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Mexican Nationality Law:
Enforcement Guidelines for the New Regulations
Governing Preservation of Mexican Citizenship
Edited by BOYD F. CAMPBELL
Attorney and Civil Law Notary
The new Mexican Nationality
Law, which was enacted by the Mexican Congress pursuant to amendments to
Articles 30, 32 and 33 of the Constitution, was published in the Official
Gazette on January 23, 1998, and went into effect on March 20, 1998.
Mexicans by birth who became citizens of another country prior to March 20, 1998, can regain their Mexican citizenship by requesting it and complying with the requirements for obtaining a Declarationof Mexican Nationality.
As of May 31, 1998, the Department of Foreign Affairs had received a total of 3,738 applications for Declarations of Mexican Nationality worldwide.
Question. What is "dual citizenship"?
Answer. It is the potential that all Mexicans have to become citizens of another country without losing their Mexican citizenship. Thus, you may have several nationalities.
Q. Who benefits from "dual citizenship"?
A. All Mexicans by birth who acquired foreign citizenship prior to March 20, 1998, thereby committing an infraction that resulted in the loss of their Mexican citizenship. All Mexicans by birth who are entitled to citizenship in another country and acquire it after March 20, 1998. Note: Naturalized Mexican citizens are not entitled to the benefits of the new Nationality Law.
Q. I was born in Mexico, but I emigrated to the United States and acquired U.S. citizenship prior to March 20, 1998, without renouncing my Mexican citizenship before Mexican authorities. I kept
my Mexican passport and have continued to use it. Will I have to reinstate my Mexican citizenship?
A. Yes. By acquiring U.S. citizenship, you committed an infraction that resulted in the loss of your Mexican citizenship. Therefore, you must obtain a Declaration of Mexican Nationality in order to
legalize your status and formally regain your Mexican citizenship.
Q. What are the requirements for regaining Mexican citizenship?
A. Be of age (at least 18 years old). Complete the proper form (you may do this at any office of the
Department of Foreign Affairs, Consulate or Embassy). Provide the following documents:
If you were born in Mexico, a certified copy of your Mexican birth certificate.
If you were born abroad, a certified copy of your Mexican father’s or mother’s birth certificate.
A copy of the document proving you are a citizen of the other country (you must show the original).
A copy of two official forms of identification that have your photograph and signature (you must show the originals).
Two photographs, front view, in color or in black and white, passport size (3.5 cm x 4.5 cm).
Pay the corresponding fees (US$12.00) when you receive the Declaration of Mexican Nationality.
Q. If I regain my Mexican citizenship, will I lose my other citizenship?
A. No. The Mexican government will not demand that you renounce your other citizenship in order to regain your Mexican citizenship.
Q. If I am Mexican by birth and became a citizen of another country after March 20, 1998, must I initiate proceedings in order to keep my Mexican citizenship?
A. No. Pursuant to the new Law, you no longer lose your Mexican citizenship by acquiring another. Thus no proceedings are necessary; you need only keep your Mexican proof of citizenship documents.
Q. If I was born abroad and am the child of parents born in Mexico who have become naturalized U.S. citizens, can I obtain Mexican citizenship?
A. Yes, provided your birth certificate attests to the Mexican nationality of your father or mother.
Q. If I was born abroad after March 20, 1998, am I entitled to Mexican citizenship?
A. Yes, provided that one of your parents was born in Mexico or was a naturalized Mexican citizen before you were born.
Q. If I am Mexican and I have a child born abroad after March 20, 1998, will my grandchildren be entitled to Mexican citizenship if they are born abroad?
A. If your son or daughter was born before January 14, 1999, he or she is entitled to transmit Mexican nationality to your grandchildren. If, however, the birth occurs after January 14, 1999, that right cannot be transmitted.
Q. If I am a foreign national and my spouse is Mexican, can I obtain Mexican citizenship without losing the citizenship of my country of origin?
A. No, because in this case you would be a naturalized Mexican citizen. The amendments to the Law do not apply to you. Therefore, you would have to renounce your other citizenship.
