Working in Mexico
Where could you work in Mexico
World Bank analysts have predicted that Mexico's economy will be the fifth largest by 2050. The majority of jobs are in the capital, Mexico City, which is the base for most international companies and large Mexican companies, but you may also find work in Guadalajara, Puebla, Monterrey, Juárez or León. It can be challenging to find work if you aren't experienced in a specialist field, though, and while English is widely understood, it will be difficult to secure a graduate job if you do not have a good grasp of Spanish.
Manufacturing plays a big role in Mexico, whether it's food and drink, vehicles, silver, iron and steel, chemicals, pharmaceuticals or electronics. Other key industries are:
- oil and gas
- infrastructure and transportation
- renewable energy
Popular employers in Mexico include:
- Pemex – the Mexican state-owned petroleum company
- Cemex – a multinational building materials company headquartered in Mexico
- Grupo Bimbo – a bakery product manufacturing company
- Telmex – a telecommunications company headquartered in Mexico City
- Televisa and TV Azteca – both major media companies
- Grupo Modelo – a brewery that exports beer, including Corona, to most countries of the world
- There are several IT companies and electronics manufacturers, including Mabe, Semex, Lanix, Falco Electronics and Meebox.
International companies with offices in Mexico include AstraZeneca, Barclays, BP, Deloitte, GSK, HSBC, KPMG, Procter & Gamble, Intercontinental Hotel Group, Premier Oil and Unilever.
While English is widely understood in Mexico, a good grasp of Spanish will increase your chances of getting a graduate job. There are some slight differences between Castilian and Latin American Spanish.
Do you need a visa?
UK residents don't need a tourist visa to visit Mexico for up to 180 days, just an immigration form which you can get on board your flight and will then need to leave the country. However, tourists are not allowed to undertake any form of paid employment. If you are going to be working in Mexico, you'll need to get the correct visa from the Mexican Embassy in London before you travel. You'll need to already have a job offer from a company registered in Mexico to apply for the visa.
Your employer will apply to the Instituto Nacional de Migración and you will then collect your visa from the Mexican consulate in your home country. If you travel to Mexico to look for a job, you will need to return to your home country before you can start work as your visa must be processed at a consulate outside of Mexico.
Foreign consulates process and pre-approve the visa application and place a sticker in your passport. Within 30 days of arrival in Mexico you'll need to go to your local immigration office and exchange your passport stamp for a plastic card.
A temporary residence visa is suitable for people who want to live in Mexico for more than six months and no longer than four years. After four years you will need to either get a permanent resident visa or leave Mexico.
The Mexican Embassy in London can provide you with more information about visas.
What is it like to live and work in Mexico
Working hours: Working hours are usually similar to in the UK: employees will arrive around 8.00 am, take half an hour to an hour for lunch and leave between 5.00 pm and 7.00 pm. A few companies may still follow the traditional Mexican working hours: 8.00 am to around 1.00 pm and 4.00 pm to around 6.00 pm with a long lunch (siesta) in between.
Holidays: you will be legally entitled to a minimum of six days' holiday after a year of working for your employer. If you factor in your three-month probation period, it may be 15 months before you're entitled to any annual leave. In reality, though, your employer, especially if it's an international company, is likely to give you more holiday allowance and may not make you wait a year until you can take any days off.
You will be given the day off for eight public holidays. There are also six other holidays that are widely observed throughout Mexico, which your employer may give you off too.
Income tax: How much income tax you pay will depend on how much you earn. It starts at 15% and progressively moves up to 30%. Remember to check your UK tax and national insurance position with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to ensure that you are not losing any UK pension rights.
Cost of living: Salaries are lower than in the UK but the cost of living is cheaper. Workers in Mexico usually get paid in quincenas, which means every two weeks, although some companies now pay monthly.
Currency: Mexican peso. One peso is worth 100 centavos. Peso notes often come in large quantities such as 500 or 1000, which can be hard to break. Get into the habit of always carrying some loose change, especially as you will need it for tipping people.
