A Look at the Aviation Jobs in Mexico That Are Off-Limits to Foreigners

One beautiful afternoon in Akumal, 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 — Even If They Become Mexican Citizens

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 are limited to “Mexicans by birth”. 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.

17 Comments on "A Look at the Aviation Jobs in Mexico That Are Off-Limits to Foreigners"

  1. I envy your job Paul! I’m fortunate to work remotely as a consultant for US businesses and can work from anywhere. But who wants to work AT ALL when the breeze is whispering to you through the coco palms? “Go to the beach… Goooo toooo the beach…”

  2. Camille Madryga | September 26, 2020 at 8:43 am |

    Not job related… but it’s an airline personal story. Back in the early 90’s , I had the pleasure of sitting in the jump seat (behind the pilot) as we descended into Cancun airport. The captain …speaking English…requested landing instructions from the airport’s control tower. The reply was in Spanish. The Captain said “say again” .
    The second reply was in French. Then we continued to descend . I asked the pilot..”do you understand Spanish?” He replied “No”. So, I asked the obvious…”Do you understand French?” He replied “No”. Then said, “don’t worry, I’ve landed here before”.

  3. The double standard there is a bit puzzling. As far as the title is concerned, I tweaked it a bit to better reflect the content. 🙂

  4. These bits of information you publish don’t come “off the top of your head”. Thanks for the informative articles and the obvious research you do prior to pushing the send button.
    Keep up the good work.
    Chuck Doucet, a full time resident of The Lake Chapala area.

  5. Louis-Marie Ste-Croix | September 26, 2020 at 9:29 am |

    Already new…but always nice the refresh my memory
    Merci Paul…

  6. Love reading your posts! All your information is very helpful. We bought a condo in Bucerias, PV area and looking forward to spending our winters in Mexico!

  7. As it should be.

  8. What do you think of the Puerto Aventuras area to rent a condo for 1-2 months?

  9. Didn’t know that. Muchas gracias!

  10. I also know that foreigners are not allowed to work at any job a Mexican could do, to prevent foreigners from taking jobs from Mexicans. So if you open a restaurant, you must hire Mexican citizens. The way around that particular scenario is that foreigners work for tips only, not legally employed by the restaurant…

  11. Debbie Radcliffe | September 26, 2020 at 2:36 pm |

    Your blogs are always very informative. Are you seeing a bigger influx of Americans and Canadians looking to retire in Mexico now? Since remote working is enabling many Americans to live away from the big cities, I was wondering if this will cause an increase of people moving to Mexico. Thanks!

    • We have noticed an increase in the number of Americans and Canadians that contact us wanting information about moving down. In our area of the Riviera Maya, the real estate market has definitely picked up.

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