Q. If I have "dual citizenship", what happens if I declare citizenship other than Mexican citizenship when I am in Mexico?
A. The benefits of these Constitutional amendments are granted provided that the person with "dual citizenship" declares himself or herself a Mexican citizen in Mexican territory. If you declare yourself a foreign national or if you invoke the protection of a foreign government, you will lose these benefits and will be subject to a fine provided for in the Nationality Law.
Q. If I have "dual citizenship", will I have to comply with Mexican Military Service?
A. Mexicans by birth who have become citizens of another country will not have to fulfill Mexican military service requirements. The only thing you have to do is request the corresponding certification of exemption from your Consulate. For this, you must also present proof of your other citizenship.
Q. If I become a citizen of another country after March 20, 1998, can I keep the real estate I own in areas where foreign nationals are prohibited from ownership?
A. Yes. You can keep any property in any part of Mexico’s territory, provided you declare yourself a Mexican citizen. If you attempt to use another nationality, you will lose that right of ownership, which reverts to the Mexican Government.
Q. If I have rights to an ejidoe and I become a citizen of another country after March 20, 1998, can I keep my ejidoe rights?
A. Yes. If you acquired them as a Mexican citizen, and you kept them in your status as a Mexican citizen, you will not lose the rights to your property.
Q. If I have dual citizenship and I inherit real estate located in areas of Mexico where foreign nationals are prohibited from owning land, what nationality should I use?
A. You must claim your property as a Mexican citizen. If you claim it declaring another nationality, you will lose your rights to the property, which reverts to the Mexican Government.
Q. If I have "dual citizenship", do I have to pay taxes in Mexico on my income in the United States?
A. No. The new nationality regulations have no effect whatsoever on the tax provisions in effect. Taxes are paid in the country where the income is generated.
Q. If I have "dual citizenship" and I want to import a vehicle into Mexico on a temporary basis, what should I do?
A. You must identify yourself as a Mexican citizen when entering Mexico and show proof that you reside in the United States for the procedures corresponding to temporary import of your vehicle.
Customs authorities will follow the same procedure that is used for Mexican citizens residing abroad.
NOTE: For information on any procedure, other information, and/or clarification, contact your nearest consulate.
LAW OF NATIONALITY
Article 1. This Law sets forth the rules and regulations relating to articles 30, 32 and 37, part A and B, of the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States. This Law is in the public interest and is to be observed throughout the national territory. Its application corresponds to the executive branch of the federal government, through the offices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Article 2. For the effects
of this Law, the terms below will be understood as follows:
Foreign Ministry: Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Certificate of Mexican nationality: Legal instrument that recognizes those individuals whoÆs Mexican nationality was conferred by birth, and who have not acquired another nationality.
Letter of naturalization: Legal instrument granting Mexican nationality to a foreigner.
Foreigner: That individual not possessing Mexican nationality.
Article 3. Any of the following
documents are proof of Mexican nationality:
A birth certificate issued in conformity to the applicable rules.
The Certificate of Mexican nationality, which will be issued on request, exclusively for the effects of articles 16 and 17 of this Law.
The Letter of Naturalization.
Official civil identification card.
Lacking the identifying documents mentioned above, Mexican nationality can be proved via any item that, in conformity with the law, allows the authorities to believe that the attributes of Mexican nationality have been fulfilled.
Article 4. Independent of the conditions established in the previous article, the Foreign Ministry can request of the interested party the additional proofs necessary to prove his Mexican nationality, when irregularities are found in the documents presented. The Foreign Ministry can also request additional proofs when they are necessary to verify the authenticity of the identifying documents.
Article 5. The Federal authorities are obligated to provide to the Foreign Ministry any reports and certifications requested by it, in order to fulfill the functions entrusted to it by this Law. In addition, the Foreign Ministry will request reports and certifications from the state and municipal authorities according to their respective competencies, when these are required for the Ministry to perform its functions as set forth by this Law.
