Back to Top

What is the Fastest Way to Cross the Tijuana Border?

Fri, 17 Sep 2021 23:40:50 -0700

Tijuana is one of the most popular locations to cross the border between the United States and Mexico, largely due to the proximity of Tijuana to San Diego. Because of this, there are three different locations to cross the Tijuana border; San Ysidro, Otay Mesa, and Tecate. Whether crossing on foot or by vehicle, each crossing offers aspects that can be advantageous. For example, the San Ysidro crossing has the Cross Border Xpress (CBX) and PedWest for pedestrians while Tecate offers very close parking on the United States side of the border. The border crossing gateways do no require a toll fee unless you travel beyond the free zone for longer than 7 days. Because millions of people cross the border each year, it comes as no surprise that there can often be long lines and wait times.

San Ysidro Crossing

San Ysidro is the most popular port of entry for travelers coming from San Diego. While the Cross Border Xpress (CBX) and PedWest border crossing locations are both open 24 hours per day, crossing the border in a vehicle can be more lengthy than by foot. For example, the wait at CBX is often an hour long. Meanwhile, the pedestrian crossing is much quicker.

Otay Mesa Crossing

Less busy than San Ysidro, Otay Mesa can be a great option if you’re planning to travel to Tijuana’s east side. Open 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, for non-commercial traffic and 6 am to 8 pm for commercial traffic. Pedestrian traffic usually runs between 10 and 20 minutes of wait time. Commercial traffic, however, can have a wait time of over an hour.

Tecate Crossing

The Tecate border crossing wait time ranges from 20 minutes to 60 minutes, with the longest wait in the morning and shortest in the evening. The border crossing is open from 5 am to 11 pm. All border crossings take much longer on the weekends and during US holidays. The San Diego Trolley is another budget-friendly option that typically is about as quick as crossing on foot or via your own vehicle. The MTS buses are another option that are low-cost. One thing to keep in mind is that crossing by foot does involve a great deal of walking, so a personal vehicle may be a better option for those that may not be able to walk longer distances.

How to Make Crossing the Border Quicker

A key component for making any border crossing as quick as possible is to have the correct documentation. You will need to present one of the following IDs: Enhanced Driver’s License, Trusted Traveller card, Passport, or PASS card. Really, it is the return trip back into the United States that takes a long time. A great way to get through that process quickly is to be a member of a Trusted Traveler Program, such as SENTRI or Global Entry. Some hotels offer a Fast Pass that can significantly reduce wait time as well. On average, over 100,000 people cross the border each day! Whether you prefer to cross by vehicle or on foot, utilizing those two options are certainly the most budget-friendly and time-conserving ways to cross the border. Not to mention you gain much more flexibility with your schedule when traveling by car or on foot across the border. Additionally, having the correct paperwork in order will also help you save time. Obtain a Fast Pass, or have a passport card, to utilize special lanes and move through the lines much more quickly! If you're driving to Tijuana or any city in Mexico, Mexican car insurance is mandatory and failure to have car insurance may result in third party liability risk if a collision or accident happens.