Mexican officials stepped up the bureaucratic process for U.S. boaters in 2014; has the process worked out?
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA — Bureaucracy is like taxes: it’s a process we all have to live with regardless of our level of annoyance or dislike. The addition, in 2014, of bureaucratic measures to manage boating traffic to Baja California from San Diego and points due north was certainly met with more than a little push back. Mexican officials have since made an effort to cooperate with U.S. boaters as much as possible, going so far as to host Temporary Import Permit (TIP) cancellation events across the United States. Has the permitting and paperwork process finally smoothed out? Are boaters navigating south of the border with ease, without worry of incomplete paperwork or otherwise lacking compliance?
TIPs, for those who need a refresher, is a document boaters must legally possess in order to keep his or her vessel in Mexico. The permit allows the boat to remain in Mexico for up to 10 years. You’ll need a TIP even if you’re planning to navigate into Mexican water for one day or a few hours.
The Log has covered the vessel entry/exit process in the past, but it is worth reminding boaters of the bureaucratic hurdles you’ll have to jump over as you navigate into Mexico – and the rules apply to anyone visiting Mexican waters, whether or not you’re actually setting foot on land south of the border.
You’ll have to apply for your TIP online. The application process includes paying the current fee and providing relevant information, such as your passport number, anticipated crew list and vessel documentation. A spreadsheet is available to fill out the your list of passengers and crew members. The spreadsheet must be filled out and emailed to Mexican immigration officials (BC_ensenada@inami.gov.mx, for example).
Immigration officials will send you a confirmation if your list is approved. You must bring this approval with you to your first Port of Entry.
Your passport will also be a must once you’re out of the United States. Be sure to fill out your entry permit (FMM) and provide all passenger information when you’re checking in at the Port of Entry.
All vessels entering into Mexico must have current and original vessel documentation on board.
You must also complete a crew list, pay certain fees and surrender your FMM document once leaving Mexico.
A few sources in the San Diego area told The Log there has been little to no drama for boaters navigating into Mexico from Southern California marinas and harbors. Some people are annoyed with the bureaucracy, according to these sources, but they also confirmed the Mexican government has made an effort to make the process as smooth as possible for U.S. boaters.
Keeping in touch with Mexican officials, however, is paramount to ensuring an amicable process. The Mexican government published a handy guide for U.S. boaters, entitled “Visiting Mexico by Private Boat.” Many marinas in Mexico will happily share this guide with U.S. boaters.
Marina de La Paz posted a PDF of the most recent guide and can be viewed here: www.marinadelapaz.com/pdf/BoatingInMexico.pdf.
Also be sure to know your bureaucracy. Here are the seven organizations you need to be aware of when navigating into Mexico:
- The Maritime Authority (through SEMAR, or Secretaria de Marina)
- National Immigration Institute (or INM)
- Servicio Administración Tributaria (SAT)
- SEMAR (Secretaria de Marina)
- CONAPESCA, or Comisión Nacional de Acuacultura y Pesca
- CONANP, or Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas.
The Association of Mexico Marinas, meanwhile, announced Mexican customs officials would be in Chicago, Dallas, Houston and Sacramento to cancel Vessel Temporary Import Permits. The Sacramento dates are Oct. 18 and 19, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Officials will be at 2096 Arena Boulevard in Sacramento on both days.
Be sure to regularly stay in touch with Mexican officials to stay up to date with the latest in bureaucratic happenings.
Below are a few contacts to help you through Mexico’s boating bureaucracy. Most marinas will be able to guide you through the process. Remember to address your vessel’s TIP if you recently purchased a boat. TIPs from previous owners are non-transferable and must be canceled personally in Mexico.
Mexico National Immigration Institute
Mexico Toll Free: 800-463-6728, options 7-2-2-1-1
U.S. Toll Free: 877-448-8728. options 7-2-2-1-1
Marina Coral — Ensenada
866-302-0066 or 01152-646-175-00-50
VHF Ch. 71
Baja Naval Boatyard and Marina — Ensenada
01152-646-178-88-01 Ext. 3301 & 3303
VHC Ch. 12 and 16
Baja Naval Boatyard and Marina — Ensenada
VHF ch. 77
Marinas de Baja — Cabo San Lucas
Marina Costa Baja — La Paz
01152-612-121-62-25, 888-866-9394, 800-200-0281
Marina Puerto Escondido — Loreto
Marina Cabo San Lucas IGY — Cabo San Lucas
VHF ch. 88A