Buying Real Estate in Mexico for Expats: The SRE Permit
Buying real estate in Mexico does not require any special immigration status if you are an expat. However, Mexico requires you to be treated exactly the same as any Mexican citizen if you do buy property here.
In San Miguel de Allende and anywhere in Mexico (excluding the Restricted Zones), you can buy real estate even if your immigration status is that of a tourist. Regardless of immigration your status however, all expats must obtain a permit issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE permit) before the property’s deed can be put in your name. When an offer is made and accepted applying for this permit is one of the first things that you will need to do. Your attorney or your agent can seek the permit for you, but the application will require your signature. Note that your application will be specific to the property you wish to buy and to the notary that will be handling the transaction so, you cannot request a generic permit. In addition, since Covid, the wait time to receive the permit has extended to 3 to 6 weeks as of the date of this article.
The SRE permit words are actually written into the deed. The reason for this is that you as a foreign buyer of property you must agree to treated be as if you were a Mexican citizen with respect to your ownership of the property. In doing this (again related only to your ownership of the property you are buying) you agree not to invoke the protection of your government (E.G. USA or Canada) with regard to the property and your ownership of the property. If you breach this agreement, you can lose your ownership rights to the property in favor of the Mexican government.
The Restricted Zone includes all land that is located within 100 kilometers of Mexico’s border with the USA, Guatemala, and Belize and within 50 kilometers of any Mexican ocean coast. In these zones, no foreigner can acquire direct title to land. They can however, purchase property in the Restricted Zone by establishing either a bank trust (FIDEICOMISO) or a Mexican Corporation.
Considering the requirements of the Restricted Zone land for foreigners, the SRE permit obligations are understandable to most expat buyers. Knowing all of this is part of what your attorney or representative should explain to you before you make any offers to purchase a property.
Jeff Kimmel is a lawyer and a member of the California bar since 1980. He became a partner of the Mexican law firm PORTILLA, RUY-DIAZ Y AGUILAR in 2017 (https://www.portilla.com.mx/attorneys). He is a licensed Mexican real estate broker in Guanajuato. He started KIMMEL REALTY GROUP in San Miguel de Allende in 2021 with the mission to help its clients take the risk out of buying real estate in Mexico (https://www.krgsanmiguel.com/).
© 2022 Jeff Kimmel DBA KIMMEL REALTY GROUP all rights reserved.
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