How to Apply for Mexican Citizenship
If you've lived in Mexico for a while, you may have wondered what is required to become a Mexican citizen. Can people from the United States, Canada or any other country become Mexican citizens? The answer is yes, and each year thousands of people become naturalized citizens of Mexico.
There are several ways in which someone from the United States, Canada, or any other country can apply for citizenship in Mexico. These are:
- Having had legal residence in Mexico for 5 years
- Marriage to a Mexican citizen
- Having Mexican children
- Being a direct descendant of a Mexican citizen
- Being from another country in Latin America or Spain
- Being an adopted child of a Mexican citizen
- Having performed distguished work or service
In all cases, you must have had legal residence in Mexico for 2 full years, immediately preceeding the date you apply. The other requirements vary depending on which category you apply for citizenship under, and also where you apply for citizenship. Each SRE office has leeway to add additional requirements, or interpret the requirements the way they see fit. The requirements in Mexico City are the standard, and what you read online on the SRE website corresponds with what is required in Mexico City. If you apply outside the capital, however, they may be more strict, require more documentation, and take several months longer to process your application.
In general, you should expect to have to do the following:
- Provide a valid passport from your country of origin
- Provide a valid resident card issued by immigration
- Provide an original birth certificate
- Legalize or apostille your original birth certificate, depending on your country of birth
- Translate your birth certificate into Spanish
- Provide Mexican passport sized photos
- Provide a federal criminal record check, issued in person in Mexico City only
- Provide a local criminal record check from the municipality in which you live
- Provide copies of every page of your passport
- Write a letter stating your entrances and exits from Mexico
- Provide a record of your entrances and exits from immigration, if your passport stamps are not legible
- Fill out an application form called DNN-3
- Pay at a bank and provide the recepit
- Make dozens, if not hundreds, of copies
- Pass a 10 question test of Mexican history & culture
- Read a short story and answer several multiple choice questions about it
- Write 3 sentences in gramatically correct Spanish, describing the scene in a picture that is given to you
- Fix many mistakes and have to try again, at least once
Depending on the method in which you apply, and where you apply, you may expect to also have to do the following:
- Provide your marriage certificate, legalized or apostilled, and translated, if applicable
- Provide the birth certificate of your Mexican child, if applicable
- Provide a copy of your CURP, printed on the same day in some offices
- Provide a letter from your partner stating that you are a responsible parent, if applicable
- Sing or recite the national anthem in some offices, including Merida & Cancun
- Describe the national symbols in some offices, including Merida & Cancun
The requirements may be daunting, but they are definitely achievable. The biggest problem is just understanding what exactly they are looking for. And of course, understanding what exactly is required in the specific office where you intend to apply, how this differs from other offices and what you see online, and what the specific officer you are talking to will request.
Below we will discuss each individual requirement in a little bit more detail. These are necessary no matter which category you apply under.
Valid Passport From Your Country of Origin
You must have a valid passport from your country of origin. In most cases, the minimum validity is 6 months, however in most cases you would want it to be valid for much longer than that, if possible. The reason is because you will need to present your valid passport and resident card when your application is done and your citizenship document is ready to be picked up. In Mexico City the application takes around 6 months, but in the other states it can take much longer, possibly twice as long. That is why you would want your passport to be valid for longer than 6 months, in case there are any delays processing the application.
In the case of refugees the requirement of a valid passport may be waived altogether, and in certain other cases the minimum validity may be reduced, such as if you are from a troubled country that is difficult to return to, including Venezuela. In most cases though, you'd want a passport that is valid for at least a year.
Valid Resident Card
To apply for citizenship, you must have a valid resident card. In most cases this will be permanent residence, but it is possible to apply for citizenship in the third or fourth year of temporary residence also, if you are applying under any of the categories other than having lived in Mexico for 5 years.
You must have had legal residence for the two or five years immediately preceeding the date in which you apply, continuously and uninterrupted. If you have a break in your legal residence for any reason, then your accumulated time gets reset. It is ok if you switch from temporary residence to permanent residence during that timeframe. But if your residence status is lost for any reason, then you're back to zero.
