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Preparations for Buying a Business in Mexico

Thinking about buying a business in Mexico? Maybe for early retirement or new business chances? Mexico is a great place for small retail or manufacturing businesses. But it’s important to get ready for the Mexican business scene’s unique challenges first.

Start by checking if you're ready. Look at your money, what you know about the field, and how much risk you can handle. Doing your homework on the local market, who your competition is, and what customers like is key.

Planning is very important, too. Set clear goals for your business and look at the risks. Make a solid business plan that fits the Mexican market well. You may want help from a Notario Publico to understand the law and sort out paperwork.

Looking to acquire a business in Mexico? Let Exit Advisor be your guide. With our vast network and deep industry experience, we'll help you navigate every step of the process, from identifying potential opportunities to successfully closing the deal. Contact us today to discover how we can support your business investment journey in Mexico and ensure your success.

Key Takeaways:

  • Conduct a readiness assessment to ensure you're prepared for buying a business in Mexico.
  • Thorough market research is essential to understand the local business environment.
  • Develop a strategic plan that aligns with the Mexican market dynamics.
  • Consult a Notario Publico to navigate government regulations and paperwork.

Government Restrictions and Corporate Formation

After NAFTA, Mexico eased many restrictions on foreign business ownership and investment on their soil. The FIL rules how foreign investors can operate, and the FIC ensures they follow these rules. Some business types need some government or Mexican private ownership.

In Mexico, many choose to start a business as a Sociedad Anónima (S.A.) or Sociedad Anónima de Capital Variable (S.A. de C.V.). These require at least two owners and some initial money. It’s a good idea to talk to a Notario Publico to see which setup fits your plans best.

Working in the Business and Immigration

Being a foreign business owner in Mexico means knowing the rules on what work you can do. The government doesn't let foreigners do jobs that Mexicans can do. This helps keep local job opportunities available. Yet, some special jobs may be open depending on the required skills.

Getting the right visa is key to owning a business in Mexico. Foreign business owners commonly choose between the FM-3 and FM-2 visas.

The FM-3 visa is for those planning to work in Mexico for under a year. It covers professional work and business operations. For those looking for long-term residency, the FM-2 visa is better. It lets you live and work in Mexico as long as you want.

Having an immigration lawyer who knows about Mexico's immigration laws can make things easier. They offer advice on when to fill out immigration forms. Plus, they can explain the rules for working in Mexico.

FM-3 Visa vs. FM-2 Visa: Key Differences

FM-3 VisaFM-2 Visa
Temporary visaPermanent visa
Allows up to one year of residencyAllows indefinite residency
Enables employment and business ownershipEnables employment and business ownership
Requires annual renewalNo need for renewal once permanent residency is obtained
More flexible for short-term staysProvides a pathway to Mexican citizenship

This table gives a quick look at the FM-3 and FM-2 visas. However, for full details, talking to an immigration lawyer is very important. They can explain everything about these visas and how they fit your situation.

Industries and Investment Restrictions

When starting a business in Mexico as a foreigner, you must know about certain industries. These sectors limit how much you can invest or own. These rules protect the country's economy. They help keep its national interests and economic strength secure. Knowing which sectors have these limits will guide you through Mexico's business environment.

Restricted Industries

In Mexico, some areas are reserved only for Mexican ownership. Foreigners can't invest in these. They include:

IndustryInvestment Restrictions
Oil and hydrocarbon exploration and extractionRestricted to Mexican ownership
Planning and control of the national electric systemRestricted to Mexican ownership
Generation of nuclear energyRestricted to Mexican ownership
Telegraph and radiotelegraphy servicesRestricted to Mexican ownership
Banking and mintingRestricted to Mexican ownership
Control of ports and airportsRestricted to Mexican ownership

There are also areas where only Mexican citizens can work. This includes certain transportation and professional services.

Percentage of Foreign Investment

In open industries, there are still limits on how much you can invest. The maximum ownership for foreign investors varies. It keeps important sectors in Mexico's hands while allowing foreign help.

Approval from the National Commission of Foreign Investment

In some cases, more than approval may be needed for foreign investors. The National Commission of Foreign Investment must check investment plans. They make sure everything follows the right laws and rules.

Dealing with these rules can be tricky. It's wise to get advice from experts in Mexican business laws. They can help make sure you follow every regulation correctly.

