For decades, entering Mexico on foot via Tijuana came as easily as passing through a revolving door—literally—with no passport or visa check whatsoever. That’s how many locals would prefer it, too. An estimated eight million people cross between Tijuana and San Diego annually, making this the busiest land border crossing in the world. Keeping southbound traffic flowing as freely as possible has always been essential to the entire town’s peace of mind, not to mention the girth of its pocketbook.
Then Mexico City stepped in.
The capital deemed that as of June, all foreigners traveling by foot who are not official residents of Mexico must now be prepared to show a current, valid passport and complete a forma migratoria múltiple, usually referred to as an FMM, the same form travelers are required to complete when landing at any Mexican airport. Visits within the immediate border region that last less than 24 hours are free, while longer stays now involve a one-time fee of 332 pesos, approximately $21. The process takes all of five minutes and happens just on the south side of the San Ysidro pedestrian crossing before exiting into Tijuana. (For now, there are no plans for travelers crossing in cars.)
Immigration officials are randomly checking travel documents at the moment, but a new pedestrian border crossing structure, set to open this month, will come with two specific lanes, one for Mexican citizens and another for foreigners.
The plus side? A stamp in your passport every time you come crawling back for more carne asada.