March 4, 2008
New Mexican Customs Requirement for GA Operators
Effective February 1, 2008, all GA aircraft operating into Mexico from the Caribbean, Central America, and South America will have to stop in Cozumel (MMCZ) or Tapachula (MMTP) for illegal substance inspections. Countries that are considered to be within the Caribbean zone are Bermuda, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. While operators may stop at either MMCZ or MMTP, Mexico is recommending Cozumel (MMCZ) due to better customs facilities at that location.
View the ICAO NOTAM below:
MMFR MEXICO UTA
A0313/08 – ALL AIR OPS OF GENERAL AVIATION WITH FINAL DESTINATION OR WITH STOP OVER IN ANY AD OF MEXICO, FROM REGIONS OF THE CARIBBEAN,CENTER AND
SOUTH AMERICA SHOULD TO USE ONLY AS AIRPORT OF ENTRY TO THIS
COUNTRY THE NEXT ONE: TAPACHULA AND COZUMEL.
DOES NOT APPLY FOR STATE’S ACFT OR ACFT OF GENERAL AVIATION THAT
TRANSPORT CIVIL SERVANTS OF THE FOLLOWING RANGES:
STATE’S CHERMANS, GOVERMENT’S CHERMANS, MINISTERS, VICE-MINISTERS
OR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. PREVIUSLY DIPLOMATIC NOTE.
THE AIRPORTS TAPACHULA AND COZUMEL IN OPERATION 24 HOURS. 01 FEB 00:01 2008
UNTIL PERM. CREATED: 16 JAN 17:38 2008
The following feedback was submitted by an operator who stopped at Tapachula (MMTP) in order to fulfill this customs requirement:
Feedback: We landed at Tapachula enroute from Costa Rica to Guadalajara due to a recent NOTAM requiring flights from Central and South America to enter Mexico only through this airport or Cozumel. On arrival, CENAMER Control left us at FL 200 about 60 nm south of MMTP and instructed us to contact Tapachula Tower who would not give us a descent clearance as we were still in Guatemalan airspace. (Tapachula is on the coast just north of the Guatemala border). We called CENAMER Control back and he gave us a descent to 16,000 and then instructed us to return to Tapachula Tower. We were told to report left base for Runway 23. Due to our high altitude crossing the border and our unfamiliarity with airport, we then decided to fly the VOR DME Rwy 23 approach but could not extract an approach clearance from the controller. After landing Runway 23, we were instructed to back-taxi to the Navy Ramp (Armada de Mexico), which is a ramp with three large military hangars located south of and adjacent to the threshold of Runway 23. This ramp and these hangars are not shown on Jeppesen Plate 13-1. It is wide enough to easily make a complete u-turn in a G V. We were marshaled onto the ramp and then the aircraft was surrounded by about a dozen troops with automatic assault weapons. I deplaned and was greeted by two army personnel in combat gear. My Spanish is poor and they spoke no English. A federal officer in a black uniform showed up and helped translate. The military personnel wanted to know the names and certificate numbers of the pilots, how many passengers on board, and the aircraft type. One soldier slipped up the stairs behind me to make a brief inspection of the cabin. They were all very courteous and professional. This all took about 10 minutes. We were then instructed to taxi (down the runway) to the terminal ramp. At this location, the passengers had to deplane and their bags were unloaded. After a short walk to the terminal, immigration forms were completed, passports were inspected, and all baggage made a cursory pass through an x-ray machine with no operator observing. Meanwhile, several different uniformed personnel came aboard to inspect the cabin, including an agricultural inspector who made a detailed inspection of the galley. He confiscated, as expected, fruits, cheeses, dairy products, and some other miscellaneous foods. The flight crew then cycled through the terminal with their luggage. We were then presented with a clearance document which included customs, immigration, and airport entry stamps. This clearance document was then surrendered at our next landing in Mexico. Departure from Runway 23 was uneventful. The entire time from landing to take-off required one hour and 27 minutes with no services requested. Flight planning and handling were through Jeppesen.