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Mexican Permits

Want a Mexican (XE) amateur radio permit?

(Updated 27 Apr 07)

This is not an easy, or inexpensive, process.  Mexico is not currently a party to the (initially) European CEPT licensing scheme nor has Mexico entered the inter-American IARP scheme.  Mexico's telecommunications authorities (originally, the Secretaria de Comunicaciones y Transportes - Secretariat of Communications and Transport, abbreviated to SCT; now the Comision Federal de Telecomunicaciones - Federal Telecommunications Commission, abbreviated to CoFeTel) have signed reciprocal-operating agreements with a few countries, and has been known to issue permits to amateurs from countries where no such agreement exists.  The process involves lots of paperwork, and - for the typical length of time these permits are issued (6 months) - money.  I will detail the process I followed to obtain my XE permit using the SCT office in Mexicali, instead of shipping my paperwork to CoFeTel in Mexico City.  I was able to obtain permission to operate quickly following this process, and do it myself.

The application forms indicate that the completed applications have to be sent to Mexico City, but that is not the only way to get a permit.  Amateurs may choose to file their applications directly with CoFeTel in Mexico City, but this may take up to 2 months or more before you obtain your permit.  I will not detail the process to obtain the permit in this manner, but will detail the process I followed to obtain my current permit.  It has taken less than 60 minutes for me to obtain the FMT ("tourist card", like an entry visa but not requiring a passport) at the Migracion (immigration) office at the border and then drive across Mexicali to the SCT office to file the paperwork for my permit.  The receipt issued by the SCT office, after submitting the paperwork and depositing the fee payment at a nearby bank, is considered by SCT sufficient permission to operate while waiting for the actual permit document to arrive from Mexico City.  SCT offices, located in each Mexican state capital and also in other Mexican cities, will accept the applications and send the information on to CoFeTel in Mexico City. 

Although the majority of these web pages detail the process I followed to get the XE permit at the SCT office in Mexicali, the process should be similar at any SCT office across Mexico.  Since CoFeTel only has offices in Mexico City, SCT offices are used by Mexican hams when they need to submit paperwork destined for CoFeTel (applications for new licenses or renewals, yearly reports on their radio activity, etc.).  A limited grasp of Spanish is helpful when visiting SCT offices, as these offices may not have English speakers available.

Documents needed to obtain a permit...
Please follow this link for information on the documentation needed to obtain an amateur permit in Mexico.  In addition to the paperwork, you would pay a fee for the permit.  This changes every 3 to 6 months, and is 887 pesos for the period between 1 July and 31 December 2003.

Once you have your application and FMT (or other immigration papers)...
Once you have the necessary paperwork, you will need to submit it to SCT or CoFeTel.  This may be done by mail, however handling this in person in Mexico works much faster.  Please follow this link to find an SCT or CoFeTel office where this can be done.

Once the paperwork is submitted...
If the application is mailed to Mexico City, you will have to wait until you receive the permit from CoFeTel before you may legally operate.  If you filed the paperwork in person, retain the receipt showing you filed the paperwork and paid the permit fee. You need to have obtained an authorized permit before you can operate.   The actual permit will be mailed by CoFeTel to the address listed on your application or sent to the SCT office where you filed the paperwork - and you can pick the permit up there in 6 to 8 weeks.  Please follow this link for information on Mexican amateur privileges and bands along with helpful information when operating there.  (.JPG images of a recent SCT receipt and CoFeTel permit will open in separate browser windows, with certain items obscured) 

In addition, I have prepared PDF files with the Mexican ham-radio regulations, as issued in 1988 with revisions in 1988 and 1994 (all in Spanish).  All permits issued to foreign hams mention that operations must be done in accordance with these regulations, along with any international regulations and other agreements Mexico is party to related to amateur radio. 

Additional thoughts and comments...
I am no lawyer, just an amateur operator who has been in Mexico many times and dealt with SCT and CoFeTel in the last 3 years.  The information I have provided here is as accurate as I have been able to determine, and anything in these pages may be changed - or ignored - by the Mexican authorities at any time without advance notice.  Use at your own risk.  You have been warned!

Don't want to pay for the XE amateur-radio permit?
Unfortunately, there is no legal alternative to this process to operate ham radio from Mexican territory.  Some who go to Mexico want a legal way to communicate with others in their group, without resorting to cellular phones or other expensive means of communication.  One possible option in that situation may be the Mexican equivalent of the Family Radio Service (FRS) in the USA and Canada.  The FRS radios have 14 UHF channels in the 462 and 467 MHz ranges, narrow FM, no more than 500 milliwatts output, and the radios must use nonremovable antennas - the same requirements for FRS radios in those other 2 countries.  I have more information on the Mexican "Family Radio Service" equivalent on another page, including a link to the Mexican government document that created this service. 

Updated 29 July 2003 - Patrick Stoddard VA7EWK, WD9EWK, XE2/WD9EWK

Additional information related to Mexican amateur-radio permits...

RAC Logo http://xe-permit.wd9ewk.net/ Applying for a permit in Tijuana
RAC Logo http://ham-blog.de/reciprocal-licence-xe-permit.html info from former Mexico resident Christian Buenger, DL6KAC (also XE1/DL6KAC)
RAC Logo Comision Federal de Telecomunicaciones (CoFeTel, Mexican Federal Telecommunications Commission) home page - in Spanish, including the documents that make up the ham-radio regulations in Mexico (in Spanish, HTML format)
RAC Logo Secretaria de Comunicaciones y Transportes (SCT, Mexican Secretariat of Communications and Transport) home page.  This site has a list of all SCT offices in Mexico, except for the Tijuana office - in Spanish
RAC Logo OH2MCN's Mexican permit information, and information for other countries (thanks Veke OH2MCN)
RAC Logo Babelfish, an online translator - put the Spanish-language page URLs in here and get a rough translation into English or several other languages
RAC Logo Federacion Mexicana de Radioexperimentadores (Mexican Federation of Radio Experimenters, the XE IARU society) - in Spanish
RAC Logo N9VIU's web site (Chapala, Mexico) with additional information - in English
RAC Logo Adobe Acrobat Reader program, to view PDF files, is available from the Adobe web site

Please note that the fees charged by SCT/CoFeTel are periodically adjusted.  As of May 2001, the fee is 786 pesos for the 6-month permit.

Updated 27 Apr 07