Thinking about visiting Mexico while on your next trip to San Diego? You’re not the only one! Avoid long waits at the border with these easy to follow tips.
One of the biggest draws of visiting a border city is the ability to travel to two different countries on the same trip. Fun as visiting Mexico may be (believe us, it can be very fun) crossing the USA-Mexico border can be incredibly time-consuming if you haven’t planned accordingly. With that in mind, we’ve gathered a small list of tips that will help you get to and from Mexico as quickly as possible.
Prepare your documents. (And keep them nearby.)
While in the past a driver’s license and a charming attitude might’ve been enough to head to Mexico and back, nowadays a passport cart is the way to go. Easier to get than a full-fledge passport, a passport card will make re-entry to the USA a much easier task.
Get ready to fill some paperwork.
If you’re planning to stay in Mexico for a couple of days, chances are you’ll be asked to fill a form provided by the Mexican border agents. Have a pen ready and prepare to answer questions like “Are you transporting livestock?” or “Are you transporting food?”. The questions are simple to answer, but they can be through, so make sure to set aside some time for that. (Depending on how long you plan to stay in Mexico, you may or may not be asked to pay a fee. Make sure to have some dollars –or pesos– ready.)
Get familiar with the lanes.
The Mexico-USA border is split into four different lanes: SENTRI, Ready, regular, and pedestrian. If your trip to Mexico is only a day-adventure and not a regular occurrence, chances are you won’t qualify for the SENTRI line. If you have a passport card or a Global Entry card, then head to the Ready lane and keep your documents within reach. If you have a regular passport, then head to the regular lane and get ready to fill those forms we mentioned. If you’re just visiting Mexico for a couple of hours, then consider walking there. The pedestrian lines will also require you to fill some forms and have a passport card, but the wait will be considerably shorter.
Download the app.
As with just about everything in this world, there’s an app for crossing the USA-Mexico border, and you’d do well to download it. The app won’t get you into any of the fast lanes but will tell you which border crossing has the least traffic and how long you can expect to wait. Check the app before crossing in either direction and plan accordingly.
Follow the law.
Guns might be legal in the USA, but they can land you in hot water when visiting Mexico. Make sure to research what kind of thing is illegal to have on you while crossing the border –drugs, endangered species, fruits and vegetables– and leave those at home. Avoiding misunderstandings with border agents is the best way to ensure a smooth border crossing.
Are you traveling with a dog?
Your dog will need papers too! Make sure to get a doggy passport, or a vet signed letter that tells the agents your dog is up to date on his or her vaccinations and is good to travel!