Article 6. Barring proof to
the contrary, it is assumed that a Mexican has acquired a foreign nationality
she/ he has performed a legal act in order to obtain or preserve a foreign
when he presents himself as a foreigner before any authority or public instrument.
Article 7. Barring proof to the contrary, it is assumed that a foundling discovered in national territory has been born there, and is the child of Mexican parents.
Article 8. Corporations constituted in conformity with Mexican laws and legally domiciled in national territory are Mexican corporations.
Article 9. Foreign individuals and corporations must fulfill the requirements of article 27 of the Constitution.
Article 10. The interested party may be represented in the proceedings referred to by this Law by a notary or power of attorney authorized, or a proxy signed before two witnesses. The competent authority must ratify the signatures of the witnesses and the principal. In any case, when the Foreign Ministry considers it necessary, the interested party must appear in person.
Article 11. The dispositions
of the Federal District civil Code and Federal Civil Code, and those of
the Federal Law of Administrative Procedures, will apply for all that is
not covered by this Law of
REGARDING MEXICAN NATIONALITY BY BIRTH
Article 12. Any Mexican by birth who leaves or enters national territory must, without exception, represent himself as a Mexican national, even when he possesses, or has acquired, another nationality.
Article 13. It is understood
that Mexicans by birth who possess or acquire another nationality will
act as Mexican nationals as regards:
Legal acts held in national territory and in zones subject to the jurisdiction of the Mexican State according to international law, and
Legal acts held outside of the limits of national jurisdiction, by which:
The interested party participates in any part of the capital of any Mexican corporation or other entity constituted or organized in conformity to Mexican law, or any entity that exercises control over said corporations or other entities.
Credits are authorized to any corporation or entity referred to above, and
The interested party holds the title of real estate located in national territory or possesses other assets whose activities are circumscribed by national territory.
Article 14. Regarding the legal acts referred to in the previous article, the protection of a foreign government cannot be invoked. The individual who invokes said protection will lose to the benefit of the Mexican nation the properties or other titles for which he has requested protection.
Article 15. According to the terms of the second paragraph of article 32 of the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States, when a specific duty or office is reserved for those who are Mexican by birth and who have not acquired another nationality, it will be necessary that the applicable regulation so state, specifically.
Article 16. Mexicans by birth who are considered by other States as their own nationals, must present the Certificate of Mexican nationality when they intend to assume duties or an office that require the interested party to be Mexican by birth and not to have acquired another nationality. To that effect, the corresponding authorities must demand that the interested party present said certificate. In the event that during the discharge of his duties the interested party acquires another nationality, that individual will immediately desist in his functions.
Article 17. Mexicans by birth whom other States considers as their own nationals may solicit from the Foreign Ministry the Certificate of Mexican nationality, only for the effects of the preceding article. To this purpose, the interested party will formulate an explicit renunciation of the nationality attributed to him: of all submission, obedience and loyalty to any foreign State, especially that State that attributes to him another nationality; of all protection foreign to Mexican laws, and of all rights conceded to foreigners by international treaties or conventions. The interested party will declare adherence, obedience and submission to Mexican laws and authorities, and will abstain from performing any act that implies submission to a foreign State. The certificate of Mexican nationality will be issued once the interested party has fulfilled the requirements of this Law and its regulation.
Article 18. After a hearing with the interested party, the Foreign Ministry will declare the certificate null and void if it has been issued in violation of this Law or its regulation, or if the individual is no longer in compliance with the Law’s requirements. The declaration of nullity will determine the date from which the certificate becomes null and void. The legal situations created while the certificate was in force in favor of good-faith third parties will be allowed to stand without injury.
REGARDING MEXICAN NATIONALITY THROUGH NATURALIZATION
Article 19. The foreigner
who desires to become a naturalized Mexican must:
Present a request to the Foreign Ministry in which the interested party expresses his desire to acquire Mexican nationality;
Formulate the renunciations and the declaration referred to in article 17 of these regulations;
The Foreign Ministry cannot demand that said renunciations and declarations be made until the decision has been made to grant Mexican nationality to the applicant. The letter of naturalization
will be granted once the renunciations and declarations have been verified.
