Getting into Mexico is one thing, but getting back into the United States is something else. The bad news is that the border wait to re-enter can be anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours.
To check current border traffic from San Diego, call (619) 690-8999. From Tijuana, call 01 (664) 700-7000. Or you can check border traffic online.
Documentation to Get back into the U.S.
The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative requires that by Summer 2008, at a later date, to be determined, the departments will implement the full requirements of the land and sea phase of WHTI. The implementation date will be determined based on a number of factors, including the progress of actions undertaken by the Department of Homeland Security to implement the WHTI requirements and the availability of WHTI compliant documents on both sides of the border. DHS and DOS expect the date of full WHTI implementation to be in the summer of 2008. The precise implementation date will be formally announced with at least 60 days notice. At that time all U.S. citizens have a valid passport or other secure, accepted document, in order to enter or re-enter the United States by land.
Until this requirement is in effect as noted above, U.S. citizens are currently exempt from the requirement to show a passport unless they are returning to the U.S. from outside the Western Hemisphere (Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia). However, it is highly recommended that you be prepared to present documentation such as valid U.S. passport, U.S. birth certificate, or naturalization certificate to avoid delays.
- Generally, a valid, unexpired passport and visa. However, certain classes may require specific supporting documentation such as an employment petition, student authorization, or approval notice.
- Nationals of countries authorized to participate in the *Visa Waver program are required to present an unexpired machine-readable passport. For additional information refer to the State Department at Visa Waiver Program - State Department.
- Nationals of countries authorized to participate in the Guam visa Waiver Program are required to present an unexpired passport.
- Mexicans may provide a valid DSP-150 (BCC) in lieu of a valid passport and visas.
- Generally, Canadian Nationals must show ID but are exempt from passport and visa requirements. However presentation of a Canadian passport, birth certificate, Naturalization certificate or other supporting documentation will facilitate the inspection and is strongly encouraged.
What Items You Need to Declare to Enter Back into the U.S. from Mexico
When you come back, you will need to declare everything you brought back that you did not take with you when you left the United States.
- Items you purchased and are carrying with you upon return to the United States.
- Items you received as gifts, such as wedding or birthday presents.
- Items you inherited.
- Items you bought in duty-free shops, on the ship, or on the plane.
- Repairs or alterations to any items you took abroad and then brought back, even if the repairs/alterations were performed free of charge.
- Items you brought home for someone else.
- Items you intend to sell or use in your business.
- Items you acquired— whether purchased or received as gifts in the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, or in a Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act country ( see section on $800 exemption for a list of these countries) that are not in your possession when you return. In other words, if you acquired items in any of these island nations and asked the merchant to send them to you, you must still declare them when you go through Customs. This differs from the usual procedure for mailed items, which is discussed in the section on Sending Goods to the United States.
The duty-free exemption, also called the personal exemption, is the total value of merchandise you may bring back to the United States without having to pay duty. You may bring back more than your exemption, but you will have to pay duty on it. In most cases, the personal exemption is $800, but there are some exceptions to this rule, which are explained below.
- 200 Cigarettes
- 50 Cigars or 250g of Tobacco
- 2 Litres of wine
- 1 Litre of Spirits (>22% alcohol by volume)
- 60cl of perfume
Can I Bring Back Prescription Drugs from Mexico
Can only be imported from Tijuana if you have a prescription from a US doctor (90 day supply only). Prescriptions written by doctors in Tijuana or other cities in Mexico are no longer considered valid. Medications, are available over the counter in Mexico at considerable savings. Most tourist areas have several high-volume pharmacies per block. Amounts purchased must be for personal use, not for resale.
Items that are Prohibited from Bringing into the U.S.
Lottery tickets, narcotics and dangerous drugs, obscene articles and publications, seditious and treasonable materials, hazardous articles (e.g., fireworks, dangerous toys, toxic and poisonous substances), switch blade knives, drug paraphernalia, and many meats & fruits (see customs for a complete list). Cuban cigars are legal in Mexico and readily available everywhere in the border area, but cannot be brought into the United States.
Before you leave for your trip abroad, you might want to talk to CBP about the items you plan to bring back to be sure they’re not prohibited or restricted. Prohibited means the item is forbidden by law to enter the United States. Examples of prohibited items are dangerous toys, cars that don’t protect their occupants in a crash, or illegal substances like absinthe and Rohypnol. For a complete list of restricted or prohibited items click here
It is best to not bring back fruits, vegetables, meat or dairy products from Mexico. Fresh fruits and vegetables can carry plant pests or diseases into the United States. Money or monetary instruments worth more than US $10,000 must be declared. for a list of prohibited foods click here
For Further information on entering back into the U.S. from Mexico the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website has put together a list of everything you would need to know to before you go abroad.