Mexico

mexico

Mexico's Advance Passenger Information System

The Mexican government has instituted an “Advance Passenger Information” (API) system effective 12/31/2013. Unlike the U.S. Customs eAPIS, Mexico API has no public portal to file flight information on your own.  You must file through a “third party” provider.

406 MHz ELT compliance date extended in Mexico

The changes to the Mexican Aeronautical regulations that cover the requirements for a 406 MHz ELT on aircraft flying to and within Mexico have been published in the Mexican Federal Register. We have read the changes to regulation NOM-012-SCT3-2012 and found that it contains a couple of surprises. The changes extend the deadline for requiring 406 MHz ELT's to June 30, 2015. However, the extension ONLY applies to piston aircraft with a MTOW of 12,500 lbs or less. As the rules are written, turbo-prop and turbine aircraft as well as larger piston aircraft are not excluded.

New Entry Procedures for Mexico

New procedures for both Single Entry (SE) and Multiple Entry (ME) flights into Mexico are in effect as of January 1, 2013. The new procedure replaces the CHC-001 paper form with internet-based permit request forms available through Mexico's Civil Aviation Security System (CASS). Click here for more information.

Reduced Airport Hours at Cozumel

Effective February 1, 2014, the Cozumel, Mexico International airport (MMCZ) will no longer operate 24 hours. The new hours will be from 1300Z to 0300Z. Cozumel is a mandatory Airport Of Entry for aircraft entering Mexico from the Bahamas, Caribbean, Central America and South America while enroute to Cozumel or to any other destination in Mexico. Plan ahead to avoid the need to request an extension of operations, which comes with additional fees.

Flight Preparation

Pilot-in-Command

The pilot in command must have a current:

Passengers

  • Each passenger must have a current passport.
  • Tourist visas are required and may be obtained at the first airport of entry.
  • Children traveling with only one parent must have a notarized statement of approval from the absent parent stating the dates of the trip.

Aircraft

All U.S. registered aircraft must have:

  • A standard airworthiness certificate
  • A permanent registration certificate (no temporary certificates/pink slips)
  • A radio station license
  • Operating limitations information
  • Weight and balance information
  • Transponder with Mode C
  • Two-way radio equipment
  • If the aircraft is registered in another person’s or corporation’s name, AOPA recommends that you have a notarized letter authorizing use of the aircraft for flights in Mexico.
  • An ID data plate
  • 12-inch registration marks are required for crossing the ADIZ into Mexico.
  • Aircraft with fuel tanks installed in the baggage or passenger compartments must have Form 337 on board.
  • Regarding experimental aircraft: Unless the aircraft has been prohibited from making an international flight to Mexico by the FAA, the aircraft is welcome to Mexico provided that the pilot abides by the limitations applied by the FAA in its operating limitations.
  • The Mexican government has recently postponed the requirement for 406 MHz ELTs. Pilots with aircraft used exclusively for private flights now have until June 30, 2015, 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. See the blue box at the top of the page for more complete information. 

Insurance

  • Verify that Mexico is included in your policy’s territory.
  • Check that your policy has liability limits of at least $300,000.
  • Carry your aircraft insurance policy in the aircraft.
  • Present your insurance policy for validation upon arrival in Mexico.

Customs and Border Protection

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) requires

  • An annual user fee decal ($27.50) – allow a few weeks for delivery. CPB encourages all applicants to use the online renewal process, which is fast, secure, and accurate. 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.
  • eAPIS CBP’s Electronic Advance Passenger Information System. For your return trip back to the U.S., plan to land at the first airport of entry after crossing the U.S. border to clear customs.

Departing the U.S.

  • All aircraft must be on an activated IFR or Defense VFR flight plan for flying through the ADIZ
  • You cannot bring firearms into Mexico.

Entry into Mexico

Mexican NOTAM A 0313/08 is still in effect and has been incorporated into the Mexican Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP): Effective Feb. 1, 2008, any general aviation aircraft that plans to land in Mexico on a flight that originated in the Caribbean or Central and South America, must make their first landing in either Cozumel (MMCZ), or in Tapachula (MMTP). Both airports operate on a 24-hour schedule. This NOTAM is in effect until further notice. Note: It has been reported that occasional flights from the Bahamas, as well as from other countries, may be diverted to land at one of these airports.

