased at least 6 months prior) personal items and furniture of a house, e.g. clothes, books, furniture, appliances, and electronics. Tools and implements are also allowed if they are required for your profession or if they are used for a hobby. Medical equipment, such as a wheelchair, blood pressure or sugar monitors and oxygen generators are allowed duty-free. New (unused) items and those in unopened packaging may be allowed into Mexico but will likely be subject to duty and other requirements.
Goods that are not allowed include guns or ammunition of any caliber, as well as most other weapons. Also not allowed are fresh or frozen food including fruits and vegetables, plants, spices or seeds. It is illegal to bring into Mexico some over-the-counter medicines commonly used in the United States, including inhalers and some allergy and sinus medications. Specifically, products that contain stimulants (medicines that contain pseudoephedrine, such as Actifed, Sudafed, and Vicks inhalers) or codeine are prohibited. Individuals are advised to carry a copy of the prescription or doctor’s letter but it is still possible that you may be subject to arrest for arriving to Mexico with substances in these lists. it is not recommended to ship these items with your household goods. Vehicles, including cars, boats, recreational vehicles, and trailers are not considered household goods and must be declared and approved separately. This does not apply to motorized vehicles.
Menaje de Casa is for moving household and personal items to Mexico. It is provided by a Mexican consulate and applies to expats with a Temporary or Permanent Resident visa that has been completed and issued in Mexico (not a pre-approved visa). At the consulate, one presents a valid photo and Temporary or Permanent Resident visa; provide your address both outside and inside of Mexico; provide 4 copies listing household items; you list must contain a detailed description and the quantity of the goods. For electronic items, you must indicate brand, model and serial number. The fee for the Menaje de Casa is about $130. The tax exemption only applies for the first 6 months from when the TR or PR visa is issued in Mexico. In addition, the items may arrive up to 3 months prior to visa holder and up to 6 months after the visa holder arrives. For a TR the law states that once you will no longer be living in Mexico, when leave you will take the items with you. A Customs broker is required for those with a Menaje de Casa.
School transcripts are no longer are required to be legalized for grades and/or diplomas issued by Canadian institutions of primary, middle, and high school levels for revalidation purposes in Mexico, as of June 16, 2015.
Note: School transcripts of grades and/or diplomas from post-secondary institutions still require legalization for revalidation.
A common-law relationship is understood as being a relationship between a man and woman who live together outside the bonds of matrimony, in an ongoing and permanent fashion, for the period of time established by the legislation of the corresponding country. The couple does not need to have cohabited for the established term if there are children born of the union.
To prove a common-law relationship in Mexico, the applicants must present a Statutory Declaration or Affidavit signed before a Canadian Notary Public, stating that as of the date of the visa application the interested parties have cohabited publicly and continuously for a minimum of two years. This declaration must contain certified copies (certified by a Notary Public) of the official photo identification of the interested parties (passport, driver’s license), as well as documents demonstrating their common-law relationship (rental contract or financing to purchase a home signed jointly; joint property; joint bank or credit accounts; income tax return showing the common-law union; life insurance policy listing the common-law partner as beneficiary, etc.).
If the couple has children together, they should present the original birth certificate(s) of the child(ren). In this case, it is not necessary for the couple to have cohabited publicly and continuously for a minimum of two years. Nevertheless, they must show that they maintain a common residence by means of payment receipts for utilities issued under both names.
If the Statutory Declaration is signed before a Notary Public from a province outside the jurisdiction of the Representative Office carrying out the procedure, or outside the country, it must be legalized by the corresponding Mexican Embassy or Consulate. In the document is issued outside Canada, it must be apostilled or legalized, depending on the country.
Starting A Business in Mexico
Here is a great summary for those interested in starting a business in Mexico.
All of Mexico has a 911 emergency service.
As of August 3, 2019 phone calling became much simpler. The 01, 044, 045 are gone for national calling as will be the "1" on international calls and the need to add a "1" after 52 when calling a Mexican cell phone from another country.
