Excerpt from Alejandro K. Coney, The legal and mercantile handbook of Mexico, pages 22 and 23



MEXICO, May 28, 1886.

The President of the Republic has been pleased to address me the following decree:

Porfirio Diaz, President of the United States of Mexico, to its inhabitants makes known:

That the Federal Congress has decreed as follows:

The Congress of the United States of Mexico decrees the following:


ARTICLE 1: Mexicans are:

I. Those born within national territory, having a Mexican father by birth or naturalization.

II. Those born within the same national territory, who have a Mexican mother and a father not legally known, in conformity with the laws of the Republic. Those who are born from unknown parents or of unknown nationality, shall be considered under the same heading.

III. Those born outside of the Republic, of Mexican father, who may not have lost his nationality. If this should have happened, the children shall be considered as foreigners; although they may, nevertheless, show their preference to be considered Mexicans within the year following the day when they may attain twenty-one years; provided they may make the appropriate declaration before the diplomatic or consular agents of the Republic, if they reside outside of it, or before the Department of Foreign Relations, if they reside within the national territory.

If the children referred to in the foregoing paragraph reside in the national territory, and upon attaining majority shall have accepted some public office or served in the army, navy, or National guard, they may be considered as Mexicans, owing to those acts, without requiring any further formalities.

IV. Those born outside of the Republic, of Mexican mother, if the father is unknown and she has lost her nationality according to the provisions of this law. If the mother should have become naturalized in a foreign country, her children shall be foreigners, but they shall have the option to be considered Mexicans, by using that option in the same terms and under the same conditions as stated in the foregoing paragraph.

V. Mexicans who may have lost their nationality, in conformity with the prescriptions of this law, shall regain it by complying with the requirements therein established, according to the cases to which their circumstances may refer.

VI. A foreign woman who may contract marriage with a Mexican shall keep her Mexican nationality even during her widowhood.

VII. Persons born outside of the Republic, but who may have settled there in 1828, took the oath to support the declaration of independence, have continued their residence in the national territory, and have not changed their nationality.

VIII. Mexicans who, residing within the territories ceded to the United States by the treaties of the 2d of February, 1848, and 30th of November, 1853, may have complied with the requirements prescribed in such treaties to preserve their Mexican nationality. The same standing will be had by Mexicans who may continue residing in lands belonging to Guatemala, and to the citizens of that Republic who remain in those belonging to Mexico, according to the treaty of September 27, 1882; provided that said citizens may comply with the prescriptions stipulated in article 5th of the same treaty.

IX. Foreigners naturalized in conformity with this law.

X. Foreigners who may acquire real estate of the Republic; provided they shall not declare their intention of retaining their nationality. When the property is acquired, the foreigner shall state to the notary or judge before whom the transfer is made, if he desires or not to obtain the Mexican nationality in conformity with the right which paragraph III of article 30 of the Constitution grants him, making note of the foreigner's statement on this point.

If he chooses the Mexican nationality, or omits to declare his intention on the subject, he may petition to the Department of Foreign Relations within one year, in order to comply with the requirements stated in article 19 and be considered as a Mexican.

XI. Foreigners who may have sons born in Mexico, provided they shall not prefer to retain their foreign nationality. When the registration of the birth is effected, the father shall state before the Judge of Civil Registry his intention on the subject, which shall be noted in the official registration; and if he prefers the Mexican nationality or omits to declare his intention on the subject, he may petition to the Department of Foreign Relations, within one year, in order to comply with the requirements stated in article, 19 and be considered as Mexican.

XII. Foreigners who may serve the Mexican Government in an official capacity, or who may accept from it titles or public trusts, provided that within one year after having accepted the titles or public trusts thus conferred on them, or having commenced to officially serve the Mexican Government, shall petition the Department of Foreign Relations in order to comply with the requisites stated in article 19 and be considered as Mexicans.

ARTICLE 2: Foreigners are:

I. Those born outside of the national territory, who may be subjects of foreign governments, and who may not have been naturalized in Mexico.

II. Children of a foreign father or a foreign mother and an unknown father, born within the national territory, until they attain the age when, in conformity with the law of nationality of the father or mother, respectively, they should be of age. After the year succeeding that age has elapsed, without their declaring their intention before the political authority of their residence that they follow the nationality of their parents, they shall be considered as Mexicans.

III. Those absent from the Republic without leave of absence or government commission, or on account of studies, public interest, business, or industrial firm, or the practice of some profession, that may allow ten years to elapse without asking permission to extend their absence. This permission shall not exceed five years each time that they may ask it, there existing the necessity, when the first leave is obtained, to present just and proper reasons to obtain another.

