Since the RFC registration process went from being done online to being done in person and by appointment only, there was a lot of confusion as to whether foreigners were to follow a different process from Mexican nationals which was made worse by a series of inconsistencies in how it was handled at different SAT offices. While some residents (permanent or temporary with or without a work permit) were able to get signed up using the regular sign-up appointment service and process, some others were rejected at some offices where the criteria had not been consistent most of the time. This was particularly more complicated at the Puerto Vallarta SAT office where, for some years now, temporary resident cards with no work permit have been rejected as a valid ID not just for registrations but for any other service such as getting electronic signature files, getting a password or making updates to the taxpayer’s information. For a few months, they would only register either permanent residents or temporary residents with a work permit, consistently rejecting temporary residents who did not have a work permit. Then things changed again. SAT has finally standardized its criteria, and now residents are to be divided into three categories:
Permanent residents who are 60+ years old: these individuals can get signed up at any SAT office without the need for an appointment by showing up between 8:00 and 8:30 AM as they process them first.
Permanent residents under 60 years: These types of residents are to get a special case registration appointment on SAT’s website to get registered. At the moment, this service is not offered in Puerto Vallarta, so a trip to another city is required.
Temporary residents with or without a work permit: This case is similar to that of permanent residents under 60 years old as they are to get a special cases registration appointment.
The rationale behind this is that temporary residents can stop being residents if they do not renew their residency status or become permanent residents; in this case, they might have incurred in tax liabilities which the authorities have five years to audit and so they want the certainty that, if this were to happen, there would still be someone in the country with the legal ability to supply them with whatever information was required and whom they could collect any overdue taxes or applicable fines from.
What about interpreters?
One area where SAT is still very inconsistent is whether they allow an interpreter in with the taxpayer. Anti-money laundering and anti-simulation regulations make it so that, at least officially, the taxpayer is to go into the office on their own in an attempt from the authorities to make sure they are not being coerced into doing anything. This becomes a problem when there is a language barrier, sadly it is very inconsistent and there are reports that the same office has allowed one person to bring a translator and not another one even on the same day.
Given all that, it appears that the most effective way to ensure the registration takes place the right way is doing a pre-registration online which SAT’s staff can take up on their system. This means they already have all of the taxpayers’ information and tax obligation characteristics, so they only have to confirm it is all correct and finish the process. This is not just helpful when a translator is not allowed into the office but, in general, it makes the appointment go faster and it reduces potential problems. What to bring: If you are a permanent resident 60+ years old and are going in without an appointment:
Your original resident card (remember SAT does not consider foreign passports to be valid IDs)
A printout of your CURP number (in most cases, they do not require this as they can see all of the CURP information directly, but you might find they do ask for it). You can download one here.
A recent utility bill or bank statement as proof of address. Recent means no older than three months. If you receive a physical bill, you will need to bring all pages of the original. If you receive a digital bill, you will need to print out all pages on it. The same goes for bank statements: all pages are required whether you get physical or digital ones. Copies or printouts of scans are not accepted.
Your pre-registration notice if you did that process.
A USB flash drive so you can get electronic signature files which will allow you to update your RFC information, file any applicable taxes, generate a digital stamp certificate, generate a password directly on SAT’s website, and, in general, electronically sign official SAT documents.
Since they are currently both doing the registration and issuing electronic signature files in the same appointment, these take somewhere between 2-3 hours. After receiving the electronic signature files, they will tell you to wait for your number to be called to their computer rooms to activate your fiscal inbox. This process can be done on any computer, and it is not mandatory to do it there, so most people leave at that point and activate it elsewhere to avoid another wait. What will you get? If you brought all of the documentation the way SAT requires it and it all went well with their systems, you will receive the following:
Your registration notice (Aviso de inscripción al RFC)
Your request for an electronic signature
A receipt of the electronic signature files
The electronic signature files on your USB drive:
A .key file which cannot be recovered except via another appointment
A public .cer file and so it can be recovered
A .txt file with the password you will have set for the .key file
If you need additional help we have partnered with Paula Blanco of Equilibrium Tax Services and they can assist you with making a registration appointment with SAT, you can do so here. They also provide a registration service which includes waitlisting people for an appointment, monitoring progress in the virtual queue daily, confirming the appointment, and doing an online pre-registration for you to bring to the appointment.
Suppose you are a 60+-year-old permanent resident and want to get registered in Puerto Vallarta. In that case, they also offer a translator who can come with you with the understanding that they are not always allowed to go into the office. If you are interested in these services, feel free to contact them here.
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