Doing Business In Mexico

  1. Mexico’s overall Doing Business 2013 ranking is 48. Its overall score is 5 points higher compared to last year, reflecting a 38 point increase in the Starting a Business indicator.
  2. According to the latest Enterprise Surveys (2010), the top 3 obstacles to running a business in Mexico include the Practices of the Informal Sector, Tax Rates, and Access to Finance. 70.3% of firms compete against unregistered or informal firms, compared to 62.3% for the region.
  3. Mexico’s economic freedom score is 65.3, making its economy the 54th freest in the 2012 Index. Its score is 2.5 points worse than last year, reflecting declines in six of the 10 economic freedoms including trade freedom, business freedom, and investment freedom. Mexico is ranked 3rd out of three countries in the North America region, but its score is well above the world average.

Source: World Bank


Visa Information

Every tourist must have an easily obtainable Mexican-government tourist card. Some nationalities also need to obtain visas. Because the regulations sometimes change, it’s wise to confirm them with a Mexican embassy or consulate before you go. The websites of some Mexican consulates, including the London consulate ( and the Los Angeles consulate ( give useful information on visas and similar matters. The rules are also summarized on the website of Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM, National Migration Institute;
Citizens of the US, Canada, EU countries, Argentina, Australia, Chile, New Zealand, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Norway and Switzerland are among those who do not need visas to enter Mexico as tourists. The list changes sometimes; check well ahead of travel with your local Mexican embassy or consulate. Visa procedures, for those who need them, can take several weeks and you may be required to apply in your country of residence or citizenship.
Non-US citizens passing (even in transit) through the US on the way to or from Mexico, or visiting Mexico from the US, should also check the passport and visa requirements for the US.
Tourist card & tourist fee
The Mexican tourist card – officially the forma migratoria para turista (FMT) – is a brief card document that you must fill out and get stamped by Mexican immigration when you enter Mexico, and keep till you leave. It’s available at official border crossings, international airports and ports, and often from airlines, travel agencies and Mexican consulates.
At the US–Mexico border you won’t usually be given one automatically – you have to ask for it. And at many crossings here you don’t have to get the card stamped at the actual border, as the INM has control points on the highways into the interior where it’s also possible to do it. But it’s preferable to get it done at the border itself, in case there are complications elsewhere.
One section of the card deals with the length of your stay in Mexico, and this section is filled out by the immigration officer. The maximum possible is 180 days, but immigration officers sometimes put a lower number (as little as 15 or 30 days in some cases) unless you tell them specifically what you need. It’s advisable to ask for more days than you think you’ll need, in case you are delayed or change your plans.
Though the tourist card itself is free of charge, it brings with it the obligation to pay the tourist fee of US$22, called the derecho para no inmigrante (DNI, nonimmigrant fee). The exact amount of the fee in pesos fluctuates with exchange rates. If you enter Mexico by air, the fee is included in your airfare. If you enter by land, you must pay the fee at a bank in Mexico at any time before you reenter the frontier zone on your way out of Mexico (or before you check in at an airport to fly out of Mexico). The frontier zone is the ­territory between the border itself and the INM’s control points on the highways leading into the Mexican interior (usually 20km to 30km from the border). Most Mexican border posts have on-the-spot bank offices where you can pay the DNI fee immediately. When you pay at a bank, your tourist card will be stamped to prove that you have paid.
Look after your tourist card because it may be checked when you leave the country. You can be fined for not having it.
Tourist cards (and fees) are not necessary for visits shorter than 72 hours within the frontier zones along Mexico’s northern and southern borders, but be sure to confirm ­details when you cross the border.
A tourist card only permits you to engage in what are considered to be tourist activities (including sports, health, artistic and cultural activities). If the purpose of your visit is to work (even as a volunteer), report or study, or to participate in humanitarian aid or human-rights observation, you may well need a visa. If you’re unsure, check with a Mexican ­embassy or consulate.

Business Etiquette

Relationships & Communication

The right connections facilitate business success.

You will be judged by the person who introduces you and changing this first impression is nearly impossible.Since the initial meeting is generally with someone of high stature, it is important that your delegation include an upper-level executive.

After the initial getting-to-know-you meeting, the senior executive may not attend meetings or be visible.

This indicates you are now getting down to business and they are no longer needed to smooth the introduction.

Demonstrating trustworthiness, sincerity, and integrity are crucial to building relationships.

Expect to answer questions about your personal background, family and life interests.

Business Meeting Etiquette

Business appointments are required and should be made at least 2 weeks in advance. Reconfirm the appointment one week before the meeting.

Reconfirm the meeting again once you arrive in Mexico and make sure that the secretary of the person you will be meeting knows how to contact you.

It is important that you arrive on time for meetings, although your Mexican business associates may be up to 30 minutes late.

Do not appear irritated if this occurs as people often run behind schedule.

Meetings may be postponed with little advance warning.

Initial meetings are formal.

Have all written material available in both English and Spanish.

Agendas are not common. If they are given, they are not always followed.

Business Negotiation

Since Mexicans are status conscious, you should always have someone on your negotiating team who is an executive.

If you do not speak Spanish, hire an interpreter.

It will take several meetings to come to an agreement.

Face-to-face meetings are preferred over telephone, letters or email.

Negotiations and decisions take a long time. You must be patient.

Deadlines are seen as flexible and fluid, much like time itself.Negotiations will include a fair amount of haggling. Do not give your best offer first.Do not include an attorney on your negotiating team.

Business Dress

Dress as you would in Europe.

Men should wear conservative, dark coloured suits.

Women should wear business suits or conservative dresses.

Business Cards

Business cards are exchanged during introductions with everyone at a meeting.

It is advisable to have one side of your business card in Spanish.

Business cards should contain both your professional and educational qualifications.

Present your business card with the Spanish side facing the recipient.

General Business Hours

Stores are typically open from 9am to 8pm, Monday to Saturday. In the south of the country and in small towns, some stores close for a siesta between 2pm and 4pm, then stay open till 9pm. Some don’t open on Saturday afternoon.

Offices have similar Monday to Friday hours to stores, with a greater likelihood of the 2pm to 4pm lunch break. Offices with tourist-related business, including airline and car-rental offices, usually open on Saturday too, from at least 9am to 1pm.

Typical restaurant hours are 7am (9am in central Mexico) to midnight. If a restaurant has a closing day, it’s usually Sunday, Monday or Tuesday. Cafés typically open from 8am to 10pm daily.

Banks are normally open 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, and 9am to 1am Saturday. In smaller towns they may close earlier or not open on Saturday. Casas de cambio (money-exchange offices) are usually open from 9am to 7pm daily, often with even longer hours in coastal resorts.

Post offices typically open from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday, and 9am to 1pm Saturday.

for our purposes opening hours are spelt out where they differ from those above.

It’s worth remembering that supermarkets and department stores usually open from 9am or 10am to 10pm every day, and stores in malls and coastal resort towns often open on Sunday too.