Mexico Permits: Business Aviation Guide
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.
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 One-Shot Mexico Permits
Private non-revenue permits for Mexico are available as a one-shot or annual, depending on the needs or preferences of the operators.
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.
Mexico Annual Permits (Multiple Entry Permit) for Private Ops (Changes in 2023)
An annual Mexico permit allows unlimited private entries into Mexico and any number of stops within the country, saving operators the time of applying for single-entry permits.
Effective in spring 2023, these are no longer processed through AFAC. Instead, all annual permits will be processed through local authorities when an aircraft arrives in Mexico.
The permits will now list the crew (pilots) authorized to use the permit.
In most cases, the local authorities will issue the permit only with the names of the crew who arrive. However, some authorities accept a letter with ALL crew who can operate that aircraft and issue the permit with all crew names.
If a permit is issued with a list of crew only, those crews can use the permit. If a crew member does not appear on the list, a new annual permit must be obtained, and the previous permit will be canceled.
The recommended lead time for an annual private permit is at least 72 hours. Still, these can often be processed on shorter notice.
Note that annual permits expire on Dec. 31 each year, regardless of when you request the permit. Therefore, revisions to annual permits are not possible. If anything changes, a new annual permit must be obtained.
The annual permits for private non-revenue operations are aircraft-specific. Annual permits require monthly statistical reports showing any flight activity to Mexico, even if you don’t have any flights that month.
Contact Universal’s Global Regulatory Services team for more information on applying for an annual Mexico permit.
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 will require additional information or clarification on the documentation before they’ll issue 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 require two-three months. Until AFAC approves a revision, the aircraft cannot operate under an existing blanket permit.
Blanket Charter Permit Requirements
Applicants must provide, for each aircraft, copies of certificates of registration and airworthiness and noise certificates. 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 Yout Aircraft Has More Than 19 Seats
In Mexico, aircraft with more than 19 seats are considered scheduled commercial. In the case of a charter (non-scheduled commercial) flight, documents should be submitted in advance, along with a signed contract between the charter company and the passenger, to prove that the flight is charter and not scheduled commercial.
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.
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.