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Can I cross the Tijuana border without a Passport?

cross the tijuana border without a passport

If you are an American citizen without a passport and you need to travel to Tijuana for a dental treatment, maybe you are asking yourself “Do I need passport to walk into Mexico?”.

The answer to this is “kind of” because the law demands the use of the passport to go to Tijuana or another place in Mexico, city. However, the Customs and Border Protection service also admits secondary documentation as a valid control method.

Your condition probably requires an additional inspection. But don’t worry, during this inspection you will have to answer a couple more questions, and allow the review of documents and fingerprints verification.


Crossing into the USA from Mexico by land without a U.S. Passport

If you are a US citizen and need to cross the border by land without a US passport, you can opt for the special Ready Lanes cards as secondary documentation:

  • Navigate to a lane that has the Ready Lanes logo.
  • Keep your passport card in hand.
  • Display the passport card to the RFID card readers.
  • Proceed to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer.

Visit the CBP website to find the complete list of acceptable documentation for Ready Lanes.

  • If you are staying in Tijuana and exceed seven days, a $25 fee is required.
  • For travel requirements with underage children, visit CBP

Applying for a Passport Card in the United States or Mexico

US citizens can apply for their passport card in the United States or Mexico. To do this, US citizens living in Mexico can request the necessary documentation at the US consulate.

Meanwhile, US citizens living in the USA can submit their application in the more than 7,000 corresponding offices. Which include post offices, libraries and courts.

Can I go to Tijuana with just a driver’s license?

First, temporary import permits are required for vehicles registered in the USA, and those permits apply when driving beyond border areas (approximately 20 km).

  • NO permits are required in the Baja California Peninsula.

But in case of going beyond the border limits, vehicle permits can be done online through Banjercito, at the Mexican border or at some Mexican consulates in the USA:

  • US citizens must present a passport card as secondary documentation if they do not have a passport available.
  • An entry permit issued by the National Migration Institute (INM) is also required.
  • Citizens must present a valid vehicle registration voucher. Expired registrations may result in the car being impounded.

The driver’s license, by the way, must be current. Avoid risks and process your passport card in case you don’t have a passport available. Supplement your driver’s license with the proper documentation.

Also, remember that the Ready Lanes have an electronic RFIP chip, which supports qualification and fast border access to US citizens.

For more information, go to Travel State Gov.

Crossing the Tijuana border by car

If you stop in Tijuana, it will be necessary to show that you have legally crossed the border. Even if they don’t ask for documentation, don’t forget to stop and get your tourist permit.

This will be very useful to you in the near future. The process will take only a few minutes. As additional information, we advise:

  • Avoid vehicle lines passing through inspection lanes.
  • Stay to the right and proceed to the voluntary declaration area.
  • There you can apply for the tourist permit through the immigration office.
  • Try to say that you are coming to visit and shop to expedite the process. Otherwise you will have to give the exact address of the clinic and hotel where you are staying.

The tourist permit for one week is free. But if you want to exceed the 7-day limit, you will have to apply for the 180-day permit for a costs to $ 25.

In conclusion

The use of a passport is recommended to go to Tijuana. However, if you do not have a passport and have to travel urgently to the city, customs admit secondary documentation:

  • Valid identification.
  • Passport cards with RFID.
  • Tourist permit.
  • Vehicle permit in case of crossing the border by car.

Walking across the Mexican border to get to Tijuana is easy too. Take the crosswalk to do so and submit the proper documentation voluntarily.

In Tijuana you will enjoy the best of the growing dental tourism, and at SOFDental we can help you to save up money. Therefore, also consider taking into account our recommendation of hotels and places to visit in Tijuana.

Schedule your appointment, we are waiting for you.



Dr Martin

By: Dr. Martín Ramírez
Dental Surgeon at SOFDental.


Each patient is a case, in order to make an assessment we need to see you. We invite you to schedule an appointment so we can make an accurate diagnosis.

We take care of your smile

Schedule your Appointment Today

Fill out the following form and we will get in touch as soon as possible to confirm your appointment.

Or you can dial the following numbers:

From Mexico: (664) 685 3979

From USA: (619) 798 7046

At SOFDental Clinic in Tijuana we are waiting for you with specialists ready to take care of your smile.


  1. Sandra

    Haven been to a dentist for 30 years
    Need some teeth spacing maybe and close agap, right upper side.

  2. Paul

    I have bad gum dieses which has cause cavities to eat away from my gum lines to the point my entire mouth needs to be fixed from broken teeth where my wisdoms cause the other teeth to break when coming in

  3. Jay Jacobs

    please call me. I live in Utah but have relatives near San Diego

  4. Frank

    How much is the root canal #5 with Medi-Cal?


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