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Crossing the Border

Travel between Mexico and San Diego is easy

Below you'll find information on appropriate documentation for crossing into Mexico and on the Cross Border Xpress terminal with direct access between San Diego and the Tijuana Airport. 

As of November 8, 2021, non-essential travel resumed for foreign travelers who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19, can present proof of COVID-19 vaccination status, and have appropriate documentation to enter the United States.

For more information, please visit the Department of Homeland Security's website.

For more information on accepted COVID-19 vaccines and acceptable proof of vaccination, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Travelers should plan for longer than normal wait times and long lines at U.S. land border crossings when planning their trip. For the most up-to-date information on border wait times, visitors can check with Customs and Border Protection or call 619-690-8999.

Mexico does not require COVID-19 vaccination, or a negative COVID-19 test to enter their country. For more information, visit the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Mexico website.

Cross Border Xpress

An easy and convenient way to travel to the region is the Cross Border Xpress CBX) pedestrian bridge connecting the Tijuana International Airport (TIJ) to San Diego. The airport offers access to over 30 destinations within Mexico.

People traveling to the U.S. through CBX will require proof of vaccination. Unlike those arriving directly at an airport in the United States, travelers will not be required to also present a negative COVID-19 test.

Documentation

International Visitors

Citizens of other countries must carry a valid passport with a valid I-94 or multiple entry visa or visa waiver to re-enter the United States. The U.S. government encourages nonimmigrant visitors to download the free CBP One app to streamline the I-94 application.

U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents

When crossing the border back and forth between Baja and San Diego, you'll need to have a valid passport or other acceptable identification handy. When entering the United States, U.S. citizens are required to show passport, U.S. passport card, Trusted Traveler Program card (NEXUS, SENTRI, Global Entry or FAST) or an Enhanced Driver's License. Resident aliens must possess a green card. Knowing which ID to bring depends upon your method of travel (air, land, or sea). Voter's registration card, military ID, driver's license and social security cards are not considered valid forms of citizenship identification. For more information on the San Diego ‒ Tijuana border crossing, visit Smart Border Coalition.

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
  • Special Travel Procedures for Children:
    • U.S. citizen children under age 16 arriving by sea from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, or the Caribbean may present an original or certified copy of his or her birth certificate, Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or Certificate of Citizenship.
    • U.S. citizen children under age 16 arriving by land from Canada or Mexico may present an original or certified copy of his or her birth certificate, Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or Certificate of Citizenship.1
    • 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.

1 Source: U.S. Department of State

International Traveler's Visa Requirements

Passport holders from countries on Mexico's no visa required list do not need to apply for a formal visa to visit Mexico. The maximum period of time that a visitor may stay in Mexico without a formal visa is six months. Pedestrians crossing into Tijuana at the San Ysidro crossing need to complete a Mexico Visitor's Permit (FMM ‒ FREE if the trip is 7 days or less and you cross by land) and present a passport. This form will be provided by the airline or at the port of entry. You can also complete this form online here. If you travel beyond the 22 miles/35 km "free zone" after crossing a land border into Mexico you will need to pay a fee of around US $22. Your USA tourism visa is enough to return to the United States after visiting Mexico.

> Click here for more information on International Traveler's Visa Requirements

Questions?

Visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website for more information.

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