Crossing the Mexican Border by Car? Everything You Need to Know

One of the major things any traveler prays for is smooth travel and this includes no trouble at the border or some creepy hiker on the way. If you’re going to travel – especially by car – you want to be prepared with all the documents you might need to ensure your crossing the border is as stress-free as possible.

Luckily, it is as important to us as it is for you. Hence, this article will discuss some important information that you will need to know before crossing the Mexican border by car. We will highlight the documents that will be required of you and lots of other relevant information to get you fully prepared for any issues you might face at the border.

Crossing the Mexican Border by Car? The Requirements

Here’s a list of requirements and recommendations for crossing the Mexican border by car from the U.S:

  1. Either a valid passport card, passport book with sufficient blank pages, green card, or an extended driver’s license.
  2. A Mexico tourist permit/visa or resident visa depending on how long you would be in Mexico. (This is only for non-citizens)
  3. Proof of Mexican car insurance. (If you are traveling in a Mexican car)
  4. Valid registration for your vehicle.
  5. A Banjerito vehicle permit. (For those planning to travel beyond the permit-free zone, you will need a Mexican temporary vehicle import permit)
  6. Documents for minors.
  7. Documents for pets. (There is a limit of 2 cats or 2 dogs, if you plan to travel with more, you would need to reach out to your Mexican embassy)
  8. Documents for Business trips.
  9. Money.
  10. Driver’s license or international driving permit.
  11. You will be asked to fill out a customs declaration form, you are advised to fill this out as honestly as possible because you can be inspected at any time.
  12. If you are traveling with any medication, be sure to confirm that they are legal in Mexico and you are allowed to travel with them. It is also recommended to travel with your doctor’s prescription.
  13. For those traveling with firearms or ammunition, you would need to obtain authorization to do so from the Mexican authorities.
  14. Items coming into Mexico purchased from the U.S have an exemption of $300, anything more than that will be taxed.
  15. If you have anything to declare, drive into the ‘declaration lane’, if you have nothing to declare, drive into the ‘Nothing to declare lane’.
  16. Vaccinations.
  17. Do some research about the states you would be traveling to so you would be aware of the places to avoid and not become a crime victim.
  18. You might want to consider travel insurance in case your current insurance does not include expenses from another country.
  19. Learn some Spanish, stay vigilant, and dress for warmth.
  20. For emergencies, dial 911. (Yes, even in Mexico)

In addition to the list above, here are some requirements and recommendations for crossing the border from Mexico into the U.S:

  1. Crossing the border back into the U.S takes about 1-3 hours, so be patient.
  2. Be prepared with snacks and entertainment for the wait.
  3. When it’s your turn, be completely prepared with your documents out and hats and/or sunglasses off.
  4. Ensure you have a valid passport, passport card, or WHTI-compliant document.
  5. If you acquired vehicle permits or stickers for your trip to Mexico, ensure to return them in person and recover your deposit before leaving the country.
  6. Prepare documentation for your pets.
  7. You would be required to fill a CBP declaration form declaring everything you are bringing with you from Mexico into the U.S.
  8. There is a $200 limit for items purchased in Mexico, you will be taxed for anything above that.
  9. Clothing, shoes, or purses made of endangered species will not be allowed to cross the border with you. A lot of fruits are also not allowed back into the U.S.
  10. A border official will typically request some information regarding your citizenship, the nature of your trip, and the items coming back with you.
  11. You can cut the wait short by providing a SENTRI card or ‘Fast pass’. This will enable you to use the ‘Ready lanes’ and get a faster inspection. If you will be using a SENTRI card, everyone in the car would need to have theirs as well. The ‘Fast pass’ or ‘Medical pass’ is available for those traveling for treatment.

Can You Cross the Border with A Copy of Your Birth Certificate?

You cannot cross the border by land or sea with a copy of your birth certificate, only minors under the age of 16 are allowed to cross the border with a copy of their birth certificate. Anyone over the age of 16 would need to present a valid passport, passport card, enhanced tribal card, enhanced driver’s license, U.S military identification card, or a trusted traveler’s program card to cross the border.

Children between the ages of 16 and 18 traveling with a school, religious, sport, or social group and an adult supervisor may present a copy of their birth certificate, naturalization certificate, or a consular report of birth abroad.

If you are traveling with your children, along with their passports, it is advised to travel with a copy of each child’s birth certificate, adoption documentation, or custody documents. If you are traveling without the other parent, you would need to have a notarized letter that approves your traveling with the child or children for a specified period.

If you are traveling with a family member’s or friend’s kids, you would need a letter signed by both parents approving your travel. Also, if your child or children are traveling unaccompanied, they will need a letter signed by both parents along with the contact information of the adult who will cater for them at their destination.

Can I Cross the Border with A Mexican Car?

Yes, you can cross the border with a Mexican car if you are a resident or citizen of Mexico, otherwise, customs will assume you are importing the car. Those crossing the border into the U.S from Mexico with a Mexican car would need to present the necessary documentation for the car, which includes license, insurance, and registration.

You can be a Mexican resident or citizen and drive your Mexican car into the U.S with no trouble. You cannot be a U.S citizen and drive a Mexican car into the U.S. Those with dual citizenship will need to prove their citizenship for their current country of residence.

Read also: Best Time to Visit Glacier National Park to Avoid Crowds

Do You Need A Passport to Go to Mexico?

Yes, as a person over the age of 16 and a U.S citizen, you would need a valid passport with sufficient blank pages to go to Mexico. When traveling by land or sea, you are allowed to present a valid passport card, enhanced tribal card, enhanced driver’s license, U.S military identification card, or a trusted traveler’s program card in the absence of your passport. Children under the age of 16 traveling by land or sea do not need a passport to go to Mexico, the guardian can present a copy of their birth certificate. Any U.S citizen of any age traveling by air would need a valid passport to go to Mexico.

Read also: Do You Need A Passport to Go to Tijuana?

Conclusion

This article should be on your list of things to do before crossing the Mexican border by car. It contains all the need-to-knows – and a little extra, just for you. After reading, we recommend doing a little more research about your destination and asking questions if you have any, just to ensure a safe and smooth trip.