Answers for Pilots: Flying south to Mexico?

Money-saving tips for flying south of the border

March 1, 2012

Flying to Mexico

Dreaming of the beaches of Cozumel? The night life of Acapulco? The luxurious resorts of La Paz? Many pilots have discovered the beauty and charm of Mexico and now it’s easier than ever to fly there. The deadline for private aircraft to be equipped with 406 MHz ELTs has been extended. Pilots with aircraft used exclusively for private flights now have until June 30, 2013, 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.

More good news—after many months of communications between AOPA’s Regional Representative, Rick Gardner, and Lic. Hector Gonzalez Weeks, Mexico’s Dirección General De Aeronáutica Civil (DGAC), we’ve received a letter of clarification on insurance requirements that may save pilots hundreds of dollars when planning to fly in Mexico. The letter (in italics, below) spells out once and for all what the insurance needs are for private aircraft flying to Mexico.

According to Rick Gardner, prior to this clarification, many pilots had been purchasing additional, special Mexican liability insurance that—we now understand—they did not need. Because of fear and the lack of clarity on this topic, some pilots purchased the special insurance thinking that they would err on the side of caution. Many pilots who bought this insurance did not realize that these policies only provided the bare minimum liability insurance required (less than US $300,000) and did not cover their hull at all. They also mistakenly believed that these policies would somehow afford them some type of special protection in the event of an incident. However, those who read the clauses (in Spanish) quickly realized that this was not the fact.

I checked with AOPA’s Insurance Agency (AOPAIA) to verify exactly what insurance coverage is needed for private flying in Mexico and here is the answer. Prior to entering Mexico in your aircraft:

  1. Verify that Mexico is included in your policy’s territory.
  2. Verify your policy has liability limits greater than $300,000.
  3. Carry your aircraft insurance policy in the aircraft.
  4. Present your insurance policy for validation upon arrival in Mexico.

For those curious, here is the text from the English translation of the letter from Mexico’s DGAC:

In the case of a foreign, private aircraft, it is not necessary to purchase a Mexican insurance policy, it is sufficient to present upon the first landing at an international airport, the insurance policy of the country where the aircraft is registered. This insurance policy shall include Mexico within its territorial limits and the total amount of liability damages to third parties should be equal to or greater than $300,000 USD.

The pilot of the aircraft must present this insurance policy to the inspector of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation to be validated upon entering the country. It is the responsibility of the pilot of the aircraft to have this insurance policy in his possession and keep it in force during the length of stay of the aircraft in the country.

What is expressed is based on the second paragraph of Article 74 of the Mexican Civil Aviation Law.

AOPA thanks Lic. Hector Gonzalez Weeks, Director General of Mexico’s DGAC and his staff for their support throughout this insurance clarification process and for producing this document so that pilots will not mistakenly believe that they have to pay for special insurance to fly to Mexico.

To obtain your own copy of this clarification letter to print and carry with you, contact the AOPA Pilot Information Center, 800-USA-AOPA (872-2672) or Caribbean Sky Tours, 786-206-6147 (U.S.); +52 222-375-2630 (Mexico).

For further insurance information regarding flight in Mexico, contact the AOPA Insurance Agency 1-800-622-AOPA (2672). And, as always, give AOPA a call with questions Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time, 800-USA-AOPA (872-2672).

Kathy Dondzila

Kathy Dondzila | Manager, Technical Communications, Pilot Information Center

Technical Communications Manager, Kathy Dondzila, joined AOPA in 1990 and is an instrument-rated private pilot.