Mazatlán Airport Information

The Mazatlán airport is called the Rafael Buelna International Airport.  It is located about a 20-30 minute drive from the Golden Zone (i.e. the main tourist area) or the Old Town(Olas Altas) / Downtown areas.  The airport is not very big so you can get in and out fairly quickly.  This page will describe the process of arriving, going through immigration, collecting your luggage, going through customs, obtaining ground transportation, and even how to obtain ground transportation back to the airport.

Mazatlán International Airport as viewed from the runway

Mazatlán International Airport as viewed from the runway

A closer view of Mazatlán International Airport as viewed from the runway

A closer view of Mazatlán International Airport as viewed from the runway

Construction at the Mazatlán Airport

The Mazatlán airport has been undergoing renovations.  So, some of the information on this webpage may be slightly off, but we are attempting to keep it as current as possible.

Arriving at the Mazatlán Airport

The airplanes may or may not connect to a gate depending on the airline and the gate availability.  If your airplane doesn't connect to a gate they will roll stairs up to the airplane after you land for you to disembark upon.  The stairs are steep and this can be an issue for disabled people.  Sometimes, the airplanes have a ramp at the rear of the plane.  Usually, the airlines will park the airplane next to a gate and you will disembark up a ramp.

Going Through Immigration at the Mazatlán Airport

The first thing that you need to do after arriving at the Mazatlán airport is to go through immigration.  This process is similar to going through immigration when entering Canada or the United States.  You will need to show your identification, i.e. passport, and present your immigration form and visa is you require one.  Most airlines will hand out the immigration forms to you on the airplane.  Fill it out when you are on the airplane to save time.  There are two sections to fill out on the immigration form.  They will return one section to you.  You will need to KEEP THIS SECTION and return it when you check in to leave the country.  DO NOT LOSE IT OR IT WILL CAUSE YOU PROBLEMS!!!  You do not need to carry this form with you if you stay in the city of Mazatlán.  However, if you are travelling outside of Mazatlán, you should take it with you.  I was stopped once by Mexican immigration while travelling north of Mazatlán without it.  Luckily, they didn't arrest me, but I had to abandon my trip and return to Mazatlán!  The immigration officer will typically not ask you any questions.  He/She will just fill in the number of days that you are allowed to stay in the country, typically 180.  If you are staying for an extended period of time, you should tell the immigration officer how long you will be staying to be sure that he has filled in enough days on your form.

Collecting your Baggage at the Mazatlán Airport

Next, you will proceed to the baggage area to collect your bags.  There is only 1 baggage carousel so you can't miss it.  Sometimes it can take quite a while to get your bags because they are unloaded by hand.  This area hasn't yet been upgraded so it has been the same for the last 20 years.

Going Through Customs at the Mazatlán Airport

Next, you will proceed through Mexican Customs.  First, you will need to put all your bags through an x-ray machine.  After having your bags x-rayed, you will approach the Customs checkpoint.  There is a stop light pillar with a red and green light.  You need to hand in your Customs form, the other form you received on the airplane, to the Customs official.  They will direct you to push the button on the stop light.  If the light shows green, you are free to exit into the main terminal.  If the light shows red, they will open your bags and inspect the contents.  I have been checked many times so don't sweat it.  They usually only do a simple search.  After the search, you are free to exit into the main terminal.

Ground Transportation at the Mazatlán Airport

Next, you will proceed into the main terminal.  The rental car booths are the first thing you will see when you enter the terminal.

Next, if you have pre-arranged ground transportation to your hotel, you will see the drivers holding up signs when you enter into the main terminal.  Find your driver and go with him.

NEW 2015: To get a taxi or shared van (called a cambio), once you get into the terminal turn right immediately and on the right will be a booth that sells tickets.  This is directly across from the Venados store in the middle of the concourse.  There is a price sign that indicates the cost of a taxi or cambio to various areas of Mazatlán.  They will ask you where you are going and tell you how much the taxi or shared bus(cambio) will be.