The resident card must be valid for at least six months. This is not an issue for permanent resident cards, but arises when applying for Mexican citizenship with temporary residency. The issue is that you need to present a valid immigration card both when you apply, and when you retrieve your citizenship document after it has been processed. That process is supposed to take 6 months, thus the official requirement of needing to be valid for 6 months after applying. In practice, however, the processing time can be several months longer, and if you apply during the 4th year of temporary residency, you're pushing your luck. It would be better to apply in the third year, with a card that is valid for the next year already, without requiring a renewal.
You will be required to present the card, including copies, on the date you apply. If your application is accepted, you will surrender your resident card to the authorities at SRE on the day you get your citizenship certificate. You must have a valid resident card on both occasions, and it must be physically in your possession to surrender. If your card is being renewed and all you have is a document with the file number, you won't be able to pick up your certificate and officially end the process. Additionally, you only have 45 days to pick up your certificate, unless other arrangements are made with them due to exceptional circumstances. Therefore, it's best to ensure your resident card will be valid for at least the next year. You can speak with the officers in your regional SRE office to get their current processing times, and ensure that your temporary resident card will be valid for a bit more than that.
Temporary residence as a student does not qualify as accumulated time.
Original Birth Certificate
You must provide an original birth certificate. It is not allowed to provide a simple copy or a notarized copy. Depending on your country of origin and the types of birth certificates issued there, a certified copy may be acceptable. This birth certificate will be surrendered permanently to Mexican authorities at SRE, and it will never be returned to you.
Once you become a Mexican citizen, it will be illegal to show your foreign identity documents to Mexican authorities, and therefore you will have no use for your original birth certificate again, within Mexico at least. In lieu of your birth certificate, you will provide your citizenship certificate instead, whenever you are asked for your birth certificate.
Some countries have multiple types of birth certificates. In Canada, for example, there are wallet sized birth certificates, modern polymer birth certificates, with or without parental information, and certified copies of the original birth registration. If this is the case for your country, you will need to find out which version will be accepted by SRE. A good starting point would be finding out which version can be apostilled or legalized. In Canada, both the polymer birth certificates with parental information, and the long form certified copies of a birth registration can be legalized, but the office you need to go to in order to authenticate the birth certificate may be different, depending on the type.
See the next section for more info on apostilles, authentication and legalization. A good rule of thumb, though, is you want the birth certificate with the most information on it.
Legalize or Apostille Birth Certificate
In order for your birth certificate to be legal for use in Mexico, it has to have either a legalization document from a Mexican consulate in the jurisdiction where it was issued, or an Apostille affixed to it. Legalization is required in countries which are not members of the Apostille convention, which notably includes Canada. In most other countries an Apostille is used, if the country your birth certificate was issued in is a member of the Apostille convention. This includes the United States, most of Europe, South America, Australia, New Zealand, Russia and India.
The purpose of legalization or Apostille is the same - it's a way of letting authorities in another country validate the authenticity of the document. The difference is that in the case of legalization, a Mexican consulate has validated the document, and in the case of an Apostille, authorities in the issuing country have validated it, in an internationally recognized way.
The procedure for legalizing or getting an Apostille on your birth certificate will depend on the country where it was issued. In the case of legalization, you should contact the Mexican consulate with jurisdiction in the state or province where you were born. In the case of an Apostille, you would have to contact the state department or equivalent authorities in the jurisdiction where it was issued for the exact procedure.
They like to ask for birth certificates a lot in Mexico, and even if citizenship is a long-way off for you, having a legalized or apostilled birth certificate may be useful at times. You can go a long-time without needing it, but if you try to do certain things like sign up for the national health care system (IMSS), you may be required to present it. A legalized or apostilled birth certificate is required not just for submitting the citizenship application, but also for requesting the federal criminal record check.
