U.S. tourists crossing the U.S.-Mexico border by land need travel documents June 1


Forget about the good old days when U.S. travelers to the Mexico border could just flash their driver’s license to get back into the United States. As of June 1 –  this Monday-  tourists to Mexico will need to start bringing their passports ( or other travel documents) to Mexico when they cross by land at places like the San Ysidro border.

The alternative to the passport include:
A passport card
A SENTRI card, A NEXUS card, or a FAST card

A driver’s license with radio-technology that is apparently not available in California.

****UPDATE: Go to this blog post for what happens if you forget your passport:  https://acrosstheborder.wordpress.com/2009/06/19/answer-to-question-about-passport-requirements-at-the-border/     ****

I have been away from the border lately and forgot this date was coming up. I was glad to learn that I don’t have to drag around my passport on my border trips since I have a SENTRI card (I get to use the “faster” border lanes since I’m pre-screened and considered low-risk for bringing illegal substances into the United States) so I should be fine. I had no idea, or had forgotten, what a NEXUS or FAST card are so I did a search and found that NEXUS appears to be the Canada-traveller version of the SENTRI program and FAST is a pre-screened program for commercial border-crossers.

Go here to read more in a story written by reporter Leslie Berestein of The San Diego Union-Tribune
Go here to read to get the latest information from the U.S. government.

168 responses to “U.S. tourists crossing the U.S.-Mexico border by land need travel documents June 1

  1. what happens if you try to cross the border into the united States without a Passport and or your citizen papers only having a drivers licens?

  2. Hi, Felipe. Let me send a message to DHS to see if they have anything to say about this….

  3. can you cross the border (by land) with an expired US passport?

  4. Hi, Carmen. I believe the rules are that you need to have a valid (non-expired) passport.

    Refer to this link regarding what happens if you don’t comply with the new regulations. https://acrosstheborder.wordpress.com/2009/06/19/answer-to-question-about-passport-requirements-at-the-border/

  5. my passport expired a few days ago, and i need to cross the border, so can i do so with a birth certificate?

  6. Hi, Mich. Sounds like you and Carmen are in the same boat! If you can’t delay your trip, I would suggest you read this explanation from U.S. officials about what happens if you don’t have your passport (which I take to mean a VALID passport)


    You might want to bring it along as proof of having a former valid passport. At the worst, it sounds like you might encounter a delay at the border as they verify your information.

  7. me and my 2 sons are trying to make a road trip into mexico.. i was wondering can i purchase my passport cards here and have them mailed to mexico it would help alot since i have to leave in just a few days

  8. Hi, Clara. That’s a good question. I guess it depends on how long you are going to be in Mexico and if you will be in a place to pick them up when they arrive. It sounds a little iffy in terms of logistics.

    Check out this U.S. govt. site: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cbpmc/cbpmc_2223.html

    Note that if you are traveling with children there are some special instructions (here is a snippet from the site that I pulled on July 11, 2009)

    “Effective June 1, 2009, all U.S. citizens are now required to present a passport book, passport card, or WHTI-compliant document when entering the United States.
    Please Note: Children under age 16 will be able to continue crossing land and sea borders using only a U.S. birth certificate (or other form of U.S. citizenship such as a naturalization certificate.). The original birth certificate or a copy may be used. “

  9. my question is on july 31 i would like to go to tijuana mexico i have a 194 departure permit and i have my salvadorean passport sinceam salvadoream i would like to know if i can take my children i is 17 the other is 14 and they have a usa passport but is is going to expired in september 20 2009 can i still use that passport

  10. Hi, Cristina. Check out this government web site regarding the kids…Seems like different rules apply to them based on their ages:


    I pulled a section from that and am reprinting here: “Please Note: Children under age 16 will be able to continue crossing land and sea borders using only a U.S. birth certificate (or other form of U.S. citizenship such as a naturalization certificate.). The original birth certificate or a copy may be used. “

  11. USA is the best country in the world. I wish I can go there someday to visit my aunt.

    • Hi,am karen,I leave in philippines now,Just wanna ask,my fiancee is US citizens,he want to move in Tijuana, Mexico. Do I have to get a fiancee visa to go to Tijuana, Mexico with him?We want to get married there. What we should do so that we can get married to Tijuana, Mexico legally? Please help us,we really need your help. Hope to hear from you soon.

  12. Hi, P.I. Thanks for your note and good luck making it back here.

  13. what if i been in mexico for more than two years and i dont have my passport im about to turn 18 in september and my brothers want me back in atlanta my question is can cross the U.S. border by land even i dont have my passport due to my abscence in the us ???

  14. Hi, Angel.

    Wow. I’m not authorized by the U.S. government to give you advice, but it seems to me – based on what people are sharing on this blog – that you may be delayed at the border as they check into your background, or they may just wave you through after reminding you that you need to get a new passport.

    Your case might be complicated, however, if you don’t have a driver’s license or other documentation. Can you have someone send you a copy of your birth certificate?

  15. Hi Acearley, GET A LIFE!

  16. i am going to tj and i don’t have my passport yet, but i just have my birth certificate and my California id can i cross back to the U.S. with that??

  17. Hi, Ivette. The sixth comment on this post has a link to another blog posting. I would suggest clicking that link. Scroll the comments on that one and you will be able to get a better idea of what might work for you. Good luck with your travel planning!