Healthcare: Visit your doctor at least four to six weeks before travelling to Mexico to check whether you need any vaccinations. Beware that in high altitude areas such as Mexico City you may feel a lack of energy, shortness of breath or a headache. Take the relevant medicines with you in case.
There is no free medical treatment in Mexico, even in emergencies, so it is very important to get good health insurance.
Private healthcare in Mexico is generally preferred by expatriates as it covers more expensive treatments than public healthcare and it is reasonable in comparison to the cost in other countries. Some companies offer their employees private health insurance.
Public hospitals are for those who are covered by IMSS, Mexico's national health programme. You can pay into IMSS once you have started working; you'll need to ask your employer how to sign up if you wish to.
Laws and customs to be aware of
- The police have the authority to ask you to show them your passport/ID. Carry copies of your passport and either the tourist card given to you on arrival in Mexico or your residency card, rather than carrying the originals on you.
- Prison sentences for drug offences are severe – up to 25 years.
- Civil unions and marriages between same-sex couples are legal in Mexico City and a few states, but homosexuality is generally tolerated rather than accepted in Mexico. Public displays of affection may be met with disapproval.
- You can drive in Mexico if you have a full driving license from your home country.
- Crime levels are higher in the bigger cities so seek advice from locals and other expats on where to live and where to avoid. Keep the amount of cash you carry to a minimum and don't walk down empty streets at night, accept drinks from strangers or leave your purse or any other valuables exposed.
Major religion: Roman Catholicism.
Newspapers with vacancies
You could look on job websites such as Bumeran, Computrabajo and Portal del Empleo. Many Mexican businesses turn to recruitment agencies to find their employees so you should also look into recruitment agencies that operate in Brazil, such as Manpower and Adecco.
Networking and making contacts is very important, for example through LinkedIn. You can also get in touch with the British Chamber of Commerce in Mexico or the Mexican Embassy in London.
CV, application and interview tips
The application process usually involves submitting an application form or CV and covering letter, which should be written in Spanish unless otherwise specified. If your Spanish is not fluent, ask a native speaker to proofread your application.
Your CV should ideally be one page but definitely no more than two pages. Your covering letter should focus on your qualifications and skills and how you have worked on your language skills.
The interview process is quite formal and similar to job interviews in the UK. Be prepared to demonstrate your skills and ability to do the job, and don't be surprised if you are asked about your personal life too.
Teaching English as a foreign language in Mexico
You will need a TEFL qualification in addition to your degree. TEFL teachers are recruited all year round, but the peak hiring times are February, March, July and August. You should be able to get a work visa for a TEFL job. The British Council offers English language assistant positions in Mexico, for which visas are available, and will interview you in advance on the phone as part of the recruitment process.
Work experience, internships and exchanges
Internships in Mexico are usually for six months and can be found in areas such as business, conservation, journalism, marketing, hospitality and healthcare. Some internships are paid but the majority are not. If your internship is for six months or less and is unpaid, you will not need a visa. If it is for longer than six months, you'll need to apply for a temporary resident visa. If you are going to be paid during your internship, regardless of the duration, your employer will need to apply for your visa.
Look for opportunities on websites such as Go Abroad and Global Choices. AIESEC also offers international traineeship exchanges for between six weeks and 18 months and science, technology, applied arts and engineering students can apply for placements of between six to twelve weeks in the summer through IAESTE.
If you'd like to study overseas, many UK universities have exchange programmes with universities in Mexico.
Areas for volunteers in Mexico include marine (sea turtle conservation is popular in Mexico), wildlife, the environment and social programmes. You can find opportunities with organisations such as Campamento Majahuas, Misión México, Casa de los Amigos, Entre Amigos and WWOOF Mexico.
You can also find volunteering opportunities in Central and South America through organisations such as Go Abroad, Go Overseas, Concordia and Frontier.