Friday, April 3, 2009

We're Old (and we can prove it!)

We've long been told, since coming here, that folks age 60 and over are entitled to a senior card that offers discounts at a wide variety of places in the Yucatan and all of Mexico.  We decided to finally go and get one ourselves.
Of course the internet provides many of the answers we seek, so we looked and found information on this perk that is available to Mexicans and non-Mexicans alike.
It's called INAPAM which stands for El Instituto de las Personas Adultas Mayores, and we did find an article about how to obtain one at a Yucatan blog which was posted last October.
It listed the following requirements for non-Mexicans:

1. FM 2 or FM 3 (over 60 years old) plus a copy of the first page.
2. Recent photo (size infantile).
3. 15 pesos for card lamination and discount pamphlet.
4. Fill out application blanks and sign on back.
5. Clerk makes card.  You check and sign. Forefinger print on card.  He laminates.

I'm here to tell you, these directions are already outdated.  There is more (and less) to it than this and it is an interesting story.  So come along into the wonderful world of the Mexican bureaucracy which, it turns out, has a purpose and a method to its seeming madness.
This is the sign of the INAPAM office in Merida where you go to get the card, like we did using the directions listed above.

 The nice people there said, "Not so fast.  You need a CURP".  This puzzled us and the nice man who was talking to us obviously read confusion in our expat faces and scribbled an address:  "Calle 65 y 64 Registo Civil".  "In Centro?", I queried already knowing the dreaded answer. " SI!  Centro!"
We'll come back here later, after we've discussed the CURP.

The CURP comes from La Clave Unica de Registro de Poblacion and is a document that serves as a one-stop i.d. for all social services.  When you think about it, it's a great idea.  Instead of each government agency having it's own number attached to your name, there's just one number and it's base on several things like your age, gender, nationality, state you live in, birth date, etc.  The CURP is used by the government health system, the military, you name it.  It's also needed to get the INAPAM card.
So it was off the to CURP office which was surprisingly easy to find.  It's on Calle 65 just west  past the intersection of 64 on the south side of the street.

There are two public parking lots on the same block, so parking did not present a problem.  Going in the door, the women behind the desk quickly sized us up and asked, "FM2, FM3?"  "Si!", we cleverly retorted in our finest Spanish, and they directed us to the line at the far end of the courtyard.

As far as lines go, this one wasn't bad.  And, once at the desk, all we had to do is fork over our FM3s and passports and after some quick computer typing on the clerks part, a CURP was spit out of the laser printer and we were on our way.  Cost: Nothing.

Here's what a CURP looks like:
So, with CURPs in our hot little hands it was back to the INAPAM office.  This office is not easy to find.  When they say it is on Calle 59 between Ave Itzaes and Calle 56, that's not entirely accurate.  While driving west on Itzaes go PAST Calle 59 one more block.  You'll see a creamy yellow building on your right and take the next right when at the end of the building onto a very wide street.  Then you will see this impressive edifice:
It looks like it used to be a prison.  Maybe it still is.  The INAPAM office isn't here, it is behind us.  But I liked this picture anyway so I wanted to include it.  Beware that parking is at a premium and a walk of several blocks back to the office may await you as it did us.
THIS is the entrance to the INAPAM office:
And this is the entrance/waiting area:
There, you sit outside at a table with a couple of amiable hombres who have the forms.  They ask you the questions, in Spanish of course, and fill out the forms for you.  It's basically a big survey.  They want to know pretty much everything about you.  Are your parents still living?  How many bedrooms in your house?  What do you like to do for fun?  How's your health?  Do you have a gas oven?  I'm not making these up.  So anyway, when you are done with this, you put your address and phone number on the form, hand over your passport and FM3 (you don't need to bring a copy) and wait your turn to go into the office.
Once in the office, you take a seat in front of a camera (no need to bring a photo infantile size).
You all know my model, Indra, right?
And they don't take a finger print, they take all fingers and both thumbs...
While this is going on, the man behind the desk is also busy taking scans of your passport and FM3.
And then its sign here, and here, and here, he presses the magic button and out pops....
Another official i.d. card sporting yet another unflattering photograph that governmental agencies specialize in.  Or maybe that's just the way I look.
Cost: Nothing.
Also, you do have to ask for the booklet containing a listing of all the discount goodies we can get as old people.  It looks like this:
The discounts include doctors, pharmacies, pizza parlors, theaters, transportation such as buses, and on and on.  The cost of the booklet: $10 pesos, and they ask to see your INAPAM card...the one they just handed you.
So there you have it.  We've done all the leg work so all you have to do is make it to 60, and maybe by that time all of my directions will be outdated too.

More later,


Malcolm said...

Great article, as usual, Larry. A few things:

1. I love...absolutely LOVE...Mexican government documents, and seeing your finished CURP and INAPAM cards only reinforces that.
2. I HATE that big ex-prison building. We have had more than our fair share of go-rounds, there.
3. In the end, was the hassle worth the new benefits you are enjoying? Would you do it again?


RE/MAX Investment Properties said...