Prove that the applicant knows how to speak Spanish, knows the history of the country and is integrated into the national culture, and
Prove that the applicant has resided in national territory for the corresponding time period according to article 10 of this Law.
For the correct fulfillment of the requirements set forth in this article, refer to the regulation of this Law.
Article 20. The foreigner
who wishes to become a naturalized Mexican must prove that he has resided
in national territory for at least the five-year period immediately prior
to the date of his application, except in the following cases:
A two-year period of residence immediately prior to the date of the application is sufficient when the applicant:
Is lineal descendent of a Mexican by birth;
Has children who are Mexican by birth;
Originates from a Latin American or Iberian country, or
Has, in the judgment of the Foreign Ministry, rendered services or made a significant contribution in the cultural, social, scientific, technical, artistic, athletic or entrepreneurial fields that benefit the nation.
In exceptional cases, as determined by the President, proof of residence in national territory, as referred to in this part of the law, will be waived.
The foreign woman or man who contracts matrimony with a Mexican man or woman, must prove that he/she has resided together with his/her Mexican spouse in the conjugal domicile established in national territory for the two years immediately prior to the date of the application. If the Mexican spouse lives abroad commissioned by the Mexican government, then the conjugal domicile does not need to be established in national territory.
In the case of marriages contracted between foreigners, if one of the spouses acquires Mexican nationality after the marriage, the other spouse will be permitted to obtain Mexican nationality as well, as long as the requirements set forth in this part are met, and Residence of one year immediately prior to the application will suffice, in the case of adopted minors, as well as minor descendants up to the second degree, who are subject to parental authority of Mexicans.
If the person who has the parental authority do not request the naturalization of their adopted children or of the minors, the adopted children or minors can do so within the year following their coming of legal age, within the conditions established in this part of the Law. The Letter of Naturalization will take effect the day after its issuance.
Article 21. Temporary absences from the country will not interrupt residence, except for absences during the two years prior to the presentation of the application, when these absences together exceed six months. The residence referred to in part III of the previous article must be uninterrupted.
Article 22. Those who acquire Mexican nationality in conformity with the requirements of article 20, part II of this Law, will retain it even after the marriage has been dissolved, except in the case that the marriage becomes null and void, imputable to the naturalized spouse.
Article 23. In all cases of naturalization, the Foreign Ministry will first seek the opinion of the Ministry of the Interior (Gobernacin).
Article 24. The procedure by which the letter of naturalization is obtained will be suspended if the applicant is issued a warrant of arrest, or is subject to a lawsuit in Mexico, or the equivalent thereof abroad.
Article 25. The letter of naturalization
will not be issued when the applicant is found in any of the following
In noncompliance with the requirements established by this Law;
To be serving a sentence that deprives him of his liberty, for intentional crime or offense in Mexico or abroad, and
When the Foreign Ministry judges it unsuitable, in which case the Foreign Ministry must give the reason or cause for its decision.
Article 26. After a hearing with the interested party, the Foreign Ministry will declare the letter of naturalization null and void if it has been issued without fulfilling the requirements of, or in violation of, this Law. The declaration of nullity will determine the date from which the letter becomes null and void. The legal situations created while the letter was in force in favor of good-faith third parties will be allowed to stand without injury.
REGARDING THE LOSS OF MEXICAN NATIONALITY ACQUIRED VIA NATURALIZATION
Article 27. Mexican nationality acquired through naturalization is lost according to the conditions established in article 37 part B of the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States, following a hearing with the interested party.
Article 28. The public authorities are obligated to inform the Foreign Ministry if they are aware of any cases of naturalized Mexicans who find themselves in any of the circumstances set forth in article 37 par B of the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States. Said information must be furnished within forty working days after the authority in question became aware of the case.
Article 29. The loss of Mexican nationality acquired through naturalization exclusively affects the individual for whom the respective decision is made.