A taxi ride from the airport to the main tourist area (called the Golden Zone) runs about US$35.  If you are in no rush and don't mind sharing a van, I recommend taking the Cambio (shared van).  It is about $US8 to take the cambio.  They will direct you to go outside and wait until they get enough people to fill the van.  NOTE: They may not sell you a ticket for a cambio until they have at least 3 or 4 people willing to go!  The cambio will stop to drop people off along the way until they reach your destination.  Normally, this is just about 30-40 minutes, but my last trip it took over 1 hour because there were people going near the port, then downtown, then to the bus station, then finally to the Golden Zone.  If it takes a long time, just enjoy the free city tour!

Note: we had one comment from a visitor that the ticket booth didn't have change so bring some small bills or preferably some pesos with you to prevent this problem.  The airport taxis are part of a union so you can only get an "airport taxi" from the airport.  Regular city taxis cannot pick up from the airport.

The new Taxi/Van ticket booth

The new Taxi/Van ticket booth

The price list for Taxi/Vans-December 2015

The price list for Taxi/Vans-December 2015

The parking lot at the Mazatlán International Airport

The parking lot at the Mazatlán International Airport

An airport van at the Mazatlán International Airport

An airport van at the Mazatlán International Airport

Getting back to the Airport when you leave Mazatlán

There are no city buses or rapid transit to go from the tourist areas to the airport in Mazatlán.  So, if you do not have a hotel to airport transfer as part of your vacation package, you must take a taxi or van to the airport!

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The taxis in Mazatlán are called 'Eco Taxis' and are typically Nissan Sentras which seat 4 at maximum.  These taxis are usually stationed out front of most major hotels and intersections in Mazatlán so they are easy to get.  You don't need a reservation to get a taxi, there are always enough of them available.  With luggage, these taxis can be a tight squeeze even for 4 people.  So, if you have many people you may have to take multiple taxis or arrange for a van that can hold more people.  If you want to get a van, we do recommend that you talk to the front desk or concierge of your hotel the day before to reserve one.  Taxis to the airport typically cost US$20-30 (about 200-350 pesos) depending on how far your hotel is from the airport.  You can negotiate the price with the taxi driver, but they are unlikely to go below 250 pesos ($20US) and probably will want a small tip, e.g. 50 pesos, on top of the amount agreed upon when you reach the airport.  Vans will be more expensive and would need to be arranged beforehand through your hotel.

I don't recommend taking Pulmonias, the open air taxis that look like golf carts, to the airport because there is usually a hot wind and sun on the highway to the airport.  It can be hard on the eyes and body!  Taxis have air conditioning and are more comfortable.  Also, pulmonias don't really have a good place for your luggage to be secured.

There is no need to arrive at the Mazatlán airport any more than 2 hours before any flight.  The Mazatlán airport is small so 2 hours is more than enough time to check in and catch your flight.

REMEMBER that when you check in you will need to hand in the piece of the immigration form that the immigration officer gave you when you arrived in Mexico.  After checking in, you will go the gate area.  They now have a little mall with a Carl Jr's hamburger restaurant and some duty free shops in this area.  You can pass some time here before proceeding through security and arriving at the gate.  Next, you will pass through security.  Once you are through security to the actual gate, there are only a few duty free shops and a cart with very overpriced drinks.

WARNING: if you buy anything at duty free that is liquid, i.e. alcohol or perfume, and are taking a connecting flight in the United States or Canada you will need to take it through security in the US/Canada.  The US and Canada don't allow large volumes of liquid through security anymore.  On my last trip, I bought a bottle of the finest tequila.  When I connected in Phoenix, they wouldn't let me take my tequila through security.  I managed to find a box and some bubble wrap.  However, when I arrived at my final destination, my bottle of tequila was smashed!  What a waste!  So, be warned!

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This page was last updated on January 18, 2016.