This is from a friend of mine, not sure where he got it, but one of the best overviews of what you can really expect to get from investigators in Mexico.
In the 80´s Private investigators in the United States of America used to make phone calls, check phone directory and neighborhood interview and part time surveillance/take some pictures to locate a person. Now it´s diferent because you can have access to several commercial databases and locates a people in seconds and also do from your home a Backgroundchecks reports to individual and corporate clients.
WORKING AS PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR IN MÉXICO:
Finding People in México
There is no single fee for finding anyone here. Each request is different and has a particular end cost. What we deliver are best efforts based upon fifteen years of experience while doing this full time here in Mexico.
There are practically no public records useful toward finding anyone in Mexico. Unlike the U.S. or other information gathering countries, records are protected here to promote the privacy of citizens from unwarranted public snooping. There are no online searches for $29.99, $49.99 or at any price, and no public places to walk in and find a free self-serve government computer terminal that would lead to finding someone, such as is often found at a county recorder’s office in the U.S. The information useful for finding people is within the non-public records of various Mexican government offices. We have developed special access to this information, for which we base our fees.
It is very, very important that you provide useful information from which to initiate a search. Mexican records are organized with the use of both last names. This is the practice in all of Latin America. Every person has a given name, the last name of their father and the maiden name of their mother. This is how they are known all their lives. Married women do not legally change their name. Without both last names, your search results may be compromised or fruitless. This is especially true if the last name you provide is a common name and the search is likely to be in a metropolitan area.
A date of birth is also important to provide. There are many common names in Mexico. In a place like Mexico City, there could be dozens of persons with complete names just like the one you wish to find. Citizenship is another important piece of information as that affects where our searching is done.
It is Mexican custom to do business face to face and develop a sense of the person seeking assistance. Telephone research rarely works as people here are reluctant to disclose anything personal over the phone with a stranger. This has become more so with the big increase of kidnappings and extortions. Mexicans want to meet and know who is asking, and to feel comfortable about the person inquiring. Here, it is very easy to say, “No”, by telephone. A routine gratuity for favors and assistance cannot be tendered by telephone.
Researching Records in México
Real Estate: Records are maintained at the local level. There are no nationwide or statewide searches. None of this information is available online. If you do not know where to perform a search, then there is little chance for finding what you are looking for.
Although these records are open to public inspection, it requires working with an office employee to perform the search. Computer terminals and registry books are not put out for public use. Search times can vary from a few minutes to days. Small towns offer prompt service. At Mexico City a search has to be prepaid to the government (about $38.00) and the waiting time is twenty days.
Within thirty-one miles of the Mexican coastline, real estate cannot be owned outright by foreigners. This also applies to land within sixty-two miles of international borders. It has to be purchased through a bank trust, which is a common procedure. This can complicate a real
estate ownership search. Alternate means are used in these instances. This restriction was created in the Constitution of 1917 after the U.S. took one-half of Mexico’s territory following the Mexican-American war.
Another source of real estate ownership is the local tax assessor’s office, known here as Catastro. Their records are not open to routine pubic view most of the time.
Criminal History: Not open to public inspection. Felony conviction and imprisonment records are maintained by police and prison authorities. Mere arrest records not resulting in conviction are not retained according to Mexican law.
Drivers license: Not open to public inspection. There are thirty-one states plus the Federal District. Each has its own motor vehicle department.
In Mexico City, lifetime drivers licenses are issued. Other states issue drivers licenses for varied times depending upon how long a term is purchased. We can assist with verification of a drivers license. Driving histories are not reliable because most traffic infractions are settled at the side of the road at the time of occurrence. Exceptions to this tend to be moving violations issued by the Federal Highway Patrol.
Civil Courts: Not routinely open to public inspection. Index records of twenty-four states plus Mexico City are available through a centralized non-public database. A search will disclose names of parties, date of a filing, case number and the court identity. There is no information in the index which will reveal the specifics of an issue.
In the remaining states it is necessary to have the name search performed by a person with direct access to the local files. This often is a cooperative court employee or helpful local attorney.
Access to actual court case files is an additional obstacle. Files are open to the parties and their attorneys and to law enforcement. An experienced direct appeal to a court employee occasionally gets a result. This has to be done in person.
Records will include business contract disputes, family court, bankruptcy, tax delinquencies, landlord-tenant disputes and debts.
Professional Licensing: A prepaid government fee based name search can be accomplished through the national records at Mexico City. The completion time is a full week, often longer. The search must be paid in advance at Mexico City. Records include doctors, dentists, architects, accountants and engineers. Only the person making a request can pick-up the report later.
Utilities: Electricity in Mexico is provided by the Federal Electrical Commission. Customer records are not open to public inspection. Accounts are in the name of the property owner and not issued to renters.
Gas service for most all of Mexico is home delivery of propane by truck. There are hundreds of independent retailers throughout the country.
