Operating to Mexico: Overview of Landing Permits and Restrictions
This business aviation blog post is the first part in a series on operating to Mexico.
Mexico is a frequent and straightforward destination for private non-revenue and charter (non-scheduled commercial) operators. However, there are a number of planning considerations to keep in mind. For private non-revenue operators, there are not many restrictions. Charter (non-scheduled commercial) operators, on the other hand, must be particularly careful with permits and adhere to strictly enforced operating restrictions.
1. Overview of landing permit requirements in Mexico
Landing permits are required whether you operate as private non-revenue or charter (non-scheduled commercial) flight. For private non-revenue flights, you may choose one-shot landing permits or apply for an annual landing permit valid for the calendar year. Private operators are allowed multiple stops within Mexico but must comply with a recent policy requiring a letter stating the association of each passenger with your company. Charter operators are permitted to fly to Mexico on one-shot landing permits up to five times during the lifetime of the operator’s existence. (This limit is per company, not per aircraft.) After this, you’ll require a blanket landing permit, which will take approximately 90 days (if all the required documentation that’s furnished is in order.) For both private non-revenue and charter (non-scheduled commercial) flights, we consider it best practice to obtain annual (for private non-revenue) and blanket (for charter non-scheduled commercial) landing permits, as these allow operators greater flexibility. Also, please note that overflight permits aren’t required for Mexico, regardless of the type of flight (private non-revenue or charter).
For more information on documentation required for Mexico landing permits, you can read another article we wrote for AvBuyer.com called Mexico Permits Explained.
2. Operating restrictions for private non-revenue operators
Private non-revenue operators are not subject to cabotage issues in Mexico, as long as all passengers are company-related, and there is a letter stating that the flight is private and listing the names of all passengers and their relationship to the operator. If you’re making multiple stops and picking up passengers along the way, you must list those passengers as well. Operators entering Mexico from the south, or from the Caribbean region, must land first at either Cozumel (MMCZ) or Tapachula (MMTP) for security and customs clearance. This process takes 30-40 minutes and usually goes smoothly. The only exception to this rule is for diplomatic flights with prior approval.
3. Operating restrictions for charter (non-scheduled commercial) operators
Charter (non-scheduled commercial) flights are permitted only one stop in Mexico. The only exception to this regulation is if you’re entering from the south or the Caribbean, in which case you must make a mandated stop at MMCZ or MMTP (for customs and security clearance), or if you make a tech stop, and passengers remain on the aircraft. By law, any charter (non-scheduled commercial) flights ferrying into Mexico to pick up passengers may only do so if those passengers are previously dropped off by the same operator. Cabotage is not permitted by charter aircraft. If a charter operator enters Mexico claiming private non-revenue status, there are serious consequences, and Mexican authorities are now paying close attention to this.
4. Obtaining charter (non-scheduled commercial) landing permits for Mexico
At the Mexican Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA’s) discretion, with appropriate aircraft documentation, charter operators may be able to obtain a one-shot landing permit within the deadline. However, be prepared if the permit turnaround time is longer. Blanket landing permits for charter operations involve extensive paperwork requirements. At times, they may take up to a year to gather all the required paperwork, according to the CAA regulations. If you’ve already used up the five one-shot landing permits, wait until you’ve received your blanket landing permit before operating a charter to Mexico. There have been exceptions for more one-shots after the limit (five) when there is a blanket landing permit in process, but this is on a case-by-case basis. After the blanket landing permit has been obtained, reporting must be submitted. A 3rd-party provider can assist you with this. Mexican authorities are paying particular attention to charter operators entering the country in the guise of private non-revenue operations and have been issuing fines. Also, charter operators must have worldwide insurance and additional Mexican insurance stating “commercial” on it.
5. Obtaining landing permits for private non-revenue flights for Mexico
There is no limit on one-shot landing permits for private non-revenue operations. Annual landing permits may take between seven to 14 days to set up and are recommended if you’re doing two or more flights into Mexico each year, due to additional costs you will incur from processing one-shot landing permits. Annual landing permits can also be obtained when on an active trip, and the annual landing permit will be issued on arrival. Keep in mind that annual landing permits are only valid until December 31st of the calendar year for which the permit has been obtained. You must submit annual reporting of flights to Mexico (your 3rd-party provider can help with this) even if you do not make a flight to Mexico. Be sure to have acceptable Mexican insurance coverage. This means that you will need to have worldwide insurance and additional Mexican insurance that specifically states “privado.”
If you have any questions about this article, contact Juan Muniz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Later we will discuss operational tips and tricks for your first trip to Mexico.