Memorial Day Weekend: Do You Have Your Passport?


I can always tell when three-day weekends are coming up like this one for Memorial Day. Like clockwork,  I see a spike in blog traffic as people who are thinking of heading to Mexico by car or foot start worrying about whether they will be stranded at the border if they try to cross back into the United States without a U.S. passport.

As you may recall, it was ok for many years to cross the border at the land ports of entry with a flick of your state driver license. A few years ago, the U.S. government outlined a passport “requirement.” Enforcing this hasn’t exactly been practical, and I continue to hear back from people who say that they are making it back just fine without their passports.

Now I personally think everyone should have a passport, just in case you have an itch to pack your bags and go to…who knows where. However, at the border I don’t use a passport (I have a frequent border crosser SENTRI card),  so I rely on readers to share their own border crossing experiences. Here’s a roundup of some of the latest comments people have left on the blog about crossing without a passport:

Here’s one account from reader Rick, who seems to have an affinity for writing in haiku:

“just cross the mexico us border last wekend for the 2nd time no passport only my nevada dl birth certificate ss card no problem only sugested to get my passport soon.”

Here’s a recent first-person account from JLo (you mean, THE JLo? Ok, probably not…)

Hello people well I just cross the border April walking Tijuana border. Yes they do ask for a passport and ask why I didn’t have it. I told them I didn’t have money and they just let me pass. Now they do have a special line for the ones that don’t have one. The funny thing is that a cross the border in 5min and the ones that did have a passport had to wait 2hours . Remember something I did have my *Birth Certificated and my *California ID….. oh another information i have is that children are not asked to have a passport. My littles sister is 10 and they NEVER ask for one. Remember this is only my experience ! hopes this is helpful.. have a nice trip.

And NRod, who is getting a bit grumpy about those long border line waits, reminds us all to update our passports:

People…the lines at the border would go a lot faster if everyone would have either a passport book/passport card, certified birth certificates for travellers under the age of 16 with their school IDs.

If travelling by land, pay the $55 to get the passport card. It is well worth it! It gets frustrating when we have to sit in line for 3 hours to come back to the U.S. from an outreach work weekend because people don’t have the proper documentation.

Happy travels south of the border this weekend!

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8 responses to “Memorial Day Weekend: Do You Have Your Passport?

  1. I’ve had several friends who do not have passports come back from Tijuana w/o a passport. Apparently, as long as you’re otherwise unquestionably a US citizen, they’ll let you back, albeit sometimes with a delay just to make their point that you’re not in compliance. I prefer to have a passport and traverse the border more smoothly.

  2. Thanks, for the insight, Mike!

  3. I’ve never made this trip but might soon have to, for an assignment.
    This post will sure come in handy if/when I do.
    Thanks for sharing. :)

  4. If I am not mistaken, you can travel cross country without the passport.

  5. hey well i have a ? my under age brother is comeing bak from mexico and he been ther for three years he has a brithcertificate and ssc but has no school id or passport will he be able to cross over?

  6. Question, I have a friend who has an expired green card. She is looking to fly into mexico and attempt to cross the Tijuana border. She has attempted to renew her visa but the consulate is not helpful. She is trying to get back to the states to hire a lawyer and get legal status. With her expired green card, ss card, and expired Louisana Driver license will they let her cross the border. I have heard the will parole her 90 days so she can appear before a magistrate judge?? Please help

  7. hey im janet i have a question about leave to mexico with out a passport im leaving the 18 of dec 2011 and i applied for a pass a port but haven’t got it and dont think it will gt here on time so i was wounder what woukld happen if i leave with out it

  8. Hey i applied for a passport but i wont get it on time and i leave this saturday, my parents will sent me my passport when it arrives so i wont have any trouble getting back to the u.s … But im worried will they let me enter México without it ??? Can i be refused to enter?? Help

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