  18. Acearly,

    As to Angel’s situation, U.S. citizens can apply for a passport at any U.S. embassy or consulate. There is no need to wait until she arrives in the U.S. and risk problems at the border.

  19. Hi,

    I just became a US citizen and do not have a passport yet. I would like to go to Tijuana. Can I cross the border with just the cerficate of naturalization where it shows I’m a US citizen, and my driver’s license?

  20. Hi, Marlyn. I would suggest bringing as many documents that you can – as you have mentioned – and explain your situation to the border officials. Bring a copy of your passport application form, if you have one, too. They may pull you into secondary for additional questioning, but it appears that the passport requirement is being treated more as an educational opportunity for now. See this more recent post: https://acrosstheborder.wordpress.com/2009/09/24/readers-responses-to-u-s-passport-regulations-at-the-border/

  21. I am a Philippines Citizen . and I live in Mexico one year ago and want to cross the border with my Fiance he is American citizen and want to visit his sister dying in Cancer i talk to her on the phone many times and want to see her before she died.My fiance support me and we live together for 3 years.and travel all over Asia.any suggestion.
    I tried to apply in Hongkong a landing Visa in States to come in Mexico because no ways to come inmexioc without Landing or stop over in USA,Canda etc. but im denied,,,Luckily they open the direct flight form Shanghai to Mexico but now they close again due of swine flu,..ty
    Regards Sheila

  22. P>S> I am not going to work in USA I just wanted to visit my Fiance Sister and tour . My dream is Travel and Explore the World and see and play real snow.lol

  23. Hi, Sheila. I wish I had an answer to your question. I can understand why you would want to see your fiance’s sister. That would be so meaningful. It sounds like you are doing the right thing in your attempts to apply for a visa. Keep trying and I hope you are able to go.

  24. I was wondering what i needed to travel from the united states to mexico. Will they ask for any id?

  25. HI, Tony. I’m not clear what your nationality is..you might want to check the U.S. government web site about traveling to and from Mexico:


    Good luck!

  26. What is needed for a Mexican citizen to cross over into the united states just for shopping on the other side of the border? Will they need a passport? What if they only have thier visa, can additional paperwork be obtained for a day or two?

  27. Hi, James. Thanks for writing..unfortunately , I don’t have that information at my fingertips and I know that visas can get quite complicated.

    I do know there is a border crossing card available for those who qualify to do short-term shopping/tourist/family visits: http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1266.html

  28. can i cross the dorder with my green card

  29. Hi, Eduardo. Look up page 6 on this Customs and Border Protection regulations document:

    Click to access kbyg_regulations.pdf

    IT includes a green card is a valid proof of id. But go read it to get the full info…

  30. im still confused i was born here in california and im planning on going to tijuana to see my inlaws do i need a passport too ??

  31. Hi, Rosie.

    If you were born in California then you are supposed to get a passport to return from a border trip according to this new initiative.

    However, it appears that this is being treated more as a recommendation than something that is enforced. I’ve been told the U.S. isn’t denying entry to U.S. citizens who show up at the border without their U.S. passports.

    Instead, I am hearing back from travelers (U.S. citizens) who say they just show their driver’s license or a birth certificate (real or copy). In the worst case, as far as I’m aware of, the customs officials might pull you over into secondary inspection to make sure you are who you say you are.

    That said, it might be a good idea to get your passport documents together for future trips – if anything , just for peace of mind.

  32. Help! I’m at the airport in Denver waiting for a connecting flight to mexico and have been told I need a visa. I’m South African and didn’t apply for one because on the mexperience.com site it said South African’s don’t need a visa.
    Does anyone have some advice? I have a year-long US visa. Would that enable me to benefit from the visitor permit?

  33. Hi, Sharon. It sounds like you needed help right away and I’m not sure that this is going to be of much help since I didn’t check my blog until later today. Did you figure out your situation?


  35. HI, Celsa it already “started” as of last year. The regulations are detailed in the blog post, but you may find it helpful to refer to what some of the other readers have experienced when returning to the U.S. without a passport. It appears the U.S. government is being somewhat flexible with the regulation while advising travellers to get their passports in order.

  36. Hi Aclearly i have a question..okay i was born in Canada and my sister came and got me to bring me to Texas when i was 10 and ive been in Texas ever since then and im 18 now and i dont have my birth certificate i only have a little card that shows the hospital or a passport because everything has been so hard to get since my mom and dad live in Trinidad..well i want to go back to Canada to get everything on track since i cant do nothing in Texas..but i do have a government issued i.d. from Texas..would i be able to make it to Canada with that information?? Or what could i do to make my chances better?? I really need help because i HAVVEEE to go to Canada!!!

    • Hi, Damnshebadd.

      Your question goes a bit beyond this forum’s Mexico focus. Sounds like it might be worth contacting the Canadian embassy/consulate about…sorry I can’t be of much more help but this is entirely out of my area of knowledge.

      Does anyone from Canada have any idea about this?

  37. Thanks people have been saying to just go on greyhound because they wont deny me but im kind of scared to take the chance..

