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Escape to San Diego for the Holidays

San Diego is truly a two-nation vacation, with Mexico just 15 miles from downtown. New documentation requirements were implemented June 1, 2009. Please read the list below to ensure your smooth transition to and from Mexico. Knowing what documents are required and having them ready when you return home will help streamline the entry process and ensure your return to the U.S. is as smooth as possible.

Land and Sea Travel

U.S. citizens entering the United States at sea or land ports of entry are required to have documents that comply with the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), most commonly a U.S. passport, a passport card, a trusted traveler card such as NEXUS, SENTRI or FAST, or an enhanced driver's license. See below for the complete list:

  • U.S. Passport - This is an internationally recognized travel document that verifies a person's identity and nationality. It is accepted for travel by air, land and sea.
  • U.S. Passport Card - This is a new, limited-use travel document that fits in your wallet and costs less than a U.S. Passport. It is only valid for travel by land and sea from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean or Bermuda.
  • Enhanced Driver's License (EDL) - Several states and Canadian provinces are issuing this driver's license or identification document that denotes identity and citizenship. It is specifically designed for cross-border travel into the U.S. by land or sea.
  • Trusted Traveler Program Cards - NEXUS, SENTRI or FAST enrollment cards can speed your entry into the U.S. and are issued only to pre-approved, low-risk travelers. The cards are valid for use at land or sea; the NEXUS card can be used in airports with a NEXUS kiosk.
  • Special Groups - Information for Children, Groups of Children, Native Americans, "Closed Loop" Cruises, U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents, U.S. Military, Merchant Mariners, Ferries and Small Boats, and Boaters.

Air Travel

When traveling by air between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean or Bermuda, you are required to present a U.S. passport, except as noted below. This applies to everyone including newborns, infants and children.

The only exceptions to this requirement are for:

  • U.S. citizens on active duty with the U.S. Armed Forces, traveling with military ID and travel orders
  • U.S. citizen merchant mariners traveling in conjunction with maritime business, with U.S. issued Merchant Mariner Document
  • Travelers with a NEXUS card used at a NEXUS kiosk at Canadian Preclearance airports
  • U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents with a Permanent Resident Card or other evidence of permanent residence status and required documentation; refugees and asylees with a Refugee Travel Document

Procedures for Children

Effective June 1, 2009, U.S. citizen children under the age of 16 will be able to present the original or copy of their birth certificate, or other proof of U.S. citizenship such as a naturalization certificate or citizenship card.

Groups of U.S. citizen children ages 16 through 18, when traveling with a school or religious group, social organization, or sports team, will be able to enter under adult supervision with originals or copies of their birth certificates or other proof of citizenship. See the Department of Homeland Security's GetYouHome.gov for more information on the changing travel requirements.

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