Baja and Sonora Border Information
Driving into Baja
U.S. and Canadian citizens who visit the immediate border zone or the city of Ensenada do not need to obtain a tourist card, provided the length of the stay does not exceed 72 hours. For travel beyond Maneadero on the Pacific coast or south of Mexicali on Highway 5, a tourist card is officially required for each individual visitor, regardless of age.
If you are not a Mexican citizen and you intend on staying for more than seven (7) days in any region of Mexico, or if you are planning to cross to mainland in ferry you are obligated to pay a Non-Immigrant Fee (D.N.I) which costs $500.00 pesos (approx. $28.00 USD), payable at any Mexican Bank. However, the fee is waived for any travelers staying less than 7 days.
Only non-U.S. residents must present passports and visas for entry. U.S. citizens need only proof of citizenship, such as a copy of your birth certificate, to re-enter California.
Driving through Sonora
In addition to Rocky Point (Puerto Peñasco), visitors to the state of Sonora are now able to drive directly to cities like San Carlos, Guaymas, Hermosillo, Magdalena, Kino Bay and Santa Ana, without obtaining a temporary vehicle importation permit. Travelers are required to have proof of US citizenship, a valid driver's license, and vehicle registration.
If you are only driving to any of the border cities or Puerto Peñasco (Rocky Point) declared as a FREE ZONE, no immigration permit is required. If traveling beyond 21 km south, an immigration permit is required and can be obtained at the Customs checkpoints by presenting a Valid US passport or Birth Certificate and a government-issued photo ID (i.e. driver's license)
In Km. 98 of Empalme, ends the free circulation zone for vehicles of foreign citizens and Mexicans living abroad; from this point, it is necessary for all vehicles to have a temporary importation permit, to avoid having their vehicle impounded by the customs authorities.
The Sonora Government and the Department of the Treasury entered into an agreement to facilitate the temporary import of foreign vehicles, belonging to foreigners and Mexican residents abroad, in order to be driven exclusively within the territory of Sonora. Some of the advantages are:
- Free traffic area within the State of Sonora (Green area in the map below).
Foreign vehicles, belonging to foreigners or Mexican residents abroad, may be freely driven in the northwest of Sonora without any temporary vehicle importation permit. The northwest of Sonora is defined as the area delimited to the east by the Federal Road No. 2, from Agua Prieta to the junction with the Federal Road No. 15 in Imuris; and from this point to Empalme along the Federal Road No. 15; and to the west, from San Luis Río Colorado, along the State of Sonora boundaries and the coastline to Empalme.
Recreational vehicles: The free traffic area does not apply to vehicles transporting recreational vehicles (such as motorcycles, three wheel motorcycles, four-wheel motorcycles, jet skis, or boats up to 15 feet long). In this case, the visitor must request a temporary vehicle importation permit at any Office for the Temporary Vehicle Importation (CIITEV), which are located at all Mexican customs. The visitor is allowed to import up to 3 recreational vehicles, including one boat up to 15 feet length, provided that such vehicles were not designed or made to run on public roads and that they meet the requirements established in the respective section of this site.
- Temporary vehicle importation permit for Sonora (Grey area in map below)
In order to drive a foreign vehicle in the rest of the Sonora territory, and within its boundaries, you will need a Temporary Vehicle Importation Permit for Sonora. You can obtain the permit visiting one of the Banjercito offices near the border, Mexican consulates or online.
- Banjercito offices
a) Km. 98, Empalme, Sonora (Carretera Ciudad Obregón – Guaymas)
b) Customs office at Agua Prieta, Naco and Cananea
- Mexican Consulate located in Phoenix, AZ.
A vehicle with a Sonora Only temporary vehicle importation permit is authorized to keep the vehicle within the State of Sonora for 180 days.