June 23, 2009
By Thomas A. Horne
Pilots planning to fly to Mexico need to know the latest Custom and Border Protection entry and exit procedures in order to have a hassle-free experience. In case you haven’t recently flown south of the border, you may not know that the game has changed in many ways.
Topping the list is the requirement for a pilot certificate with an English-speaking endorsement, and pilots and all passengers must have valid passports; the days of driver’s license passage are over. In addition, pilots must have a restricted radiotelephone operator’s permit. Those of us who’ve been flying a while may remember receiving these permits, but they haven’t been required for flight within the U.S. for many years. But—if you’re flying to Mexico—you need them again.
eAPIS, custom’s Electronic Advance Passenger Information System, is required for departure and return flights, and you must land at the first airport of entry after crossing either border to clear customs. Flight plans are required for all flights in Mexico—and you should carry printed copies of them with you—and firearms of any sort are not permitted.
What’s more, stringent insurance rules are in effect. Your insurance must carry liability coverage while in Mexico, and it can’t be a temporary policy—meaning it must provide coverage for at least one year. You must carry an original of your policy with you, as well as two additional photocopies.
Did you know that night VFR flight is prohibited in Mexico with few exceptions? For details on this and other essential information for crossing the Mexican border—such as where to buy new VFR WAC charts recently developed for Mexico— check out AOPA’s newly formatted subject report. Or, as always, experts are a toll-free phone call away at 800/USA-AOPA (800/872-2672), Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time.
AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Tom Horne has worked at AOPA since the early 1980s. He began flying in 1975 and has an airline transport pilot and flight instructor certificates. He’s flown everything from ultralights to Gulfstreams and ferried numerous piston airplanes across the Atlantic.
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