Tag Archives: legalization process

Getting Legal–Legalizing a Vehicle

Our red truck--that we no longer own.

Our red truck–that we no longer own.

It is possible to legalize a vehicle at the border, however, our truck was a model year 2000. You could only Mexicanize (legalize) vehicles with model years before 1997 at that time. So basically, our truck was too new to become Mexican at the time we entered México.

But for those bound and determined to legalize their vehicle–
One method of renewing the permission is to drive back across the border into the United States, have the permission sticker removed, then drive back into Mexico and obtain a new permission sticker.  As we lived several days drive from the border, this wasn’t a feasible option for us, although I have heard of persons making the trek every six months for this purpose.

There is another option, what seemed a loophole in the system to us, was the fact that as long as I was in the country legally, the truck was legal. It seemed what we needed at the time.  But then seems are always too good to be true here in México.

So this second process entailed taking the original and copy of the truck title, the original and copy of the importation permission paper given at the border, and the original and copy of the page with my picture of my FM-3 to the Aduana (customs office). The nearest Aduana to us was in Querétaro (about a 2 1/2 hour drive). It’s on the same street as the Kellog’s factory and the ejercito militar (military), so when looking for directions from native Queretarians, ask for the road to one of those as no one seems to know where the Aduana is unless you are standing in front of it.

The Aduana was open from Monday-Friday from 9 am until 2 pm. When I arrived, I signed a big book stating my purpose and left my id (passport) as a guarantee at the gate. We couldn’t drive into the Aduana as it was a restricted area (heavily guarded by a man nearing retirement age and a large rope to prevent cars from passing). My son wasn’t allowed onto the compound, so my husband, my son and the truck had to wait across the street while I tackled this alone. I walked about 1/2 mile to the very end of the compound. The Aduana is in a large gray building. I walked around to the front door and signed in another book to pass into the office.

The customs agent had me fill out a letter saying to the effect that I owned a vehicle (blah, blah make and model) and was in México legally (had my FM-3) and, therefore, was entitled to own the vehicle in México until my FM-3 expired next year. I filled out the form in triplicate and signed it. Then we walked to the front of the building to have the documents stamped with the date. And that was it. Really!

However, the fly in the soup was that although the vehicle may be in the country legally I did not have permission to drive it in the country, as we learned several mordida (bribe) stops later. For that, the vehicle must be legalized and issued a tarjeta de circular (permission to circulate in the country). For the make and model of our vehicle, it would have cost more than the vehicle was worth which and for us was not worth the effort. We ended up selling the truck and bought a made-in-México vehicle, known fondly as Butch, and relieved ourselves of that particular headache.

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Getting Legal–Trip 1

In order to avoid denial due to spelling or format errors, I trotted next door and had this office fill out my forms.

In order to avoid denial due to spelling or format errors, I trotted next door and had this office fill out my forms.

I have been living in México for 7 years and every year I go to San Miguel de Allende to the Mexican Immigration office to apply for permission to live here another year. When I entered México, I had a 6-month tourist visa. Then 6 months later, I had an FM-3. I had that for 3 years then moved up to an FM-2. I applied as a dependent familiar (family dependent) since the requirements were not so stringent. When I met the residency requirements, I started investigating what I would need to become a citizen and in order to give up these yearly trips and expenses as exciting as they may be.

First, the immigration office in San Miguel de Allende sent me to the Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores in my hometown, Moroleón. There I was told that they didn’t do that sort of thing anymore and I would have to go to Morelia. So I went to Morelia and was told that since my legal address was in Guanajuato and Morelia was in Michoacan, I would need to go to León. So I went to León. And in León, I was told that because the name on my passport and Mexican identification was different from my name on my birth certificate, (my passport and ID had my married name) they would have to send my application on to Mexico City for approval. Well, I’m still waiting for that approval.

So thus defeated in my quest to become Mexican citizen last year, this year I went back to San Miguel de Allende to renew my Mexican identification and was told that because I had 4 years with the FM-3 classification I would not be able to get a renewal, unless I left the country and went to a Mexican consulate in the U.S. and started the process over again.

But wait, the law changed last November and I could qualify for permanent residency now. Yippee!! That meant I would no longer need to make the trip to immigration in San Miguel de Allende ever again! But of course, I wouldn’t be able to vote, own a foreign car, become alcalde (mayor) or own property, however, it would make my transition to naturalized citizen that much easier. So I said, sign me up!

Well, of course, it wasn’t that easy. I went the 25th of the month, but my identification didn’t expire until the 2nd of the following month, so my application couldn’t be processed until then. So I would have to come back on the 2nd when my papers could be accepted. Okie Dokie!

In order to not have wasted the trip, we headed next door to the lawyer’s office where we had the necessary paperwork drawn up. I could do it myself, however, I didn’t want my application to be denied on the basis of a spelling error. So the secretary completed my online application, wrote the letter asking for my change of status on the basis of being in the country 4 years and being the wife of a Mexican, took my picture (3 front facing, no earrings, no glasses, no bangs and one side facing, ears exposed), made copies of my Mexican ID, my U.S. passport, my Mexican marriage certificate, and my husband’s ID (IFE). When my husband handed over his ID, I took a quick look at it, and then had to look again. Dios mío! He looked like a serial killer in that picture. I can’t even begin to imagine what the approval committee said when they got a load of him as he looked there. Well, even serial killers have wives I guess.

The secretary gave me all the paperwork and the receipts that I needed to present at Banamex for payment, one for $1000 pesos and a second for $3812 pesos. The immigration office does not accept any sort of cash, all transactions have to be made at the bank. I expect that reduces the number of mordidas (bribes) offered and received. And so, the grand total for my paperwork was $720 pesos, which is about what I earn in a week. Then there were the mordidas in Celaya, (See Driving Hazards) gas, food and hair dye (I wasn’t about to have my application read :entre canas (gray-haired) which in all added another $1000 to that first trip. Cha-Ching!$$$ But I was on my way to permanent residency at long last.

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