Answers for Pilots: Flying to Mexico

October 1, 2010

mexicoBirds are pretty smart when it comes to flying where the weather is nice. As they head south this fall, you may want to follow them and enjoy the lingering warmth of Mexico and the Baja Peninsula. If you are going to attend AOPA Aviation Summit, Nov. 11 – 13 in Long Beach, Calif., consider joining the Fly-out to Baja and beyond, offered through Caribbean Sky Tours, which departs Long Beach on Sunday, Nov. 14 and returns to Calexico, Calif., on Friday, Nov. 19. Aircraft will stop in Loreto, Cabo San Lucas, and Alamos. Information about the fly-out is online.

There’s a lot involved in planning a trip across the border, but this one will be easier than most: Caribbean Sky Tours will process permits, flight plans and eAPIS, arrange for lodging, meals and tours as outlined in the itinerary, and assist participants throughout the entire trip. Although a lot of the work will be done for you as part of the fly-out group, the following information will be helpful:

  • Current U.S. passports are required for all travelers and the PIC must also have a pilot certificate with an English proficient endorsement, a current medical certificate, and a restricted radiotelephone operator’s permit.
  • Children traveling with only one parent must have a notarized statement of approval from the absent parent stating the dates of the trip.
  • Regarding 406 ELTs—The Mexican equivalent of the FAA, Direccion General De Aeronautica Civil (DGAC) has, again, extended the compliance date for 406 MHz ELT equippage for flight in Mexican airspace. With the most recent extension, the DGAC is differentiating between commercial and private aircraft operations. Pilots with aircraft used exclusively for private flights now have until Dec. 31, 2011, to replace their 121.5-MHz ELT with a 406-MHz model or until their existing 121.5-MHz ELT needs to be replaced, whichever comes first. Commercial aircraft have until Dec. 31, 2010, to equip their aircraft with the device or until their ELT battery or existing 121.5-MHz ELT have to be replaced, whichever comes first.
  • Tourist cards (immigration forms) are required for all visitors and you will be asked to fill them out at your first airport of entry in Mexico.
  • Other required certificates, licenses, paperwork, and equipment are listed online.
  • Twelve-inch registration marks are required for crossing the ADIZ into Mexico.
  • Do verify that you have insurance coverage for flight into Mexico and that the policy specifically states that liability insurance in Mexico is provided. AOPA’s website provides a list of insurance companies that do provide coverage should you need to add it. Bring the original policy along with two additional photocopies.
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) requires an annual user fee decal ($27.50). Allow a few weeks for delivery. 2011decal renewals will be available in October and CPB encourages all applicants to use the online renewal process. Pre-printed paper applications will be mailed only by request—not automatically sent as in previous years. To request a pre-printed paper renewal application, call the User Fee Help Desk at 317/298-1245, option 3; or email decals@dhs.gov
  • All pilots flying from the U.S. to Mexico (or to any other country) are required to use eAPIS—CBP’s Electronic Advance Passenger Information System. For the fly-out, Caribbean Sky Tours will take care of filing eAPIS for you. But, if you want to learn how to use eAPIS, take AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s free online tutorial: “Understanding eAPIS - A Pilot’s Guide to Online Customs Reporting.”

mexicoAOPA will be hosting two Webinars on flying to Mexico on Tuesday, Oct. 12. Register for the Webinar online and plan to attend either the 3:00 or the 9:00 p.m. (Eastern time) session. We’ll make every effort to answer all of your questions. But, if we miss one, call AOPA’s Pilot Information Center Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time, 1-800-USA-AOPA (872-2672).