frequently asked questions

1] What do I need to do in order to attend a “Bachillerato” or to take a “High School” equivalency exam?
You will need a “Certificado de Terminación de Estudios de Educación Secundaria” (either a diploma from a Mexican school or a revalidated diploma/transcripts from the United States) in order to apply for a Bachillerato, to apply for the Prepa Abierta, or to take one of the high school equivalency exams.

At this time, you CANNOT revalidate your Middle School studies without already being enrolled in a SECONDARY SCHOOL. If you are over 18 years old, that is likely not an option for you. Furthermore, because Mexico’s Primary School system requires six years (the equivalent of 1st-6th grades) and the Middle School system requires three years (the equivalent of 7th, 8th, and 9th grades) you will need to have completed the first year of high school in order to apply for total revalidation of MIDDLE SCHOOL. If you did not finish 9th grade, technically you should be able to apply for a partial revalidation of your Middle School education. Although the G.E.D. is recognized widely in the United States and Canada, the SEP does NOT currently recognize or revalidate a G.E.D. exam from the US.

To learn more about the SEP Revalidation Process:
Given the current bureaucratic obstacles to partial and full revalidation of a US-based PRIMARY and MIDDLE SCHOOL education as an adult, you are better off NOT revalidating anything and starting from scratch. Deep breath! Hang in there!

OPTION ONE: The National Institute for Adult Education (INEA) has a system for Primary and Secondary Education for Adults. The INEA does not currently accept your Primary or Secondary transcripts from the United States, and the SEP does not currently revalidate those transcripts. So, you must study for and take all 12 units for Primary School certification and all 12 units for Secondary School certification. You will need to visit a Plaza Comunitaria near you (in the US or in Mexico, de hecho), although in some cases you can eventually take each unit exam online. If you have proof of studies in Mexico for any year of your Primary or Secondary education, INEA will give you credit for the equivalent units. There is no cost. Sam and Jorge report the process taking two to three months. On the positive side, you can practice your Spanish!

To learn more about the INEA and to find a Plaza Comunitaria near you (in the United States or in Mexico):

OPTION TWO: The Centro Nacional de Evaluación para la Educación Superior, A.C., known as CENEVAL, provides equivalency exams for Secondary School and High School, as well as some University Degrees. You can take the exam entitled “ACREDITA-SEC” or the “Examen de Acreditación de Conocimientos Equivalentes a la Educación Secundaria con Base en el Acuerdo 286.” You must be over 15 years old, have an authorized Certificate of Completion of Primary Education (again, this probably only works for those who graduated from Primary School in Mexico). Its costs 431 pesos, and you have to find an institution that administers CENEVAL exams near you (ojo, we could not find this information on the website!). Within ODA we do not know anyone who has taken this exam. If you know something more, please let us know!

To learn more about CENEVAL and these exams:

2] How can I re validate my K-12 education from the United States or another country?
So, “revalidation” is a process by which the Mexican Secretariat of Education (the SEP) recognizes the validity of your education documents from the United States and your adequate preparation to continue studying in Mexico. As of June 2015, you NO LONGER need an international apostille on each of the documents and YOU can translate the documents from English to Spanish yourself and/or look for any translator (not necessarily an official government translator).

[If you or your siblings were born in the United States, you will most likely need an international apostille and official translation (“por perrito”) of your birth certificate.]

You will need the originals, one copy, and the translations of the following documents:

• The application (pick one up at the designated SEP office)

• Birth certificate or other identification document

• Your elementary, middle school, and high school diploma. Some offices ask for all three, so best to be prepared. Although officially, and hopefully in most cases, you will only need your most recent diploma and the one before it.

• Your full transcripts of the highest degree attained. For example, if you are trying to revalidate your high school education, you will need your high school transcripts.

• Bank receipt of payment (pick up the form from local SEP office)

• Any other supporting documents from your high school that you can provide re: the plan and study program: grades, requirements, electives etc. etc.

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1] How can I get a certified copy of my Mexican birth certificate?
A birth certificate is a legal document that certifies the physical origin of an individual. The process usually begins with a certificate of birth issued by the hospital/doctor/midwife when the infant was born. The certificate is then taken to the local civil registry office (“Registro Civil”) in order for the infant to be certified as a citizen.

There are three options to obtain an official copy of a Mexican birth certificate. In most cases you will need to visit the local civil registry office where you or the person was registered, except if you use the kiosk option and/or if the civil register has an updated website.