Local calls: all numbers are 10 digits. In Mexico City for example, 551-234-5678 is the format.
Cell phone calls: you only have to dial 10 digits. Example: 551-234-5678.
National calls: whether you call from a cell phone or landline, you do not have to dial 01.
International calls: if calling from abroad to a cell phone number in Mexico you no longer have to add “1” after the “52”. Example: 52-331-234-5678. In the case of calls from Mexico to abroad, nothing changes. To call Mexico from the US and Canada the access code is 011. To call from Mexico to Canada and the US the access code is 001.
Canada or U.S toll-free #’s from U.S. To dial “toll free” calls to the USA or Canada, replace the 800, 866, 877, 888 prefix as below. Example: to call the USA 800-947-5096 use 001-880-947-5096. Calls are not toll free and a fee will be charged.
USA Toll-free Substitute
Opening a Mexican bank accountvaries at different banks. Some banks will open an account when you have a FMM and others want a Temporary or Permanent Resident visa. They also require an utility bill showing your address and your passport. Some banks such as Bancomer insist on a minimum balance of 4000 pesos or a significant fee is added.
Foreign money transfer is available with many options. The blue button gives some options and reviews. Not all work from the US and Canada. We have started using TRANSFERWISE. We like a process that allows for transfer from a Canadian bank to a Mexican bank.
In Mexico one requires a prescription for antibiotics and for medications such as Valium. The fee to see a doctor at many walk-in clinics is typically 35 - 50 pesos. Most other medications you simply ask at a pharmacy for your medications. In Mexico, Similares Pharmacies which can be found throughout the country has a 25% discount every Monday. It is often difficult to have medications sent to you by a postal forwarding or courier service from outside Mexico. Bringing medicaments into Mexico means those traveling with medicines for personal use are allowed to enter the country (regardless of the active component) as long as they bring their prescription or a letter from their GP in which it must state the amount of the substance required by the patient during her or his stay in Mexico, the amount bringing into the country and the daily dose.
At the port of entry you must declare to the customs authorities and present the medical prescription or license issued by competent authority. The former must state name of the doctor authorising the prescription, his / her signature, contact details (telephone, address) and professional register. The medical prescription or licence must also state amount of the substance required by the patient during her or his stay in Mexico, the amount bringing into the country and the daily dose. The medication must not exceed the amount required for your stay in the country. The prescription should be translated into Spanish.
All of my services are available in Puerto Vallarta / Riviera Nayarit and San Miguel de Allende.
Please contact me for your health, life, auto, evacuation and property insurance.
Life is about the journey!
Certified Translation Service
Certified translation is at times required for various documents such as birth certificates, bank statements, marriage license, etc. These services I provide to my clients.
Airline Tourist Visa Fee Refund
When a Temporal or Permanente visa holder flies into Mexico there is an automatic fee built into your flight’s cost. This fee is for the tourist visa. To obtain a refund the airlines web site will usually have a link for refunds. What you require will be scans of:
1.) Residente Temporal or Residente Permanente
2.) e-Ticket or ticket receipt
3.) Boarding pass
For example with United: Go to united.com > reservations > refunds > select 'E-ticket Refund' scroll down and fill in your info. Also, if booking online look at the airline website carefully. Some of them ask what country you reside in. Make sure you put Mexico then you do not get charged the tourist tax.
Complaints / Corruption
To anonymously report an act of corruption call: 01-800-737-8352 or 088. If you have an issue with a person regarding tax issues, Aduana, Customs they are all part of SAT and you can write here: DENUNCIAS@sat.gob.mx And if an issue you wish to report to immigration you may write: firstname.lastname@example.org Or call: 01 800 00 INAMI (46264). To these emails and phone numbers you may remain anonymous.
