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Buying Property in the Federal Zone

by José Valera Ceballos, Accountant
Address: 77 Manuel García Mesa, Cihuatlán, Jal. CP 48970
Email: cpvalera@hotmail.com
Telephone: (01-315)-355-3587 (office), (01-315)-100-7092 (cel)
September 18, 2015
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There are a lot of foreigners who buy lots, houses or land in Mexico; I'm talking specifically in the restricted zone (within 50 km of the beach) along the south coast of Jalisco. There are two ways for foreigners to legally acquire property: through a trust (you being the benefactor) or through a corporation that has to be formed with at least two partners and around 150,000 pesos in shares (real or virtual).

The Trust

The trust must be formed through a notary and a bank, and you can put all the land you are buying into it. When you want to sell it, you have to sell it all at once, not in parts, unless you want to transfer your rights and everything you want to do has to be done through a notary and a bank.

I don't know how much to have to pay to the bank for the trust and to the notary for the title, but I think it's not very expensive. You can ask a bank or a notary to find out; I think it's about 35,000 pesos at most.

If you're going to buy real estate through a trust, go to a notary or a bank and don't worry about anything, just pay what they say and you have to pay to form it and maintain it annually. Put all the land you can in the same trust or, if you prefer to sell a portion later, form a separate trust for the portion that you want to sell.

The Corporation

If you are forming a Mexican corporation, I suggest you be advised by a good accountant before you buy something because I have seen corporations that are irregular for paying taxes according to the Mexican laws and, after that, it is very difficult to make corrections. A good accountant is charging around 2000 pesos a month plus tax for his services and more if the corporation is bigger or growing.

The corporation must be registered in a Mexican institution called "SAT". Registered with the SAT is the address, capital, shareholders, the legal representative and declaring taxes or zero every month according to the laws (VAT, income tax), making the annual declaration (tax return) of the different taxes you have to pay, just in case, if the account forgets to make declarations you have to pay penalties.

Immigration Requirements

All partners must register themselves as shareholders in the SAT. First you have to get the FM3 (immigration form for business in Mexico). You are required to live in Mexico at least 183 days of the year and if they check the corporation address, you have to be there to declare you are living there and working for the corporation unless someone tells them that you are absent because you went on vacation in Mexico.

Ejido Land

No one can own Ejido land. The Ejido or the farmers' group has the rights of the land. Unfortunately there are foreigners who buy real estate or ejido land through "presta nombres" (name lenders). These are Mexican people who lend their names and buy land putting their names instead of a corporation or trust. Ultimately they can take the land and not return your money.

If you form a Mexican corporation, this corporation will be Mexican and can have the rights of the ejido land it is acquiring and has to be formed through notary power where the name lender is giving the corporation those right. This is the correct way to handle purchasing ejido land.

Secretaría de Economía

You will also have to register your corporation with the Secretaría de Economía (Ministry of Economy) since there is foreign investment involved. The cost is 3000 pesos and you have to declare the movement of foreign money every year, which can now be done through the internet. If you are late you have to pay a penalty or fine of almost 4000 pesos.

The Federal Zone Concession

If you buy land in the Federal Zone you have to be sure that the person who sold you the land doesn't retain the Federal Zone concession because he could sell it to you later at an inflated price. So try to buy the Federal Zone Concession at the same time that you buy the land. Both parties will have to go to the notary and make a declaration where the seller gives up the granting of the Federal Zone because this document is good for 15 years and the only way to make it belong to your corporation is to request it through the mayor of the county.

There is a group who may offer to help you to get the Federal Zone Concession. Don't trust them because they will charge a fee to get it and then they put it in their names and not yours and then try to sell it to you at a high price. The concession is actually free; you just have to pay the rights and the environmental impact study.

Additional Requirements for Money Transfers

On August 17, 2013, a law was passed against money laundering (it has a long name). The government wants to know where the money comes from and wants to be sure it was earned legally and you may have to prove this. So be careful when you buy or sell because if you receive money in cash, you must require all the information of your client: ID, address, number of contributor in Mexico, etc., otherwise the government will fine you or take your money.


If you want to buy real estate just to live in Mexico near the coast and don't want any problems, get a trust if it's land with a title. You will pay an annual fee. If it's ejido land, you should form a corporation to get the rights of the land if the ejido is already legal. If you want to buy real estate for business, form a corporation with the advice of a good accountant. Do not pay in cash and do not sell for cash. Do not buy property through a name lender because you stand to lose everything.

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