  38. tammy hernandez

    I trying to find out if my sister cross the mexican border is there a way to track it by socail sercuity

    • Hi, tammy. I’ve been told that they are able to track your identity at the border based on that type of information, but they don’t typically ask for it. Several people who have posted on this blog said they are getting through the border without their passports. Seems that some people are still using their driver’s licenses or birth certificate copies.

  39. Hey everybody! I went to Tijuana not to long ago for the weekend on Jan 15,10…I don’t have a passport, I only took my DL and Birth certificate
    I pass without a problem in car. I’m planning to go again this weekend..I will keep you guys updated..I still don’t have a passport

    • HI, Daisy. Thanks so much for sharing! I’m going to write a post soon with comments from people like you who have been crossing without problems.

      What do you like to do when you go to Tijuana? Do you have some favorite places to visit or to eat at? If you ever feel like sharing anything with this audience, just let me know, and I would like to highlight it in a contributing post.

  40. Hello went to Tijuana and back with no problem without a passport. Going again this weekend!

  41. i want to go to san luis rio colorado and i wanted to know if i would or wouldn’t get fined because i do not have my passport. just asking because a couple of friends told i would get fined.

    • Hi, Caesar. I haven’t heard of anyone being fined. They are being “advised” to get their passports for future trips. You might want to refer to some of the comments left on this blog from other border crossers who appear to be going back and forth ok – at least for now.

  42. Hi, i have a question,, I have a little situation her and hoping you can give me some advise.
    I been in Mexico for three years working, I have a permanent resident card since 1998, but it expired last year.. Now i want to go back to L.A.
    I want to cross the border by San Isidro , My question is WHAT WILL HAPPEN ONCE I SHOW A EXPIRED GREEN CARD? WILL THEY ALLOW ME IN once they note that I have been out the country for so long
    Btw… I did n´t ask for permittion to be out of the country for so long ..

    Thank you so much…
    Thank you so much for you´re help

    • Hi, Manny. That’s a good question, and I am not an immigration expert so I’m not sure what to tell you.

      It seems as if it might be a good idea to contact your local consulate/embassy. I’m not clear as to where you are – Tijuana has a consulate, and here is their info: http://tijuana.usconsulate.gov/

      Good luck, and I hope you get your answer soon. Anna

  43. Went to Mexico 2X recently for dental work. The first time I had an expired passport + drivers licence + it was no problem, went right through. 2nd time my passport had “mysteriously” dissappeared so I took an unopened letter, drivers lic. + passport card application incomplete and no problem.

  44. I applied for a new passport and was told it will take 4-6 weeks, that was tuesday. I was told by my office I need to be in Canada in 2 weeks and with living on the border I would be driving.

    I have a copy of my passport along with a copy of the renewal application. What else can I do to make this meeting?

  45. My girlfriend is Guatemalan and has a valid ten year visitor visa for US. She wants to come visit me in California but right now she is pregnant. We have heard that border officials sometimes deny entry to pregnant women. What would be the best and easiest way for her to enter US legally?

  46. i want to know if it would be a problem to go backto the U.S since im at mexico and i did not get a tourist permit to visit mexico since i nhad to leave to mexico in an emergency. and also do i need an authorization from my spouse to take with me my child back to the U.S since my spouse is staying in mexico?

  47. hi my question is, I’m 18 years old and a U.S. citizen. My boyfriend wants me to go with him to drop off his mom at the airport in Tijuana and its a one day thing, but the problem is i don’t have a passport? Is there anyway i can go with him?

    • HI, Jenny. Can’t provide any recommendations since I don’t work for the U.S. government, but you might want to browse some of the other people’s experiences in the comment threads. Seems as if some people are still using their driver’s licenses to cross back into U.S. . .

  48. Touring or just visiting Tiajuana is scary w/all the bad reports in the Media that one hears. You wonder is it safe to leave the US and go into that border town? I will stay on the US side where it’s safer

    • Hi, Josh. I can only attest for my own experiences. I lived in TJ for two years and worked there for a total of seven years and I have gone back and forth since then on the weekends. I enjoy Tijuana and haven’t had any problems myself. That said, the experience is different for each person depending on who you hang out with in Tijuana, your familiarity with the language/culture, and whether you stick to tourist areas or go to places off the beaten track. I have friends there, took, which makes my perspective different. Then again, i’ve travelled in Colombia twice – on vacation – and really enjoyed that. Some of us just like to travel like that.

  49. I’d like to visit Mexico by land on July 26, 2010 with my mom and my daughters 10, 9 and 4 years. We applied for the passport card. But my gps only covers 50 states. How can I go to Mexico? I need the exact address of the border between U.S. and MEX. So we could go up there with the gps, but then we would need guidance on how I could get to the sites in Mexico. What economic and beautiful places of Mexico you recommended me to visit? I’ve never gone, if you would be so kind to guide me I’m going to thank a lot

    • Hi Im again, We also need to know to make a hotel reservation. How long is from Aurora IL to Mexico.? How long it would take to cross the border? How much money U.S. we would need to be in Mexico? We plan to leave on July 26 hata on August 20, 2010.

    • Hi, Vivi.

      So glad to hear you are coming to Mexico! There is so much to see that I don’t know where to start answering this.

