permits are foremost on people’s minds;
the latest from the agency
handles the new documentation
Website purchase or on-site
Julian Kurtz and Troy Williams of the
agency MEX Tour Assistance which processes the immigration documents for U.S.
travel by land, sea and air, spent one day at the annual Fred Hall show in Del
Mar last week answering questions and clearing up questions concerning the new
FMM law that has upset and confused Americans who enjoy Mexico travel.
NOTE: Almost as I wrote and posted this Tuesday morning, comments have come in from a prominent Mexican official in Cabo who commented on whether Mexican law prohibits boats/anglers without the sea version of the tourist permit fishing as the boat proceeds to a "final" destination. He says nowhere does Mexican law say you cannot fish on the way down to a destination without permits for those aboard. That is a huge deal, and different than what we are being told by the MXTourist Assist company. "Nowhere does it say that fishing whether by stopping or trolling, is not allowed," he said. "In Mexican law, it has to specifically prohibit it. The law as written does not." Thus, a boat that crosses into U.S. waters bound for a Mexican port like Ensenada, or Cabo, La Paz, etc, can fish on the way down, and a permit can be obtained upon arrival. I will look more into this. Read on and be aware this is in dispute from Mexican port authorities who contacted WON but who wish to not be quoted and named.
particular concern for Western Outdoor News is that we have two tournaments in
Ensenada and Cabo, and many of our readers still drive, fly or boat into
Mexico. Not as much as they used to for obvious reasons, and this new law isn’t
helping any business promoting Mexico travel.
speaking to them at the show when they stopped by the WON booth, and after
reading the regulations and looking at their website www.mxtourassist.com, here is what I
have come up with in plain talk, for each scenario of travel.
TRAVEL FROM U.S.: Nothing has changed for air travel for U.S. anglers flying
from the U.S. to Mexico. Your airline ticket cost from the U.S. to Mexico covers the cost of the FMM or
more commonly called a travel permit.
It is not a “VISA.” You will need a passport and fishing license, as
TRAVEL FROM T.J.: If you fly out of Tijuana on the Volaris, which a growing
number of Americans are doing because of the low cost, U.S. citizens will need
to obtain pesos at the airport if they do not have them, show your boarding
pass to enter the area where the tourist cards are sold at two side-by-side
kiosks, and your 180-day tourist permit costs in the peso exchange about $23.
Keep it with your passport. It’s good for all land and air travel for the next
180 days. That means, technically, you can stay in Mexico for up to 180 days.
It is only good, technically, for one crossing. However, the permit is rarely
collected and can be used again.
Before they stamp it at purchase or entry at the airport, ask for the full 180
days, or it will automatically be stamped for 30 days.
by land: This should amaze
all of you. The law, whether enforced or not, requires ALL foreign visitors to
have a tourist permit. Staying one hour, one day, two days a week or a month.
You must have one. The reality is that no one gets one for a short stay. No one
cares, no one will check. I’m not saying you should break the law, but….when
traveling past Ensenada, you should have one. When traveling by land, whether
by car or bus or RV or you are towing a boat and are a U.S. citizen, if by
chance you have a 180-day tourist permit, it’s good for land travel. If folks
in your group traveling by land
don’t have one already, you have to get one. If you are staying seven days or
less, the tourist card is free and is good for seven days. Staying longer, pay
the 23 bucks for a 180-day permit and hang onto it. The free one for seven days
or less must be obtained at the border office just after your crossing at San Ysidro. If you travel to Ensenada or points
south without purchasing it, you can obtain it at the next office in Ensenada,
for the normal fee of 23 dollars, and as I said before, it’s good for up to 180
can also purchase these 180-day tourist cards from Baja travel clubs, and also
online with MX Tourist Assist which are mailed to you. This travel visa is good
for land and air. Again, always ask for the maximum, and keep it with your
passport if it is NOT collected
(there is no system for someone to collect it that I know of).
The SEA TRAVEL Tourist card or FMM and FM3 (worker) docs are what the confusion
and outrage is all about. For
partyboats of any length that fish Mexican waters 24 miles or farther out,
there is no need for passengers to have them. But no matter where the boat is
in Mex waters, all crew now must have them. Inside 24 miles, all passengers
aboard boats that go from the U.S. to Mexico (yachts, charter boats, six-packs,
private skiffs) AND DO NOT have a final destination of a Mexican port, which
means they are coming and going without hitting land (99.9 percent of the
boats) must have the FMM Sea permits BEFORE they cross the border by water.
these “back-and-forth” sea/border situations, we will create scenarios for you
for sea travel.
Partyboats: You can obtain the
permits via the counter at the SD Bay landings of Fisherman’s Landing, Pt. Loma
and H&M and at Dana
Landing and Seaforth Landing. As for the general
public, ONLY Fisherman’s and Dana Landing offer these permits over the counter
to the general public (private boaters). The others sell/provide them to
charterboater customers only.
