Tijuana Gringo : Touristic Information

How to Get Through the Border Gate with Minimum Hassle (Legally).


[ NEW SECURITY PROCEDURES ARE IN EFFECT SINCE 11 SEPTEMBER 2001. You MUST carry identification even if you are obviously (accent/speech/behavior) an United States American. ] (See also: Best times to cross & the Secret of BICYCLES..)

FOR YOUR VIEWING PLEASURE while inflight through xibalba cyberspace,

  • Visit the CUSTOMS BUREAU Website with your questions and smile at their official warning: answers provided are for general information purposes only heh heh heh I'll get you yet my pretty you and your little dog, too, Aunty Em Aunty Em I'll give you Aunty Em in secondary inspections!!!!
  • Visit By the Border for latest information on waiting times, and get your feet wet-cetera.


    The border gate at San Ysidro is open 24 hours. Word is (2003) that Otay gate (good for drivers) will soon be open 24 hours, too. {PHIL: NAIL THIS ONE DOWN PLEASE}

    Trolley: see below or (we dare you) to figure it out for yourselves. *wicked laugh*

    By the way, the Gringo reminds you to: NEVER, Ever, EVER NEVER carry ANYONE else's luggage -- NO Matter WHO -- sweet little old lady, innocent-looking child, or ANYONE asks you....

    WE Repeat: Carry NOTHING that is NOT Yours. Smugglers (and terrorists) would LOVE you to be STUPID and help them get something across!

    Tips for easy crossing:

    1. Wait your turn. [ HAVE YOUR IDENTIFICATION READY -- DRIVER'S LICENSE, PASPORT, VISA, ARE NOW REQUIRED FROM EVERYONE. NO MORE SIMPLY SAYING "U.S. CITIZEN" AND BEING WAVED THROUGH. ] Smile and say hello, good morning, good afternoon, whatever. This gives the officer a chance to quickly check you out and hear your accent.
    2. Be honest.
    3. Be polite.
    4. Remember that under the Constitution, the federal government has full authority [ AND THE CONSTITUTIONAL "RIGHT" ] to guard the borders.
    5. If you drive, often, think of getting a new SENTRI lane pass.
      Charlotte complains: THAT LINK Seems to be dead at present (August 2003) probably due to shuffling of feet and dragging of links contingent upon the departmental re-allignment from Justice to Homeland Security (yeah yeah more of the same bullscheise we know we know but

      Philip ze-codewizard (pay no attention to that little man behind the curtain) answers: um... I think the link has been corrected here but... you never know....

      anyway... we still want to say Thanks to reader Scott Barnett for prompting us to find what used to be and one day might still be that "official" US govt info link). Word has it that late in 2003 the U.S. Government will begin issuing SENTRI passes for pedestrians, too.
    6. If you can choose, walk. This is usually faster than driving (45 minutes versus 100). [ TIMES ARE LONGER NOW WITH NEW SECURITY PROCEDURES See: Best times to cross. ]
    7. Alternatively, ride one of the shuttle busses from downtown Tijuana (DURING BORDER (U.S.) TROLLEY CONSTRUCTION, these busses will kick you out at the U.S. gate or drive you up to the 2nd Trolley Station (Beyer Blvd)....
    8. If you are walking, and there is a wait, think of it as a line at Disneyland, waiting to get on a ride -- SEE, EXPERIENCE the U.S. roller coaster!
    9. Think of it as a supermarket check-out stand.
    11. Don't tell them they work for you....
    12. Be aware what may not be legally brought into the U.S.: many fruits and produce, most fresh meats (some cooked meats), fireworks, etc., ARE NOT ALLOWED.
    13. Be confident. Carry identification. If you are a United States Citizen, say so simply and clearly when you are asked your citizenship, and equally, if you are a citizen of another country, have your passport and/or visa ready.
    14. When they official asks what you are bringing in from Mexico, just say what you have. Don't give big explanations of how you went shopping for one thing and found another, just tell her or him what you have right now.
    15. If you are bringing back drugs (LEGAL drugs) from the pharmacies, make sure you have your Prescription ready to show.
      UPDATED WARNING: Supposedly FARMACIAS VIDA are blacklisted due to drugmoney-laundering connections. They are a big chain with clean, attractive branches everywhere in town including Revolution Avenue. You could easily walk in and buy there without realizing you might have problems if you cross back into the U.S. carrying their little medicine shopping bags with the orange star-sunburst logo and name on the bag. ##SECONDARY UPDATE## Farmacias Vida has CHANGED their NAME (August 2003) je je heh heh the game goes on and on....
    16. Just answer the questions you are asked. Don't waste time telling long involved stories or babeling about what we are telling you here (which is a joke, sort of.... Just Only Answer the Questions you are Asked.
    17. Be polite.
    18. Be honest.
    19. Smile and say thank you.
    20. Enjoy the United States. Spend money. That is why they are letting you in heh heh heh cackle cackle pay no attention to this little man behind the curtain....