IV. Mexican women who may marry foreigners; they will retain their standing of foreigners, even during their widowhood. After the marriage is dissolved a native Mexican woman may regain her nationality, whenever, beside fixing her residence in the Republic, she declares her intention, before the civil judge of her domicile, of regaining her nationality.

A Mexican woman who does not attain her husband's nationality through marriage, according to the laws of the latter's country, shall retain her own.

The change of nationality in the husband after the marriage implies the change of the same nationality in the wife and minor children subject to parental authority, provided they shall reside in the country where the husband or father may have respectively naturalized, saving the exception established in the paragraph preceding this section.

V. Mexicans naturalized in other countries.

VI. Those who serve in an official capacity foreign governments in any political, administrative, judicial, military, or diplomatic office, without permission from Congress.

VII. Those who accept foreign decorations, titles, or commissions without previously obtaining permission therefor from the Federal Congress, excepting literary, scientific, and humanitarian titles which may be freely accepted.

ARTICLE 3: For the purpose of determining the place of birth, in the cases referred to in the foregoing articles, it is hereby declared that national ships, without any distinction whatever, are part of the national territory, and that those born on board of them shall be considered as born within the Republic.

ARTICLE 4: By virtue of the right of extraterritoriality enjoyed by diplomatic agents, the children of Ministers or employes of the legations of the Republic can never be considered as born outside of the country, for the effects provided in this law.

ARTICLE 5: The nationality of moral persons or associations shall be regulated by the law authorizing their formation; consequently all those formed in conformity with the laws of the Republic shall be Mexican, provided they shall have here their legal domicile. Foreign moral persons enjoy in Mexico the rights granted to them by the laws of the country of their domicile, provided, however, that these are not in conflict with the laws of the nation.


ARTICLE 6: The Mexican Republic recognizes the right of expatriation, as natural and inherent to every man, and as necessary to the enjoyment of individual freedom; consequently it will permit its inhabitants to exercise this right, so that they may go out of its territory and settle in a foreign country, as well as it protects the right had by foreigners of all nationalities to come and dwell within its jurisdiction. The Republic therefore receives the subjects or citizens of other States, and naturalizes them in conformity with the prescriptions of this law.

ARTICLE 7: The Repatriation and subsequent naturalization obtained in a foreign country, do not exempt the criminal of being extradited, tried and punished as he may be subject to according to treaties, international customs, and the laws of the country.

ARTICLE 8: Citizens naturalized in Mexico, although they may be abroad, shall have the right to the same protection from the government of the Republic as Mexicans by birth have, be it with regard to their persons or to their properties. This does not prevent that, if they return to the country of their origin, they may be subject to all the responsibilities which they may have incurred, before their naturalization, in conformity with the laws of this country.

ARTICLE 9: The Mexican Government shall protect Mexican citizens while abroad, by the means that international law authorizes. The President shall use of those means, whenever he may deem it convenient to do so, provided they may not constitute acts of hostility; but if diplomatic intervention should be of no avail, and such means should not be sufficient, or if the grievances inflicted on the Mexican nation should be so great that they would demand more severe measures, the President shall immediately give an account thereof to Congress, with the proper documents, in order to pursue the course laid down in the Constitution.

ARTICLE 10: Naturalization of a foreigner is void, if he shall reside for two years in the country of his origin, unless such residence shall be due to the performance of an official commission from the Mexican Government or by virtue of its permission.


ARTICLE 11: Every foreigner complying with the prescriptions established in this law may become naturalized in the Republic.

ARTICLE 12: At least six months before he asks to be naturalized he must present a petition in writing to the Common Council of the place of his residence, showing his intention of becoming a Mexican citizen and of giving up his foreign nationality. The Common Council shall give him a certified copy of such petition, and preserve the original thereof in its archives.

ARTICLE 13: After said six months shall have elapsed, and when the foreigner shall have resided two years in the Republic, he may petition the Federal Government to grant him a certificate of naturalization. In order to obtain it he must beforehand present himself before the District Judge under whose jurisdiction he may be, offering to prove the following facts:

I. That, in conformity with the laws of this country, he is in the full enjoyment of his civil rights, owing to his being of age.

II. That he has resided in the Republic during at least two years, conducting himself properly.

III. That he has a business, trade, profession, or income from which he derives a living.

ARTICLE 14: Annexed to the petition, that he may present to the District Judge asking that he carry on such examination, 'he shall have a certified copy issued by the Common Council, to which reference is made in article 12, and furthermore add an express renouncement of all submission, obedience, or fidelity to any foreign government, and especially to that of which petitioner may have been; subject, to any protection other than that of the laws and authorities of Mexico, and to all the rights that treaties or international law may grant to foreigners.

ARTICLE 15: The District Judge, after having previously said the party concerned" ratify his petition, will cause to be taken, with the assistance of the district attorney, the testimony of witnesses on the points to which article 13 has reference, and he may exact, if he deems it necessary, the report which regarding it the Common Council may give and to which article 12 refers.

