Managing, banking, money and taxes in Mexico is fairly straightforward, and there are many modern financial institutions throughout the country. Still, large stacks of paperwork often must be completed to satisfy the increasingly complex Mexican bureaucracy.

While an ability to speak Spanish will make things considerably easier, even new arrivals who aren't fluent should find that it's possible to effectively manage their finances in Mexico. 

Money in Mexico

The official currency in Mexico is the Mexican Peso (MXN), referred to simply as the peso, which is divided into 100 centavos. There are also MXN 5, 50 and 100 coins which are rarely used.

  • Notes: MXN 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 
  • Coins: MXN 1, 2, 10 and 20, and 5, 10, 20 and 50 centavos

Some tourist areas accept US dollars, but expats will have to use Mexican pesos. Money can be exchanged at the airport, large hotels, banks and ATMs or exchange kiosks.

Banking in Mexico

Expats have various options when it comes to banking in Mexico, with both local and international banking options available. Some international banks, such as HSBC, have branches in Mexico and are popular, but do not necessarily provide better services than Mexican banks. Other top banks include BBVA, Santander, Citibanamex and Banorte.

ATM stock image

Opening a bank account

For those staying only short term, opening a local bank account may not be necessary and, if expats already bank with one of the main international firms, banking in Mexico is even easier. These expats can avoid the bureaucracy and queues at local Mexican branches. That said, their banks should be contacted before arriving in Mexico to make necessary arrangements and alert them of travel plans.

To open a local bank account, new arrivals must usually visit a local branch office in person. Expats must be legal residents of Mexico to open a bank account. Newcomers to Mexico will also likely need to submit their visa, identity card, proof of address in Mexico and an initial deposit.

Expats can open a basic, checking or deposit account in Mexico. A basic account, or cuenta de nómina, is useful for those earning a wage. They can be opened easily at any Mexican bank. Retail banks offer transactional accounts, which normally require a monthly deposit. Those needing an account for daily transactions will want a current account that uses only MXN, as levies from ATM withdrawal fees can add up if used frequently over an extended period.

Often, bank accounts such as deposit accounts require a minimum balance, though the amount varies across banks. Specialised student accounts may also be available for those who are studying and have unique needs.

Citizens of the US or Canada generally open an account using US dollars. Other nationalities cannot do this, although overseas accounts can be accessed via Mexican ATMs. Expats who are likely to make international transfers should look up the fees involved, as exchange rates may not be in their favour.

Many bank tellers in Mexico can speak English, but expats should nevertheless make sure to have any Spanish paperwork translated.

To avoid wasting time queuing in long bank lines, internet banking is a useful tool. Most banks offer comprehensive services online and via apps.


There is a universal ATM network spread out across Mexico, so expats will rarely have to search far to find one. There may be additional withdrawal fees when using an ATM owned by a different bank from the one expats have an account with. It's also important to be mindful of safety issues such as ATM fraud and robbery in large cities.

Credit cards

Major international credit cards are accepted at large stores in Mexico. Small grocery stores (tiendas) usually only accept cash. 

Interest on Mexican credit cards tends to be high, but they are useful when making large purchases. To apply for a Mexican credit card, expats will need to have already set up a Mexican bank account. They generally will also need to provide proof of good credit history. 

If this is not possible, then a deposit can sometimes be paid to secure credit card payments. The requirements and benefits of bank accounts and credit cards vary across different banks, so research should be done to find the most suitable option.

Taxes in Mexico

Budgeting and managing taxes stock image

Taxes for expats in Mexico depend largely on whether they qualify as residents or non-residents. For tax purposes, expats are considered residents if their primary home is in Mexico. If expats also maintain residency in another country, then Mexico will be deemed their centre of vital interest if more than 50 percent of their income is generated in the country. 

This does not exclude them from filing taxes in their home countries. Although many countries have double-taxation agreements, so income tax doesn't need to be paid in both countries.

Residents are taxed on their worldwide income, whereas non-residents are only taxed on income earned in Mexico. The tax rate for non-residents ranges from 15 to 30 percent.

Taxes, including the rules for retired expats and homeowners, can be confusing, and expats are advised to hire professional help from experienced tax advisers.

Deduction for healthcare

Expats working in Mexico can receive free basic public healthcare through the Instituto Mexicano de Seguro Social (IMSS). A deduction is taken from their salary each month and matched by their employer and the federal government. 

Useful links

*Tax regulations are subject to change at short notice, and expats are advised to seek the assistance and advice of a professional tax consultant.

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