Translate Birth Certificate
If your birth certificate is not in Spanish, it will need to be translated. It must be an official translation, performed by an authorized translator. In Mexico, an official translator is known as a perito traductor. The translator can be from any state in Mexico, but things may go smoother if you get the translation in the state where you are applying. It is a good idea to let the translator know you will be using the birth certificate for the citizenship application, and ensure it is done in accordance with SRE rules. This includes signing their name in ink, and not using any sort of digital signature printed from a computer.
You will need the translation for both the application, and also for requesting the federal criminal record check in Mexico City. It may be required for the local criminal record check also.
You must provide two photographs with your application. They must be recent, identical, in color, and Mexican passport size: 4.5 x 3.5 cms. For this requirement you can go to any local photo shop and request Mexican passport photos.
Federal Criminal Record Check
Known in Spanish as a constancia de antecedentes no penales, for many this is the most difficult requirement, as it can only be done in Mexico City. To request the background check, you will require:
- A valid passport
- Your birth certificate with legalization or Apostille
- Official translation of your birth certificate, if applicable
- Resident card
The procedure takes anywhere from 1-4 hours, but can generally be done with only one day in Mexico City, if you have the required documents.
The office you have to go to is the ground floor of a government building in the Tlaxpana neighbourhood. This building was previously known as the Luz y Fuerza building, and is directly across the street from a large shopping mall called Galerías Plaza de las Estrellas. The taxi driver may not be familiar with where the criminal record checks are done, as it was recently moved from its old location in a southern part of the city. Telling them the old Luz y Fuerza building, or requesting to go to Galerías Plaza de las Estrellas should help orient them. It is approximately 1.5 kms north-east of the Bosque de Chapultepec.
The official address is:
Melchor Ocampo #171
Alcaldia Miguel Hidalgo
There is a separate entrance for the criminal record checks. Instead of entering from the main avenue, there is a small side street named Izcóatl, and the entrance is around the other side of the building, on Izcóatl. Expect to go through heavy security, including a metal detector, search of your bags, and an officer checking to ensure your cellphone is off. You will not be able to use your electronic devices while inside.
You may have to wait outside on the street to first get into the compound. Once inside the compound, you may have to wait again outside the building, in lines, while they let one line of people in to the building at a time. Once inside, you may have to wait again for your documents to be checked and submitted, then move to a separate area again to wait for the document.
There is no charge for the federal criminal record check, but you may require proof of needing it. In the case of citizenship, you will tell them that's what it is for, and they should let you in. It is not an official requirement once you get in, but security at the gate may demand some document indicating you need the record check. There is no official answer as to what to provide, but possibly the DNN-3 form which shows that the background check is required.
Local Criminal Record Check
You must provide a local criminal record check from the municipality in which you live. This is similar to the federal record check, but the procedure depends on where you live. You will likely require similar documents, and but may have to pay, provide photographs, or other documents.
You will require copies of every page of your passport, including the outside front and back covers. It is not an official requirement for the copies to be in color, but this may be requested, depending on where you apply. In some offices, they may require color copies of the stamps, blown up so they are more legible.
Entrances and Exits Letter
You must provide a letter in which you document all entrances and exits from Mexico within the last two years. The entrance and exit dates stated in your letter must correspond to the entrance and exit stamps in your passport. You must not have been outside of Mexico for more than 180 days during the two year period immediately preceeding the date you apply.
If you have not left Mexico in the last two years, you must still write a letter stating this.
Immigration Record of Entrances and Exits
If the stamps in your passport are not legible, you may be required to request a document from immigration with their record of all of your entrances and exits from Mexico during the period in question. This document from immigration is called a carta de flujo migratorio. It may take several weeks for immigration to produce this document for you after receiving your official request. In most cases it is not required, however, as long as your passport stamps are legible.
Your application for citizenship must be approved by immigration. Immigration authorities will receive a copy of your file that is opened when you request citizenship with SRE. If they do not approve, your application will not be successful. You must not provide any false information, and report the days accurately.
