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Driving in Mexico - US Customs and Crossing the Border Fom Mexico Into the US

Driving Out of Mexico


Fresh Mexican Fish

Fresh Fish in Mexican Market

Continued from page two of "Driving in Mexico"

Crossing the Border Into the US From Mexico by Car

At the Mexico-US border, you'll drive through one of several lanes (number of lanes depends on how much traffic the border crossing handles). A customs official will probably be standing at the side of the road and will motion for you to stop; he'll ask if you've anything to declare. Tell the truth and, as long as you are carrying nothing illegal like switchblades or illicit drugs, you'll be fine.

You may be searched, as may be your car; if you've lied, you may go straight to jail and lose your car.

All my border crossings into the U.S. from Mexico by car have been absolutely painless, but friends have told me tales of trouble at the border. It's said that U.S. customs officials are notoriously more difficult than their Mexican counterparts, probably because there is a good deal of smuggling traffic crossing into the U.S. from Mexico.

Crossing Into the US From Mexico - US Customs

Avoid any problems with US customs at the Mexico border by declaring exactly what you have brought back from Mexico with you and, obviously, don't bring back anything illegal, like drugs.

What you can and can't bring back from Mexico and US tax info:

  • There is a $400 exemption for gifts and personal articles you've purchased in Mexico; anything over that amount will be taxed

  • One liter of alcoholic beverage per person over 21 is okay - more will be taxed; note that the state of Texas taxes all alcohol brought back from Mexico

  • No steroids, period; make sure you have a prescription for any other medication

  • No illegal drugs; if you have the slightest amount, you can be fined and sent to jail -- your car may even be confiscated

  • No switchblade knives

  • So many fruits from Mexico are prohibited in the US that you may as well not bring any back

  • No guns of any kind; even ammo is a no-no - you can get documentation showing that you legally purchased a firearm you're carrying in the U.S., but why bother taking a gun to Mexico?

  • Fish you caught in Mexico are okay

While doing a little research, I also discovered a (probably) little known prohibition: no clothing, purses, wallets or shoes/boots made of endangered species, like sea turtles. I hadn't known there was a market for sea turtle boots!

Don't Smuggle Drugs Across the US Border From Mexico

At the risk of sounding redundant, I cannot stress strongly enough what a bad idea it is to bring illegal drugs back with you, even though the temptation may be strong because illegal drugs are plentiful and cheap for tourists in Mexico. It's also very smart not to be drugged or intoxicated while crossing the border.

Returning to the US From Mexico

The drive home is going to seem awfully tame after the casual craziness of the Mexican road! Now that you've seen how easy it is to safely tour Mexico by car, start making plans for your next trip as soon as get home.

Hasta pronto!

Go back to page one to read more about driving in Mexico.

Return to Mexico Travel category - Return to Student Travel

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