Entering Mexico from OTHER than the USA or Canada

A topic that keeps coming up that gets some pilots into trouble is the Mexican regulation governing the procedures for entering Mexico after having departed from an airport located in OTHER than the USA or Canada. If you plan to fly to Mexico and you depart from Bermuda, The Bahamas, the Caribbean, Central America or South America, Mexican regulations require that you MUST make your FIRST landing in Mexico in either Tapachula (MMTP) or Cozumel (MMCZ). Failing to do so can result in large fines, delays, grounding of aircraft and possibly being detained.

When you file a flight plan from Central America to Mexico, local ATC are familiar with this requirement and will often detect if the arrival airport in Mexico that you indicate in the flight plan does not comply with the above regulation. However, they can sometimes miss it and if you depart from a country in the Caribbean, local ATC may not even be aware and cannot warn you. Usually under IFR, when you get handed off to Mexican ATC they will notice the problem and force you to land in either Cozumel or Tapachula, but not always. Pilots flying under VFR are far more at risk, especially if they are not talking to ATC and fly to their intended destination in Mexico and then have to deal with the unpleasant outcome upon landing.

This requirement is similar to our 19 CFR 122.24 which requires us to make our first landing at a "Designated Airport" nearest our point of border or coastline crossing when entering the USA from places "South" of the USA. Unfortunately, this topic continues to get some pilots into trouble, so please don't be THAT pilot and plan accordingly for this requirement.