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My family and I are looking to move to Mexico to do volunteer/charity work, and my current employer (in New Zealand) has asked if they could keep me on as a contractor/consultant to do work for them remotely via internet as required - maybe a handful of hours per month.

Would I need to get a Mexico work permit for this? Or would I still technically be employed in NZ? We are in the process of applying for temporary residents visas.

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As we are now living in Mexico, I thought I would answer to outline what ended up happening with this.

We applied for Resident Status (Visa de Residente Temporal) at the Mexican Consulate in New Zealand. When we went in for our interviews I discussed the work situation with the Mexican Consul. She made it quite clear that we did not have work permits, and that we could not work for any Mexican employer and get paid in Mexico. We could however continue to work remotely for a NZ (or other country excluding Mexico) employer, as long as we were not paid in Mexico. If any payments were made into a NZ bank account then it was quite legal and acceptable.

In fact she told us that it would help us in the long-term to have this income when we reapply for our Temporary Resident Visa (after the first year) to satisfy the economic solvency requirement. As we are primarily in Mexico for voluntary/charity work, she said donations and sponsorship might not satisfy the economic solvency requirement (irrespective of the amount) as donations can stop any time without warning.

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De jure there are dozens of complex laws and regulations regarding remote employment, under which you may or may not need a special visa in order to work in a given country. Tax laws are an additional complication, where countries such as the UK can deem you as a tax resident for spending as little as 16 days on British soil.

De facto, as long as you don't mention your remote job to immigration personnel at the airport, there's a 99.99% chance no one will ever find out. There are millions of people breaking the law by being employed at on-site jobs in any given country, so digital nomads are a pretty low priority for law enforcement. This especially valid in a country like Mexico where law enforcement isn't particularly worried about foreign tourists working during their travels.

  • It's pretty curious for me if there any people working on-site in Mexico illegally, considering Mexico is infamously known itself for own citizens working illegally in USA by millions :D – Suncatcher Jan 20 at 6:10
  • @Suncatcher plenty, mostly from Central America. Mexico even has its own version of the wall in the south. – JonathanReez Jan 20 at 8:03

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