Skiffs/Landings: The situation gets
complicated here. The over the counter FMMs at Fisherman’s Landing and Dana
Landing for the skiff/yacht guys off the street are good for THREE days or
less. Fine for short trips, not
enough for a four-day trip to Ensenada or a run to points south. You can call ahead to Fishermans and Dana and request longer-stay
FMMs three days in advance and then pick them up. Or…. you can buy them in
Ensenada or other ports like Cabo, PV, Mazatlan, or via e-mail/mail or at the
San Diego Bay of MX Tourist Assist office before departure.
private boats and charterboats that are traveling from the U.S. to Mexico with a
final destination of a port, passengers do not need to have a sea FMM permit.
Of course, all partyboat customers will have them if the landings and boat
operators are following the letter of the law). Let’s forget about the charterboaters, though. The PB’ers
and six-packers can obtain them at a major port (Ensenada, Cabo, PV, Mazatlan)
for a fee.
with and without permits: This part is up for debate now. Mexican law does not specifically prohibit fishing on the way down to a Mexican port if you do not have permits when you depart. But, according to MXTourist Assist, this is the situation: if it is 24 miles or farther out, the boat without
permitees can stop and fish. If inside 24 miles, you cannot stop for
“recreational” purposes en-route” to your destination. You can, of course, buy
them before you leave from the MX Tour Assist website, and wait for them in the
mail (two weeks or less if you pay extra for priority mail, an option on the
website), or you can order them online and pick them up in San Diego Bay at the
Kona Kai Marina (use the K Dock) during business hours.
NOTE: It is a huge deal if you can and cannot fish inside 24 miles as you proceed from the U.S. without permits south to a Mexican port. This part is critical to many yachts and particularly to a nearby port like Ensenada, which hosts anglers. It would be far more convenient for anglers to fish on the way down and obtain the permits when they arrive. It would make it a helluva lot easier to promote our WON Yamaha July tournament if teams could fish on the way down. Stay tuned.
options: If your final destination on a private boat is Ensenada, you can
obtain the sea FMM permits for all when you arrive. You cannot fish inside 24
miles en route, not even troll. (again, this is disputed by Mexican port authorities). If
traveling south of there, and you want to fish, you must obtain them before you
leave the U.S. or obtain them in Ensenada (again, you can’t fish without them
inside 24 miles on the way down) and then fish all you want as you proceed
farther south after obtaining them. Again, you can obtain all licenses and the
sea travel FMM cards online, pick them up in San Diego or get them via mail. Or
buy them during business hours at the MX Tourist Assistance office at Kona Kai
in SD Bay. I would go on line, order them and have them mailed. As of this writing, the office at the Kona
Kai was to open this week, and announce a contact number and office hours.
scenario for fishing out of Ensenada on a skiff, you have these choices: Stop at the
border while trailerboating and get the tourist permit for seven days or less for free, saving
money. If coming down
by boat, get your permits before, or run to Ensenada without fishing, get your
permits and then you can fish. (If you want to fish 24 miles or farther out on
the way down without the FMM) and THEN come into Ensenada to fuel or stay and
buy the FMM, that is a gray area if you are stopped by a patrol boat and you
have fish aboard, say Kurz
and Williams of MX Tour Assistance cannot resolve.
wouldn’t take that chance if you have fish,” said Williams. The best scenario
is to obtain your permits before you leave. MX Tour Assistance does not sell
fishing licenses, just travel documentation, on its website, or at the Kona Kai
office on San Diego Bay under normal office hours. The office was to be opened
free land one is available, at no cost, and expedited by mail, for a $5 fee
plus mailing, about $10 total via PayPal, said Williams.
for skiff folks: Get permits at Dana or Fisherman’s for short trip, but get by
e-mail and mail in advance or at SD Bay office for longer trips before you go.
For trailerboaters, if you did not get them in advance for all travelers, stop
at the border at the office (get in the far right lane when entering Mexico for
safety reasons as you have to get into the parking area immediately on the
right after crossing) get the free 7-day or pay $23 for the 180-day tourist
permit and then go south with confidence.
A few links for you
Documentation: http://www.mxtourassist.com S.D. Bay/ Kona Kai office will soon be open, perhaps by first week of April. For now you can obtain sea tourist permits for crossing the border online here, or for short trips from Dana Landing and Fisherman's.
licenses on line: http://e5cinco.conapesca.gob.mx. Also available, as always, at tackle
shops which carry them, and Baja travel clubs and can be purchased at the Hotel Coral marina office.
JULIAN KURTZ, LEFT, AND TROY WILLIAMS of the agency MEX Tour Assistance which processes the immigration documents for U.S. travel by land sea and air.