      How long from Aurora to Mexico? If you are talking about the border, maybe it would help to do a google map search from your city to the nearest border city (Nuevo Laredo?, Brownsville? That should give you an idea of distance and hours of driving involved: http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&tab=wl

      It sound like you are driving, and that you have a month? When I travelled through mexico, I’ve used the Lonely Planet Mexico book to get a sense of places to visit and what’s feasible. I’m sure there are other really good guidebooks. You can also check Lonely Planet web site for information on Mexico: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/us

      How long to cross the border? Into Mexico, probably not that long. Returning to the U.S. probably longer.

      From where you are coming from, I’m thinking off the top of my head that you could make it down to Guanajuato ( i love that city!), Mexico City (though that might be a bit overwhelming if you are traveling on your own by car – i find it much easier to get around that city by public transport) , Guadalajara, and a bunch of places around the central part of Mexico without being too rushed, such as Morelia and Zacatecas. If you are truly ambitious, the south provides a whole different side of Mexico but that might be a stretch to do all of that in a month.

      Maybe some other readers might have some recommendations???

  50. hi, kay so my son is a year old and my parents are going to the u.s. in november but i couldnt get his passport because i didnt have an i.d. and my visa expired. So my question is can he still cross with them. Also am not going so it will just be the three of them.

  51. i recently had a daughter which will be 2 months in a couple of days she is a u.s. citizen. we were planning on taking a vacation to mexico now that the laws have changed i wanted to know if she HAS to have a passport to go out of the country?? back into the u.s.? & what if the passport is in progress but i do not have it yet?

    • HI, JP. You might want to contact one of the U.S.-based Mexican consular offices that you will find on this page to ask about heading south: http://portal.sre.gob.mx/usa/index.php?option=displaypage&Itemid=111&op=page&SubMenu

      This is from U.S. Department of State on the issue of minors traveling in Mexico: Minors: “Mexican law requires that any non-Mexican citizen under the age of 18 departing Mexico must carry notarized written permission from any parent or guardian not traveling with the child to or from Mexico. This permission must include the name of the parent, the name of the child, the name of anyone traveling with the child, and the notarized signature(s) of the absent parent(s). The State Department recommends that the permission should include travel dates, destinations, airlines and a brief summary of the circumstances surrounding the travel. The child must be carrying the original letter – not a facsimile or scanned copy – as well as proof of the parent/child relationship (usually a birth certificate or court document) – and an original custody decree, if applicable. Travelers should contact the Mexican Embassy or the nearest Mexican consulate for current information.”

      As to heading back north, this U.S. government web page has information on minors returning to U.S: http://www.GetYouHome.gov/html/lang_eng/eng_sa.html

  52. What if I am a green card holder, and I just put in my naturalization papers in, my brother is ill in Mexico I might need to go in case he gets worst, I would only go for a few days.

    1. is the green card all i need to come back to the US?
    2. Do I need a Mexican passport to cross the border by land? (mine is expired)

    thank you for your help =)

  53. My niece came to live with me in the caribbean at 3 months old. Her mom still lives in the US,however, I was told I won’t be able to get her passport here in the caribbean as I am not her mom and I haven’t adopted her legally. How can I get her back into the US to get her passport,she is now 7 years old?

    • HI, Shanan. I’m not sure what to suggest. LEt me think about that, and maybe one of the readers of this blog will have an answer. Anna

  54. Hi Acearley,

    I am an Indian citizen. I’m working in USA (California) on H1B visa (non immigrant visa). I would like to cross the USA-Mexico border on road near San Diego. I would like to spend only few hours in Mexico after crossing the border. I would also need to travel with my parents who are in US on USA tourist visa. Could you please help me with all the info about
    1. Do I/my parents need Mexico visa to cross the border just for few hours or Can we get any pass at the border?
    2. What all documents do I need to carry while crossing the border?

  55. hello i am interested in goin to mexico august but i have my green card.wat document do i need to go to mexico for 4edys..plz

    • This is from Customs and Border Protection web site:

      “If you are a lawful permanent resident (green card holder), you may leave the U.S. multiple times and reenter, as long as you do not intend to stay outside the U.S. for 1 year or more.

      If you intend to stay outside the U.S. for 1 year or more, you must apply for a re-entry permit with the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) prior to leaving the U.S. Re-entry permits are generally valid for 2 years from the date of issuance. Therefore, if you are outside of the U.S. longer than the date the permit was issued, you may be denied entry into the U.S.

      To apply for a re-entry permit, you must file an Application for a Travel Document (I-131) with the USCIS. If you applied for permanent resident status, but are not yet officially a lawful permanent resident “green card holder” and you need to leave the U.S. on emergency, you must apply for and receive advance parole to leave the U.S. by filing a I-131 with USCIS. Information on how to file the I-131 is available on the USCIS Website.

      If you are required to file documents prior to leaving the U.S., it is imperative that you do so, otherwise, you may be found inadmissible and denied reentry into the U.S.

      If you are a green card holder and you do not stay outside the U.S. for 1 year or more, you should have either your green card (INS Form I-551, or your returning resident visa to re-enter the United States. You are not required to present your unexpired passport, however it is not a bad idea to carry it with you.”

      Go here for more info:

  56. I am mexican and cross every other day with my tourist visa my question is: how many days can I legally stay in the US border (El Paso) without any kind of permit, just my tourist visa??

