Getting across the border into or out of Mexico can take between 30 minutes and several hours. It is best to travel across the border on a weekday or early in the morning. Weekends and holidays are the worst times to cross the border. For border crossing locations in any state click here. Click this link to get border crossing wait times and information on when borders are open, etc.
Beginning on June 1, 2009 all US citizens are now required to present a passport book, passport card, orWHTI-compliant document when entering or re-entering the United States.
Beginning on March 1, 2010 all US citizens are now required to present a valid US passport in order to enter Mexico. This does not apply to the Baja region of Mexico.
Pets must have a health certificate to be able to pass into Mexico. Click here to see where to get a health certificate.
Firearms and Knives:
It is best not to carry even a pocketknife into Mexico as this can result in a weapons charge if a knife is found on a traveler who is arrested for a separate offense. Visitors driving across the border should ensure that their vehicles contain no firearms or ammunition. Mexico imposes harsh penalties for bringing as little as one bullet across its borders, including imprisonment.
Penalties for drug offenses:
The importation, purchase, possession or use of drugs can incur severe and strict penalties, including imprisonment without bail for up to a year before a case is tried. Convicted offenders can expect large fines, as well as jail sentences up to 25 years. Individuals 16 years of age or older are tried as adults.
Warning flags on beaches should be taken seriously. Black or red flags mean DO NOT enter the water. Strong undertow and rough surf are common along beaches throughout Mexico, especially on the Pacific coast, and drownings have occurred when swimmers have been overwhelmed by conditions.
Use only the licensed and regulated “sitio” (SEE-tee-oh) taxis. Some illegitimate taxi drivers are, in fact, criminals in search of victims; users of these taxis have been robbed, kidnapped, and/or raped. Hotels, clubs and restaurants will summon a sitio taxi upon request.
Personal Safety Advice:
Women traveling alone are especially vulnerable and should exercise caution, particularly at night. Victims, who are almost always unaccompanied, have been raped, robbed of personal property, or abducted and then held while their credit cards were used at various businesses and Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs).
US citizens should be very cautious in general when using ATMs in Mexico. If an ATM must be used, it should be accessed only during the business day at large protected facilities (preferably inside commercial establishments, rather than at glass-enclosed, highly visible ATMs on streets).
What you can bring into Mexico?
Under the FM-T, Mexico Visitor’s Permit, each person traveling to Mexico by land can bring the following items into Mexico duty free:
- Gifts or other various items with a value of up to $75.00 duty-free, except for alcohol and tobacco products. Click here for duty free requirements from the Mexico Customs website.
- Click here to see what personal items are permitted into Mexico duty-free.
What merchandise can you bring back across the border from Mexico?
Mexico Regulations (remember these can change so click the link below for updates):
- Upon leaving Mexico you must pay a 15% tax on items purchased in excess of $300 US. The purchased items can be combined among family members, including children/minors.
- If the value of the goods purchased is greater than $1000 per family member, after subtracting the $300 US exemption, or if any of the goods is subject to non-tariff regulations or restrictions, you must hire the services of a customs broker.
US Regulations (remember these can change so click the link below for updates):
- Every 30 days, US citizens who have been in Mexico for 48 hours or more are allowed to bring back $800 worth of duty-free merchandise. The purchased items can be combined among family members, including children/minors. (For example, a family of 3: two parents and one child can import up to $2,400 in duty free items.)
- A flat rate duty must be paid on the next $1,000 worth of purchases
- Any purchases above the flat rate duty amount must be paid at the duty rates for those items.
- You are generally allowed to carry one liter of duty-free alcohol back into the United States for personal use.
Avoid paying duty on foreign-made personal items by registering them with US Customs before you go to Mexico. Take the items to the nearest Customs office and obtain, at no cost, a Certificate of Registration, which allows duty-free entry for the life of the item.