Mexican Citizenship… What’s in a Name?

By Brooke Gazer

Having had Permanent Resident status in Mexico for several years, my husband and I decided to become citizens. This involves a lot of paperwork and the Secretariat of External Relations, which is responsible for issuing Mexican citizenship, is particular about the format. In order to simplify the process, we asked Perla, the local immigration lawyer, to help us. Ours was the first citizenship application she had done, but she offered to research the requirements and was confident that she could guide us through the system. Rick’s application was received and processed without any fanfare. Mine was an entirely different story.

Although I once had strong feminist tendencies and it was in vogue for women to keep their maiden name, for once in my life, I chose the “traditional” route. Adopting Rick’s surname after we were married turned out to be a big mistake!

In Mexico, a birth certificate is the most important document a person can have. Mexicans are issued a personal identification code, known as a CURP, which follows them for life. The code incorporates the date of birth and the first two letters of the surname as it appears on the birth certificate. Mexican women do not change their maiden name upon marriage, they simply add “de” and their husband’s name. Foreign residents are issued a CURP based on the surname and date of birth as it appears on their passport.

Shortly before I made my application, some federal regulations had changed and this complicated my submission. The Secretariat of External Relations insisted that my CURP must agree with the name on my birth certificate. Immigration, which had already issued my CURP, maintained it could not be altered unless I changed the name on my Canadian passport. It was a vicious circle that became a bureaucratic nightmare. After making several trips to each office, I was on the verge of giving up.

Perla however, is a pit bull. The battle took over a year, but she dug her teeth into the problem and wouldn’t let go. She continued to pester, badger, and harass this department until someone gave in and reassigned my CURP to match my birth certificate.

Within about a month of submitting my application, I received Mexican citizenship in my maiden name. So, like the character in Oscar Wilde’s play, I am “X” in Mexico and “Y” in Canada. Since we haven’t left the country, I have yet to apply for a Mexican passport. Of course, I will need one to reenter Mexico if I do travel abroad. It is far easier for Canadians to travel, so with dual citizenship I can retain my Canadian passport. I imagine however, that traveling with two passports, bearing different names, may make air travel a bit more interesting!

Brooke Gazer runs Agua Azul la Villa, an ocean view Bed & Breakfast. www.bbaguaazul.com

Lic. Pera Penélope Vasquez Moctezuma

CEL: 958 116 7292 or 908 107 3221

http://www.consultorialegalvm.com despachohuatulco@hotmail.com

Her office is in Marina Park Plaza.

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