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The Border Waiting Game

Know how long the lines are before you get to the border


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Photo courtesy of Customs and Border Protection

Released in December, the official Customs and Border Protection Border Wait Times smartphone app came shortly after the San Ysidro Port of Entry expanded to 46 inspection booths in September. The latest in the game, it pools wait times for 71 border crossings along the Mexican and Canadian borders via data collected hourly. If you’ve ever had a border agent ask you how long you waited, now you know why.

Developed by UC San Diego graduate students, Best Time to Cross the Border has been the go-to app for many crossers since its launch in 2012. Not only does it list CBP data for all U.S. ports of entry, the free app includes user-generated reports—which often are thought to be more accurate, as long as they’re submitted frequently—as well as daily predictions based on the past three months of data, and a link to Twitter to tweet updates.

The closed Facebook group “Como esta la linea Tijuana” (“How’s the Tijuana line”) mostly consists of photos showing how far the line stretches in San Ysidro and Otay Mesa, which is usually enough for a local to know how long it’ll take to cross. You’ll catch the occasional friendly offer to cut, too.

Still using a landline? Telecom provider Telnor operates a hotline, +52-664-700-7000, that estimates the length of the line, with an updated recording (in Spanish) every 15 minutes until 10 p.m. nightly.

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