To file a complaint against federal public servants: do you want to file a complaint or complaint against a federal public servant? Do you consider that they are not fulfilling their obligations? Do not hesitate. Contact the Secretariat of Public Function (SFP)! Remember that the work of federal public servants is regulated by the Federal Law of Administrative Responsibilities of Public Servants . Telephone route : In the interior of the Republic at 01 800 11 28 700
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Sometimes there is a need to communicate with government officials at the city, state, federal government offices toresolve issues, disputes and to obtain results. One of my biggest projects was a petition for which I obtained 802 names resulting in 3 miles of road reconstruction and what is now one of the best roads in San Miguel. It took one year spread over two administrations. Another success was having the city administration change all their noise laws to match the Federal noise law. If you need to communicate with government at any level, I have the contacts and experience to work in getting the results you deserve.
Advance Directives / Wills / Death in Mexico
Advance directive and planning for important health care decisions are very important. An advance health care directive, also known by some as living will, personal directive, advance directive, or advance decision, is a legal document in which a person specifies what actions should be taken for their health if they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves because of illness or incapacity. In Mexico, people should obtain a new advance directive and not rely on having one written elsewhere and in English. A notario can assist you. If you have one from another country it needs to be translated by a certified translator and notarized. It is usually less expensive to simply make a new advance directive. Cost is typically 2000 pesos plus when needed 400 pesos for a certified translator.
Wills are desirable for anyone living in Mexico full time. For those owning property it is almost a must. Usually, it is written in Spanish, prepared by a notario and if you are not bilingual a certified translator is required by law to create your Will. All over Mexico notarios charge half price in September. Typical fee is approximately 1700 pesos. When a certified translator is required cost is ~ 500 pesos. If Wills are done in dual column format (English and Spanish) by English speaking notario then no translator is needed. Wills prepared outside of Mexico are valid in Mexico. It’s having them recognized that is a lengthy, complicated and expensive process. Obtaining recognition of a US or Canadian Will in Mexico requires it be translated into Spanish by an official court approved translator. It also requires that it be “Apostiled” or "Legalized" in the country where it was prepared. This process can take several months and can cost a significant amount to complete. If certain issues arise, the Will may be required to be probated before the Mexican courts which adds months or more to the process of transfer of title. During this time property in Mexico may not be disposed of and management may be difficult. Although Mexican Law allows for different types of Wills, prefer one prepared by a Notary Public as it is more readily recognized and requires fewer steps to have it officiated.
Most foreigners who own property on the coast will do so through a Trust. If that is the case, beneficiaries are named in the Trust Deed, thereby eliminating the need of preparing a Will in Mexico for that property. However, it should be noted that only immediate family members (wife, children) can be beneficiaries of trust property. Furthermore, bank accounts and other property such as vehicles and jewelry are not included in the Trust Deed and therefore require a Will or the probate process to be transferred.
Many foreigners invest in real estate in Mexico to benefit from the high returns on investment that this market offers, to enjoy their leisure time here by owning vacation property, to retire, or a combination of all of the above. Ironically, few foreigners give any thought to what will occur to their property in the event of death. Here are some insights on how Mexican law will deal with property owned by foreigners upon death and, hopefully, will provide foreigners with some suggestions on how to deal with this situation.
A foreigner with property in Mexico who dies will have their property distributed to their legal heirs, depending on whether they die without a Will (ab intestate), with a Mexican Will, or with a foreign Will.
If a foreigner with property in Mexico dies without a Will, the law provides that their property is divided proportionately between their legal spouse (and not common-law spouses) and their children. The process is complicated and requires the translation and certification of foreign documents such as marriage certificates, marriage contracts, birth certificates of the children and, if they are minors, the representation of those minors by an independent tutor in Mexico. The process can take more than a year to resolve and the property, in the interim, needs to be administered until they are transferred to the rightful heir. The cost can be considerable.
A foreign Will is legally valid in Mexico. However, it is inconvenient and it can be costly to have it recognized and acknowledged in this country. The process to have a foreign Will recognized in Mexico is as follows, the steps need to be done consecutively and in order: the Will needs to be probated in the jurisdiction or residence of the deceased; once probated, the Will must be legalized in Canada, or apostilled by the Secretary of State in the United States. Other countries have the same process but different government authorities will have the documents apostilled.