The judge shall likewise receive the other proofs that the party concerned may present with reference to the points stated in article 13, and shall ask an opinion thereon from the district attorney.

ARTICLE 16: The said judge, in case that his decision should be favorable to the petitioner, shall forward the original proceedings to the Department of Foreign Relations, so that it may issue the certificate of naturalization, if in its judgment there is no legal reason to prevent its issuance. Through the intervention of the same judge, the party concerned shall present a petition to that Department, asking for the certificate of naturalization, ratifying his renouncement of foreign rights, and protesting to support, obey, and submit himself to the laws and authorities of the Republic.

ARTICLE 17: Foreigners serving in the merchant national navy may become naturalized, it being sufficient for them to serve one year on board, instead of the two that are required under article 13. For the purposes of the proceedings of naturalization, jurisdiction may be had by the district judge of any of the ports at which the ship may arrive, and in the same manner a common council of any of said places may receive the petition to which article 12 refers.

ARTICLE 18: Foreigners naturalized in conformity with the law, and those who have the right to exercise their option as to becoming Mexican citizens, are not comprised within the prescription of articles 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16; consequently the children of a Mexican or of a Mexican woman who has lost his or her citizenship, and to whom subdivisions III and IV of article 1 refer; a foreign woman who marries a Mexican, to whom subdivision IV of the same article has reference; the children of a foreign father or of a foreign mother and an unknown father born in national territory, to whom reference is made in subdivision II of article 2, and the Mexican widow of a foreigner, referred to in section IV of the same article, shall be considered as naturalized for all legal purposes, provided they shall merely comply with the prescriptions established in those articles and without requiring any further formalities.

ARTICLE 19: Foreigners who may be considered within the cases stated in subdivisions X, XI, and XII, of article 1, may address themselves to the Department of Foreign Relations asking for their certificate of naturalization, within the term set forth in said subdivisions. They shall annex to their petition the document that may show that they have acquired real estate or have had children in Mexico, or accepted some public office, as the case may be. They shall furthermore present the renouncement and protest that are required by articles 14 and 16 in ordinary cases of naturalization.

ARTICLE 20: Absence in a foreign land with permission of the government does not interrupt the residence required under article 13 provided such absence shall not exceed, six months during the period of two years.

ARTICLE 21: Certificates of naturalization shall not be issued in favor of subjects or citizens of a nation against whom the Republic is at war.

ARTICLE 22: No certificates of naturalization shall be given to those who are considered, or have been judicially declared in other countries, to be pirates, slave dealers, incendiaries, counterfeiters, or forgers of bank bills or other documents used in lieu of coin, nor to assassins and robbers. Naturalization obtained by a foreigner fraudulently and in violation of the law is entirely null and void.

ARTICLE 23: The certificates of naturalization shall be issued gratuitously, and nothing shall be charged for them, either as costs or registration fees, seals, or in any other way.

ARTICLE 24: As the act of naturalization is entirely of a personal nature, it can only be made through a representative by means of a special and sufficient power of attorney for that act, which may contain the renouncement and protest that the party concerned must make in person, but in no case can the power supply the want of actual residence of the foreigner in the Republic.

ARTICLE 25: The character of citizen or foreigner cannot be transferred to third parties; consequently neither the citizen can enjoy the rights of a foreigner nor the latter the prerogatives of the former, owing to their character as such citizen or foreigner.

ARTICLE 26: The change of nationality cannot hare a retroactive effect. The acquisition and reobtainment of the rights of a Mexican citizen cannot have its effect until the day following the date on which one may have complied with all the conditions and formalities established in this law, in order to obtain naturalization.

ARTICLE 27: Colonists who may come to this country by virtue of contracts entered into with the Government, and whose traveling and installation expenses are made by the latter, shall be considered as Mexicans. In the agreement to become such colonists they must declare their, intention to give up their first nationality and to adopt Mexican citizenship, and when they shall settle in the colony, they shall make before a competent authority the renouncement and protest required in articles 13 and 16; and such document shall be forwarded to the Department of Foreign Relations in order that a certificate of naturalization be issued in favor of the party concerned.

ARTICLE 28: Colonists wlio may arrive at this country on their own account, or on account of private companies or corporations, that receive no subsidy from the government, as well as the immigrants of all kinds, may become naturalized, in their case, according to the prescriptions of this law. Colonists established until now are also subject to them, in so far as they are not opposed to the rights that they may have acquired, according to their contracts.

ARTICLE 29: A naturalized foreigner shall be a Mexican citizen as soon as he has complied with all the conditions required by article 34 of the Constitution, he being made equal in all his rights and obligations as Mexicans, but will be unable to perform the duties of those offices or trusts that, in conformity with the laws, may require nationality by birch, unless he was born within the national territory and his naturalization may have been effected in conformity with section II of article 2.


