Over the past few weeks, I had the opportunity to complete some of those little administrative tasks with which we are all familiar, and which are just as important for an expat.
First, I had to renew my car’s registration. This proved fairly easy and cost only $500 MXP ($ 25 USD) since I got a 10% discount for paying right away. Such discounts are common in Mexico, including on things like speeding tickets and property taxes. One small complication with the process was that the Mexican government now demands you provide an RFC # when registering/renewing your car. RFC stands for Registro Federal de Contribuyentes. It is a way for the government to better track people for tax purposes; you need an RFC for most major transactions (buying/selling cars, houses, etc.). This is especially important in Mexico, where so much business is done “off the books” to avoid taxes. You can get an RFC number online through a fairly easy process; once you have it, it stays with you as long as you are a resident. I have one last administrative requirement for my automobile: sometime before April, I’ll need to take the car in for an emissions inspection.
Finally, I completed the transition from Residente Temporal to Residente Permanente. I paid a fee and filled out the documents attesting to my resident address and my retirement income. The last step was to get fingerprinted (again), and now I too (along with my dear wife) have an official green card issued by the Mexican government. What does it mean? I never have to update or renew my status–hence the term permanente. I use the “Mexicanos” lines when entering or leaving the country instead of using the “foreigners” lines. What else? I must pay taxes if I make any income in Mexico (which was always the case, but I won’t be making any income, so whatever). I am eligible for Mexican health care (Seguro Popular or IMSS), and I can apply for a Mexican capital gains tax exemption if I ever sell my casa. I can’t vote here, and I can no longer own a foreign-plated vehicle in Mexico. That’s the deal.
The biggest advantage with Resident Permanente is not having to renew your status or pay anything ever again. While the Mexican federal government sometimes changes the rules and charges for tourists and temporary residents, it leaves permanentes alone. Some expats go all the way to getting Mexican citizenship, but as far as I can see that only lets you vote. I’m sick enough of politics in my home country to not want to engage in it here!