The following experience is one I had two months after the new
system went into effect.
On Tuesday (August 31) Marilyn and I left for our first drive to
La Paz following the change in Tourist Card procedures. We were
carrying a number of replacement items for our trailer, and did
not want to argue the legality of our imports with the customs
officials in the Mexican secondary area. This left out the
possibility of parking in the "To Declare" zone and walking over
to get our new cards.
Since there had been some reports of problems with the Ensenada
immigration office earlier in the year, we decided it would also
be best to avoid that source for the visa paperwork.
What we hit upon was the idea of just stopping at the Mexican
Consulate in San Diego. We could also obtain a CB permit there
according to historical precedence. Since I'd not stopped there
in over eight years, we scouted out the location while in San
Diego the previous weekend.
On Tuesday we arrived at the consulate in the late morning and
easily found a parking place one street over. We had to wait in
line for no more than several minutes before our turn came up
(this idea was really working great!).
The official at the counter couldn't have been more helpful.
She immediately produced the forms and filled in most of the
information from our passports. Out came the official stamp ...
wump! ... we had that ever-so-important official stamp, plus
180 days with "Entrada Multiple" stamped boldly on the form!
When I asked for the CB permit, she explained (twice, because I
was insistent) that such permits had not been required for over
six years. Not necessary!
Wow! This was great - soooo easy and soooo official.
As I walked out and looked at the Tourist Card, it appeared much
like the old one, but there was a blank space left in the
"official" area, I assumed for the bank stamp.
A couple of hours later we arrived at the checkpoint south of
Maneadero. Waved through the PGR check, we pulled up to the
immigration check. There were two US cars stopped there, and
both seemed to be without Tourist Cards or "proper" ID. Well,
we thought, we'll show these folks how it's done by "pros."
When the immigration official came over I displayed our stamped
forms - expecting to be immediately waved through. Ha! He
quickly explained that our forms were no good, and tore them up!
After leading me over to his van, he produced the new form,
which is very different from the old. Using the
"desk" he'd set up in his van, we completed the new forms on the
After this humbling experience, I decided to query him on the CB
permit matter. His response was that "Of course you need a CB
permit. You can get one at the Highway Patrol office behind the
old Hotel Riviera in Ensenada."
I skipped a return trip to Ensenada, and drove down the highway
with the tall whip antenna pulled over the cab of the pickup.
Never once was I asked about a CB.
Now, for the bottom line: Don't count on getting the straight
scoop from the Mexican Consulate in San Diego - they seem to be
out of touch with their parent country.
And finally, the matter of going to a bank to pay our $150 peso
visa fee ... well ... manaña.