For more information, and the link to check if you can request your birth certificate online visit:

If you need to register your Mexican nationality or the nationality of your children (people born in the United States to one or more Mexican parent have the constitutional right to Mexican citizenship), you need to go to your local “registro civil” with an original birth certificate (from the United States, or another country) and the parent’s birth certificate and identification.

If you need to register your birth in Mexico but you were not registered at birth, you will need an extemporaneous birth certificate. You can find our more information here: and here (This website provides information about the government process in Mexico City, other states have different modules and offices.)

If you are having trouble with the process, you can contact ODA, IMUMI, or the Be Foundation for more information about your rights to (bi)national identity. [insert links]

2] How can I get my INE (Instituto Nacional Electoral) identification card and number?
The INE is a very important document to have in order to open a bank account, install utilities, buy a house or a car, etc. etc. It si the most widely accepted/expected form of identification in Mexican society. The INE is also the official identification so a Mexican citizen is able to vote in any kind of political elections.

In order to apply for an INE, you must be a Mexican citizen and over the age of 18. You will need the following documents:

•Birth Certificate

•Identification (passport or other official ID document)

•Proof of address (electricity or other utility bill) You can schedule an appointment or walk in directly to your nearest branch office. This is the official INE website, where you can look up an office near you:

3] How can I get the CURP and what is it used for?
A CURP is a unique registry population code that is used to identify every Mexican, whether the person lives in Mexico or abroad. It is akin to a Social Security Number in the United States. If it is the first time you are processing your CURP, you will need to find to the nearest civil registry office with your birth certificate. To find a local civil registry office click here:

If you have already done the paperwork for the first time and you only need a copy, then click here. You can print it out immediately. This is a good number to memorize since you will be asked for it often. Hint: It always includes your initials and date of birth.

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1] How can I sign up for health insurance in Mexico? And what is the difference between IMSS, ISSSTE, Seguro Popular, etc?
Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (IMSS) is for employees only. Employees pay a share and the employer pays another rate. If you have been hired and your employer has registered you with IMSS, you can go online and sign up to request the nearest clinic and update your information here. (link:

Instituto de Seguridad y Servicios Sociales de los Trabajadores del Estado (ISSSTE) is for employees that work for the government. Government employees pay a rate and the government covers medication and hospitalization. If you work for the government and have been registered with ISSSTE, you can update your information and sign up here. (link:

Seguro Popular is for people that do not have access to IMSS nor ISSSTE. It is sponsored by the federal government. There is also a Seguro Popular system administered in Mexico City. Medical attention can be in high demand, and sometimes services may not be the best. In the following link you can learn about the requirements and how to sign up. Seguro Popular is free and available to everyone.

2] Do I need to be employed in order to receive government-sponsored health care services?
No. If you are not an employee and have a small business or company you can register yourself as an employer and pay a periodically rate to have IMSS health care insurance. To find out more visit this webpage:

You can also register for Seguro Popular, which is a healthcare insurance sponsored by the federal government for those who do not have IMSS nor ISSSTE. Medical attention can be in high demand, and sometimes services may not be the best. In the following link you can learn about the requirements and how to sign up. Seguro Popular is free and available to everyone.

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1] How do I apply for my Mexican passport?
A passport is the document given to citizens of a country in order to identify them selves and be admitted into another country. The Mexican passport is an official document issued by the Secretary of Foreign Relations. In order to obtain your Mexican passport:

You must first make an appointment with your local SRE office. To check for your nearest SRE click here. (Some states have walk-in appointments available.)

The application will be given in person the day of your appointment. Identify your Mexican nationality using one of the following:

• Certified birth certificate

• Original birth certificate

• Naturalization certificate


• Identify yourself – with an official document that has photo and signature, the information must match your nationality identification. You may present one of the following:

• INE voting ID

• Professional title

• Military ID (applies only to males)

• INAPAM current ID (applies only for elder people)

• DIF ID (applies only to people with a certain disability)

• Naturalization Letter

• Retired ID or Public Health ID

• Proof of payment

• 2 passport size photographs (TIP: get them near SRE office, because they already know how they are requested). They must be without glasses, facing straight, color with white background, uncovered face and recent.

All the documents presented should be in good conditions, without alterations, ripped, and clean. SRE has the faculty to ask you for additional documents and/or information if it considers it. The time it takes to receive your passport varies from state to state. You will be notified the day of your application.

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