The Mexican government just announced that they will hold off enforcing new regulations requiring US citizens to show their passports to get into the country, at least in some areas. According to the San Diego Union Tribune, the new rules will go into effect on March 1st for other parts of Mexico, but not for Baja California, because “Mexico lacks the infrastructure to enforce the regulations at busy ports such as San Ysidro and Otay Mesa.”
That means that US citizens going for short-term visits to Mexico and entering through crossings such as Tijuana or through ports like San Ysidro and Otay Mesa will not need to present passports to enter Mexico. Cruise ship passengers in Ensenada will also be exempt.
However, you should pack a passport anyway-even if you don’t need one to get into Mexico, you will likely need it to come home. In June of 2009, new passport regulations went into effect for US citizens returning from Mexico by land or by sea as part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI). Now, passports are required to return from Mexico by land or by sea, except in a few special circumstances, like for children. See “Do You Need a Passport to Go To Mexico?” for more details.
Trying to re-enter the US without a passport is no fun, unless you like getting questioned by border officials and having to wait while they try to determine whether or not you are, in fact, a US citizen. It’s true that if you are a US citizen they have to let you in eventually, but why not avoid all of the hassle?
Oh, and if you are flying to Mexico, you absolutely have to have a passport-they won’t let you on a plane without it. Driving or cruising south of the border without a passport also means that you can encounter difficulties if you need to fly back due to an emergency.
So, if you plan on traveling to Mexico, go ahead and get a shiny new passport if you don’t have one already.
If you need your passport quickly, the fastest and most convenient way to get one is to use a private passport expediting company like RushMyPassport.com. We’ll help you with the application and personally deliver your paperwork to the Department of State for processing times that range from 24 hours to a little over a week, depending on which option you select. Compare that to regular passport processing times of 3 weeks for the government’s expedited service and 6 weeks for regular service.