Why Many Aviation Jobs in Mexico Are Off-Limits to Foreigners

Source: iStockphoto

Many of my blog articles are inspired by interesting conversations that I have with people during the course of the day — this is one of those.

Earlier in the week, I was chatting with a gentleman from the United States at my favorite beach bar about the logistics of moving to Mexico. He was down on vacation, however, he had already purchased property in Playa del Carmen and was planning on making a permanent move in the not too distant future.

During our conversation, the topic of income sources came up and we discussed several popular options such as creating a business or working remotely.

He said that he was considering applying for a position in airplane maintenance at the Cancun airport because he had 30 years of experience doing that job for a large commercial airline in the U.S.

He looked a bit surprised when I told him that in spite of his extensive experience, he did not meet all the requirements for the job — and he never would.

The Requirement That Eliminates Foreigners

Under Mexican law, a requirement for many jobs in the aviation industry is that the person is “Mexican by birth.” That clearly excludes those folks who immigrate to Mexico and later obtain their citizenship.

According to the law, the purpose of the strict requirement is to guarantee the security of aeronautical operations.”

Let’s take a look at a few positions that have that particular requirement:

1. Commercial Pilots

This applies to all pilots ranging from commercial airline pilots to crop dusters, provided that the aircraft is registered in Mexico. [Ley Federal de Trabajo Artículos 215-218]

However, 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]

Complete List of Licensing Requirements (PDF)

2. Flight Crew

This one also applies to commercial planes registered in Mexico. Even the flight attendants have to be Mexican by birth. [Ley Federal de Trabajo Artículos 215-218]

Complete List of Licensing Requirements (PDF)

3. Air Traffic Controller

You won’t find any foreigners directing air traffic either. This one didn’t surprise me as much as the one regarding the flight crew.

Complete List of Licensing Requirements (PDF)

4. Aviation Maintenance Technician

In order to be licensed to perform maintenance on any airplane regardless of where it is registered, the person must be Mexican by birth. [Ley de Aviación Civil Artículo 38]

Complete List of Licensing Requirements (PDF)

Let’s Wrap This Up

These aren’t the only jobs that foreigners are prohibited by law from doing in Mexico. I may do a future post on the topic, but until then, my advice for anyone who wants to look for employment in Mexico is to do a lot of research before you head down.

As for me, I’m going to continue to be a full-time retiree in Mexico who occasionally writes about random topics like this one while sipping his morning coffee. The job doesn’t pay well, but I still find it very satisfying.

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About the Author

Qroo Paul
Paul Kurtzweil (Q-Roo Paul) was a deputy sheriff in Florida for 25 years before retiring at the rank of lieutenant in 2015. He and his wife moved to Mexico looking to maximize their retirement income. They later started a blog called Two Expats Mexico (qroo.us) to share their experiences as well as information about the logistical and legal aspects of retiring south of the border.

14 Comments on "Why Many Aviation Jobs in Mexico Are Off-Limits to Foreigners"

  1. Charles L Twist Jr | August 31, 2018 at 10:00 am |

    Great article! Very interesting and I believe it’s a great idea on the part of mexico. When I move to Mexico, I plan to continue my Consulting job with US companies which is all done remotely with my computer. I want to hire a Mexican assistant, so I can delegate some of the daily, menial tasks. I wonder what the stipulation are for me doing that.

  2. If one teleworks for a foreign company from their home while in Mexico, are they obligated to file Mexican taxes?

  3. Marie Navarro | August 31, 2018 at 11:17 am |

    Very interesting, thanks. Enjoy your coffee

  4. Charles Wilson | August 31, 2018 at 11:32 am |

    I have been married to a Mexican citizen for 18 years,and live in Mexico about 6 months a year.
    I have learned more about Mexico from your blog than all other sources together !
    Thank you !

    Chuck Wilson

  5. Geri Anderson | August 31, 2018 at 12:16 pm |

    Being retired is the best job I’ve ever had! My workaholic days are just a faded memory! Maybe other newcomers have discovered that also. You don’t need a lot of money to enjoy Mexico! Q Roo Paul, for instance.

  6. Paul,

    I’m trying to work on my Spanish comprehension, and I’m having trouble connecting the dots. The referenced article for pilots, for all levels, has an exception regarding the Mexican by birth requirement: “excepto a pilotos privados extranjeros”. The TPI (i.e. “transport”, or what we think of as “airlines”) section makes no mention of birth requirements at all. The other occupations don’t have the foreign private pilot exception wording. Can you please explain a little further?

  7. We will be moving to Manzanillo, on the Pacific coast in November. Thank you for all of the useful information about relocating to Mexico. We find it really valuable, and also enjoyable to share.
    Doug O

  8. Mark in Merida | August 31, 2018 at 5:23 pm |

    I’ve telework from Mexico for the last year and it has worked out great; and retirement is close at hand. But I would have never expected to be able move here and get a job. It makes sense that Mexico is happy to have us take advantage of their beautiful country and live a lifestyle that we all dreamed about — but not come down and take their jobs. Seems like that is what the US is all about it right now..keeping those foreigners from crossing the board and taking our jobs!

  9. Bernie & Cathy Graney | September 1, 2018 at 5:02 am |

    We enjoy your random topics and look forward to the emails. Keep enjoying retirement in beautiful Mexico. We hope to visit the Jalisco / Chapala area soon.

  10. Nice article. Enjoy the coffee. Yes retirement in Mexico has it’s advantages (l-o-n-g coffee breaks haha)

  11. We’re moving to Tulum in May. We Just purchased a home. We’re super excited for the retirement life in our 40’s.
    Your blog is a wealth of fabulous information! I feel fortunate to have found you. Thank you!

    • Tulum is a great little town to call home. We’ll probably run into each other one day at one of the grocery stores or restaurants down there.

  12. Wow, loved this article Paul! I worked for Delta airlines for a long time as a station trainer. I would travel to many locations to train ramp personnel. I remember that the law applied to permanent positions so I was allowed to perform my job function but they did ask a lot of questions. I remember thinking that if there was a law such as this in the U.S. it would be a very contentious issue to say the least. Love your blog, thanks so much for sharing!

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