Can an expat work or do business in Mexico?
Philip Hardcastle brings us this interesting article published on sanmiguelrealestate.com about doing business, getting permissions to sell, starting a business and obtaining proper working permits as an expat in Mexico.
Generally speaking, the first condition to doing business as a foreigner in Mexico is to obtain or make sure you will be able to obtain the proper approval and visa from immigration. Unlike the US or Canada, where after getting a visa to work you can do any business activity you choose, in Mexico, every specific economic activity will need approval.
The easiest activities for approval are artistic in nature, namely, artists who are making and seeking permission to sell their art. Beyond permission to make and sell your own art, permission gets a little more difficult depending on what you want to do. The general idea is that Mexico does not want to give approval to foreigners to do work that could easily be done by its own citizens. Additionally, if your field requires a license, such as in medicine, or architecture, you will be required to submit all of your certifications and you may be required to be approved first by the appropriate licensing agency in the state.
Working for an existing company may be much easier than getting approval to work on your own. In this case the potential company where you will be employed will write a letter on your behalf and “sponsor” you. The sponsorship gives you permission to work only for the company.
Although many people living in Mexicol work a US job via the internet, have only a retirement visa, and no other approval, information regarding this type of situation is conflicting. However, I have never heard of anyone being questioned regarding their work from another country and have only seen immigration issues arise for those charging for a product or service within Mexico.
Other than for a visa to make and sell your art, for which there are several individuals in town available to help you do this, you will probably want to find an attorney. In my experience, every attorney will take your case, but only a few really specialize in immigration issues and keep up on the constant changes in qualifications required.
If your business idea is something your attorney says may not easily get approval, there is always the option of starting a Mexican corporation. Because the Mexican corporation doesn’t need to specify what type of work will be done, approval to do specific work, the owner then only needs immigration approval to be a director or officer and will be free to do most any activity.
Mexican corporations are very similar to those in the US and have an approximate tax rate of 28% on the net. Additionally, there are several forms, including one similar to a US S-corp where taxes pass through to the shareholders.
In addition to your immigration status you and or your Mexican corporation will also need to set up an account with the property tax authorities.
An accountant and attorney will be a good investment to get you up and going. If you need a recommendation for either or both, please don’t hesitate to email me for a referral.
By Philip Hardcastle