Mexico Permits: Business Aviation Guide

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All operators traveling to Mexico — private non-revenue, charter (non-scheduled commercial), follow different landing permit arrangements. Therefore, your landing permit process depends entirely on your flight purpose.

In 2024, Mexico made several changes to the permit process.

This article will go over everything you need to know about Private and Charter Ops permits, including the benefits of blanket permits and what’s considered cabotage in Mexico.


Private Non-Revenue Single Entry Authorization Mexico Permits

Starting Jan. 1, 2024, Mexico Annual/Multiple-Entry permits for private operators are no longer available. Instead, private operators and aircraft will only be able to obtain one-time permits, now referred to as single-entry authorizations.

When this change was initially announced, it was promoted to have a validity of 180 days. They were NOT supposed to be dependent on having the same crew on each trip.

However, as is often the case in Mexico, laws are interpreted differently at different airports by different comandantes.

In reality, we are finding that at many airports, the local authorities consider single-entry authorizations valid within 180 days only if the same crew is on board as when the permit was initially issued. There can even be differences in interpretation based on the airports used and/or who is on duty at the airport of arrival.

Unfortunately, as a result, we now advise that all Part 91 Flights obtain a new single-entry permit for each mission into Mexico. We cannot guarantee that a permit will remain valid for future use based on the different interpretations by the comandante at each airport.

The situation’s inconsistency has been extremely frustrating, and finding a straight answer has been impossible. We’re hopeful that we may get some alignment from the various airports sometime after July 1st, following the outcome of Mexico’s June elections.

See below for FAQs with more details.

Lead Times and Documentation

A 24-hour lead time is recommended to obtain a private one-shot permit

The permit is processed on arrival, but the local authority must be notified that the aircraft will be arriving. For any permit, the airport commandante needs to see original documentation, not copies, on arrival, and processing time varies depending upon the airport.

Operators must carry the original AIU document onboard. The required documents for this authorization remain the same but must now also include the “Layout of Passenger Accommodations” from the Cargo and Balance manual.


Charter One-Shot Permits

For charter operations to Mexico, a maximum of three one-shot permits are allowed per operator and not per aircraft. This is a change as of 2023. Previously, five one-shot permits were allowed per operator.

After requesting three one-shot permits, operators are required to have a blanket permit.

Again, this is per operator, not aircraft. Although this restriction is country-wide, thus far, we have only experienced enforcement of this rule in MMUN, MMPR, MMGL, & MMCZ. However, the regulation should be followed for ALL airports in Mexico.

After you’ve reached the three-one-shot permit limit, the best practice is to apply for a blanket permit and carry a stamped copy of your application to prove it’s been applied for. Operating charters to Mexico beyond the three permitted one-shots is not usually an issue, so long as you present a stamped blanket permit application on arrival with all required original documents.


Blanket Permits for Charter Ops

Blanket permits are still challenging to obtain. They require significant paperwork and a very long processing time (minimum 90 days).

Only aircraft equipped with the following equipment can be listed on the blanket permit: ELT, CVR, FDR, TCAS II, TAWS/GPWS, & Transponder.

If an aircraft does not meet this equipment requirement, it cannot get on the blanket permit. The aircraft can still do a one-time permit. However, you are then subject to one-shot permit limit restrictions.

Blanket permits for Mexico have no expiration date and may list multiple aircraft on the same permit.

Changes to blanket permits are permitted. You may remove or add aircraft to a blanket permit, but your permit will not cover a new aircraft until it’s been processed and approved by AFAC.

With blanket charter permits, operators must submit monthly statistical reports showing any flight activity to Mexico, even if they don’t have any flights that month. These reports must be submitted on a particular form; your 3rd-party provider can file this for you.

Sometimes, AFAC requires additional information or clarification on the documentation before it issues the permit. Note that even though blanket permits do not expire, you must provide AFAC with a yearly payment and verification along with a statement confirming you’ve made no unlawful infractions.


Use a 3rd-Party Provider for Blanket Charter Permit Requests

Even if you’ve submitted the blanket charter permit application directly, you’ll need a representative in Mexico to fulfill ongoing requirements as mandated by AFAC and to overcome language barriers.

Note that operators must provide an original notarized letter—in Spanish, on company letterhead, and signed by the owner—indicating who they’d like to be their representative. Be aware that permit revisions other than changes to insurance documents can take two to three months. Until AFAC approves a revision, the aircraft cannot operate under an existing blanket permit.

Blanket Charter Permit Requirements

Applicants must provide copies of certificates of registration and airworthiness and noise certificates for each aircraft. Only aircraft that are Stage 3 noise-compliant and above may be listed on the blanket permit. A copy of the Air Operator Certificate (AOC) must also be provided, along with an original copy of the Mexican insurance – with proof of payment original receipt – and a copy of your worldwide insurance. There are other requirements – including company articles of incorporation (translated into Spanish) – and it’s best to confirm them with your 3rd-party provider.


Cabotage in Mexico

Cabotage regulations impact charter operations but not private non-revenue ops. Charter operators are only permitted one stop in Mexico. The only exception is for technical stops – fuel uplifts – or if the aircraft must land at Cozumel (MMCZ) or Tapachula (MMTP) for security screening – when arriving from south of Mexico or the Caribbean region. Be aware that you may only drop off and pick up passengers from one location while in the country. If you drop passengers at Toluca (MMTO) and pick them up at Cancun (MMUN), the aircraft must leave the country and return empty to MMUN.

Additionally, if you have not transported the passengers to Mexico, you may not fly to Mexico to pick them up. For example, if charter company X dropped them off, then charter company Y cannot pick them up. If passengers fly to Mexico by commercial airline, it’s not permissible for them to leave the country aboard a non-Mexican charter aircraft unless approved by AFAC.

There Are Special Considerations if Your Aircraft Has More Than 19 Seats

In Mexico, aircraft with more than 19 seats are considered scheduled commercial flights. To prove that a charter (non-scheduled commercial) flight is charter and not scheduled commercial, documents should be submitted in advance, along with a signed contract between the charter company and the passenger.

There Are Penalties for Cabotage Violations

If an operator is found to have violated cabotage regulations, the aircraft will be grounded and held in Mexico until the infraction is resolved. A report must be sent to DGAC, and they’ll determine the penalty for any cabotage violation. Be aware that your aircraft may remain grounded for a week or longer while penalties are determined and fines are paid via a Mexican bank.


Conclusion

The current permit situation is fluid. As of this writing, it is recommended that private operators request a new single-entry authorization for each operation into Mexico due to how each local airport comandante is interpreting the new 2024 rules.

Before operating into Mexico, it’s best to consult with your 3rd-party provider to ensure you are working with the latest information.

Universal’s Global Regulatory Services team can help.


FAQs

  • Does Mexico’s 2024 changes to single-entry permits affect charter operations? No, this change is only for private operations
  • What is the lead time to process a single entry authorization? The usual lead time is 24 hours; however, during normal business/operating hours, we can get the permit with a 2-hour notice.
  • Is there a limit on how many private single-entry authorizations I can get? No, there is no limit on how many one-shot private permits an operator can obtain.
  • Do we have to apply for a single-entry authorization each time we operate into Mexico? Yes, we now advise that all Part 91 Flights obtain a new single-entry permit for each mission into Mexico. However, based on the different interpretations by the comandante at each airport, we cannot guarantee that a permit will remain valid for future use.
  • Will the authorization have to be processed prior to arriving in Mexico? Yes. Although the authorization is not issued until the aircraft arrives, the local authorities must be presented with the flight, aircraft, and crew information prior to the arrival.

 


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