Long Guide to Crossing the Border
This guide provides detailed information, some of it also found in the Guide Basics of Crossing the Border for southbound and northbound land travelers, including those using CBX Cross Border Xpress to access Tijuana International Airport.
El Chaparral PedWest
PedWest, also called Pedestrian West at El Chaparral, and PedEast are closest to the main tourist areas of Tijuana.Learn More
San Ysidro PedEast
Known as PedEast, the entrance has 22 lanes, and significantly increases the pedestrian inspection capacity at San Ysidro, the busiest land port in the Western Hemisphere.Learn More
CBX Cross Border Xpress
Cross Border Xpress (CBX), also called the Tijuana Cross-Border Terminal and the Puerta de las Californias, is an airport terminal located in the Otay Mesa area of southern San Diego, with an access bridge connecting it to the Tijuana International Airport.Learn More
The Otay Mesa Port of Entry connects Otay Mesa in the City of San Diego with the Otay Centenario borough of Tijuana.Learn More
The Tecate Port of Entry is located between Tecate, California in San Diego County's Mountain Empire and the Tecate Municipality in Baja California.Learn More
Crossing points for cars, trucks, and buses
- Cars ( San Ysidro, Otay Mesa, Tecate )
- Trucks ( Otay Mesa, Tecate )
- Buses ( San Ysidro, Otay Mesa, Tecate )
How to get to border crossings into the U.S.
Travel documents required to enter the U.S.
For U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents:
- U.S. citizens may present a valid U.S. passport; Passport Card; enhanced driver’s license; Trusted Traveler Program card (SENTRI or Global Entry); U.S. military identification card when traveling on official orders; U.S. Merchant Mariner document when traveling in conjunction with official maritime business; or Form I-872 American Indian Card, or (when available) Enhanced Tribal Card.
- U.S. citizen children under the age of 16 (or under 19, if traveling with a school, religious, or other youth group) need only present a birth certificate or other proof of citizenship. The birth certificate can be original, a photocopy, or a certified copy.
- U.S. lawful permanent residents are required to present their permanent resident card (Form I-551) or other valid evidence of permanent residence status.
For Mexican citizens residing in Mexico:
- Mexican citizens residing in Mexico, including children, are required to present a passport with visa or a Border Crossing Card.
- Border Crossing Cards (DSP-150)
A Border Crossing Card allows the bearer to enter the U.S. from Mexico by land, ferry, or pleasure vessel with no other documentation. Only Mexican citizens residing in Mexico are eligible for Border Crossing Cards.
Other foreign nationals:
- Foreign nationals or aliens entering the U.S. are generally required to present a passport and valid visa issued by a U.S. consular official, unless they are citizens of a country eligible for the Visa Waiver Program or are a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. or citizen of Canada.
Options for expedited crossings for qualified travelers:
- SENTRI Program
Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection (SENTRI) is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. There are no age or nationality requirements for SENTRI. Participants may enter the United States by using the dedicated primary vehicle and pedestrian lanes into the United States at southern land border ports only. SENTRI cardholders may not use SENTRI vehicle lanes without first registering the vehicle bring driven.
- Global Entry Program
Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. U.S. citizens, U.S. lawful permanent residents and citizens of Mexico and certain other countries are eligible for Global Entry membership. It is not limited to the southern land border ports. Global Entry cardholders may not use SENTRI vehicle lanes without first registering the vehicle bring driven with the SENTRI program.
- Medical Lane into the U.S.
Certain medical facilities in Tijuana may provide their patients with passes to use the special Medical Lane at San Ysidro to cross into the U.S. more quickly. The Medical Lane is on Mexican territory and is therefore regulated by Mexico.
Which items does the U.S. limit or prohibit from bringing from Mexico?
- No firearms or ammunition may be transported across the border without advance official permission from both Mexico and the U.S. Doing so without permission is a serious crime.
- Alcoholic beverages:
- Pedestrians and California residents in private vehicles over age 21 may bring in one liter every 31 days.
- Non-California residents over age 21 in private vehicles may bring in up to five cases or 60 liters, if for personal or household use.
- All persons over age 21 traveling by common carrier may bring in up to five cases or 60 liters, if for personal or household use.
- Cuban cigars may be imported, if for personal use.
- Certain medications are prohibited.
- Gifts and personal items acquired in Mexico whose value exceeds the U.S. $800 exemption must be declared and are generally subject to duty.
- Any illegal drug.
- Switchblade knives, sea turtle boots, or any other articles of endangered species (i.e. spotted cats, coral, crocodiles, elephants, etc.).
- All agricultural products must be declared. Many fresh fruits, including oranges, are prohibited.
More https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/1276/~/food--bring-personal-use-food-into-the-u.s.-from-mexico and https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/planthealth/import-information
- Some fresh vegetables, cut flowers, animal products, birds, and horses are prohibited.
Mexican government assistance in San Diego
- The Mexican Consulate General in San Diego is located at:
1549 India St.
San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: (619) 231-8414
Regular business may be conducted at the Consulate General from Monday through Friday. Business hours vary, depending on the department. Persons seeking emergency assistance may call (619) 231-3847.
- For official government information on immigrating to the U.S., go to
- Wait times
For real-time northbound wait times, go to: https://bwt.cbp.gov/index.html
- Peak times on weekdays
With many adults and children residing in Mexico but working or attending school in the U.S., northbound traffic is usually heavy between 4 and 8 a.m. on weekdays. Delays are also often common during the evenings of U.S. holidays or the following mornings.
- Peak times on weekends and holidays
Border crossing traffic congestion is unpredictable and often occurs early morning for people going to work or school in the United States and on U.S. holidays as well as Sunday evenings and Monday mornings.
- For information about San Diego points of interest, click here https://www.sandiego.org/about.aspx