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.
This article was updated in March of 2023.
The ALL NEW digital Forma Migratoria Multiple or FMM
In the past, when you entered Mexico you would fill out a visitor’s permit known as the Forma Migratoria Multiple or FMM. As you passed through customs, the customs official kept half of the form and gave you back the other half.
NOW, the system (when it’s working) is all digital. Your passport is scanned then stamped with the number of days written directly inside your passport. IF you can’t read the number of days, ASK the customs agent at the time to tell you. Many times the handwritten number are illegible AND 180 days is no longer guaranteed.
It’s important to note . . .
At times the system is down. If this is the case when you enter the country, you’ll be given a “receipt” that includes a QR code. You’ll need to scan the QR code and enter information and details of your stay digitally.
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. HOWEVER, 99.9% of the time, you will NOT be given an extension unless it is an extenuating circumstance. More than likely, they will advise that you overstay then pay the fine as you exit the country.
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.
Arriving via air or land
- 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
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: