[NOTE: This post is current in June 2012]. Currently there is a Mexican tourist visa law, which has not been implemented yet, but will change the process outlined below.
Your FMM is the 6 Month Mexican Tourist Visa granted when you clear-into Mexico (or fly in). It's good for six months and it not supposed to be renewed. However, some cruisers I know go to the airport, ask for a new visa and they are provided with one. Apparently, it depends on the person at the service counter. When we tried to do the same we were turned down and informed that it was not possible to so any longer and we would have to apply for a FM3 (non-residential visa).
We took the following steps to get our FM3 visas.
Location Location Location\ When I was asking around about the location of the INM Office none of the cruisers or the bus drivers seemed to know anything about it, so I will give you detailed directions to the immigration office in Bucerias, Nayarit, Mexico. The INM office closes at 2:00PM sharp! Leave yourself plenty of time.\ From the bus, get off the at Camarones Hotel (this is the landmark the drivers know). It has a big arch spanning across the street. There is an OXXO on the opposite corner.\ The cross streets are Highway 200 and Las Palmas.\ Once you get off the bus, walk down the hill towards the bay and the INM office is on the right hand side, there is a nice big sign and guards with machine guns to keep the Canadians under control. ;-P
Here is what you are going to do:\ 1) Acquire an permanent street address\ 2) Fill out the printed and online forms.\ 3) Print out three months of bank statements\ 4) Get your passport photos\ 5) Go to the INM, drop off paperwork and pay the paperwork fee at the Bank and receive receipts of payment.\ 6) Go to the INM to verify everything is ready, pay for FM3 at Bank and pickup FM3
That's the summary I wish someone told me, for us, we went to the INM first to see how it all works, they explained the steps to us, then I came back with our paperwork and I had left off our middle names so we had to do it again. Then when it was all complete, we had to make an extra trip because while the person who signed Dawn's paper work was in that day; the person who signed mine was not.
I had to come back. Not a big deal, we're cruising we got all the time in the world! Let's go through the detailed process without our mistakes.
Step 1 - Get an Address\ You need a local address which is in the vicinity of your INM office. The easiest way to do this is to stay in the Marina La Cruz. If you're paying customer they seem very happy to write you a letter saying you live there. We had stayed there a few days here and there and we had planned to leave the boat there over the summer. If you're not a customer of the marina, I don't think they will do this for you. They will print off a letter stating your address and signed by an attorney.
Step 2 - Fill out the Printed and On-line Forms\ There are printed forms you need to fill out which has information they use for statistical purposes, but it is required.\ Club Cruceros in La Paz has good instructions on this here: http://www.clubcruceros.net/index.php/guides/documentation-and-visas/mexican-visa-applications.html They have an English version of the form as well. You CAN NOT turn in the English form. It is merely a guide.
There is an on-line form you fill out which is what I'll call the official FM3 Application. In theory, you can track the status of your application from the website, This did not work for us and wound up going to the office after 3-4 weeks to check the status and they were completed.\ Here is a link to the form: http://www.inm.gob.mx/index.php/page/Solicitud_de_Estancia\ This image translates the fields for you.
Step 3 - Print your Bank Statements\ You need to show you have \$1500.00 USD in the bank for the past three months per person (\$3000 total for 2). You can use paper statements or you can print out your statements from your bank and use those. If you are submitting the same bank account for a husband and wife BOTH your names need to be on the statement. If one of you doesn't have an account with enough money in it then there is more work to do. I don't know what it is. Contact an agent to help you (see bottom). I also don't know anything about Mexico's views on gay marriage, but I guess they just want to see the right names and the right amount of money.
Step 4 - Get your Passport Photos\ Get all of your paperwork together and go to the INM office in Bucerias. If there is not a person with a sign for passport photos standing outside the INM, walk back up the hill and about half-way up the street you will see a sign for FM3 Photos. We paid \$300.00 MXN for our photos. This takes about 30 minutes.
Step 5 - Goto the INM to drop off your paperwork and pay the processing fee\ When you go to the INM, a nice man with a large automatic weapon will ask you to sign-in (your ID # is your passport #) and will give you a number. You can wait inside if there are chairs or outside, or if you are number 73 and they are 10 you can go get lunch. I would bring a book and I would be prepared to spend 2-3 hours here waiting. I would recommend not going on Mondays.
When your number is called they will check that everything is filled out OK, you have all the right papers, etc.. Then they will hand you a form to take to the bank to pay the processing fee. This fee is just for paperwork. Its not the FM3 fee. They will also tell you to bring back 2 copies of the receipt along with the original. The Bank will not print these for you. You need to get a copy.
There is a bank on the corner of La Palmas and Highway 200 (at top of the hill) to the right, next to the OXXO.\ You can get copies at the Internet Cafes across the street on the same corner. Copies are like \$1 Peso!
-- WAIT --\ We were told to come back in 2 weeks. We waited three. Then we went back only Dawn's was ready. This is their country, be patient and don't be a jerk!
Step 6 - Go to INM to Pickup FM3 and Pay FM3 Fee\ When you go to INM you do the same sign-in get a number thing.\ Assuming everything is ready they will send you off to the bank to pay the FM3 Visa Fee. You will again need 2 copies of this as well as the original.\ They will have you sign your FM3, supply both thumbprints. You'll sit back down while they laminate your FM3.\ When they are done they will hand you a shiny new laminated FM3 !
If you are not up for that, in every town there are agents who will fill out the paperwork and stand in the line for you. The fee for this service is around \$1000 Pesos. Ask around on the VHF Nets if you want an agent.