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Old 29 Oct 2010
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Mexico border Tijuana to USA description

Whilst the experience is fresh in my mind I thought I'd post a description of the border crossing in Tijuana, going from Mexico to the USA.

This will be old hat to many HU readers but then again there are likely to be relative newbies like me who might like to read how it can be done.
I have a couple of tips that might help.

I had driven up the Baja peninsula and decided to cross back into the USA at Tijuana as I was heading to San Diego. I knew that this is an extremely busy crossing point but decided to do it nonetheless, schooling myself in patience beforehand.
Drove up MX1 from Ensenada which goes along the coast, a pretty drive along the cliff edges before it turned inland and headed into Tijuana city itself. The road surface almost immediately deteriorated into potholes and rough undulating terrain as it parallels the tin fence that is the actual border. At least you know where you are.

The road signs start saying San Diego so if you go straight ahead and follow them you are likely to end up in the right place.

Now when I got there around midday on a Sunday the queue for the border started at the beginning of the motorway junction point at what I thought of as the bottom of town. There is a complicated junction where the road to the border does a 270 loop and goes over itself.
I was not sure where to go and but didnt want to get into the queue as I needed to find the Aduane office to cancel my TVIP. By sheer chance I ended up in the right area. Here is where to go.

As you drive into Tijuana and start seeing the San Diego signs the road becomes 5 lines wide.
Stay in the third lane from the left, this is the middle.
There will be a divider forcing three lanes on the left, two on the right - stay just to the left of the barrier, the overhead sign says Col Federal.
Then there will be another divider to split the traffic.
The leftmost lane 1 goes straight through to Tecate and La Mesa - dont go there.
What was Lane 2 begins to split into 2 for San Diego and are likely to be already full - these are the lanes that are the border queue.
The rightmost lane is a single lane with concrete barriers separating it from the border queue - it is probably free and tempting.

Now to get to the Aduane take the tempting empty righthand lane, you will speed satisfyingly past all the queue of cars.
First you go under the roadway, curve round to the right and then go over where you were.
Take careful note as you go over the bridge section, there is a small slip road off to the left with a small white booth and barriers. There is a sign saying something about Medicos.

For the moment stick to the actual road and keep going following signs saying Col Federal, bearing left till you end up going down a ramp to a roundabout.
Take the right hand exit of the roundabout going towards a Macdonalds, with shops on the right.
You should see some blue official signs in the first block indicating towards the Temporary Vehicle Permit office.
Go past the MacDonalds and take the first left.
Drive down towards the end and the office is on the right - there is a big wall with a gateway through which you can see cars parked.
Drive through the gateway and straight ahead and slightly right there is a small hut. You need to go round the righthand side and drive up to it.
Cancelling the permit is done here, you need to drive up to the booth and present your papers with the vehicle.

Having done that job now you need to get back to your starting point.

Drive back to the roundabout and follow the signs to San Diego and then Centro to return to the border road where the first set of dividers split the traffic.
If the queue length has increased the police may have blocked off the turnings from the southern side so you may need to go round
and move further west to get into the Via Intl road. Depends on how daring you are about pushing into queues.

When you get back now join in on Lane 2 for San Diego, staying to the left of the barriers this time and begin the job of working your way up the queue.
It gets tricky with a loaded bike as the street vendors are using the gap between the cars to walk up and down, as well as beggars in wheelchairs. Be patient and the queue will move however.

I waited until I was sure that there was space between the right hand lane and the barriers and then moved into that to gain some distance. Keep doing this, changing sides where you can to move up, the cars were very obliging for me and moved over when they could.

There is however another way which I was lucky enough to stumble upon. Remember the white booth and the Medico sign? The barriers at the booth are temporary and will stop a car but not a bike.
So take the temptingly empty Lane 4 again, sail round the loop and over the bridge, now slip through the barrier at the white booth to the slip road and proceed down the slight slope.

Now you have a choice - go through the concrete crash barriers on the left (there are lots of bike sized gaps) and rejoin the lefthand queue, to work your way forward as before.
OR continue straight ahead and go behind the row of shops to where the queue reappears on the right. This is what I did.

At this point I slipped through the barriers again and rejoined the queue. The border gateway was visible just ahead and I didn't want to push my luck anymore. The cars were obliging and moved for me and I managed to wiggle through the queue some more before getting to the front.
It is possible that I could have stayed on the left of the barriers and gone on to the front sooner but I couldn't see ahead that far to be sure about it.

I was successful in crossing in about an hour despite the enormous lines of traffic.
Follow these directions at your own risk however, your experience may vary.
Ajaxer(Back in the fold)
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Old 25 Jul 2011
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Many Thanks

I'm crossing tomorrow with a TVIP. I'm sure your information will be extremely helpful.

Thanks again,
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