They do keep track of your entrances and exits in their computer systems now. If you have failed to get an exit stamp in your passport when leaving the country in the past, you could have issues if your entrances and exits do not correspond with what is in their computer systems.
DNN-3 Application Form
The main application form to apply for Mexican citizenship is titled Solicitud de carta de naturalización, identified by its code DNN-3. The DNN-3 application from can be downloaded from the SRE website.
The DNN-3 application form is a 9 page PDF file, but only the first 3 pages must be submitted. The remaining six pages outline the official requirements and how to fill out the form. Depending on the office where you submit your application, they may be very peculiar about how to fill it out. All of the information you enter on the DNN-3 must exactly match what appears in your passport, birth certificate and other supporting documentation.
Depending on the office, it may be required that there are no fields left empty. If you do not have anything to put into a field, you may have to fill in "N/A" to indicate the field is empty. Other tips include:
- The address must match what you have on file with immigration
- Union libre may not be accepted as a civil status
- Place of birth should exactly match what is on your birth certificate
- Do not sign the form except in front of the officer receiving your application
- If you fill the application out by hand, all copies must be filled out by hand also
It is best to fill out the PDF on your computer, and print it, and the copies off. Not only is it easier to read, but if you take your computer with you when you submit your application, you'll be prepared to make any changes that are requested. Especially if you've had to travel to get to the nearest SRE office, you wouldn't want to be turned away because you forgot to dot an "i" or cross a "t". If you bring a laptop or other device capable of editing a PDF file with you to the appointment, you'll be able to make any requested changes right away, and run to the nearest stationary store to print it off. Chances are there will be one right around the corner from the SRE office you go to.
To fill out the PDF on your computer, you will need the program Adobe Acrobat Reader, or the full version of Adobe Acrobat. To fill out the form with the reader version of Adobe Acrobat, look for an option called "Fill & Sign" that should appear in the menu on the right hand side, after you open the file.
As is customary with many government procedures, you will have to go to a bank to make a payment. The SRE website provides a worksheet that you can use to fill out the information required for the teller to process the payment.
At the time of writing, the cost to apply for Mexican citizenship is $5,415 pesos, or $1,910 pesos in the case that you apply through marriage. Expect to spend at least this much getting the rest of your documents in order.
When you download the worksheet, make sure to fill in the correct values for the amount, and clave de la dependencia. Do not leave these values with their default values of "0".
The clave de la dependencia differs based on what you are soliciting, and on whether you are doing it in Mexico City, or outside of Mexico City. Read the instructions carefully on the page to download the worksheet linked above, and make sure you enter the right value for clave de la dependencia. It should not be all zeros!
Mexican History & Culture Exam
You will be required to pass a 10 question, multiple choice test covering Mexican history, culture and geography.
They give you 10 minutes to answer the test. In some offices, all answers are final, and you cannot change your answer once given. The test is quite challenging if you are not familiar with Mexican history, and it requires intentional study. There are many dates and specific facts that you are expected to know, and it is unlikely that you will have remembered all of these things without intentional study, even if you have lived in Mexico for a long time. The exception might be if you are a young adult, and recently finished highschool in Mexico. Otherwise, you will likely need to study.
The nature of the exam is such that if you have studied thoroughly and are well prepared, the exam may be very easy, and over within as little as 2 or 3 minutes. But if you haven't done your homework, guessing may be very hard, with options similar enough that there is no obvious answer.
SRE provides a suggested bibliography, which includes a book called Nueva historia mínima de México as the primary source. It is believed that the history questions are sourced from this book. The book has been translated into English, and the English version is titled A New Compact History of Mexico.
However, the exam may contain questions related to popular culture, geography and gastronomy that are not covered in the book. For those things, SRE lists a few other online sources, but none will prepare you completely. There are certain questions which may be asked, such as who won the gold medal in the Olympics, or what was the real name of a famous actor or musician more commonly known by their stage name, that just don't appear in the suggested bibliography. It is prudent to read through the items listed in the suggested bibliography, but to also supplement your learning with other sources online.
