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Crossing the Border

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.

What to Know Before You Go

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.

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; please verify details with the Mexican Consulate before traveling.

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
  • Guests traveling by land who plan to stay longer than 72 hours and travel beyond Ensenada must obtain a tourist permit at the Mexican consulate in the United States or at the Immigration office near the border entrance. The migratory from must be turned in when leaving the country and minors must be accompanied by their parents, or have a notarized letter from the absent parent, authorizing the leave the country.
  • 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.

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. People driving across the border are not currently affected by this. The FMM is a simple form, you can acquire one at all land border crossings. 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

Mexican Insurance and other Services

  • Instant Mexico Auto Insurance 24-hour, one-stop service for Mexico auto insurance, tourist information, pesos and maps.
  • Baja Bound Insurance Services Inc. Online Mexican auto insurance.
  • Border Station Parking & Tourist Information Center San Ysidro border pay parking facility, Tijuana shuttle terminal and tourist information center, serving Tijuana- and Baja-bound travelers.
  • California Baja Rent-A-Car Excursions, 4x4's, seven to 15 passenger vans, trucks, convertibles, cars. Travel in US or anywhere in Mexico. Cabo drop available.
  • Mexico Insurance Services Instant online insurance for auto, truck, RV, motorcycle or rental car for Mexico.

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