Business Aviation in Argentina Series: Customs, Immigration, & Quarantine
This is a post by guest author Mercedes Puppo of Munser FBO. Mercedes was asked to contribute to our business aviation blog because of her experience and expertise in ground handling in Argentina. Any thoughts expressed below are entirely Mercedes’ and do not necessarily reflect the views of Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc.
This business aviation blog post is part of a series on operating in Argentina and continues from our last article: "Business Aviation in Argentina Series: Ground Handling."
While Argentina is a fairly straightforward and flexible destination from the Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine (CIQ) clearance perspective, there are particular visa, reciprocity, and onboard personal effects regulations that must be considered before planning a business aviation trip to this country.
The following is an overview of what you need to know about CIQ when operating to Argentina:
1. General CIQ clearance
Once crew members and passengers exit the aircraft, the ground handler escorts them with all the luggage through immigration and customs. Handlers will request clearance lines separate from commercial passengers, and these requests are usually approved. Immigration clearance is accomplished by way of biometrics, and no forms are needed. Customs clearance, however, requires a completed arrival/departure card. Your ground handler will complete these cards in advance, as long as crew/passenger information is known.
2. Unique aspect of CIQ clearance procedure
Whenever you arrive in Argentina from international locations, all non-aircraft-related items must be removed from the aircraft. This includes all personal effects other than aircraft supplies – galley items, on-board magazines, or cushions, etc. It’s best to confirm that your ground handler has space available to store all onboard items at the airport.
3. Visa requirements
Crew members, regardless of nationality, do not require visas for Argentina. Passengers who need visas, however, must obtain visas in advance as visas cannot be obtained on arrival. Please refer to the Direccion Nacional de Migraciones website to determine if you require a visa which needs to be obtained at an embassy, or if you need to pay a reciprocity fee, which can be obtained online or by your ground handler.
If your ground handler is to arrange the reciprocity fee for the passengers, prior notice is needed, and this usually takes less than 30 minutes. It is recommended to provide at least two to three days’ notice for such arrangements. If you land in Argentina, and passengers do not have reciprocity fees obtained, the ground handler should be able to obtain these reciprocity fees – so long as passengers do not exit the aircraft before fees are processed.
4. Crew members may stay in Argentina for up to 30 days
Crew members can stay without a visa for up to 30 days. For longer stays, crew members need to obtain approval from immigration authorities. This entails a per-day fee for stays beyond 30 days. In the case of crew members who arrive/depart as commercial airline passengers and fly the other leg as active crew members, the ground handler will need to provide a letter to immigration authorities to ensure there are no issues. This letter, prepared in Spanish, must be accompanied with the crew member’s passport (bearing an immigration stamp) and should be carried by the crew member at all times.
5. Reciprocity fees for certain nationalities
Passengers who are citizens of Australia, Canada, and the U.S. must pay a "reciprocity fee" to Argentina prior to arrival in the country. Payment of this fee covers the passenger for a specific period of time. It’s necessary to show evidence to immigration, on arrival, that reciprocity fees have been paid, or the passenger will be denied entry. Reciprocity requirements do not apply to crew members.
6. Documentation requirements
When you arrive in Argentina, all airport authorities – including customs, immigration, health department, and police (to name a few) – require copies of the general declaration (gen dec). Each authority stamps the gen dec to approve entrance of the aircraft into the country. Note that passports only need to be valid for your length of stay and do not require six months’ remaining validity. Be aware that fees are payable for customs/immigration clearance. Ground handler will take care of these fees, in advance, on the operator’s behalf.
7. Onboard CIQ clearance
It’s possible, in some circumstances, to arrange on-board CIQ clearance for Argentina. This must be requested at least a week in advance, and it’s usually granted only to air ambulance, diplomatic, or qualifying VVIP flights.
8. In-flight catering considerations
All international food waste must be disposed of on arrival to Argentina. In general, no on-board foods are permitted into the country. If you have health or religious food – such as gluten-free or Kosher items – it may be possible to store it at the airport if appropriately packaged and sealed. It’s recommended that your ground handler confirm, in advance, any arrangements to store onboard food.
9. Pets and restricted items
If there’s a pet on board, a health certificate stamped by health authorities in your country of origin must be forwarded in advance to your ground handler. Ground handlers will complete required paperwork and make arrangements with airport authorities. You will find more information on the SENASA website.
For each weapon you intend to bring into the country, a form must be completed and a fee paid. Certain weapons, such as assault weapons, are not permitted into Argentina. More information can be obtained on the Ministerio de Justicia y Derechos Humanos website.
If you intend to bring any art into Argentina – including paintings, sculptures, and other objects – you must indicate country of origin and provide an invoice to prove ownership. In order to take artwork out of the country – even a simple painting – you’ll need a special permit from the Ministry of Culture. More information pertaining to art brought into Argentina can be found on the Administracion Federal website, but the information is given in Spanish only.
Your ground handler can assist with this process, and it’s recommended to provide at least 24-48 hours’ notice.
10. Day-of-departure considerations
On the day of departure, your ground handler will communicate with crew members and passengers regarding a meeting point at the airport. It’s best to pre-advise your transport provider information to the ground handler so that crew members and passengers are brought to the appropriate area. Ground handlers will escort crew members and passengers through customs/immigration and the police security point (for luggage screening), then out to the aircraft. Crew members should arrive at the airport at least one hour prior to departure or earlier if a fuel uplift is planned. For Buenos Aires (SAEZ), passengers should arrive 30-45 minutes prior to departure to allow adequate time for departure clearance. At other airports in Argentina, only 30 minutes or less is needed to allow for passenger departure clearance.
It’s important to be mindful of particular documentation and visa requirements when operating to Argentina. Options are available for passengers who are en route, or arrive, without reciprocity fees if they coordinate correct procedures with their ground handler in advance.
If you have any questions about this article, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Later, we’ll discuss fuel, services, and security for Argentina and their impact on your trip.