Mexico has an excellent highway infrastructure that connect states and cities between them. Baja is no exception as it is famous for its beautiful natural scenery and landscapes. Federal Highway 1D is one of the most famous highways in the world, connects Tijuana with Ensenada and here you can witness the majestic cliffs emerging from the Pacific coast as you near Ensenada this highway runs along the coast for the most part, this strip of houses, condos, resorts, marinas and golf clubs is home to one of the biggest expat communities in the world.
Toll roads in Mexico are relatively cheap and convenient (approx 6 USD) from the border to Ensenada. This highways are very safe, reliable and include minor insurance in case of accident or windshield damage.
This is an electronic prepaid system, kind of like a FastTrak lane. You just need to apply calling a toll free number 01 800 422 2400 and you will receive a windshield sticker that deducts the payment automatically every time you pass a toll booth. You receive a 6% discount paying this way.
The green angels are mobile units that offer emergency mechanical assistance, as well as driving instructions and orientation in case needed. Labor and towing is free but part replacement goes at the expense of the car owner. The green trucks are easy to identify. In case of needing one just dial 078 have at hand the exact location of your vehicle (Mexican highways are numbered each kilometer in case of any eventuality).
Remember that you are also covered by your BajaScape insurance in case of car malfunction but it is recommended to use the green angels service while traveling thru toll roads because their units are already on site.
If fined by the traffic police, don't worry, just be polite and asked the officer for a written fine and the amount to be paid to be specified. You can pay by mail from the US when you come back!
Below are the addresses to where send payment depending on the city you were fined.
If fined in Tijuana, you can pay by sending a check or money order to: H. Ayuntamiento de Tijuana, 416 West San Ysidro Blvd. Suite "L", No.725, San Ysidro, CA 92143.
If fined in Rosarito, you can pay sending a check or money order to:
H. Ayuntamiento de Rosarito, PO Box 439016 San Ysidro, CA 92143-9016.
If fined in Ensenada, you can pay sending a check or money order to:
Municipio de Ensenada, PMB 147 PO Box 189003.
If fined in Mexicali, you can pay sending a check or money order to:
H. Ayuntamiento de Mexicali, PB 6027, 23 Ave. Paulin., Calexico, CA. 92231-2646.
For fines in San Felipe or Tecate you can pay directly in the police station.
Mexico Entry Requirements for Tourists and Short Term Visitors
Passport holders from the US are exempt from acquiring Mexican visa!
Instead they may apply for a visitors permit, known as FMM
Mexico visitors permit (FMM) will need to be filled out in place of a visa. If traveling by air, you can pick one upon arrival at the airport check-in counters or one will be handed to you during flight. If crossing by land there are Mexican immigration offices at all border crossings. If you are staying less than 72 hours in Mexico the permit is not needed!
For information regarding or recommended documentation for crossing back to the US please visit our SENTRI/Passport Cards section on the right column.
For more info. please visit the Tijuana US consulate webpage.
Types of visa
► Visitors visa without permission to perform paid activities
► Visitors visa with permission to perform paid activities
► Visitors visa to perform adoption procedures
► Temporary resident visa
► Resident student temporary visa
► Permanent resident visa
*Visas are issued at the consular offices
If you are a Permanent Resident of the following countries: Canada, the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and any of the countries of the Schengen Area, you do not need a visa to enter Mexico for tourism, business or transit purposes.
American driver's license are accepted in Mexico
The Temporary Import PermitThe Temporary Import Permit was created to prevent imported vehicles from remaining in Mexico illegally. There are only two areas of Mexico where you can drive your car without needing Temporary Import Permit. The first is the Border Zone, which extends from the US and Mexico border to approximately 20 kilometers south of the border throughout the country. The second is the Free Trade Zone which includes the Baja, California peninsula and the Sonora Free Trade Zone.
Applying for the Temporary Import PermitYou can apply for the Temporary Import Permit at the border or at a Mexican Consulate before you travel to Mexico. The required documents include You will need to bring the original and two photocopies of multiple documents including your passport, the vehicle registration, your US driver's license and a US credit card that will be accepted in Mexico. Present your documents at the Modulo de Control Vehicular lane of the crossing, pay the application fee and post the return guarantee bond. This is a deposit you make to ensure you bring the car back from Mexico. Your permit will be valid for multiple border crossings for up to 180 days.
For guidance from US and Canada Toll-free number:
1 877 44 88 728 or from anywhere in Mexico at 01 55 627 22 728
Car Insurance in MexicoThere are two aspects of car insurance to consider. The first is liability. You must purchase Mexican liability insurance from a Mexican insurance company because your US liability coverage will not be valid in Mexico. The second consideration is collision and comprehensive insurance. Your US insurance company may still cover a claim you make for damage to your vehicle while driving in Mexico, but it is not likely. Your insurance company can tell you for sure. If you are involved in an accident in Mexico, you may be taken into custody until fault is determined. When you purchase your liability insurance, be sure that it includes coverage for bail in case you are detained.
