This is it, your first landing in Mexico! If you’re unfamiliar with the airport, ask ATC where the “international arrivals parking for general aviation” is at.
**Please Note: These guidelines should help you in most situations. Even though every airport in Mexico should operate the same, please know that in reality every single airport adds its own “flavor” to how they operate. If you follow these guidelines, you should be able to complete your first arrival’s process. If you feel this airport has a slightly difference process, please ask any official for who to talk to next.**
- Park in the designated “international arrivals” parking area. In most cases, this will be a yellow circle, or directly in front of the tower.
- Wait inside the aircraft for the Guardia Nacional (military) and/or SAT (Mexican customs) to come greet you at the airplane. They will perform a visual inspection of the airplane, and ask the pilot general questions about the nature of the trip. It is normal for them to take pictures of the plane and/or the serial number plate for their record keeping.
- If the Guardia Nacional nor SAT come greet you within a reasonable time (usually 1-3 minutes), this usually means it is okay for you to deplane and initiate the initial arrivals paperwork process.
You will visit several dependencies during this time. The usual order and the task you will do at this dependencies are:
- SENEAM (Despacho) – This is the Flight Service Station. The first step here is to complete an “Arrival Report”. This is a half-page document that you always complete upon international arrivals; this document is also known as “Flight Plan Closure”. Once you fill this document, save it, as you will need it for the following steps.
- SAT (Customs) – The Customs officer may ask you to complete a declaration report. Pilot’s usually do not do this step, but passengers do. They may also ask you to press a Green/Red-randomizer button for luggage inspection. Lastly, SAT normally stamps your Arrival Report as a last step.
- INM (Immigration) – Just like when flying commercial, immigration will ask you to complete an FMM form (Forma Migratoria Multiple). If you’re a passenger, you will normally get a 180-day permit to visit Mexico for a fee of about $40 USD. Pilots who identify as “crew” in the FMM will get a free 7-day stay in Mexico. If the pilot plans to stay beyond 7 days, you MUST identify yourself as tourist and pay the normal fee to get a 180-day permit.
- AFAC (Comandancia) – This dependency is the airport authority, think of them as the equivalent of a local FAA office. If this is your first time arriving in Mexico, you will process a special permit allowing you to operate your aircraft in Mexico. This permit is REQUIRED for your aircraft to be legal in Mexico. The permit comes in two flavors, serving similar but different purposes. They both cost exactly the same, and it takes about an hour for this permit to be generated by AFAC.
The differences between both permits:
|* Permit is valid for one (1) calendar year. It always expires on December 31st of that year.
* You may enter and exit the country as many times as desired with this same permit.
* Permit is only valid for the airplane & PIC combination. May not be used by multiple pilots.
|* Permit is valid for 180 days (6 months), and it is valid for “single” international entry.
* You can only ENTER the country onces. Upon exiting, the permit must be surrendered.
* Permit is valid beyond December 31st, so long as it’s within it’s 180-day max terms.
* Ideal permit if you plan to stay in Mexico beyond New-Year’s eve.
Once the desired permit has been requested from AFAC, the permit itself, along with the Arrival Report, Payment Receipt, and Passenger Declaration List will all be stabled together (all these documents make up the permit). The permit must be signed by the AFAC Comandante or Inspector.
After the AFAC Multi/Single Entry Permit has been acquired, and all immigration/custom procedures have been completed, you are free to leave the airport to your final destination.
If this is NOT your last flight leg, you may continue your flight as a domestic flight.
NOTE: If you’re departing from a border-city airport, such as Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, your flight plan will have to be stamped by immigration, even thought you’re departing domestically.