Article 30. The act of adoption does not imply, either for the adopter or for the adopted, the acquisition or loss of nationality. This statement is not to be construed as counter to anything contained in article 20 part III of this Law.
Article 31. In all cases of loss of Mexican nationality acquired through naturalization, the Foreign Ministry will first solicit the opinion of the Interior Ministry (Gobernacin).
Article 32. The Foreign Ministry will revoke the letter of naturalization if, after a hearing attended by the interested party, the conditions requiring the loss of Mexican nationality are found to have been met.
REGARDING ADMINISTRATIVE INFRACTIONS AND THEIR SANCTIONS
Article 33. Administrative
infractions of this Law will be penalized as follows:
A fine of 300 to 500 salaries will be imposed on any individual who enters or leaves national territory in violation of article 12 of this Law;
A fine of 400 to 800 salaries will be imposed on:
The individual who makes fraudulent renunciations or declarations, or who commits acts that demonstrate his noncompliance;
The individual who attempts to obtain any of the proofs of Mexican nationality which should be issued by the Foreign Ministry in violation of the dispositions of this Law or its regulation, or who presents before said Ministry any false information, witnesses, documents or certificates;
If the individual was able to obtain the proof of nationality, the penalty will be doubled, and
The individual who makes use of a falsified or altered proof of nationality.
A fine of 500 to 2,000 salaries will be imposed on the individual who marries with the sole purpose of obtaining Mexican nationality. An equal penalty will be imposed on the Mexican spouse who, aware of the purpose, enters into the marriage.
Article 34. Individuals who commit any administrative infraction of this Law or its regulation that is not covered in the above article will be fined up to 1,000 salaries.
Article 35. For the effects of this chapter, "salary" means the general daily minimum wage in force in the Federal District at the moment of committing the infraction.
Article 36. The fines referred to in the previous article, and any applicable criminal penalties, will apply regardless of whether the foreign Ministry, after a hearing with the interested party, voids the issued document.
Article 37. When imposing the penalties, the Foreign Ministry must take into account the seriousness of the infraction and the damages and injuries caused, as well as the preceding circumstances, and the personal and socioeconomic situation of the individual committing the infraction.
FIRST. This Law will enter into force on March 20, 1998.
SECOND. The Law of Nationality published in the Official Journal of the Federation on June 21, 1993 is revoked, as are all the dispositions that oppose this Law.
THIRD. The letters and declarations of naturalization, the certificates of Mexican nationality through birth, as well as those of the recuperation of nationality, issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs prior to this Law’s entering into force will continue to have legal effect.
FOURTH. In order to benefit
from the provisions stated in article 37 part A of the Political Constitution
of the United Mexican States, the interested party must:
Present their request in writing to the Ministry of Foreign affairs, Embassies or Consulates of Mexico within the five years following March 20, 1998.
Prove their right to Mexican nationality in conformity to this Law, and
Prove fully their identity before the authorities.
FIFTH. Those born and conceived before the effective date of the Decree by which articles 30, 32 and 37 of the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States were reformed, will be subject to the requirements of the Second and Third Transitory dispositions of said Decree.
For the effects of the previous paragraph, the term "conceived" refers to those individuals born alive and viable within the three hundred days after this Law has entered into effect.
Published in the Official Journal on January 23, 1998.
Boyd F. Campbell practices immigration and nationality law in Montgomery, Alabama, and is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. He is a past Chair of the Immigration Law Committee of the American Bar Association’s General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Lawyers Section, and served as chair of the International Law Section of the Alabama State Bar from 2000 to 2002. From 1994 to 1998, he served on the ABA's Coordinating Committee on Immigration Law. He is a civil law notary, having been appointed by the Alabama Secretary of State to this official position in August, 2001. In 2006 he became general counsel of America's Center for Foreign Investment, a federally approved Regional Center. See: ACFI. In 2010, Mr. Campbell was selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America in the field of immigration law. For more information about Mr. Campbell, CLICK HERE.
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