Permit and Fideicomiso
Article 27 of the Mexican constitution states that only Mexicans may own property, so foreigners must obtain a permit (convenio) from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores - SRE) that grants them permission. Buyers make this application after signing the purchase agreement; details about the property to be purchased must be included in the application process.
At the core of the permit is the Calvo Clause (Cláusula Calvo), a clause whereby foreigners waive the right to invoke the protection of their home government in the event of a property dispute between the foreign owner and the government of Mexico.
Applicants must appear in person, or through a legal representative, at the Legal Affairs Directory of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to provide basic information about themselves, their legal representative if applicable, and the property. The approval process takes around 3 to 4 weeks.
Find information about the convenio and the application requirements, on the SRE website (in Spanish). Links to application forms in Word format can be found under Requisitos, numbered S1 and S2.
Find more information about fees and timelines involved when applying for a convenio (in Spanish)
Contact information for the SRE in the Distrito Federal:
At: Plaza Juárez 20, Col. Centro, Mexico DF.
Tel: (55) 3886 5100
Open: Monday to Friday 09:00–18:00; official ID is required for entrance
Find contact details (in Spanish) for Delegation and State offices of the SRE
More information about regulations and procedures can be obtained by telephone on (55) 3686 5100 extensions 6419 and 641.
Establishing a Fideicomiso
In addition to the convenio, foreigners purchasing ejido land or property within 100 Km of a border or 50 Km of a coastline must establish a fideicomiso, or bank trusteeship. This involves a contract between a Mexican bank and a non-Mexican individual (or company) where the bank, as trustee, becomes the legal owner of the property.
Although the bank holds the deed to the property in trust for the purchaser – referred to as the beneficiary of the trust – the purchaser is given the exclusive right to use and control the property. This includes the right to build on the property, to profit by selling it, to borrow money against it, or to designate/will it to other beneficiaries. The beneficiary is also entitled to claim the property as an asset for accounting purposes. The fideicomiso expires after 50 years, but may be renewed.
The process of establishing a fideicomiso begins after an offer has been accepted.
There are fees associated with establishing the fideicomiso and yearly fees to maintain it. It is usually drafted by the financial institution, which uses its own notaries.
The process of buying, selling or renting any type of property or land is regulated at a state level in Mexico. While some procedures in the property purchase process may be identical in all states, others may differ. This page gives an overview of what is involved in buying a property in Mexico, prepared by certified real estate agents who are experts in the Mexico City property market. It contains advice that should not be considered a legal document nor should it imply any liability for its authors in case there are some discrepancies with the processes involved for the sale or rental of a property. It should also be noted that for particular practices and requirements in areas other than Mexico City, advice should be sought from professionals familiar with the property market in that state.
Information provided by Carmella Peters-Romero, Vanessa Kerr and Hector Romero of Peters & Romero Bienes Raíces, Tel: 55 3713 0985 / 55 6708 4772 / 55 4341 3131