  • Aircraft entering Mexico must make their first landing at a designated airport of entry along their route and notify Mexican customs and immigration.
  • You must go through the normal customs and immigration entry processes and procedures and complete form GHC-001 (only available from Mexican civil aviation authorities upon arrival).
  • Plan to arrive during normal business hours. If you are arriving after hours, on weekends or Mexican Holidays, you are cautioned to contact the airport authority or FBO for customs contact information and make whatever arrangements are legally required for your arrival.
  • Commercial operators, helicopters, and privately owned aircraft with more than 16 passenger seats or rental aircraft with more than eight passenger seats require advance permits. The permission must be requested in writing, at least five working days before the scheduled date of the trip.

Parking and Security

  • Before you depart the airport, your aircraft will need to be secured and parking arrangements made. AOPA recommends that you bring along your own tiedown equipment and confirm parking arrangements.
  • Park your aircraft in a well-lit area and use security devices such as propeller and throttle locks, sunscreens, door locks, etc.

In Mexico

Flight Operations in Mexico

  • You must always be on a flight plan while you are in Mexico, and be sure to keep hard copies of it with you.
  • It’s a good idea to make a low pass over the non-towered airfield prior to landing; often there are obstacles that could create a hazard to you and others.
  • If your flight entails overwater, desert, or mountain flying, consider carrying appropriate survival gear.
  • It is wise to take along your own oil, tiedown equipment, and security devices.
  • Overtime fees may accrue for late arrivals. Overnight parking fees and landing fees are charged at towered airports and are weight based. Air traffic control fees are charged as a separate user fee when you refuel.
  • Pay for fuel with cash (pesos preferred, although U.S. dollars are accepted). Bring plenty of small bills along to meet the exact amount. Fuel is available at most airports of entry and most towered fields in Mexico.

Night Operations Prohibited with these Exceptions

VFR night operations are not permitted, with the exception of approved flights headed to the United States departing from these border airports: Ciudad Juarez, Matamoros, Nuevo Laredo, Reynosa, Tijuana, and Mexicali. Even these flights are subject to the following requirements:

  • VFR weather conditions shall prevail all along the route from the departure airport to the destination airport.
  • The flight path must be within the control zone of the departure airport until the United States border is crossed.
  • The flight must be concluded within the operational hours of the departure airport. Radio communications must be maintained with the departure airport’s ATC tower until advised of frequency change.
  • All applicable regulations of international operations must be complied with.
  • A VFR flight plan must be filed.
  • Flights may be made only with prior authorization from the Commandant.

For any IFR night operation, the pilot should call ahead to ensure the destination airport will be open.

Returning to the U.S.

Departing Mexico

Clearance procedures involve returning your tourist visa(s) and departing from an airport of exit.

Returning to the U.S.

  • File and activate an IFR or Defense VFR flight plan for flying through the ADIZ.
  • Call U.S. CBP at least one hour and no more than 23 hours before your planned U.S. arrival time.
  • File an eAPIS arrival manifest (if you filed eAPIS reports for both legs of your trip before you left the U.S., you do not have to file again).
  • Your flight plan should include the estimated time of ADIZ penetration.
  • Your flight should have been planned in advance to land at the first U.S. CBP airport of entry after crossing the U.S. border to clear customs. Be on time.
  • Pilot and passengers must remain inside the aircraft until the U.S. CBP officer instructs you to come out.

Tips, Trips, and Opinions

This section of information offers opinions, tips, and trips from members of AOPA's International Alliance, which is a group of international service providers who are very familiar with operations in Mexico and who can share their information here.

This content reflects the opinions of the providers, including occasional operational tips and experiences. Some of the perspectives expressed here may not reflect AOPA's position, but they bring a valuable viewpoint members should be aware of when traveling internationally. Questions or concerns should be directed to the information providers, whose names are hyperlinked below for easy access.

Tips (and Updates)

04/07/14. Rick Gardner, Caribbean Sky Tours. Since the implementation of the Mexico APIS on December 31, 2013, we have been looking for solutions to provide a reasonable option to those pilots who wished to comply with the new law. At the same time, we have reached out to Mexican government officials to find ways to make it more practical and economical for pilots to comply. We have been fortunate that the Director General of Verification and Control for Mexico’s National Institute of Migration (INM) has granted us several opportunities to meet with him and his staff since the beginning of the year to discuss our concerns about the Mexico APIS implementation and the challenges it presents for GA pilots. These meetings occurred in Mexico City on January 14, 2014, February 04, 2014 and again on April 04, 2014. During our meeting on April 4, we were advised that the legal administrative process for modifying current regulations in Mexico has begun. Read more here.