To help prepare for the exam, please see the content on the rest of this site.
Method Specific Requirements
Depending on the category in which you apply, several other documents may be required.
If you apply through marriage, you will need both the marriage certificate, as well as proof of your partner's Mexican citizenship.
The marriage certificate must be issued by the Mexican Civil Registry Office. If you were married outside of Mexico, the marriage must also have been registered in Mexico, with the Mexican Civil Registry Office. In both cases, the date of the marriage must have been at least two years ago. In the case of marriage outside of Mexico, the marriage must also have been registered in Mexico at least two years ago.
Your partner must prove his or her Mexican citizenship with either a Mexican birth certificate or Mexican naturalization certificate. They must also present a valid photo id with a signature, such as a Mexican passport or voter card. They will also be required to write a letter swearing under oath that the two of you have lived together as a couple, in Mexican territory, for the last two-years.
Because all signatures on the application forms and supporting documentation must be signed in person at the SRE office, this effectively means that your partner will be required to travel to the SRE office with you when you apply.
If you apply through marriage, you must have legally resided within Mexico for the last two years with temporary or permanent residence, and not been out of Mexico for more than 180 days during those last two years.
If you are applying for citizenship based on having Mexican children, you must present the Mexican birth certificate for each of your children. The birth certificate can be a certified copy, including the PDF version that you can download from the Mexican government's birth certificate database at https://www.gob.mx/ActaNacimiento/. It does not have to be the original that was signed when registering the child.
The child must be Mexican by birth, but this does not necessarily mean born within Mexican territory. A child born outside of Mexico to a Mexican citizen parent is a Mexican by birth, even if the Mexican parent is a naturalized citizen. You would still be able to apply under this category if your child was born outside of Mexico, with at least one Mexican parent. This might be the case, for example, if you had a child with a Mexican partner in the USA.
If your Mexican child is still a minor, your partner may be required to write a letter stating that you are a responsible parent, taking responsibility for your family and meeting any financial obligations. This is not a requirement listed in the DNN-3 application form, but is known to be requested in some offices. If this child is a minor and this letter is requested, this means your partner will need to go to the SRE office with you when you apply, in order to sign. In this case, your partner will also need to provide a photo id, such as INE or passport.
They may also ask for your minor child to be present. Likewise, this is not an official requirement listed in the DNN-3 application form, but is known to be the case in some SRE offices.
To apply under this category, you must have had legal residence in Mexico for two years, and meet the requirement of having not been outside of Mexico for more than 180 days in the last two years.
If you apply for citizenship through residency, the main difference from the other categories is that you must have had legal residence in Mexico for the last five years, instead of two. In every other category the residency requirement is only two years.
Because temporary residence is valid for a maximum of 4 years only, this effectively means that you must be a permanent resident to apply through residency. In the other categories which require two years only, you could apply with temporary residence only, but not under this category.
If you previously had temporary residency, the time would still count while you had that status, as long as you properly changed your status to permanent resident at the end of the four years of temporary, with no break in your legal resident status.
Being From a Latin-American Country or the Iberian Peninsula
This is the easiest category under which to apply for Mexican citizenship by naturalization. Anyone who was a born in a Latin American country or the Iberian Peninsula can apply for Mexican citizenship after only two years of legal residence in Mexico, without marriage, Mexican children, distinguished works, or anything. Just two years of residence with temporary or permanent residence, and citizens from these countries can apply for Mexican citizenship.
In the case of a citizen from another Latin American country or Spain, who is also married to a Mexican or has a Mexican child, it is easier to apply under this category than the others. The two years of legal residency requirement is the same, but there is less paperwork. It does hower cost slightly less to apply through marriage, but you would have to meet the other marriage specific requirements.
This page is intended as an overview of what is required to apply for Mexican citizenship. It is for general informational purposes only, and is not an official list of requirements.
The official requirements can be found in the DNN-3 application form. Each regional SRE office may also have their own requirements and interpretations. The SRE office where you intend to apply is ultimately who will decided what is required in your case.