One cannot look at any brochure or webpage touting the benefits of living in Playas de Rosarito, Baja California, Mexico without seeing the statement that 14,000 expatriates call it home. Sometimes as many as 20,000 expatriates are mentioned. This figure has been repeated so often, that it is just taken for granted.

But is that the real number of expatriates living in Rosarito. No way! Not even close.

Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Migracion (INM), which is the National Immigration Institute, is the federal body in Mexico which grants immigrant and non-immigrant visas to foreigners and keeps track of them. The INM keeps very good records, and they are public, much like the US Census data is public.

At the end of 2009, INM reported that there were only 1,624 registered foreigners living in Playas de Rosarito with some kind of an immigration visa. That’s it. 1,624.

Far from expanding, the expatriate community in Baja California is shrinking rapidly. At the end on 2009, INM reported there were only 13,948 foreigners registered with the INM in the entire state of Baja California. By August, 2011, the number of foreigners registered had shrunk to only 3,277 soles… a 76% reduction in two years.


BamDan Jan. 30, 2012 @ 1:45 p.m.

But not all foreign residents register their status with the INM, a large percent of US-Expats living in Baja arent registered or up to date with their INM register.


prettydiva Feb. 1, 2012 @ 1:08 p.m.

According to the Foreign Residents Office, (FRAO) the National Immigration Institute (INAMI) has in its records as of August 31, 2011: 8,703 foreigns living in Rosarito 3,277 with 2011 fully paid visas I totally AGREE with BamDan there are soooooooooo many Americans who are not registered at INAMI but are happily living in Baja :) BAJA IS A GREAT PLACE TO LIVE!!!!


David Dodd Feb. 1, 2012 @ 3:04 p.m.

I am not, nor have I ever been registered in any way, and I've lived in Baja for 20 years. Dozens of my fellow expats are also not registered. Remaining withing the Frontera boundaries does not require registration, although the law dictates that you can stay no more than 3 days without a visa. In effect, no one cares, no one keeps track, there really is no need. I do not even possess a U.S. passport. The only time I am ever asked for identification is when I am working in a journalistic capacity. The numbers out of INM have never been a reliable nor accurate source.


Fulano de Tal Feb. 1, 2012 @ 10:52 p.m.

Prettydiva, if you ask the wrong question, you will get the wrong answer. Mexico, unlike the US, has categories for Mexican citizens and Mexican Nationals. A Mexican National is a person born outside of Mexico with at least one Mexican parent. When such a person is registered at the Mexican consulate, they are considered Mexicans, but foreign-born. Those 8,703 foreign-born residents of Rosarito includes mostly foreign-born Mexicans. Because they are Mexicans, they do not need to register with Mexican immigration and do not show up in INM's book of registered foreigners.

Furthermore, most of the foreign nationals living in Mexico are not Americans. The largest group is from other Latin America countries.

As for refriedgringo, openly confessing to living in Mexico in violation of its immigration laws is not something to be worn like a medal. You are violating the laws of the sovereign Republic of Mexico. Furthermore, working as a journalist in Mexico without a visa and right to work is a violation of Mexico's labor laws. Without a Mexican visa you also have no registration with Hacienda (the Mexican IRS) and no doubt report no earnings nor pay taxes in Mexico. In short you are a scofflaw.

It is a mistake to think no one cares.


David Dodd March 15, 2012 @ 12:21 a.m.

Sorry, you're wrong on most counts. I don't work FOR a Mexican concern, I pay U.S. Taxes. I openly confess to living in Mexico without a VISA because IT ISN'T REQUIRED in the Frontera, how do you not know this? Journalists who write for MEXICAN publications are required to get the necessary permissions to do so. I do not write for any Mexican publication. I do not need a Mexican work permit to be a journalist in Mexico. You are very ill-informed about all of this. It is a mistake for you to think I haven't learned a thing in my 20 years here.


Brianh March 14, 2012 @ 10:22 p.m.

Anyone counted us expatriates who live here part of the year and not required to register? Anyone counted all the illegal expatriates from US and Canada living here in Baja who have never registered? I can guarantee you that we number many more than 1600? Before you pop offf inaccurate government numbers you should come down and look for yourself. Yes there are thousands of us living here and WE are SAFE and HAPPY!


David Dodd March 15, 2012 @ 12:28 a.m.

In the Zona Frontera, the laws are different. Yes, they tell you to register, but no one I know does. The law (which is lax and not enforced) is that within the Frontera visitors do not require a visa. They are SUPPOSED to be limited to a three day stay, but it's a law with no teeth since it isn't required that anyone signs a time sheet upon entering. Over 20 years ago, I asked for a tourist visa and presented my passport. When they learned that I would only be North of Ensenada, they told me it isn't required. I, being overly cautious, insisted. They gave me some silly piece of paper, grudgingly. That is when I learned. Since then, I've read their laws concerning the Frontera. Obviously, some people haven't bothered to do so.


Sign in to comment

Win a $25 Gift Card to
The Broken Yolk Cafe

Join our newsletter list

Each newsletter subscription means another chance to win!