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Latest on Baja paperwork
Mex permits are foremost on people’s minds;

Here’s the latest from the agency

that 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.

Of 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.


After speaking to them at the show when they stopped by the WON booth, and after reading the regulations and looking at their website, here is what I have come up with in plain talk, for each scenario of travel.


AIR 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 always.


AIR 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.

Another suggestion: 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.


Travel 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 days. 


You 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).   


Sea Travel: 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. 


For 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.


For 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.


Fishing 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.


Ensenada 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.


The 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.


“I 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 this week.


The 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.


Suggestions 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: 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.

Fishing licenses on line:  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

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.


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