  57. HI, Claudia. Let’s see what we can find:


    Here is a snippet:

    “BCC holders who are authorized to enter to the United States can remain up to 30 days and travel no more than 25 miles beyond the border. Those that wish to travel farther and/or remain longer must request a permit I-94 form (arrival/departure record) in the port of entry at a minimal charge. During the process of applying for the I-94 form, the custom and border protection officer can request updated versions of the same documentation that you presented to the American consular officer in the interview for the visa. They will determine the amount of time you will be permitted to remain in the U.S.”

    Dig around more on their site if that’s not the answer you are looking for. Or here is their contact info…


  58. I have a question. I’m planning to go to Tijuana in a few weeks, only for 2-3 hours (shop around =] ). I’m a naturalized U.S. citizen and I was wondering if I can use my state I.D. and my naturalization certificate to reenter the U.S. or do I have to present a passport?

    • Hi, Haritz. Missed this message when it first came up. Did you end up going? If you are a naturalized U.S. citizen, I would assume that classifies you as a U.S. citizen.

      So we have the passport requirement . If you have had a chance to read what people are saying here, it appears that a number are still crossing without their passports . I have yet to hear from anyone (us citizen) denied entry at the ports of entry. Some people are bringing alternative documents, as you appear to be planning on doing. I would be surprised if you had a problem returning, but you might be pulled over to secondary for additional questioning as the U.S. authorities verify your ID.

      Please write back and let the rest of us know how it went. Your information will help others with the same kinds of questions! Happy travels, Anna

  59. yes you can still enter mexico without a passport in 2010 you need all other documents proving that you are amerincan but that is it

  60. Hi, Tiffany! have you crossed the border lately? If so, can you share with readers what documents you used and whether you encountered any problems? THANKS! Anna

  61. Hi
    When we enter US from Mexico/Tijuana by road, do the CBP officer stamp any thing in our passports like Arrival date, Immigration status etc? Basically we are US permanent residents (or greencards) and wondering whether we need travel Tijuana by Air rather than by Road. Thanks and please let me know.

    • Hi Dev!

      This is from U.S. Customs and Border Protection website regarding re-entry into U.S. The link source: http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/id_visa/legally_admitted_to_the_u_s.xml

      “Lawful Permanent Residents of the United States are required to present their permanent resident card (Form I-551) or other valid evidence of permanent residence status. A passport is not required for entry into the United States.”

      Also, check out this comment thread with Q & A: https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/list/kw/lawful+permanent+residents/p/0/c/0

      Here is more of what they say: “Lawful Permanent Residents (Green Card holders) do not need a passport to enter the United States, however, may need a passport to enter another country. Please contact the embassy of the foreign country you will be traveling to for their requirements.”

      “Lawful Permanent Residents of the U.S. must present a Permanent Resident Card (“Green Card”, INS Form I-551), a Reentry Permit (if gone for more than 1 year), or a Returning Resident Visa (if gone for 2 years or more) to reenter the United States. U.S. LPRs are not required by the U.S. to have a passport for travel within the Western Hemisphere, although most foreign destinations will require you to have one to enter their country (LPRs that are out of the U.S. for more than 180 days are subject to new immigrant inspection procedures as per 8 USC 1101).”

      Hope that helps! Anna

  62. HELLO!
    So glad i found this blog. Me and a few friends are going to TJ for a few hours to explore and shop this friday(8/13/10). We plan on entering through the San Ysidro port.. none of us have passports but we all have drivers licenses and are American citizens.. We are taking the San Diego trolley so we will be walking across the border.. will update soon!

    • HI, Sara. Great to hear that you are going to Tijuana! Next time try to plan more than a few hours because there are really lots of fun things to do that could take longer than that. As to your immediate question, as you may have seen this blog has been getting lots of comments from people with your same question and I have yet to hear back from anyone who was prevented from returning to the United States because they didn’t have a passport. While I continue to recommend that people get their passports in order, it is probably safe to say based on the comments left on this blog that you will be ok (returning to the U.S.) with a valid id for your short border trip. You may – or may not – be scolded by the immigration folks for not having a passport.

      Do write back and share your travel experiences about what happened at the border! Anna.

  63. Im a u.s. citizen and i recently had a baby in the u.s. i only got his hospitals birth certificate and was wondering if i could cross him with that or do i need the certified birth certificate and i do have my passport?

    • Hi, Arlene. This is from the U.S. State Dept’s web site, which indicated that passport isn’t necessary for kids of a certain age.

      **Children under the age of 16 will be able to present the original or copy of their birth certificate, or other proof of citizenship such as a naturalization certificate, or citizenship card.
      More info here: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2009/01/115270.htm

      As to yourself, you may have noticed on this blog that a number or people seem to be crossing back into the United States without their passports, and I have yet to hear from any U.S. citizen being prevented from returning from Mexico for not having one….just a thought.

  64. Hi

    Couple of questions, regarding the legal permanent residents (LPR) entering the country:
    1) Do you know if the CBP officers record the arrival/departure dates in their systems?
    2) We never travelled out of the country by road, wondering if it poses any problem if we drive to Tijuana/Mexico. The problem in the sense that – they might not record the details in the sytem as opposed to the air/sea ports.
    Whats your take on the above?


