Do I need a passport to cross into Tijuana?

The short answer is yes, if you’re walking or driving across you do need a passport. If you don’t have a passport, they will accept a driver’s license and a birth certificate.

Officials are trying to phase in the passport requirement, but come on. What are they going to do if you don’t have it? Refuse to let you back in the U.S.? They may detain you for a bit and ask you citizenship questions, but they’ll eventually let you back in.

What most people don’t know is that until 2008, you didn’t even need a driver’s license or birth certificate to get back into the U.S. It was highly recommended, but if you didn’t have either, all that was required was a verbal statement of citizenship. It was up to Border Agents to challenge your verbal declaration.

My how things have changed.

UPDATE: I’ve crossed a few times without my Sentri and it looks like Border Agents are still accepting driver’s licenses only. So no need to freak if you don’t have your birth certificate or passport. Ven a Tijuana!

Here’s the official stuff:

Traveling to Canada, Mexico and Bermuda by Land/Sea

Beginning January 31, 2008, the Department plans to move towards WHTI implementation at land and sea ports of entry by ending the routine practice of accepting oral declarations of citizenship alone.

Citizens of the United States, Canada, and Bermuda will need to present the following to enter or depart the United States by land or sea:

U.S., Canadian, and Bermudian Citizens

  • Ages 19 and older: a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license, along with proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate or naturalization certificate
  • Children ages 18 and younger: proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate.
  • Passports and trusted traveler program cards – NEXUS, SENTRI and FAST – will continue to be accepted for cross-border travel.

Citizens of Mexico

  • Entry requirements for Mexican nationals will not change. As under current entry requirements, Mexican nationals, regardless of age, must present a passport issued by the Government of Mexico and a visa, or a valid Form DSP-150, B-1/B-2 laser visa (Border Crossing Card).
  • Trusted traveler program cards – SENTRI cards will continue to be accepted for cross-border travel.

About Kinsee Morlan

Arts and web editor at San Diego CityBeat. Interested in art and the Tijuana/San Diego border.
This entry was posted in Border issues, Border wait, News and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Do I need a passport to cross into Tijuana?

  1. ChrisN says:

    Hi Kinsee,

    I believe they need a driver’s license *and* a birth certificate by the end of the month:

  2. Paul Ramirez says:

    Papers Please!

  3. Audrey says:

    Doesn’t comments like that above drive you crazy??? JUST GET YOUR PASSPORTS YAH!!! That is the real reason the border wait is so long, they should lower the price of the passports and allow one parent to be present at the application processing!!!!! Everyone that doesn’t get them is because usually one parent can’t be present or because for a whole family it’s so expensive. Please people make the border faster get your passports even if they are not required!!!!

  4. Claudia Espinosa says:

    Im a usa citizen do I need a passports? Or can I just pass the border with my Drivers licens my birth certificate and my social security card? How about my kids do they need there passport? Or can I just pass them with a student I.D. and there social security card and birth certificate?

  5. Hey Claudia,
    As a US citizen, you can cross with birth certificates and a drivers license. I think the student IDs and the birth certificates for the kids will work.

  6. Alex says:

    you can cross the border to mexico without anything at all, but then its pretty hard to get back into the states =)

  7. According to the U.S. Department of State, “ALL PERSONS traveling by land and sea outside of the United States are required to present a passport book/card, or other valid travel documents to enter or re-enter the United States.” This became effective June 1, 2009 and includes travel to Mexico. By “other valid documents” they mean traveler cards such as NEXUS, SENTRI or FAST, or an enhanced driver’s license. An enhanced driver’s license is different than a regular one. The only states issuing them are Michigan, New York, Vermont and Washington.

  8. christopher says:

    i am a us citizen but i have one question everyone mentions a drivers liscence and i only have a california state id issued by the dmv does it make a difference?

  9. luis hernandez says:

    i am a u.s.a citizen but i am looking for a non certified or certified birth certificate.

  10. Elisa Bautista says:

    What about if I lost my driver license but I applied for a new one and don’t have it yet? I do have my naturalized citizen certificate whould that be enough? I also have a copy of my original driver

  11. Ihre Papiere, bitte!

    Currently (October and November of 2010), the pedestrian entrance in San Ysidro is displaying a sign for those people with no identification whatsoever to queue up and be admitted. They wouldn’t let us take a photo but you’ll see when you get there.

    It is a violation of international law for a country to refuse entry to its own citizens.

    The passport “requirement” cannot be enforced. Those of us who live in Tijuana cross all the time without WHTI-compliant documents.

    See the extensive FAQ at

  12. Maria says:

    Hi my name is maria i need to cross the border to Tijuana but i lost my citizenship certificate and i dont have the money to get a copy and i can not get a passport because i still need my citizenship certificate can i still cross the border with my CA driver license and social security?

  13. Tony says:

    COMPLETELY CORRECT ANSWER as of July 2011: After reading about two dozen forums I was terrified to cross while on vacation. Here is my experience. A passport is required/desired, but Tijuana 1) does not check you going in (unless you look suspicious) 2) When leaving they have two distinct lines setup . . . One for those with WHT documents and another line for those without. The line for those without equates to those traveling with only basic documents i.e. (State issued drivers license and a birth certificate. When I came back across it was the easiest time I have ever had. My documents were looked at, I was asked maybe 2 questions and nothing was searched . . nothing at all . . . it was simple. BTW: I walked across, I would never driver across for many reasons.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s