Monday, March 02, 2009

almost ellis island

Tomorrow we are off to Manzanillo to the Mexican Immigration Service to apply for our FM3 documents. This is like a long-term visa. It gives you permanent registration for the car which means you don't have to stop at the 30-mile aduana and show car papers, and it gives you a sort of "permanent resident" status since you have to be a property owner to get one. That means no more breath-holding as we approach the border, wondering if, this year, our vehicle and all its carefully packed goods will be torn apart and searched. We've avoided this but have seen others who have not been so lucky, and it's not a pretty sight. We have put off applying for an FM3 for a couple of years, just because it entails a ton of paperwork, standing in line, having photos taken, etc.

We'll take off early - 8 AM if I can get up and going - and head down to the interior port of the city, in what was, only a year ago, a bustling area. Last reports from people making the trip were that it's eerily quiet and almost deserted. Manzanillo is Mexico's largest and busiest deep-water port on the Pacific coast. Its yards are always crammed with stacks of containers either waiting to be shipped out or to be loaded on to trains for delivery throughout the country. With the economy in the dumps, things have slowed to a snail's pace.

Our FM3 is good for 5 years, with a yearly renewal fee and the presentation, once again, of all the required documentation. This year we finally got our act together, made copies of the last 3 months of bank statements, electric bills (how you show proof of property ownership - although if you owned property and didn't have a building on it and thus didn't have electricity I don't know what hoops you'd have to jump through), photographs, copies of passport and driver's license. If it all goes well tomorrow we can return in 2 weeks to get the actual document. Now when we come through the border we just flash the FM3 and that's it. Or so it is said. I can't believe it's going to be that easy.


At 8:51 PM, Blogger mary ann said...

Oh, great news ~ report in ASAP!


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