There’s few places as fun and interesting to fly your drone than Mexico. Sandy white beaches, picture-perfect blue sea, sunny skies, beautiful jungles and ancient ruins. Oh, and not to forget the hundreds of beautiful colonial towns and monuments that are testimony of the rich history of the country. Mexico is the dream of every drone pilot, yet it is not always easy to get up in the air as regulations tighten and flying drones becomes more difficult.
Entering Mexico with a drone
In Mexico, drone pilots encounter two main difficulties, with the first one being surprisingly harder to deal with than the second one. I am talking about even getting the drone into the country. Mexican customs can be tricky, and they can spot a drone owner from a hundred feet. Legally, drones are not within the basket of personal articles a tourist can bring into the country duty-free (like a laptop computer, a camera, a CD player,… – you get it) so it is a welcome target for customs officials who would like to make a bit of extra money.
On my recent visit to the country, I was stopped by customs officials in Guadalajara airport that wanted to confiscate my drone if I don’t pay import taxes and customs fees. No bribing, they did it all officially with a receipt. And there was no escape – I paid about $150 and got an official receipt that would save me from paying again on my next visit. And I was lucky – the customs officer valued my DJI Phantom 4 at about 60% of its market value only. My advice: Bring a small drone like the Mavic Pro so you don’t even get spotted. And make sure you claim the drone is not new and has a low value.
The actual drone regulations in Mexico
But let’s now come to the drone laws themselves. Surprisingly, if you have managed to bring your drone into the country, little will stop you from actually flying it. The drone laws in Mexico are pretty lenient, and they basically only regulate drones above 2 kg take-off weight. If you stay under the 2 kgs, like with the Mavic Pro or a Phantom, you simply need to follow the usual rules of safety like flying only in daylight, staying away from people and government or other sensitive areas as well as remaining within line of sight. Flying close to airports and religious sites and ruins is of course also prohibited.
This way it is relatively easy to enjoy exploring this beautiful country from above. Like any Latin American country, rules are there to be broken – both by you and law enforcement officials. Which means that even if you’re technically ok to fly, a nasty officer could still see it differently, with little to no recourse. So be careful, stay away from trouble, and you will have an amazing time!
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