  • Other Turinfo Pages:

    Tijuana Maptext.

    Getting Around
    Busses / Taxis




    Leaving Town

    Things to See.

    Revolution Avenue.




    Markets/Swap Meets

    Shopping Malls



    Buying Liquor

    Baja California wine



    U.S. entry gate from Old Tijuana in 2002 ~ A Sepiatone View Today (klik 2 go there)

    Entering Mexico:

    Almost all of these rules listed above also MIGHT apply when you cross into Mexico, although the inspection is USUALLY (not Always) much less rigid -- often you just walk or drive right through. You might be asked your citizenship. If you are carrying a bag or two, you might be asked to push what looks like a "Cross-Walk Signal." If it turns green and says "PASE" then you pass, if it turns red, you show your bags.

    A similar arrangement applies if you drive into Mexico, the red and green lamps indicate pass or stop for revision. If an officer waves you over, you pull over and answer his questions.

    Remember, to visit the border area for less than 72 hours you are not required to have any visa or special car permits (but you should have bought insurance before crossing). This is the law even as far south as Ensenada on the Pacific coast and San Felipe on the Gulf. Some gringos stay longer than the 72 hours, but....

    BUT the geography is more definite. If you are going to go south of Ensenada into Baja California, or deeper into mainland Mexico, you are required to have a visa -- the tourist card in most cases. GET IT! It is an excellent form of identification in Mexico, is very easy to get, and is a statement of your respect for Mexico. WE REPEAT: Having a tourist card shows you respect Mexico, and believe me, the officials will respect that when they stop you at a drug-war checkpoint and shoot everyone who doesn't have their papers in order

  • (WHAT???!!!)
        o h  --   you ARE awake, eh? No. They don't shoot people. Usually. Tourism is one of Mexico's biggest businesses, and if you have a tourist card you really get double respect. Once for obeying the law, and once again for coming to travel here.

    that's not the problem, it was your grammar, dude, you said "shoot everyONE who doesn't have THEIR papers in order" and frankly, Mikey, after all that education you had, if you can't talk right and.... ACK ACK ACK ACK ACK ACK ACK    ACK

    the sound of hands dusting off their dirty business )

    THEN There is the QUESTION of vehicle permits. If you are going into mainland Mexico with your car you will need to pay fees and be licensed to drive your car beyond Baja California.

    AGAIN, if you are just going to Tijuana or Ensenada, no tourist card or vehicle permit is necessary. But if you go further south, get it/them.

    The tourist card costs twenty something dollars. IF YOU ARE WALKING ACROSS it is available right at the border -- in the offices on your left hand a little ways up the corredor past the info cabin, etc., after you cross from San Ysidro to Tijuana. IF YOU ARE DRIVING ACROSS PULL OVER INTO THE BIG SHADED METAL ROOF AREA on the right and ask for Tourist Card Office. You will need to show your passport or U.S. birth certificate. You will need to make the very short walk (a few feet -- right there) to the bank office window right there in the customs inspection area to pay the fee (twenty something dollars) and then return to the first official for final authorization. Normally you will then be good to go anywhere in the country -- Mexico is a huge country -- for up to 180 days (like almost six months!) or maybe 90 (three months). Enjoy! We are not responsible for the accuracy of any of this information, BUT unlike much on this site, this is NOT a deliberate fiction like shooting tourists without visas, above. (PHILip: How 'bout some consular and real turismo links, eh?)

    Trolley Info:

  • Weeknights: The last trolley north to San Diego and Mission Valley leaves the border at 11:30 pm; there are three more trains only to downtown and Old Town at 12:00, 12:30 and 01:00. After that the first train north in the morning is at 04:30.
  • Weekends: If we little cyberbalba gringos are reading the schedule right, it looks like there are trains to downtown and Old Town at 01:30, 02:00, and 03:00 a.m. on Saturday(Sunday morning) night only. We dare you to figure it out for yourselves.

    The trolley station is currently undergoing reconstruction and will be reborn as a splendid example of shining postmodern architecture

    don't let it be forgot
    that once there was a spot
    for one brief shining moment
    that was known as Camelot


    But all seriousness aside, folks, construction info is over there at their huge and confusing website with multiple dropdowns and clicks and menus and omaigad is the trolley as confusing as their pages... (can you tell we're jealous of all their little things? Yes).

    Gringo : Turinfo [Texton]

    Send e-mail to tijuanagringo@yahoo.com
    Copyright 1999-2003 Daniel Charles Thomas