There are a lot of important steps that must be followed before your departure from Mexico. Follow the guideline closely to ensure a smooth experience. Remember, some airports will add their own flavor to this process.
Before heading to the airport:
- Mexican immigration regulations state that you must submit the APIS (Advance Passenger Information System) exactly 24 hours before departure.
- United States CBP required that you submit the eAPIS at least 1 hour prior to arrival into the US. Because Mexico also requires you do submit the APIS a second time 1 hour before departure from Mexico, it is a good idea to submit both Mexico’s APIS and US’s eAPIS at this same time, which is 1 hour before your departure.
Pro Tip: Use FlashPass for both of these steps! It takes about 90 seconds to complete them using the phone app.
Once at the airport:
- SENEAM (Despacho) – Complete a paper ICAO flight plan. Remember, you will need 4 copies of your flight plan.
- Immigration (INM) – Visit, along with your passengers, the immigration offices. Immigration can be located by the letters “INM”. All travelers will surrender their immigration permit, and pay an immigration exit tax if applicable.
- SAT (Customs) – Passengers must submit a customs declaration form, and screen their luggage through security. The pilot should arrange for the SAT officer to do a visual inspection of the airplane at this time before departure.
- ASA/Operacions (Operations) – Pay any applicable overnight and landing fees with Operaciones. You can also order fuel directly with them if you haven’t done so already.
- AFAC (Comandancia) – Bring your flight plans to AFAC, along with your Multi-Single Entry Permit for validation. If AFAC finds no problems, they will sign and stamp your flight plan. NOTE: Upon request, AFAC might request to see your aircraft’s insurance policy, Airworthiness, and Registration.
- SENEAM (Despacho) – Bring back your signed flight plans to SENEAM. They will give you a weather update for your route of flight upon request, and will file your flight plan for you.
- Final Security Checkpoint – If this airport has one, you and your passengers will go through security (think TSA) before walking to your airplane. Perform a good pre-flight before your departure!
- IMPORTANT IMPORTANT IMPORTANT – Before you fire up your engine, ensure that your CBP eAPIS has been transmitted. You should have received an email confirmation with exact steps for the US airport that you will be clearing at. Unless the email says otherwise, you should ALWAYS call CBP and get verbal confirmation that you are cleared for your flight.
- Once CBP has granted you Landing Rights permission, you can proceed to fire up your engine, and get your clearance as you normally would.
Flying VFR back to the US?
US regulations states that before crossing the ADIZ back into the US, you must be squawking a discrete transponder code. If you were assigned a transponder code from a Mexican controlling agency while VFR, that code will likely NOT be recognized by the US to satisfy this requirement.
The recommendation is for the PIC the contact the nearest US-based Flight Service Station and request a “discrete transponder squawk code to cross the ADIZ back into the US.” It will help FSS if you already have a VFR flight plan filed.
Flying IFR back to the US?
Aircraft who are on an active IFR flight plan from Mexico back to the US will already have a squawk code that will be recognized by US ATC. This code should be sufficient to cross the ADIZ back into the US. If necessary, FAA’s Center or Approach may assign a new code prior to entering the US, but if not, your current code will be valid.
US CBP Inspection
Park in the designated parking area as previously instructed by CBP in your confirmation email. Some Inspection Stations will require you to stay inside the airplane until you’re greeted by CBP, other stations allow the pilot and passengers to deplane and enter the inspection building. Make sure you’re following the instructions for your specific port of entry.