Donation of Goods
If you plan to bring goods to Mexico for donation purposes, please follow this link for more customs information and requirements.
Crossing the border
The San Ysidro border crossing between San Diego and Tijuana is considered the busiest border crossing in the world. Here are some helpful hints to decrease your wait time at the border:
The options for crossing the border include: automobile, walking, motel shuttle, border bus service, SENTRI commuter pass, and motorcycle or scooter.
Wait times vary from 20 minutes to over two hours, depending on the time of day and other factors.
Wait times vary from 3 minutes to one hour, but the wait is usually less than 40 minutes.
Border bus service
On busy days at the border, buses are available in the bus lane (next to the walking line) which will charge a fee for boarding the bus (approx 20 USD). This may or may not be faster than walking, but is usually faster than driving.
SENTRI commuter pass
A “trusted traveler” program developed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the SENTRI program allows enrolled citizens to cross the border quickly in a set of dedicated lanes. The program is very popular, and thus there are times when even the SENTRI lines can be backed up for over an hour. There is an online application process which takes several weeks. For more information, go to CBP.gov
US Passport Card
The new passport cards are required to use the Fast Lane, a special more convenient way of crossing into US, quicker than the average lanes but slower than the SENTRI lanes. The US passport card comes with the RFID chip so background checks are faster than travelling with the standard book passport. If crossing by foot the US passport card and SENTRI card are extremely recommended due to the high amount of people trying to cross this way.
Motorcycle, bicycle or scooter
These vehicles are allowed to go to the front of the line at any hour, making wait times very short. One must have the proper classification on one’s driver’s license to operate a motorcycle in the U.S.
Monday through Friday mornings there is a long wait as thousands of commuters and students pack the regular car lanes and the SENTRI lanes. This traffic eases by 10 am. During weekends, holidays and vacation periods, vehicle traffic is increased throughout the day, and walking wait times are increased somewhat, also.
The San Diego Trolley operates the Blue Line train which stops right at the border. The Trolley heads straight north from the border to downtown, with connections to the airport and elsewhere. Train service is frequent all day.
There are paid, secure parking lots near the border where one can leave one’s car and walk to the Center. The walk is less than 15 minutes. Exit from Interstate 5 or 805 on Camino de la Plaza, marked o the freeway signs as “Last U.S. Exit.” At the first intersection you will see parking lots straight ahead and to the right.
Patients who plan to stay for treatment for several days may consider staying on the Mexican side of the border at the Rosarito Beach Hotel.
Crossing the border
Driving into Mexico the first thing youll notice is the warmth and friendliness of the people, no wonder why Mexicans are famous for their hospitality.
Major cities in the Peninsula have a special designated touristic police that speak English and are trained and capacitated especially to assist any tourist when in need, from all things that could come up from directions to any doubts you may come across.
Great links to check out
Baja California Sur
Great links to check out
Great links to check out
- Tourist in México
- Discover Baja California
- Rough Guides
- Visit México
- Baja Health Tourism
- US Consulate.gov
Sentri and Passport Cards
We recommend applying for the SENTRI/Passport card program in order to avoid the long waiting times that can occur in the border crossings. With the brand new San Ysidro port of entry, the waiting times have come down significantly. But still, crossing into US during the morning gets saturated with people from Tijuana that work in San Diego or during long weekends you can expect long lines of tourists coming back to the US.
The process of obtaining the SENTRI card is simple and quick. First just create a new account, follow the instructions and an appointment will be given to you. Just follow this link to begin your application. Just follow this link to begin your application.
The US passport is a RFID identification method that permits you to access the Fast Lanes when crossing, these lanes are faster that the average lanes but still slower that the ultra fast SENTRI lane.
The US passport card is widely used to cross by foot because you can go all the way to the front of the line and avoid the long waiting times when walking.
The U.S. Passport Card can be used to enter the United States from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda at land border crossings or sea ports-of-entry and is more convenient and less expensive than a passport book. The passport card cannot be used for international travel by air.
To apply for your Passport Card please follow the following link HERE.
Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Members enter the United States through automatic kiosks at select airports.
At airports, program members proceed to Global Entry kiosks, present their machine-readable passport or U.S. permanent resident card, place their fingerprints on the scanner for fingerprint verification and complete a customs declaration. The kiosk issues the traveler a transaction receipt and directs the traveler to baggage claim and the exit.
Travelers must be pre-approved for the Global Entry program. All applicants undergo a rigorous background check and in-person interview before enrollment.
For more info please follow this link.