Public water is furnished at the local level, usually by municipal government. An account would be in the name of the homeowner.
Land line telephone service is furnished through Telmex. This private company has 80% the land lines in Mexico. There are no reverse listing directories and no white pages for free and online review. There is directory assistance through an operator, provided the complete name and city is known.
Cellular service is offered by at least five providers. Their customer records are not open to the public. Most customers use prepaid cell phone cards to purchase air time. Most cell phones are not registered by owner’s name and address as required by law.
Voter Registration: A Federal agency called INE is responsible for nationwide voter registration. Files are not open to public inspection. A registration is valid for eight years. An INE credential is the most common form of photo ID in Mexico. Proof of address is required for registration.
Civil Records: These include birth, death, marriage and divorce filings. Access to these files is subjective. They are readily available to the parties and their designated representatives. Persons wishing a record copy without a plausible explanation may be denied.
Immigration: Not open to public inspection. The Federal government tracks the entry of each person into Mexico. This includes persons arriving on a tourist visa. There is also a national registry of each foreigner residing in Mexico.
Business Records: There are no publicly available government records that will yield information about business affiliation through a person’s name search. It is necessary to know the legal name of a business in order to determine the identities of company organizers, officers and persons in authority. Copies of these records are maintained at the local level and if the business’ lawful name is known, then a search is possible. There is no way online to research a government file for the corporate identify behind a trade name
There are non-public records which could yield business information through a name search if the individual’s Federal tax ID number is known.
Motor vehicle accidents: Reports are available to parties involved and are not automatically provided to representatives of insurance companies. Accidents resulting in serious injury or death are investigated by agents of Ministerio Publico. This is an agency located in each state which investigates serious accidents on behalf of the state prosecutor’s office. See below for information to obtain these reports.
Death inquiries: These occurrences are also investigated by Ministerio Publico and are not open to routine public inspection. See “General Information” (below) for more details.
Medical records: Mexican law restricts the release of medical records. Record keeping is not required in some instances
A medical record must be created and retained for five years if a person spends a night (is admitted) in a hospital or clinic. Mexican law restricts the release of medical charts, doctor and nurse notes and medicines prescribed. It also blocks the release of notes made during operations. The law says that hospitals and clinics may provide a written summary of the patient’s hospitalization. This information may include diagnosis, types of treatment and discharge information.
Although this is the law in Mexico, it is not followed consistently. There is no way to know how a hospital or clinic will respond to a request until it is presented in person. On limited occasions we have obtained medical records without an authorization. Attempts at this are discouraged as the risk of rejection is high. On occasion, providers have requested a limited power of attorney prepared by a Mexican Consulate office.
Out-patients do not automatically generate medical records. This can include emergency room reception of a person for pronouncement of death.
Doctor offices and walk-in clinics routinely do not keep patient treatment records. It is not required by Mexican law. In light of the low cost of a doctor visit, USD $3.00 to $40.00, it would add overhead and raise costs to keep records. Medicines, except for narcotics and antibiotics, are sold over the counter. This availability includes anti-depressants, cortisone, diabetes drugs, blood pressure drugs, etc. Certain doctors who live in the border zone or other places where foreigners seek treatment are more likely to maintain records. They know that foreign patients need a record for insurance reimbursement. They are an exception. Walk-in clinics are required to keep a daily list of patient names, but no treatment data.
General Information: Records in Mexico are organized through the use of both last names.
The following is an example:
Juan Esteban Ramírez García
Juan: First name
Esteban: Middle name
Ramírez: Father’s last name
García: Mother’s maiden name
To properly search for a record requires both last names. Indexing systems initially search for the first last name (Ramirez), then the second last name (Garcia), and finally the given name. Without a second last name a search result may be compromised or even unworkable because of too many name similarities. A woman does not change her name upon marriage.
It is also important to know a date of birth for many searches. Knowing a person’s age may be workable in some instances.
Business is routinely transacted in person within Mexico when a relationship has not already been established. It is easy and common to say, “No”, by telephone. Many government offices often do not answer the telephone. With occasional exceptions, it is necessary to appear in person at the government office that maintains the desired information. A gratuity to an underpaid office worker is still appreciated.
Certified copies of most public and semi-public records are available for a small charge.
Records of serious accident and death investigations performed by Ministerio Publico are of limited availability. For a non-party to obtain a report requires the following:
An original letter outlining the need for the report has to be signed by an involved party, an immediate family member or legal representative of an estate and the letter must be notarized. If the letter is not written in Spanish, it must be translated here by a licensed translator. The letter must specify the person authorized to pick-up a copy of the report on behalf of the interested party. A copy of the signer’s photo ID should accompany the letter. It often is also helpful to include a copy of a document that establishes the relationship between the requestor and the injured/deceased party. This could be a marriage record, birth certificate, death certificate or a probate filing. The document has to be translated into Spanish.