ARTICLE 30: Foreigners shall enjoy in the Republic the civil rights pertaining to Mexicans, and the securities granted under section 1 of title 1 of the Constitution, saving the authority that the government has of expelling a pernicious foreigner.

ARTICLE 31: In the acquisition of national and public lands, of real estate and vessels, foreigners need not be required to reside in the Republic, but they shall be subject to the restrictions that existing laws impose on them, with the understanding that any leasing of real estate made to a foreigner shall be considered as a sale, whenever the term of the contract shall exceed ten years.

ARTICLE 32: Only the Federal law can modify or restrict the civil rights enjoyed by foreigners, owing to the principle of international reciprocity, and so that they may be subject in the Republic to the same restrictions that the laws of their country impose on Mexicans residing there; consequently the prescriptions of the Civil and Civil Procedure Codes of the Federal District on the subject shall be considered as Federal, and be obligatory throughout the Union.

ARTICLE 33: Foreigners, without losing their nationality, may domicile themselves in the Republic for all legal effects. The acquisition, change, or loss of domicile are governed by the laws of Mexico.

ARTICLE 34: When the suspension of individual security is declared, in conformity with what title I, article 29, of the Constitution prescribes, foreigners remain like Mexicans subject to the prescriptions of the law which decrees the suspension, excepting in so far as modified by the stipulations contained in the treaties.

ARTICLE 35: Foreigners have the obligation to contribute for the public expenses, in the manner prescribed by the laws, and to obey and respect the institutions, laws, and authorities of the country, being subject to the decrees and judgments of courts, without having the right to interpose any other remedies than those that the laws grant to Mexicans. They can only appeal through diplomatic channels whenever there is a denial of justice or a voluntary delay in its administration, after having uselessly exhausted the ordinary remedies created by the laws, and in the manner prescribed by international law.

ARTICLE 36: Foreigners do not enjoy the political rights that pertain to Mexican citizens; for that reason they cannot vote nor be voted for any office of popular election, nor be appointed to any other office or commission appropriate to offices under the State Departments; nor belong to the army, navy, or national guard ; nor associate themselves to treat of political matters of the country, nor exercise the right of petition in this class of matters. This is understood without prejudice to what is prescribed in article 1, subdivision XII, and article 19 of this law.

ARTICLE 37: Foreigners are exempted from military service. Those having a domicile here are obliged to do police service whenever the security of property and the preservation of order in the same town where they are dwelling is in question.

ARTICLE 38: Foreigners who may take part in civil dissensions of the country may be expelled from its territory as pernicious foreigners, being subject to the laws of the Republic for the offenses that they may commit against it, and without prejudice that their rights and obligations while the war lasts may be regulated by international law and the treaties.

ARTICLE 39: The laws relating to the matriculation of foreigners are hereby abolished. Only the Department of Foreign Relations may issue certificates of specific nationality, in favor of the foreigners who may solicit it. These certificates constitute the legal presumption of foreign citizenship, but do not exclude the proof of the opposite. The final proof of a specific nationality is made before competent courts and through the means established by the laws and treaties.

ARTICLE 40: This law does not grant to foreigners the rights that are denied to them by international law, the treaties or existing legislation of the Republic.


ARTICLE 1: Foreigners who may have acquired real estate, who have had children in Mexico, or filled some public office, and to whom sections X, XI, and XII of article 1 of this law refer, are obliged to declare their intention within six months, if they have not done so heretofore, to the public authority of the place of their residence, if they wish to obtain Mexican nationality or retain their standing of foreigners. In the first case they must immediately ask for their certificate of naturalization in the form established in article 16 of this law. If they should omit to make the declaration of intention referred to, they shall be considered as Mexicans, excepting in those cases in which there may have been an official declaration on this subject.

ARTICLE 2: Colonists residing in the country to whom the final subdivision of article 28 of this law refers, must state, in the same terms as expressed in the foregoing article, the nationality to which they must be considered as belonging, asking also their certificate of naturalization, as is prescribed in this article, in case that it should be the Mexican nationality.

ARTICLE 3: When the Executive shall issue the necessary regulations for the execution of this law, it shall take care to approve the proper prescription, so that the local authorities may give proper compliance thereto in whatever concerns them.

[Signed] JUANJ. BAZ,
Deputy President,

Senator President,

Deputy Secretary,

Senator Secretary.

Wherefore I command that it be printed, published, and circulated, and that due compliance be given thereto.

Given in the National Palace of Mexico on the twenty-eighth of May, eighteen hundred and eighty-six.


To Citizen Counselor Ignacio Mariscal, Secretary of State and of Foreign Relations.