Hi Larry

A very interesting and inforamtive article, thanks!

Would you mind if we reproduced an edited version of it on our blog and/or website

¡Saludos from the Riviera Maya!


Ian F. Campbell
RE/MAX Investment Properties, Mexico.

Larry said...

I agree about the documents. They are colorful and logo-filled. Were you in prison? Or was it Jillian?

I'm sure you just want the facts and some pics without my witty comments. Sure, go ahead.


Larry said...

Malcolm, on your question on was it worth the hassle. When we get our 1/2 off ADO and UNO to Cancun it will be :).

Anonymous said...

Thanks Larry for this article, we are planning to move to Merida this year and appreciate the info.

Jay & Marie

On Mexican Time said...

Very cool Larry - I may just have to pass this info on.... About finding the building, and it being confusing... although I LOVE merida, I find it to be very confusing, with streets going this way and that :) Oh and FREE!!! Very cool.

BigAssBelle said...

But wait! Where are the outraged Mexican citizens marching in the streets, protesting norte americanos making use of Mexican public services? ;-)

Fascinating. Eight more years for me, only three for the cupcake. Can't wait.

nokk said...

Thanks for sharing Larry! Very informative and interesting article, well written on top of it.

We've already made one unsuccessful trip to the old prison (the line was very long and kept getting longer in front of us as people just kept jumping into the line up at the front). That experience made us less than enthusiastic about trying again.

With your help, we should be able to do this without too much frustration (aside from our dismal Spanish language skills). It will be nice to get the card and the discounts so that we can add one more "good" thing to the short list of good things about getting old!

Thanks again!

Larry said...

Just remember the INAPAM office is not in the old prison, but across the wide street in the Cruses Rojo building.

teebee said...

Just wondering Larry, we had our cards done a year ago now, and they are not as pretty as yours,
does this mean we have to change ours to pretty ones or just keep our boring ones.

Larry said...

Gee, I don't know. Maybe you could go in and ask....or, maybe tell them you lost yours and need a replacement?

Anonymous said...

Larry, I am living in the Riviera Maya; how can I get one over here?

Larry said...

I'm not sure, never having lived there. But it would seem to me you are going to have to find the local social services office and just wander around asking anyone (a guard helped us here) where to get a CURP and INAPAM card. It may take some legwork.

Anonymous said...

Larry, thanks for the article.Fun and informative Good luck with ss checks.
Q? how or what's the most practicle way to get money in Merida, from S.S. or personal retirement.Is any bank over there that don't charge atm transactions
A future retired.
Thanks, Arnaldo

Larry said...

My bank account is local through Banorte. Social Security will auto deposit to it. Also if you have an account in the U.S. or Canada, you can access funds through local ATMs and the fees vary. I haven't heard of any not charging fees, but best to check with your bank if they have any affiliate here that will let you getby without the fees.

Anonymous said...

I also thank you for the information Larry. We will be heading back to Canada in a few days, but I will make sure to print out and follow your advice when we return later in October.


Theresa said...

Larry, this is a wonderful tutorial! Unfortunately for us, the Registro Civil would NOT give my husband a CURP because they say that his FM3 is missing information, so we are waiting to see if immigration can issue him one. As always, TIM, your milage will vary!

Nancy Hoag said...

Larry: This is great information! We have enjoyed your posts on YOLISTO as well :) We only have one question, is this doable with limited Spanish speaking skills?
Nancy y Barry

Larry said...

Belive me, our Spanish skills are limited and we did it. Everyone was very patient and a little amused, but they helped us through it.

Nancy Hoag said...

Well, we headed out yesterday to get our C.U.R.P. card. From our home on Calle 56 it was not much of a walk. We arrived early, were directed to the clerks on the other side of the courtyard and cue!! We stated what we wanted in our limited Spanish and everything seemed to be moving along smoothly. We should've known something was wrong. It seems that we are missing our Federal Registration Number on pagina 6 of our FM3. So, before you head out double check the information on your FM3. If there is no information under the heading "Fue inscrito en el Registro Nacional de Extranjeros bajo el numero....." then head over to immigration. That's were we will be this!
Nancy y Barry

Larry said...

Nancy and Theresa,
Sorry to hear about your FM3 troubles. It's usually something isn't it? We must have had the the planets alligned that day or something.

Barry said...

Once I got my Registro Nacional de Extranjeros on my FM3, everything else went exactly as you said. If you go early, 9:00 or so, there are no lines either.
Thanks so much for your "heads up" on the discount card. It was all well worth the time.

Daniel said...

I obtained my INAPAM card today, with very little hassle. Went to Immigration with my FM3, got the CURP number - took maybe 10 minutes, no line up. Then off to INAPAM itself. Another 10 minute wait then into the office. Handed over my FM3, 2 photos I had left over from the FM3 application process, gave my address info (it was easier to just hand the clerk my telephone bill) and I was done and out within 10 minutes. Total time, including getting from Immigration to INAPAM, processing etc: about an hour. Of course now I have to go back and get the booklet! Manana.