Mexico: Surprising Jobs Off-Limits to Foreigners


Mexico has gone above and beyond to protect their citizens in the job market. There are several jobs — by law –that only a Mexican citizen can hold, and in some cases, that person has to be a natural born Mexican. Obviously many political positions have this requirement (e.g. president); however, Mexico has extended this to some jobs you would not expect.

I have compiled a list of the ones that surprised me the most. Most of these were taken from the Federal Labor Law (Ley Federal del Trabajo). If you can read Spanish and would like to read the law the 236 page law in its entirety, here is the link: Ley Federal del Trabajo (LFT) PDF

Some of the occupations below also include a link to the licensing requirements in PDF format.

Occupations Only for Mexicans

1. Flight attendant Mexican by birth

This one surprised me the most. This law applies to the flight crews of civilian aircraft registered in Mexico. In other words, all of the Mexican based airlines [LFT Artículos 215-218]. Licensing Requirements (Spanish)

2. Commercial pilot Mexican by birth

This applies to all pilots ranging from commercial airline pilots to crop dusters, provided that the aircraft is registered in Mexico [LFT Artículos 215-218]. A non-Mexican or a naturalized citizen is permitted to get a private pilot’s license for non-commercial use [Ley de Aviación Civil Artículo 38]Licensing Requirements for fixed wing (Spanish)

3. Air traffic controller Mexican by birth

You will not find any foreigners controlling air traffic in Mexico. Licensing Requirements (Spanish)

4. Airplane mechanic Mexican by birth

Even the person performing maintenance on the aircraft must be a Mexican by birth [Ley de Aviación Civil Artículo 38]. Licensing Requirements (Spanish)

5. Ship workers Mexican by birth

This one applies to workers on any ship or vessel that bears a Mexican flag. Mexican law requires all ship workers to be Mexican by birth. The law gives a lengthy definition of who is considered a worker under this chapter, but it basically refers to all crew members ranging from sailors to the cook. [LFT Artículos 187-192]

6. Railroad workers Mexican but no birth requirement

All railroad workers must be Mexican. [LFT Artículo 246]

Additional Labor Laws That Benefit Mexicans

As a foreigner with a work visa, you may think that you are on level playing field when competing for jobs not listed in the last section; well, think again. The Mexican Legislature has created several laws that give Mexicans the advantage when it comes to hiring.

Here are two examples:

Federal Labor Law Article 7 – In every business or establishment, at least 90% of the workers must be Mexican. If there are no Mexicans available with the specialized training, the business can temporarily hire foreign workers; however, the business and the foreign workers have an obligation to train Mexicans in the specialty. This section does not apply to directors, administrators or general managers.

Federal Labor Law Article 154 – Employers are obligated to prefer, in equal circumstances, Mexican workers over foreigners.


Coming from another country, these laws may seem a little unusual but you have to respect the fact that Mexico is looking out for its own people. I guess I have to give up my dream of being a flight attendant for AeroMexico (I am joking, I like being a beach bum).

If you enjoy learning more about the law in Mexico, check out What Every Tourist Should Know About Consumer Laws in Mexico.

Author: Qroo Paul

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6 Comments on "Mexico: Surprising Jobs Off-Limits to Foreigners"

  1. Many if not all international airlines hire only in-flight crew holding home-country passports. Example: British Airways crews come from British Commonwealth countries. I worked for BA 23 years – non-crew since non-British.

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment. The thing that surprised me most about Mexico is that they exclude naturalized Mexican citizens from the flight jobs as well.

  2. We can fight this for any foreigner with an amparo but sadly most foreigners come to Mexico as they have not had success in their home country and have little to offer in Mexico so then they sell drugs, timeshares, teach English or sell real estate.

  3. Catriona Brown | May 23, 2016 at 2:28 pm | Reply

    Yes I agree, the Mexicans need protecting. There is also another law that says if a foreigner opens a tourist busines involving water ways or the ocean (snorkelling, diving, canoeing, fishing etc) they must have afull Mexican partner in the company. Also a foreigner cannot own a boat in the business.

  4. Yes, I am talking about rentals on the other side of the highway, but they run golf carts from this side to the other at no cost or you can drive over. A car is advisable if you are going to live here because all of your shopping will be done in Tulum or Playa del Carmen.

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