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The frightening possibility of the Mexican Government confiscating your land

 


This is a common question, and there’s no shame to have it.  In fact, it’s one of those questions that many feel afraid to ask because they worry about how it will be received!  Part of being a responsible property owner, however, is to ensure that all of your questions have appropriate answers so that you understand where your rights as a legal property owner.  In a word: no.  But there’s more information waiting below.

 

Can the Mexican Government confiscate my land?

            Most people think that since they aren’t Mexican citizens, they don’t have the same protections on their land.  You will be very relieved to know that this is not the case!  Whether you are holding the land with your name on the legal title, or in one of the restricted zones through a bank trust/corporation, you have the same rights as those who hold property as Mexican citizens.

            Contrary to most people’s fears, the Government isn’t able to simply come and take your land just because you aren’t a native to Mexico and therefore can’t fight them for your land back.  If this were the case, you’d see a lot more vacant land!  In all seriousness, though; you are as protected as you think you are.

 

Are there expectations?

            There are exceptions to this, yes.  However, there are also exceptions to this in other places, including some American states.  We call this “public reason” under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). 

            This means that the Government can issue a formal notice to the landowner, calling it condemned.  This word gives many bad images, but in this situation, it means that it is being taken for public use.  When this happens, the Government must compensate the property owner in an amount that is fair for the repossession of the land.  This is done using a “fair market price” plus interest that would have accumulated after the fact.  This number is verified by a neutral party to ensure that both interests are protected. 

            It sounds intimidating when you see it like that but remember: this exists in places other than Mexico and it can happen as much to a native Mexican as it can to a foreigner.  This is not a practice that is done to single out foreign landowners.  As well, you are compensated for your land, so you aren’t just tossed out and expected to simply walk away empty-handed.

 

Should I be concerned?

            No.  While this exception does exist, it isn’t one that is used very often.  It is often seen as a last resort and only in a situation where it’s absolutely necessary (such as it being a dangerous piece of property, on the protected area that is grandfathered in, etc.  This is not an uncommon occurrence because the Mexican Government understands that foreigners want to own property and enjoy their time in Mexico -- not feel like they need to watch over their property every second.  It also works in the best interest of the Mexican government, since it brings revenue and property tax, amongst other things, to them from well-intentioned foreigners.

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