June 9, 2014

Conducting business aviation operations internationally can be challenging, as requirements often vary by region or country. Argentina has some unique requirements, and being prepared to deal with them can help avoid unnecessary delays.

Argentina’s customs, immigration and quarantine (CIQ) clearance procedures are strict. All items, including any luggage and passenger or crew belongings, which are not flight-related items, must be removed from the aircraft, scanned by a CIQ officer and stored off the aircraft during one’s entire stay in Argentina. Only frozen food items may be stored at the airport. Passengers and crew members are cleared through biometric measures, including photos and fingerprints.

“NBAA members have reported some variations in the customs, immigration and quarantine clearance procedures,” said Peter Korns, NBAA’s operations specialist. “Buenos Aires’ Ezeiza International Airport (EZE/SAEZ) is reported to be one of the strictest in regards to CIQ procedures. Flight crews must be aware of the requirement to unload all baggage and must be particularly diligent when transporting items like art pieces, musical instruments or other valuable items. If you plan to carry these types of items it’s highly recommended that you notify your ground handler in advance so they can make appropriate arrangements.”

Argentina also requires all passengers who are American, Canadian or Australian citizens to pay a “reciprocity fee” prior to arriving at any port of entry in Argentina. Flight crew members are exempt from this fee. Each passenger must pay this fee before arriving in Argentina; passengers may no longer pay this fee at the airport. Arranging payment requires some proactive coordination, as each passenger must have a unique log-in to the payment portal and a unique form of payment. Arriving in Argentina without having paid the reciprocity fee can result in lengthy delays or even deportation.

Flight crew members listed as such on the general declaration are not required to have visas, but passengers of certain nationalities are. Visit the Direccion Nacional Migraciones website for detailed immigration requirements.

Operators should also be aware of specific airport restrictions. For example, San Fernando International Airport (FDO/SADF) is a popular Buenos Aires alternative, but it is a weight-restricted airport. Other airports have limited parking availability or have only Spanish-speaking air traffic controllers. Still others have limited ground service equipment.

“Doing a little homework in the weeks or months prior to departure can help avoid frustration,” said Korns. “NBAA has several resources to help members who are planning international trips, including the International Feedback Database and Air Mail social network. Direct Member feedback about facilitation and operational issues can be your best resource for managing the uncertainties of international travel.”

NBAA Members can obtain information by searching for “Argentina” in the Members-only International Feedback Database.