Once this is accomplished, the certificate of death, the Will and the Probate decision must be sent to Mexico to be translated into Spanish by an official translator in the state and district where the property of the deceased is located. This technically constitutes a second Probation of the Will were a judge acknowledges the testator’s directions and, in some cases, will require the presence of the heirs or representatives in Mexico during the reading of the Will. A judgment is then issued instructing notaries (for real estate) or financial institutions (for bank accounts) to transfer the property to the name and benefit of the heirs. It can take six to nine months or more for this process to be completed and the costs are determined by a percentage of the value of the assets being transferred (one to three percent) plus expenses, if any.
With a Will made in Mexico, the process is simplified and the delays are shortened. If a foreigner owns property through a Bank Trust, the Trust Deed provides the names of the first and second beneficiaries of the Trust. In that case, a certificate of death needs to be provided to the Bank Trustee who then is required to change the name of the Trust to the benefit of the named beneficiaries. Property held through a Bank Trust is not included or referred to in a Will made in Mexico. For other property, including real estate that is not held within a Bank Trust, a Will made in Mexico identifies the beneficiaries (general heirs that inherit all the property) and specific legatees (individuals that inherit an identified item or amount of money). It also appoints an executor who will administer the property until it is transferred to the heirs and will assist the notary with this process.
A foreigner needs to go before a Notary in order to grant his/her Will made in México. Lawyers can act as legal counsel and advise foreigners on how to structure their Wills, transfer their property and consider certain fiscal consequences on the transfer of property. Most lawyers prepare the Will on behalf of their clients, in Spanish, explain the contents to their clients in their language of choice and then have a Notary register it to give it full legal effect. The Will needs to be signed in the presence of the Notary.
There are three steps to follow to Probate a Will made in Mexico. The first step is called Radicación where the Will is opened and the Notary reads it to all the beneficiaries in the presence of the Executor. The Executor of the Will is recognized and acknowledged and they must accept this position as administrator. Beneficiaries need to accept or refuse the inheritance of the estate. The second step is the publication or edictos. At this stage, the Notary will send an official document to two publications that are wildly circulated in the State where the Will is opened and also to the official newspaper of the State informing the general public of the existence of the Will, and to provide them with the right to claim an interest against the estate. If no-one files a claim within 40 working days, then the process will continue to the third and final stage. The final step is referred to as the escritura de adjudicación where the property is officially transferred to the name and benefit of the heirs.
If there is a claim against the estate, or if there are any minors involved, then the process is referred to the local courts who will decide on the claim or who will assist the minors for the transfer of the property.
Finally, property transferred on death isn't subject to capital gains in Mexico but, in some cities, will be subject to transfer duties if it is real estate.
When a death occurs it normally requires funeral home representative to go with a family representative to REGISTRO CIVIL. Family representative will need ID and deceased person’s official ID. The funeral home representative will being the required documents pertaining to the person as to when and how they died.
Registro Civil will issue a death certificate. It is very important at that time to ask for additional certified copies of the death certificate, typically, 5 or more copies. Keep the original in a safe place.
If the person was legally in Mexico as a Temporary or Permanent INM must be informed. When married, that is done by informing INM of the living spouse's change in marital status and presenting the visa and birth certificate of the one who has passed away. If person was registered with SAT for tax purposes SAT too must be notified. There are no other Mexican requirements.
To transport the person's ashes or body those requirements are to be requested for the airline.
Death of a Canadian in Mexico requires a family representative to go to the Canadian Embassy. This person must have with them their Canadian passport and birth certificate. A Power of Attorney for non-family is a must and recommended for everyone as at times difficult to prove being part of family. Also, require passport of deceased person plus original or certified copy of death certificate.
Death of an American in Mexico