"Update on Immigration Policy for Mexico
October 10, 2012 – Mexico
Seemingly good news for Ha-Ha boats and other early southbound cruisers!
Last week we cautioned readers that there may be new Immigration rules in effect for cruisers heading south to Mexico this winter. Today we were told by a harbormaster at one of the biggest marinas
that "a very high-ranking official in Mexico City told me the regulations
will not go into effect before November 9."
Assuming that this is true, this is great news for the 148 Ha-Ha boats and other early southbound cruisers because we'll all be in Cabo San Lucas by then, having already checked into Mexico, and thus be good for the season. This being the case, the Ha-Ha will start on schedule and make the normal stops as planned.
As for what new rules will be enforced after November 9, it's hard to say. The problem is that some Mexican ports
, such as Ensenada, don't currently have the manpower or facilities to follow the new laws. For example, to whom and how are you to electronically supposed to alert Ensenada 24 hours in advance of your arrival? Where are you supposed to go to have your boat inspected? Where are Immigration and the Port Captain
going to get the staff needed to do the paperwork and inspections in a timely manner?
One of the people most concerned about the new regulations
is Enrique Pelayo, the Mayor of Ensenada. We spoke to him the other day after the Little Ensenda and the Todos Santos races, and he emphasized the importance of American boatowners seeing Ensenada as not just a terrific destination
, but one that doesn't require a lot of red tape
to visit. He and his staff have been talking to Immigration officials in Mexico City, urging them to make sure that clearing into Mexico at Ensenada be made as easy as possible. Indeed, he is working with local legislators to get a law passed making Ensenada a special destination
, where visitors by boat from the United States won't need to pay for a tourist visa — unless, of course, they are headed farther south or staying for a length of time. Don't doubt his commitment — in the big Newport
to Ensenada Race
, Ensenada paid for everybody's tourist visas!
Others concerned with the situation are members of the Mexican Marina Owners Association. They are in contact with officials in Mexico City, trying to make them realize how unworkable some of the new regulations are at this time, and what a bad impression they would leave. We wouldn't be surprised if the new regulations are kept on hold for long after November 9, until workable procedures can be put in place. But only time will tell. The absolute default for boats after November 9 is to check into Mexico at Ensenada. If you do that, you'll be good.
We understand why Mexico passed a new law that makes it illegal for boats to stop in Mexico until after they have cleared in at an official port of entry. It makes all the sense in the world — providing they have the capability to clear boats in a timely fashion. We also understand that for many years the officials and businesses in Ensenada have not liked the fact that the Ha-Ha fleet and other boats have sailed right past Ensenada, and why they feel that way. But in the case of the Ha-Ha, the lack of manpower and facilities have made it impossible for the Ha-Ha fleet to stop at Ensenada.
But as we told Mayor Pelayo, we love Ensenada, and if things can be set up in a way where all the Ha-Ha boats and crews could have the paperwork done in the States in advance, and could quickly pick up their stamped paperwork and get their boats inspected, it would be a win-win-win situation for Ensenada officials, Ensenada businesses, and the Ha-Ha. For next year's 20th Baja
Ha-Ha, Mayor Pelayo is working with Mexico City and local officials to try to make that a reality, and we at the Ha-Ha will be working with Tourism and the Mexican Consul in San Diego
toward that same goal."
this is quote from latitude 38.