Options to Get Started

Starting a business in Mexico as a foreigner offers three key paths. Each choice carries its unique benefits and things to think about:

  1. Option 1: Incorporate a company in Mexico: This lets you establish a legal presence. You'll gain the benefits and protections that come with it. To do this, you'll appoint a legal representative and choose a business structure that fits your needs. It allows full control and customization of your business layout.
  2. Option 2: Use an Employer of Record (EOR): An EOR simplifies the process by managing compliance for you. It enables you to hire locally without forming a business directly. This approach quickens team building and ensures you follow all laws. It offers both speed and ease in expanding your team.
  3. Option 3: Buy a shelf company: Purchasing an already registered but inactive company can save time. You won't have to go through the initial setup steps. It's a quick way to start if speed is your top priority. Yet, checking the company's background and reputation is essential before buying.

Considerations for Choosing the Right Option:

Picking the best way to start in Mexico means considering control, speed, and cost. Setting up a company brings full control and flexibility but can be more demanding of time and effort. EOR use allows for rapid team growth but gives you less hands-on workforce control. Buying a shelf company means you start quickly, but diligence is key to ensuring its alignment with your business aims.

Considering each option's pros and cons helps make a choice that boosts your Mexico business's initial success.

Incorporate a company in MexicoFull control over business operations
Customizable business structure
Requires more time and resources
Compliance with local regulations
Use an Employer of Record (EOR)Quick expansion and hiring
Compliance handled by EOR
Less control over the workforce
Dependency on the third-party entity
Buy a shelf companyFaster start-up process
Already completed incorporation
Due diligence required
Company history and reputation

Step-By-Step Process of Starting a Business in Mexico as a Foreigner

Starting a business in Mexico as a foreigner takes thorough planning. It also requires you to follow several legal steps. Let's look at how you can start your business in Mexico:

  1. Decide on a business name: Pick a name that's unique and easy to remember. It should reflect your brand well and appeal to your audience.
  2. Choose the entity type: You must decide on the legal structure for your business, like a Sociedad Anónima (S.A.) or Sociedad Anónima de Capital Variable (S.A. de C.V.). It's wise to get advice from a legal professional to understand the differences.
  3. Submit a request to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Begin the process by formally requesting the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This is important for getting all the necessary permits and paperwork.
  4. Create and sign the deed of incorporation: Make a document that shows who owns the business, how shares are divided, and the rules (bylaws) of the company. Ensure a notary public checks this document to ensure it's legally sound.
  5. Register with the Public Property and Commerce Registry: Register your business in the Public Property and Commerce Registry (Registro Público de la Propiedad y del Comercio). This makes your business officially recognized by Mexico's government.
  6. Obtain a tax ID number: You must get a tax ID number (RFC) from the Mexican Tax Administration Service (SAT). It's crucial for following tax laws and legal business activities.
  7. Open a corporate bank account: Set up a business account with a Mexican bank. This account will be key for managing your business's finances and transactions.

Always consult legal experts and professionals experienced in Mexican business laws as you move forward. They'll ensure you comply with all the rules and help you through the administrative process.

1Decide on a business name
2Choose the entity type
3Submit a request to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
4Create and sign the deed of incorporation
5Register with the Public Property and Commerce Registry
6Obtain a tax ID number
7Open a corporate bank account

Follow these steps and seek professional help to start and run a successful business in Mexico as a foreigner.


Buying a business in Mexico lets US firms expand into a big market. Mexico is the second largest in Latin America and is closely linked to the US. This makes it a great place for US companies to grow.

The country offers opportunities in areas like manufacturing, agriculture, and aerospace. So, there's a lot of potential for US businesses there. Your product, with the right approach, can do well in Mexico. This includes thoughtful planning, good pricing, and quality service.

Take advantage of the USMCA to boost your business. Mexican companies are open to what the US offers. This means the timing is just right to explore Mexico's market. Develop a smart plan and learn about the local culture and people.

Looking to acquire a business in Mexico? Let Exit Advisor be your guide. With our vast network and deep industry experience, we'll help you navigate every step of the process, from identifying potential opportunities to successfully closing the deal. Contact us today to discover how we can support your business investment journey in Mexico and ensure your success.

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