Already a member? Please login below for an enhanced experience. Not a member? Join today
Menu

MexicoMexico

Mexico

Ramp Checks

Effective 05/24/2019, Mexico's Civil Aviation Authorities (DGAC) have implemented ramp checks at Mexican airports. For any flight to Mexico, in addition to the normally required aircraft documents listed on this page and required by FAA regulations, additional documentation is required under Mexican law. To be on the safe side, be sure to have the following on board:

  • Original copy of your insurance policy (paper copy, no electronic pdf)
  • Original aircraft maintenance logbooks (originals, no copies)
  • Radio Station license (also required by US FCC for any international ops)
  • Noise certificate per FAR 91.703 (a) (5) “For aircraft subject to ICAO Annex 16, carry on board the aircraft documents that summarize the noise operating characteristics and certifications of the aircraft that demonstrate compliance with this part and part 36 of this chapter.”
  • Weight and balance calculation for each flight, in addition to your weight and balance data sheet
  • Life raft and life jackets on board for any over-water operations
  • First aid kit
  • A current electronic "Trip Kit" containing the summary of Mexican regulations and procedure requirements in your MFD, iPad or in paper format
  • We HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you bring a notarized letter that clearly documents the individually identifiable aircraft information (tail number, make, model, serial number), the names of the crew and the names of the passengers. The letter should attest that the crew are authorized to fly the aircraft, that the passengers are the owner/family/friends and that all flights are PRIVATE and not for any commercial purpose.

Mexico APIS for Private Flights

Private general aviation flights must file a Mexican APIS manifest with Mexican Immigration for flights to and from Mexico. The APIS can now be filed via an excel spreadsheet without the need of a third party. Access the instructions and the excel spreadsheet, courtesy of Caribbean Sky Tours.

406 MHz ELT requirement

Piston-powered, privately owned aircraft, flying in Mexico with a maximum takeoff weight of less than 12,566 pounds must be equipped with a 406 MHz ELT.

Flying to Mexico: Pre-trip Preparation

This two-minute video gives an overview of the process, as well a brief description of many of the items.

Preparation

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. For more information on FCC requirements, click here.
  • 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.
  • Aircraft used exclusively for private flights must be equipped with a 406-MHz ELT.

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.
  • It is still recommended that you carry a Mexican Liability Policy.  There may be some authorities in Mexico that do not recognize the U.S. policy.

Customs and Border Protection

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

  • An annual user fee decal ($28.84) – allow a few weeks for delivery. You can buy decals online.  For decal questions, call (317)-298-1245 or send an email to [email protected]. You can download a paper application here.
  • eAPIS CBP’s Electronic Advance Passenger Information System. All pilots flying across the U.S. border are required to use eAPIS. eApis requires the pilot to send a manifest to CBP at least 60 minutes prior to departure. Mexico has also implemented APIS procedures. FlashPass is an app that streamlines submitting eAPIS manifests to both the U.S. and to Mexico. Click here for more information. 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.

ICAO Flight Plan

  • Use of an ICAO flight plan is currently required if the flight will enter international airspace. While an ICAO flight plan and an FAA flight plan are similar in many ways, there are some important differences. Some items are the same on both forms: aircraft ID or tail number; aircraft type, fuel endurance, and number of people on board. New items on the ICAO flight plan include a Wake Turbulence category, and Type of Flight. The biggest change, though, is found in the equipment suffixes box, box 10. The ICAO codes used to denote the type of equipment on board the aircraft are different than the codes used by the FAA. To find out more, please view this short AOPA video.

Departure

Departing the U.S.

  • Pilots crossing the U.S. border must be in communication with ATC and on a discrete squawk code.
  • 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

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.
  • 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 Country

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.

Entry Permits 

Mexico’s DGAC has modified the procedures for issuing and maintaining a Single-Entry or Multiple-Entry permit. While overall there is not a significant change to the procedures, there are some new requirements and steps being taken by the DGAC that are worrisome. The changes are clearly aimed at operators conducting illegal cabotage using U.S. registered aircraft and also demonstrates greater collaboration between Mexico’s DGAC and Mexican Immigration and Mexican Customs. However, under these new guidelines there are potential situations for law-abiding operators of U.S. registered aircraft to have issues flying to/within/from Mexico. Those situations especially at risk are:

  • Pilot changes. Operations where any change to pilots may be involved will void an Entry Permit.
  • Passenger manifest changes. Anyone who was not on board an aircraft when it entered the country must go through a new authorization procedure to fly on the aircraft.
  • Aircraft that are part of a Charter Certificate even if the aircraft is being flown under Part 91 could face legal action.
  • Mexico APIS. Those not aware of the new Mexico APIS rules. The new procedures include text regarding "electronic means" of information transfer to Mexico Immigration.

For more information, visit the Caribbean Sky Tours web site.

Return

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. If you are arriving in southern Florida, you may land at any one of the following eight U.S. CBP airport of entry after crossing the U.S. border. Be on time – a little late is better than early.
    • Key West International Airport, (KEYW)
    • Tamiami Airport, Miami (KTMB)
    • Miami International Airport General Aviation Center (KMIA)
    • Opa Locka Airport, Miami (KOPF)
    • Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport (KFXE)
    • Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International-General Aviation Facility (KFLL)
    • Palm Beach International Airport, West Palm Beach (KPBI)
    • Saint Lucie County Airport, Fort Pierce (KFPR)
  • Pilot and passengers must remain inside the aircraft until the U.S. CBP officer instructs you to come out.

Additional Resources

Third-party companies

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)