  65. hello ,
    i was just wondering im going on a trip with my boyfriend and his parents to mexical mexico and i do not have a passport yet ,but is it okay if i take my birth certificate and my school id and my california id will i have trouble coming back into the us ,and do i need a permission letter from my mom does it have to be type or written by hand and like i have only one parent is it okay to just have on parent’s permission ……….
    thank you for your time

    • HI, Susie. I’m not sure your age, but it sounds as if you might be in high school?

      Here is some info. if you are a minor. According to requirements by the U.S. government on this web site – http://travel.state.gov/travel/cbpmc/cbpmc_2223.html – U.S. citizen children UNDER THE AGE OF 16, can continue crossing the land port using a birth certificate (or naturalization document). If you are over the age of 16, then you would probably fall under the passport requirement. I can’t really offer you advice here, since I don’t work for the government, but you may be aware that people are crossing back into theU.S. without a passport by using other documents based on the comments left on these posts. When are you going on your trip?

  66. hi, my name is Amy and i’m 17 and born a u.s citizen . i am currently in mexico due to a family issue and i am wondering if i can return to the united states in car without written parental consent. i have my birth certificate and valid passport.

  67. My name is Emily and I have a question that is a bit off topic. I am not a US citizen – however I would like to go to Mexico and my flight from Paris connects in Houston before leaving for Mexico. Is my landing at the Houston Airport considered crossing the US border? Is here a “transit” area for tourist like me (that is not considered US territory) or I will have to go through Customs just like everyone else? Thank you very much in advance!

    • I”m not familiar with Houston airpot, but I”m thinking in general that once you leave the waiting area you will have to go through Customs again. So if your connection is short you better just stay put!

  68. Hi, I have missplaced my passport and was needing to travel to Mexico this coming weekend. I have my naturalization certificated and a valid drivers license, do you forsee any problem getting back into the U.S. on my return?

  69. hello my name is ana ! my sister ask u long time ago about the passport but i want to know if its the same now . I was born in the USA and I want to travel to Ensenada Mexico to see my family . I have no money to buy a passport nothing … jaja the economy is really bad. I would like to know if i can still cross the border with my California id, birth certificated , social security, I even have a college ID .. do u think ill get a ticket .. or something like that … I read lots of websites from 2009 really old .. so i want to know what is happening right now … thank u so much

    • HI, Ana. As far as I can tell, people are still crossing without their passports at the ports of entry. not recommended, but I have yet to hear from anyone prevented from re-entering the country…please do write back when you do your border crossing so that you can update the information on this blog with your personal experience. That would be very helpful! Anna

  70. i want to cross the border Tijuana San Ysidro by car

  71. hi , i am canadian i am 16 i have a valid canadian passport i am in mexico vacationing , with some friends, i want to know if i can cross the border , tijuana to go to california to go to walt disney,, thank you for taking your time to answer…

    • HI, Maggy. Sorry about the delay in getting back to you. That’s a good question and I don’t know the answer off the top of my head. Were you able to find the answer on your own? Anna

  72. I have a family emergency And my family and I are driving to mexico. Im a u.s citizen , i have state drivers license, birth certificate, ss card, college id and many other things .Everyone has a passport except for me and my sister , will we be able to come back to the U.S with no problems ???

    i need to know asap please anyone ???

  73. my 24 yr. old sister wants travel to Mexico, but doesn’t have a passport, and is 14 weeks pregnant. Will she be able to enter the U.S. again?

  74. Hello My passport expired on october 2010 and i was planning to travel to Sonora Mexico by car (land). Will I be able to travel with my expired passport and come back (texas)or will i need to renew my passport for a new one? The thing is that I think i would not be able to get it on time since it takes 4 to 6 week to get it. Or perhaps can I take my expired passport with my texas id , school id, and birthcertificated will that work? Do i have any other options? thank you will really appreciate your help

  75. I am in US in the mantime and I have a multiple B1/B2 US visa, can I cross the US-Mexico boarder t visit Mexico without getting a Mexico visa inadvane; please confirm.

  76. I am in US in the mantime and I have a multiple B1/B2 US visa, can I cross the US-Mexico boarder to visit Mexico without getting a Mexican visa inadvance; please confirm.

  77. I want to cross border mexico to usa ..?reply

  78. Hi, I am a US Citizen and I live in Los Angeles. I have friends visiting from Philippines with US tourists Visa. They want to go to Tijuana for a day (take the Tijuana day tour which includes transportation and tourist guide, btw, any thoughts on this?), the big question is, are they required to get Mexican Visa for <one day visit to Tijuana? I know their visa back to US is ok. Please reply, thank you.

  79. My husband went back to Mexico to visit his family he only has a passport, he is not yet a legal resident of the US, can he come back to the US with just is passport?

  80. Jacqueline Madariaga

    Hi I am a US citizen and am living in Mexico one of my kids has his US passport but my 5 month year old baby doesnt. I want to cross the border by land to see my relatives in Brownsville teaxas. Do you think that I will be able to cross the border with my baby eventhough she doesnt have a passport of any type. All I have from her is her birth certificate.

  81. Hello. I am a US citizen and I will be applying for a passport. I will be taking a trip to Mexico this summer with my two children. I will be able to get a passport for only one of my children but I will have birth certificates and letters of consent for both of my children. I wanted to know if I would need a tourist card for both myself and my children or would the one for myself suffice in order to travel beyond the bordering states. Also, would both of my children need passports to travel beyond the “free zone” or bordering area?

