Crossing the Border

Crossing the Border




  • Pedestrian Border Crossing: For a $60 fee and $20 for each additional person each way, we are happy to pick you up and drop you off at the San Ysidro pedestrian border crossing. We have a Toyota 4Runner that fits 3 passengers comfortably – maybe 4 if you cram and don’t have a lot of bags.
    • There are secured lots on the San Diego side and walking across the border is easy.
    • A Lyft from the San Ysidro shopping plaza on the CA side of the border to San Diego Airport is usually around $45.
  • Baja Day Trippers offers San Diego airport transfers from downtown Rosarito (on the Mexico side): $35/per person for 4 people on weekends, $180 for private transfers (up to 4 people). Contact Isaias for details:

Driving Yourself Across the Border

  • It is illegal and a SUPER BIG DEAL to cross the border (either way) with weapons (even if they’re licensed), ammunition, medical/recreational marijuana and/or large amounts of cash (over $10K undeclared).
  • There are dogs and tech all over the border solely to sniff out these things, and if caught, you will go to jail.

Crossing South (to Mexico)
The worst time to cross is evenings (any typical rush hour), especially Fridays.

It is rare to get stopped at the border, but here are some ways to make it even less likely:

  • Make sure the Mexican border agents can see in your vehicle. They’re looking for new things you might sell in Mexico, and weapons, so show them you don’t have any:
    • If you have tinted windows, roll them down.
    • If you have a tonneau cover or camper on a truck, open it up.
    • If you have anything other than suitcases, best to carry in clear tote boxes rather than cardboard.

Crossing North (to the US)

  • The worst time to cross is anytime on Sunday, especially a Sunday when there is a big off-road event in Baja. We have listed events in our calendar.
  • You do not need a covid test to cross a US land border.
  • If you are driving across the San Ysidro or Otay Mesa border, there are three lanes. GPS can *sort of* give you directions to each, but you must choose the lane or you end up in the dreaded General lane (which is very, very slow). The lanes are blocked off and have entry points on different TJ streets. It can be impossible to switch lanes once you’re in one.*
  • If your GPS and the signs on the highway disagree, FOLLOW THE HIGHWAY SIGNS. GPS is not reliable when it comes to the San Ysidro border but the signs are accurate.
  • Pick your lane before you go, and turn off “avoid traffic” and any other settings that might adjust the route:
    • General: for all people. Very slow. Directions from Baja SurfnSkate to San Ysidro General Lane.
    • Ready Lane: for US citizens with passports or any RFID-enabled ID (like a Real ID, Passport, Passport Card, etc). This lane is marginally faster than the General lane. Directions from Baja SurfnSkate to San Ysidro Ready Lane
    • Nexus / Global Entry / Sentri: Every single person in your car must have one of the trusted traveler cards, and the car you’re in must also be registered with Sentri. Directions from Baja SurfnSkate to San Ysidro Sentri Lane

Non-essential but helpful things to know:
1. Don’t get tricked into buying one of those sickly border puppies.
2. Churros are delicious.
* We hear you can pay locals to move the concrete barriers but IDK.