Your Legal Rights as a Foreigner in Mexico

All aspects of this article are for informational purposes only - see disclaimer below

A popular misconception is that because you are a foreigner, you have no rights in Mexico. This is not true.

The Mexican Constitution states that, unless otherwise stated, foreigners enjoy all the same rights as Mexican citizens. This includes rights to public education and medical attention. Two important exceptions are political activity, and the right to own land.

Foreigners and the Right to Own Land

Foreigners may own land in Mexico on two conditions:

  1. They obtain the proper permission from the Ministry of Foreign Relations
  2. The land is not inside one of the "restricted zones".

Lands which foreigners are not permitted to own, in the "restricted zones", are defined as such: The strip of 100 kilometers along the border and 50 kilometers along the coastline. Foreigners desiring to own lands in the restricted zone can do so in a trust arrangement with a Mexican bank, in which the bank holds the legal title to the property in a trust for which the foreign owner is a beneficiary. This trust must be renewed every 30 years.

Foreigners Cannot Engage in Political Activity

The Mexican Constitution states very clearly that "Foreigners shall not in any way involve themselves in the political matters of the country" This is emphatically interpreted to mean that foreigners do not have the right to vote, run for public office, or participate in any political event, rally or demonstration. Additionally, foreigners should stay away from all political activity including any kind of demonstration or protest even if you think it is seemingly on-political. Engaging in these kinds of activities is a good way to be asked to leave the country.

Foreigners Have the Right to Free Emergency Medical Attention

Two governmental agencies, the Public Health Ministry, and the Mexican Social Security Institute run a countrywide system of government hospitals and clinics. A program run by the Ministry of Health, called the Sistema para el Desarollo Integral de la Familia (DIF) also runs a system of pediatric health facilities. The right to free emergency medical attention in any of the government hospitals or clinics applies to Mexican citizens and foreigners alike. The traveler should be forewarned that although the public health care system in Mexico is available, it is still by no means as comprehensive as U.S. healthcare system.

Foreigners Have the Right to Education in Public Schools

While this is set forth in the constitution, you or your child may be admitted into whatever school you are interested in. Usually for admission, you must have the necessary immigration documentation and school transcripts.

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