  82. I was wondering if i cross the border in tijuana with my husbands car does it have to be in my name to cross back to the U.S?

  83. 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

  84. im a american citizen with passport i have a 3 year old girl with no passport can i cross with no problems i had a family emergency had to travel to mexico and did not have time to get her a passporte what can i do

  85. if i am only 14 can i just bring a birth certificate and an school i.d??



  88. hello, Im 21 yrs. old a permanent resident in the U.s. I was planning on going to Tijuana this weekend but unfortunately my mom has my permanent resident card and wont give it to me. On the other hand, I do have my old card which expired on 09. Is it possible if i go and try to cross back that they would let me if I show them my old one and show them my DL, california id, social security and i explain my situation?

  89. hello, Im 21 yrs. old a permanent resident in the U.s. I was planning on going to Tijuana this weekend but unfortunately my mom has my permanent resident card and wont give it to me. On the other hand, I do have my old card which expired on 09. Is it possible if i go and try to cross back that they would let me if I show them my old one and show them my DL, california id, social security and i explain my situation?

  90. i have a 3 year old son and we are planning to visit a friend in mexico i have my passport but what does he need?

  91. Hi, I am mexico citizen and now I am living at Vancouver, I have my laser visa issued in mexico. I am living here at Vancouver as a temporary resident with work permit. If I want to go to US, will I have some troubles with my laser visa at the border? With my laser visa, it’s possible to enter to US from anywhere? any border?

  92. i was born in the united states but i don’t have a passport could i come back from mexico with just my birth certificate and california i.d ?

  93. hi i really need your help!
    so i had a couple of questions,
    my boyfriend is in mexico but was born here in the u.s so legally he is a u.s citzen, however he was taken by his parents over there since he was about 3 4 years old, he’s now 18 and wants to come back here.my qst is it okay if he crosses tijuanas border by land with jst his birth certificate and social because that’s all he has? or will he be denied the entry to the u.s?

  94. my boyfriend in punjabi and has an expired drivers licensce we went to get an id but it hasnt came yet wer going to tj this weekend can he cross the border back to cali with his birth certificate and college id and social and expired id?

  95. hello,
    i have a friend that has a visa and passport and would like to go to tijuana for a day.will they allow him to cross back to the US with that ?hes from new zeland

  96. My friend recently went missing after stating he was going to cross the border to visit family. Obviously, with the current turmoil, I am quite concerned but have received no help from authorities in locating his whereabouts. Is there any way to track/find out whether he even made it across the border using his passport, drivers license, SS #, etc.?

  97. HI, does a baby need a passport and would a baby also need a authorization letter from the other parent allowing to cross the border to tj?

    • Hi, jerry. These kinds of questions probably should be answered by the US government – Customs and Border Protection. Have you checked their web site. I think in the past I have included a link to the answer to that particular question…see if you can find it by scrolling to the top of the comments section since I think that question has come up before.

  98. Please Reply I have 2 us citizens they are both children they are 14 and 9 year olds, they attend school in Mexico and they are going with their grandparents to attend school in Az they don´t have passports, but their birthcertificates and ssns can they go back to the Us without having problems getting home?

  99. Hello! Great blog! I am an italian citizen traveling to Monterrey Mexico for a wedding, I have an “E” Passport, and would like cross by bus to Houston to visit some friends that live there for a few days. I was wondering what other documents besides my passport I might need to cross? And if there is a fee I’d have to pay to cross.

  100. si vivo en el distrito federal pero voy a viajar en vacaciones a tijuana, y quiero cruzar en coche asia estados unidos necesito mi visa y mi pasaporte o puedo pasar si solo cuento con la visa vigente

  101. Hi Acearley,

    I have an valid B1 Visa, and wanted to cross the mexico border from san diego, do I need to have an mexican visa and what all the necessary things I need to take care before crossing the border


  102. Hi i am a 20 year old us citizen and i am planning on traveling to el rodeo guanajuato mexico i am also bringing my two children i am undecided whether to take a plan or drive…..if i drive do i need to get a special permit for my vechicle? Also our passports are in process…..my sons r 4 and 5months old n was told they needed a passport

  103. i was wondering if you can go to mexico for a visit, if your not born in america or mexico?

  104. hi i have a passport,.. do i need 1 for my 3 year old daughter to cross with me to mexico ….. and her father is already down there… soooo i need HELPPPPPPPPP PLEASEEEE!!!!.. thanks

  105. i forgot my passport at home and i need to go to mexico what happenes if i just have my drivers lisence and my ssc?

  106. i forgot my passport at home and i need to go to mexico what happenes if i just have my drivers lisence and my ssn?

    • So sorry it took me while to get back to you, Jose. I don’t work for the US government so I can’t give you advice. I can only point to other readers who have left comments on this blog saying that they have done that and made back ok.

  107. Can I go to tijuana and let back in with just my I.D and birth certificate?

    • It has been done…not saying that I recommend it. But people who have written about their experiences here on this blog seem to have made it back ok, though it’s not recommended. Make sure to get your passport in order when you have a chance!

