Summary: The Temporary resident visa (MTRV) is needed by Canadian or US citizens if they want to stay continuously in Mexico for more than 180 days.
Updated July 2013.
Updated February 2013: Please keep in mind that the current regulations are relatively new (Nov. 2012) so you may have different experiences depending on which office you use. The following information is gleaned from many sources across the internet it is only a summary of what I believe I understand. If in doubt consult a professional or ask a question on a forum to get information about the personal experience of others. If your experience is different or suggests errors in the information presented please comment below. Sharing has served us well in the past and will help us through these changes as well.
If you need to apply for a visa or change your immigration status in any way there is an on line procedure which starts the process. That process has been translated and documented here: INM ONline Immigration Application Procedure for Visas and changes
To get this visa you must apply at a Mexican consulate outside Mexico unless you already have immigrant or non immigrant status or you are the kin of a Mexican citizen.
The cost is: 1 year – $3,310 pesos
2 year – $4,690 pesos
3 year – $5,940 pesos
4 year – $7,040 pesos
It is good for 4 years after which you must either leave the country to apply for a new MTRV or convert it to a Permanent Resident Visa (MPRV) / Residente Permanente.
If you have non immigrant status (FM3) in its 1st or 2nd year then you can convert it to a temporary resident visa at the time of renewal of your status without leaving the country.
If your non immigrant status (FM3) is in its 3rd or 4th year then you will have to convert it to a permanent resident visa or leave the country. You can apply for a change in status 6 month prior to it’s expiry.
The MPRV can be purchased for up to 4 years without having to renew it annually.
There is a minimum income requirement for getting this visa in the range of 2,000 US$ per month or US$102,000 of investments for each individual. You may be required to prove this with bank statements but the INM offices have the discretion to use a combination of assets including real estate to arrive at an equivalency. The idea is that you should be financially self sufficient.
You cannot have a foreign plated vehicle in Mexico under this status. This has caused a great deal of controversy and there may be some grace period or changes to this regulation. (June 2013 comment) This is still a hot topic of debate. Some people are getting renewals of their temporary Import Permits when they gain their Temporal status but it is expected that that may only last for a while as the attitude of the government seems to be that it will not be permitted especially if you have some income associated with your status. Only time will tell. (July 2013 comment) It is still debatable and being debated but it appears that until the tax law (Ley Aduano) is changed you can get a temporary import permit. Best to ask a professional to help you with this.
You must inform the INM of the following changes within 90 days of their occurrence:
• CIVIL STATUS
• CHANGE OF CITIZENSHIP
This document can only be renewed within 30 days prior to expiry.
If your document should expire while outside the country then you have 55 days to reenter Mexico and 5 days to get to an INM office. If you don’t do that your document is no longer valid.
The time to get the document approved is estimated at 20 working days and then it has to go the Mexico City for issuance which is another 2 to 3 weeks.
When you apply for your MTRV at a consulate they will give you a visa good for 30 days. Once you enter Mexico you have 5 days to go to a INM office to continue the process. Apparently some consulates give longer periods for the visa. Up to 180 days have been reported.
I have always found the Mexconnect forum extremely useful.
The actual regulations are here in Spanish: http://dof.gob.mx/nota_detalle.php?codigo=5276967&fecha=08/11/2012
See also Mark’s comment on how to calculate the investment requirement below.