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Mexico APIS for Private Flights

September, 2014: 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. Click here for details.

406 MHz ELT compliance date extended to June 30, 2018

The Mexican government has extended the deadline for installing 406 MHz ELTs in light aircraft. AOPA requested the extension during a March meeting with the leader of the Mexican Civil Aviation Authority. The extension, which was published Aug. 10, 2015 gives aircraft operators until June 30, 2018, to install the equipment in piston-powered privately owned aircraft with a maximum takeoff weight of less than 12,566 pounds. Read more here.

Increased rates and fees at certain airports

Update: December 16, 2015. Here is the latest activity in Mexico regarding the new GAP rates. The efforts by the Mexican Federation of Pilots - FEMPPA has resulted in a significant reduction in the original GAP fees. Please call AOPA at 800-USA-AOPA (872-2672) for the new rates for landing, ramp and parking (per day) for the airports listed below. 

November, 2015: Mexico has increased rates for landing, ramp and parking at certain airports operated by Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacífico (GAP) by over 400%. These rates are based on MTOW. However, GAP is also now assessing ALL aircraft a minimum MTOW of 11,000 lbs which further impacts the cost increase. In the case of Tijuana, aircraft are assessed rates with a minimum of 22,000 lbs MTOW. GAP has a concession granted by the Mexican Federal Government to operate certain airports in Mexico. A significant percentage of the ownership of GAP are Spanish investors. These rates were approved by Mexico's DGAC.

Airports operated by GAP are:

  • Aguascalientes (MMAS)
  • Guadalajara (MMGL)
  • Leon/Guanajuato (MMLO)
  • Hermosillo (MMHO)
  • La Paz (MMLP)
  • Los Cabos (MMSD)
  • Los Mochis (MMLM)
  • Manzanillo (MMZO)
  • Mexicali (MMML)
  • Morelia (MMMM)
  • Puerto Vallarta (MMPR)
  • Tijuana (MMTJ)

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
  • 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, 2018, 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.
  • 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:

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 (as of May 2014)

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)