A passport or passport card is required for all U.S. Citizens traveling to or from Mexico
at the San Ysidro border crossing in south San Diego
, California. Both vehicles and pedestrians may cross to or from Tijuana in the world's busiest land border crossing.
When to Carry a Passport
While technically, the law only states that you will be required to present a passport or passport alternative to re-enter the United States, officials will deny entry into Mexico if you are checked at the border and are not carrying your passport. As a general rule, you should carry a passport or equivalent document at all times.
Requirements for Kids
Children younger than 16 may present proof of citizenship, including a birth certificate, consular report of birth abroad, naturalization certificate or a Canadian citizenship card.
Alternatives do Exist
Passport, SENTRI, NEXUS and FAST cards are issued after additional screening and are accepted for all land crossings, including the San Ysidro border. Enhanced driver's licenses, which are issued in a few states, including Washington and New York are accepted for land crossings into Mexico as well. These cards all carry a microchip that can speed up your crossing time, but are not a valid stand-in for a passport for sea or air travel.
Permanent residents must continue to carry their resident cards, but depending on your nationality, you may also need to carry your passport. Canadians may present a passport, enhanced driver's license or travel card. Generally, citizens of other countries should carry heir passport for both entry into Mexico and back into the United States. A visa may also be needed depending on your home country. It is always best to check with the Mexican Consulate or your country's embassy before crossing borders.
Kristie Massion is an award-winning writer and editor with over a decade of experience. While working on her Bachelor of Arts at the New School University in New York, she got her start in publishing with "Playboy Magazine." She later served as editor-in-chief of "Flatiron Magazine" before heading west, where she currently writes and edits for a variety of nonprofit and corporate clients.