03/25/14. Jack McCormick, Baja Bush Pilots: Mexico' Daylight Savings start, end times. Daylight saving times start for Mexico on April 6 and end on October 26. Excluded from change is the entire state of Sonora, which does not observe Daylight Savings Time. In addition, the cities of Acuna, Anahuac, Juarez, Matamoros, Mexicali, Nuevo Laredo, Ojinaja, Piedras Negras, Reynosa, and Tijuana all follow the same Daylight Savings Times as the U.S.

03/17/14. Jack McCormick, Baja Bush Pilots: Current Aircraft Registration for Aircraft Required. There have been two aircraft in Mexico that were grounded this last weekend because they lacked a current registration certificate. The pilot(s) and their passengers had no choice but to leave their aircraft and go back to the US via commercial means.  And.... this could happen to you.  MX officials have been instructed at some MX AOE Airports to check the FAA database of all aircraft arriving to confirm their registration is current.  If it is not current, they have been instructed to ground the aircraft until a current registration is produced....
This is where it gets ugly.  I have been in contact with FAA - OKC regarding the renewal process and right now, it takes about 45 days from when they receive the application to when they generate a new one.  And, they cannot/will not expedite the process. Period. A request comes in, it is put in the que and when the request works up to the top of the list, it is handled. 
The cost to renew your registration is US$5.00. The cost to renew an expired registration is US$5.00 plus the grounding of your aircraft, depending on OKC"s backlog, for up to two months. And this could happen anywhere. When I had my ramp check in KOLS about two years ago, the man with the gold badge asked to see my registration. No problem, I was good.
The FAA is sending the BBP the required forms to renew an expired registration, to renew a registration that has not expired can be done on the FAA website. For more information, contact the Baja Bush Pilots at 480 730 3250 or go to the BBP Website.

01/22/14. Rick Gardner, Caribbean Sky Tours: Regarding Mexican APIS. I met with the Director of Immigration Verification and Control on January 14 to discuss issues with the APIS process as it applies to private, general aviation flights. The Mexican authorities were responsive to Gardner’s comments, but did say that the system does apply to private flights and is in “evaluation mode” and urges all APIS users to comply. A follow-up meeting is planned for next month.

12/13/13. Thierry Pouille, Air Journey: In regard to Mexico, we have not taken any journeys there in 2013 but we have sent some individual clients. At each airport handling is different with some very fast and efficient and some very slow and too bureaucratic. It is important to note that effective at the end of this year, December 31, Mexico will implement an eAPIS system like the US and noncompliance will end up with $5,000 fee. It will be great to have additional information on this new requirement to share with the AOPA membership going to and from Mexico.

Trips

These are upcoming private aviation trips to Mexico sponsored or escorted by an international service provider.

Baja Bush Pilots. Sun and San Felipe Beach Party, May 2 –4, 2014, MMSF
Yep, we are doing it again. It is time for another quick and easy three day run down to San Felipe to get a “Mexico Fix”
As in the past, the BBP will be at the airport to meet and walk you through the procedures. Then it is off to our beachside resort hotel to start day one of our fix. Things to do include nothing, beach walking, quad riding, slot gambling, Mexican eating, song, dance, laughter, and drink. Only with the BBP and only in Mexico. 

Opinions and Experiences

These are solely the opinions or experiences of the ones to whom they are attributed. Occasionally, you may see conflicting opinions or differing experiences.

Member List: AOPA's International Alliance

Air Journey: Escorted flying journeys to destinations around the world. Travel in a small group on a pre-arranged itinerary, or customize a trip.

Bahamas Aviator: Bahamas flying and resort information for private pilots.

Bahamas and Caribbean Pilots Guide:  Publish guide books for pilots: The 2014 Bahamas Pilot's Guide and 2014 Caribbean Pilot's Guide.

Bahamas Ministry of Tourism.  The official travel site of the Islands of the Bahamas.

Baja Bush Pilots: A membership organization providing information, resources, and escorted flights for private pilots in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.

Canadian Owners and Pilots Association: A membership organization that protects personal aviation and promotes it as a valued, integral and sustainable part of the Canadian Community.

Caribbean Sky Tours: A membership association providing information, resources, and escorted flights to Mexico, Central America, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean.

Pilot Getaways: Pilot Getaways is the bimonthly travel magazine for pilots and their families, focusing on fun flying to destinations from backcountry strips to exclusive fly-in resorts.