  108. hi my little sister lost her walet in tijuana, she had all her documents in there (resident card,social card,id) how can she cross back? Iam so concerned for her because she has to go back to school from winter break HELP!

  109. can i cross the from mexico to the US with my school id and an acumalative photo record from my school if it has all my info such as social security number date of birth??

    • HI, Fatima. so sorry to hear about that! I can understand your concern. I can’t really give you guys advice since I don’t work for the US government. You guys might want to reach the US Consulate in Tijuana (might want to find them via an Internet search) to seek guidance. And if she tries to cross the border, make sure she knows her social security number when she crosses so that they can look her up in the system.

  110. please help.. quick

  111. HI, Andrea. I can’t really speak from experience here. I know in the past that has worked. I can’t speak on behalf of the US government, but I think if you have your social security number there and date of birth that should give the US authorities enough to go with to double check your citizenship, if they even get to that point. Write back on this blog and share how it goes so that readers can hear back from you – thanks! Anna

  112. I have I question.. I am pregnet of 6 month but I want to go to tijuana can I go there and come back to the u.s with out I problems.. The person that have permanent resident card need a passport to cross the border..

  113. Cool Blog! Anna, I am driving to Rosarito and just realized my passport expired. I am a US citizen with US birth certificate, and DL. Do they check any documents entering Mexico (at San Ysidro)? I am not too worried about getting back based on the above info. Thanks – Fred

  114. Will appreciate any advice

  115. Hello, my question is the following: I just became a U.S citizen like 2 days ago. My cousin is getting married on March 5, so obviously i dont have my passport. Can I cross to Mexico just with my Certificate of Naturalization. I’m planning to get my passport in Mexico before coming back to the U.S. I’m going to be in mexico for like 3 weeks.

  116. what are all the things tht u can use to go to Mexico?

  117. Hi, my name’s david and I have my passport from mexico it’s gonna expired in 2015, but when I barely got here to usa I got this permit and they said I had to take it to the consulate in Tijuana, but I forgot and then after that I never gave it back.. what do you think can happen if I try to cross the border to tijuana, I really need some help with that.

  118. i still dont have my card yet and im leaving tomorrow for rocky point in mexico. so what should i do help please. and i dont have my birth certifacate. so the only thing that i have really is my socail sucerity card.

  119. if i purchase a ticket from tijuana to mexico city. Do i need an entrance document to mexico at the airport?

  120. i have a sister that was in mexico ive been told she cross the border how can i go about finding if she actually cross the reynosa border is there a way to get that information ?

  121. Jessica Younes

    sorry, i may want to clarify what i mean by ‘procedures’, do they scan the green card or do they just take a look at it? thank you so much

  122. marie sanchez

    hi i was wondering as was born in california but was taken to mexico when i was 3 but now im 21 and want to go back to california but i have no california just have my birth certificate and a mexican i.d can i pas tijuana with that

  123. marie sanchez

    sorry no california i.d

  124. hi can i bring my two sons 16 14 back to the usa from mexico with an i.d. and birth certificate.

  125. hi there i want to go to mexico durango but i just have birth card and id card please have ssi card can i still go with out problems i was born in dallas tx please help .

  126. hi ,i want to marry my fiance he lives in baja california tijuana and i live in van nuys california what do i need to do to bring him over to marry him in the u.s?i know i can bring him on a fiance visa right?but if u can help me out to know what else i need to do i would appriciate the help thank you :samantha.

  127. hi acearley, my name is cesar i came to visit my mother in mexicali and lost my wallet with my driver licence. can i go back to u.s using only my bitrth certificate and college id

  128. Cecilia Flores

    Him I would like to go to Mexicali over the weekend. I just became a US Citizen on June 27, 2012 can I cross back to the US with my citizen certificate and CA Id.

  129. Hi
    I was born in the U.S but I was brought to Mexico when I was 11
    I’m 16 now and will be 17 soon but still underage, Can I get back to the U.S with only my birth certificate? please help!

  130. hi i been in ensenada im over age 26 i dont have a passport can i just go back to the us with my birth cirtificate without a passport with my dad we are us citsense will i have any problems to pass or will they take my finger prints.

  131. Can my uncle cross my kids into Mexico?what paper work does he need?

  132. Hi i have family visiting the US with a philippine passport with a valid US Visa. He wants to visit Mexico for the day and cross the border. Does he need a Visa from mexico to cross the border? Your reply is appreciated.

  133. in december i turn 18 and i will leave to indiana after that my question is can i cross the with just my birth cerificate social security card and 2 school ids i havent tooken out my passport because my name on my birth certificate is missing a letter thats one of the reasons im going back..please help.

  134. Hi myself and partner are from New Zealand and are travling to the usa/la we have got a visa via and current passports. We are wanting to cross into mexio for the day and then back into the usa what are the protcals/prcedures or paper work we need to ensure we have on us?

  135. Hello myself and partner are coming to the us and have a visa wavea and current nz passports to get into lax LA. We where wanting to cross the us/mexio border into mexio for the day then back into the us what papers/things do we need ??

  136. acearly what is done in secondary inspection..im going shopping across the border.. im a natural born citizen . n im registered to live in the border baja california mexico i lost my passport and im only using my arizona id n birthcertificate ..what else is going to b done to in inspection please reply soon

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