How to Drive Accross the Border Into Mexico Without Confusion
If you have never experienced driving through a border crossing point, this page will help to give a preview of how to make this a smooth experience.
First of all, you should understand that there a many different types of border crossings. Some are in fairly remote areas with very light traffic, while others are extremely busy with thousands of vehicles crossing everyday.The Tijuana border crossing south of San Diego into Baja is the busiest of all of the border crossings. Even at the busiest times, crossing south into Mexico is usually a fairly quick experience that only takes a few minutes. However, crossing north from Mexico back into the US can take an hour or more during the busy times (typically on the weekend afternoons and evenings). See our information page on the Tijuana border crossing
Make Sure to Purchase Your Mexican Auto Insurance Online Before Getting to the Border!
Border crossings can already be a bit confusing and stressful, so the last thing you want is to have to concentrate on purchasing Mexican auto insurance just minutes before crossing the border.
We highly recommend purchasing your Mexican auto insurance Online before you leave on your trip to Mexico. This allows you to breeze across the border without the hassle of dealing with Mexican auto insurance at the border. Start an online Mexican insurance quote >>The picture on the above is taken from the US side of the border as you are approaching the Tijuana border crossing. We will give you a step by step preview of how to handle this border crossing:
Before you get to the border, you should have already determined whether you are going to declare any items with Mexican Customs, or if you need to process any paperwork at the border. If you are unsure, please read our page about Mexican Customs.
If you do not plan on declaring any items at the border crossing (most casual tourists do not), then you should stay in the left lanes where the signs say 'Nothing to Declare'. These lanes allow you to pass over the border without having to stop and get out of your vehicle.
If you do need to declare items or file immigration papers at the border offices, you should go to the far right lane for 'Declarations'. There is a large parking area just across the border for you to pull into on the right where all of the declarations procedures can be handled. NOTE: If you have an RV, you should pull into the declarations lane because customs usually wants to inspect most RV's and motorhomes.
As you come to the actual crossing point in the "No Declarations" lane, you will see traffic lights for each lane. As you approach the light, you must come to a stop. The light will then turn green or red. If the light turns green, then you can proceed to continue driving on into Mexico. If the light turns red, this means the border patrol officials want you to pull over to the declarations parking lot. If the light turns red, the border patrol officials will wave you in the direction of the declarations parking lot. Stay cool, and just drive slowly to where they direct you.
Most border officials speak English, so communication should not be a problem. You will probably be asked to get out of your vehicle so they can do a quick inspection. This is usually a quick and painless procedure, and you will then be allowed to drive on through into Mexico.
As long as you are driving a typical personal vehicle such as a car, SUV, pickup truck, 9 out of 10 times your light will turn green and you will not have to pull over.
If you need to get a tourist visa, you should pull over into the parking areas within a few meters of the border crossing. Read this important information about who needs to get a Mexican tourist visa.
Now that you have crossed into Mexico, we highly recommend that you drive very slowly and cautiously while you look for your road signs and get your bearings. Don't worry if people honk at you because you are driving slow. Just take it nice and slow and enjoy your trip!