I’ve been running out of time, tough I know when pretty much all I have is time. But my six month Mexican tourist visa was about to expire. Granted, the way things are handled here this might not be a big deal, but… one does want to try to obey the laws of the country one is in. Especially a country with Napoleonic law, which decrees guilty until proven innocent. While I see some merit to this system, I also see a substantial amount of merit to not having to try to prove yourself innocent.
To complicate matters, there is a tremendous amount of conflicting information about renewing your tourist visa. Conventional wisdom, and the internet, generally state the only way to renew your tourist visa is to leave and re-enter the country. While I am missing home, plane tickets aren’t cheap, and even taking the bus from a La Paz to Tijuana, walking across the border, and turning around and completing the trip doesn’t really sound like an adventure I want to have right now.
We did have someone tell us that you could go to the airport in Puerto Vallarta and renew it, and since we really wanted this to be true we decided to put his advice to the test.
The short answer for all you people that have found my blog via Google trying to answer this question for yourself – Yes, it worked. It was embarrassingly easy. The most painful part was separating ourselves from 582 Pesos per person. However, compared to the 2,000-3,000 Pesos for a year long FM3 visa, and the hassle of obtaining one, this seems to be a bargain.
The slightly longer more detailed response – We took the public bus from La Cruz to the Puerto Vallarta airport, walked in, wandered around for about twenty minutes before finding the immigration desk. It is on the opposite wall from the all of the check in counters, next to the Interjet booth. I told the man at the desk “Necesitamos un nuevo visa de tourista” and was relieved he answered in English. Answering a few quick questions, producing our passports, filling out a new tourist visa, surrendering our old one and paying the above mentioned Pesos was all that was required to send us on our way. I doubt we were at the counter longer than five minutes. A substantial amount of stress on my part for nothing.
My disclaimer: This worked for us at the Puerto Vallarta airport today. It may not work for you at the same location tomorrow, or for us at a different airport in six more months. But it is possible to renew your tourist visa without leaving the country at the right place and time. Possibly with a little luck, or maybe this is just routine. My humble opinion: After seeing a huge party thrown for a group of travel agents last night (more on this in a later post) paid for by the government, it seems Mexico is really pushing to restore it’s tourism industry. If I want to stay in the country for another six months and spend pesos, it seems they should be lining up to issue me (or any other cruiser, I don’t really have delusions of grandeur) a visa. And they should make it free! But I’ll settle for 582 Pesos, even if that could have been 58 draft beers at the Huanacaxtle Cafe happy hour. I guess you have to spend a little to spend so little.