Red Tape

Apostille documents needed for FM3

by jennifer rose
The Apostille document is a special certification document which is accepted by countries who are a party to the rules of the 1961 Hague Convention. You can view a list of these countries at the State Department web site:

The Apostille document enables you to bypass further certification from the U.S. Department of State and immediately send or take your documents to the country of intended use.

Not only are notarized documents apostilled, but also any public document. Certified copies of court records require an apostille.

Essentially the apostille is a super-certification, warranting to the receiving forum that the notary real is a notary, that the clerk of court really is whom she or he purports to be, obviating questions of authenticity.

The apostille is issued by the secretary of state in the State in which the document was issued. Go to the web site of the relevant state, and you’ll likely find the information that you need. The fee for each apostilled document is $5-$10 USD.

Before moving to Mexico, it’s advisable to obtain apostilled copies of your birth certificate, marriage license, divorce decree, and death certificate at a minimum. In the likely event that your demise has not yet taken place, obtain an apostilled copy of the death certificate of your spouse if you are widowed.

For proof of income, it is easiest to ask your C.P.A. or banker to supply an affidavit, to which are attached the relevant documents showing your Social Security and pension, stating that he or she is familiar with you and knows your income to be in excess of the requisite amount, specifying the amount. Send this affidavit to the secretary of state of your State to be apostilled. The proof of income, however, is the only document which I suggest rolling into one document.

You can never have enough documentation – as well as properly prepared documentation. There are some shortcuts that simply can’t be taken. An extra $5 or $10 expended in obtaining the proper documents is a whole lot cheaper than repeated trips to the Consulate.

Bear in mind that the Mexican bureaucracy, just like any other, has its vagaries. If they tell you to sign your name in blue ink, don’t substitute black. If they ask you to sing a capella, do it. Don’t waste your time, or theirs, debating equivalencies. It’s their game.

The Mexican Consulate in New York's website does indicate that a personal appearance is required. Each Mexican Consulate operates under its own rules of office administration, and often, it seems, interpretation of the law. I’d recommend calling the Mexican Consulate, waiting through the voice menu and music, and asking them if the FM-3 can be applied for by mail. (Not everything’s true and correct on the Internet… or in the newspaper.)

And whenever Mexico's immigration process seems Kafkaesque or prolix, just remember that the U.S. INS is even more unrelenting. And it’s still less burdensome than hanging around Ellis Island for a week like some of our ancestors did.
©1972-2000 by Carl Franz & Lorena Havens
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