Tips for crossing quickly back into the US from Tijuana:
The main objection many people have about going into Tijuana is the long line for going back across the border to the US. With all the construction of the new Customs facility, there are delays that will continue until they are finished. However, there are some ways to facilitate crossing back into the US more quickly. Below are a couple of tips that will make things to go much more smoothly. Although we can pick you up at the border, and will take you back to the line, we can’t take you back across to the US side. Logistics won’t permit that we transport everyone back to the US, so we can only make arrangements, for those who have flown into San Diego, back to the airport.
1.- Most Important – Get a US Passport Card. With a US Passport Card, rather than a Passport book, you can use the Ready Lane. The passport card is an I.D. with an RFID chip, (radio frequency identification). It allows the Customs agents to automatically scan the card, and have your information on the computer screen, before you get to the counter. US Customs has created special lanes for persons with this type of I.D., and only those with one of these cards can get in that line. If you have a passport card, you do not have to wait in the regular line, but can walk past everyone, and go in the gate that says “Ready Lane”. The average wait in the Ready Lane is between 30 to 45 minutes. To get a Passport Card costs $40, and you get it at the same place you would get you passport book. It takes about 3 weeks to arrive, unless you pay a little extra, to get it expedited in about a week.
2.- Drive in to Tijuana and return using the Medical Fast Lane to the US. There Mexican authorities have created a special driving lane, to help Medical/dental tourism. You will need a pass, which we can print for you, to be able to gain access to the Fast Lane. It is simple to get to get to drive to our clinic, and the patient coordinator will give you clear instructions when you make the appointment. He will also show you how to return, via the Medical Fast Lane. There is secure parking near the clinic, and of course your car will be safe at any hotel we would recommend for you. Please write down your license plate number, and bring it with you when you come to the clinic, so we can print out your pass.
Important Note: Because the Fast Lane merges with the Ready Lane, in order to use a Medical Fast Pass, you have to make sure everyone in the car has an ID with the RIFD chip. The ID with a chip is a Passport CARD, a Border Crossing Card, a new version of a Permanent Resident card, or an enhanced drivers license. If you only have a passport book, or a regular drivers license, they you don’t have a chip, so you will have to go through the regular lanes.
3.- Alternative means of transportation. If you are without a Passport Card, and not willing to drive into Tijuana, there are some alternatives, mainly, return to the US in a van or bus. They will charge you $10 each, and you will get to sit, rather than stand in the line. Sometimes it is a lot faster than walking, especially if the line is very long. However, it will take much longer than the Ready Lane. Our patient coordinator will explain how it works when he takes you back to the line and drops you off.
4.- To avoid hassles, have the proper documents. The proper documents are a US Passport Card, a US Passport Book, or an expired US Passport. (An expired US Passport is considered a valid form of identification at US Customs, because it proves you are a legal resident of the US, and it is still registered in the US National Database). If you do not have a US Passport, you will still be allowed to re-enter the US, but they will have to screen you more carefully, which could cause you some delay. If you don’t have a passport, at least bring your state driver’s license or I.D. card, and a second I.D., like your birth certificate.