Border Crossing Options To The United States



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Tijuana Border Crossing Options

There are several lanes coming into Mexico and it can be confusing to newcomers to identify which lane they should take when driving back to the U.S. There are 3 main types of lines you can use heading back and they are cataloged by the type of documents you have with you at the time of entrance to the country plus the courtesy tourist FastPass lane.

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1. SENTRI Lane

The SENTRI card is for pre-approved, low-risk travelers crossing the Mexico-U.S. border. SENTRI means (Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection).

Applicants must voluntarily undergo a thorough background check with immigration, customs, law enforcement, a fingerprint check, and have a personal interview with a Custom and Border Protection (CBP) officer.

Once an applicant is approved, they have issued an identification card with all their electronic information.

Once you have received your SENTRI PASS you will approach the border using a SENTRI lane. Have your card ready and you will see a sign showing you where to point the cards. All the information gathered in the CBP databases about the user is given to the inspector, including car info, pictures, and passengers.

You could be randomly selected by the computer to go to secondary inspection or by the officer if he thinks there’s something suspicious.

If you already have a SENTRI Card and your car is registered you should use the line specifically designated, it’s located at the far right side of the border next to the pedestrian lane, and can be accessed through Avenida Padre Kino.

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2. Tijuana Border Fast Pass

The Tijuana Tourism and Convention Committee is offering to the visitors from the United States the border fast pass in order to make your border crossing to San Diego faster. This is not the same as a SENTRI pass; the fast pass is for tourists spending the day or weekend in Tijuana-Rosarito-Ensenada areas and it can only be used once.

The pass allows drivers to enter a special lane to the border. Look for the blue sign “With Pass Only”; have your fast pass ready and show it to the police officer in the booth. He will give you access to the lane.

This pass is offered by local merchants, such as hotels, hospitals, and some dental clinics.

The pass is free and some hotels are offering them with a hotel package, visiting the SPA. Ask your merchant for the requirements Here are some establishments offering the fast pass:


Corona Plaza Hotel
Vivamex Health Care
Vita Spa


Grand Baja Resort
Las Rocas Hotel
Hotel Festival Plaza
Brisas del Mar Hotel
Calafia Hotel


El Cortez Baja Inn
Posada el Rey Sol
Desert Inn Hotel
Best Western El Cid

If you’ve been provided with one of these courtesy passes you may enter the FastPass lane which is located at the center of the border between the general public lane and the Ready Lane and can be accessed through a lane coming from downtown into Colonia Federal.

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3. Ready Lane

Ready Lane is a dedicated primary vehicle and a pedestrian lane for travelers entering the U.S. at land border ports of entry. Travelers who obtain and travel with a radio frequency identification or RFID- enabled travel document may receive the benefits of using a Ready Lane to expedite the inspection process when crossing the border. RFID-enabled cards approved by the Department of Homeland Security include the U.S. Passport Card; the Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL); the Enhanced Tribal Card (ETC); trusted traveler cards (NEXUS, Global Entry, and FAST cards); the new Enhanced Permanent Resident Card (PRC) or new Border Crossing Card (BCC).

 If you possess one of these RFID documents you may access the ready lane which is located on the right-hand side of the border right next of the SENTRI lane and can be accessed through Avenida Padre Kino.

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4. General Public Lane

The general public lane is designated for travelers who do not carry RFID documents at the time of crossing, the documents may be: Birth certificate, Valid California ID, Driver’s License (exempting Enhanced Driver’s license) Social Security Card, Permanent resident card (without RFID) and Passport Book.  

 If you possess one of these documents you may access the general public lane which is located at the far left side of the border and can be accessed through Boulevard Paseo Los Héroes.

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5. Pedestrian Lanes

Pedestrian lanes have the same division as vehicular lanes:  General Public, Ready Lane, and Sentry. They have the same document requirements and rules.

The pedestrian lanes are located on the far right side of the border and are divided as explained before. The courtesy FastPass DOES NOT apply for pedestrian crossing.