October 4, 2009 - Doug Owens:
We crossed into Mexico at the San Ysidro border crossing by car
in October 2009. We stopped in Ensenada to obtain FM-T tourist cards. The official
required us to pay a 55 peso per person fine for not obtaining
the card at the border. We were required to take a form with an account
number for Dereche Productos y Aprovechamientos to a bank several blocks
away, where we paid the fee and obtained documents that we had to return to the immigration
office to obtain, and pay for, our FM-T cards.
November 26, 2007 - The Laury Family:
We crossed into Baja in Jan/07 and decided to get our tourist
cards in Ensenada. We parked our rig a block away and I went in
to see about aquiring the card. The office was not busy, and
the official had an English speaking interpreter sitting next to
him which was good as my Spanish is limited to say the least.
The interpreter was friendly and congenial, but the official was
not for some reason. He explained that we should have gotten the
tourist cards in Tijuana and, because we didn't, he was imposing a
100 peso fine on each card (total 200 additional pesos).
I tried to explain through the interpreter that although I would
pay the fine it did not seem fair as general opinion was you
could get the card as far south as Ensenada without any problem.
(The year before, I gotten one in Guerrero Negro without fine or
problem as did the other couple we were travelling with).
Anyway the official glowered at me, I suppose at my
"insolence" at questioning him. As I was in a line to pay for
the card and the fine, a helpful lady told me in broken
English that I should be careful not to get the official angry
with me. No problema! I paid the fine and paid the tourist
card fee and we went on our way. It kind of reminded me of
the Seinfeld episode of "NO SOUP FOR YOU!--NEXT!!--. Anyway I
thought it important to share this with you as the official
told me that the tourist cards must now be purchased in
Tijuana or another border crossing, and that this had been in
effect for some time.
June 26, 2000 - Carol & Bob Billups:
Both in March and this trip we were asked for tourist cards. In
March at San Ignacio, this trip at Guerrero Negro. We had our
FM-3's, but I shudder to think what they might do if you don't
have the FM-T now that it costs $16.
May 7, 2000 - Fred Metcalf:
Here's my latest experience with obtaining a Tourist Card (a
I parked in the "To Declare" area (far right-hand lane) at the
San Ysidro crossing, explained to a customs official that I was
just going to the immigration office, and was given permission
to leave the car there. It was 8AM on a Sunday which meant that there
was no official in the office next to the parking area, and I had
to walk to the office by the walk-over crossing (walk through
the office just to the north of the Migracion office - there is
an open back door giving access to the walk-in area).
The process involved (1) filling out the form in the Migracion
office and showing my passport, (2) taking the form to the bank
next to the parking area (open 24 hours), paying the 170 pesos
and getting the bank stamp on the form, (3) taking the remaining
portion of the form back to the Migracion office to get their
official stamp. About 20 minutes required to accomplish all this.
Received December 3, 1999 from Dave Clapp:
While the Tiajuana border crossing is closer to my home in
Carlsbad, I chose to try the Otay Mesa crossing to obtain the
I parked behind McDonalds close to the US customs building,
walked across the border and stopped at "Migracion," the first
building on the right as you cross the border, and clearly
marked. They were exceptionally polite and as helpful as my
lack of proficiency in Spanish would permit.
I inquired about a place to pay and was given vague directions,
again my lack of command of Spanish was the culprit here. It
took me twenty minutes of walking around the maze of buildings
with inadequate identification to find the bank (really a small
annex of a bank). The teller was most helpful, but hindered by
my Spanish. The fee was $16.50. After the bank stamps your
form you must go back to the "Migracion" office for the final
I was told the limit to the life of the permit was three-months
so mine is good for 90 days. I have heard that they may be
valid for as long as six-months but I was told three.
I highly recommend the smaller less busy Otay Mesa border
crossing. I would still park on the US side and walk over -
didn't need insurance for the errand (I'm going on the trip
later this month for which I will have insurance). Suggest to
others, please, that they ask for directions frequently after
they leave the "Migracion" office to go to the bank. I could
have saved ten minutes of walking if I had done so.
US Border officials and our Customs people did not even know
about the requirement which has been in effect since July 1,
1999. Don't expect crisp information from them on this matter.
Received October 14, 1999 from John and Leslie McGrath:
Thought you might be interested in our little encounter in
Ensanada Migracion Officina.
There were absolutely no problems - it was the typical Baja
experience: I struggle with my Spanish ... and the officer
speaks in perfect English; then boom, boom and out the door we
go to have a great breakfast of fish tacos, tourist cards in
Glad we got them, as I suspect that every military person that
stopped us was too! Always polite with no problems, but with
long conversations about our beat up mountain bikes.
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.
On June 14, 1999 I received the following report from John and
Peggy Rahkola (regular contributors to the Travelers' Reports
We just had an experience that is hard to believe even for
Mexico! On June 11, we stopped at the Mexican Consulate in San
Diego, picked up our tourist cards and crossed the border. As
we have always done, we stopped at Immigration in Ensenada to
have them stamped.
The immigration officer REFUSED to stamp them. He said they had
to be stamped in Tijuana, and that had been the law since 1945.
We explained that we had always gotten them stamped in Ensenada.
He said you had never been able to get them stamped in Ensenada.
We asked if he would make an exception for us and stamp them
this time. He said "absolutely not - you have to go back to
Tijuana." He said the law is changing July 1 and you will have
to pay. We said we understood that, but it was not yet July 1.
We asked to speak to a supervisor, and he told us he was the
chief of immigration. He did not have on a name tag or a badge
so we cannot identify him.
There is no possibility of a misunderstanding due to a language
barrier, as this person spoke perfect English. He was very
arrogant and extremely rude, both in his demeanor and the way he
On February 12, 1998 Charlie Gannett described a good experience
at the Ag Inspection Station (Guerrero Negro):
On January 23, we passed through the ag checkpoint at
Guerrero Negro and were asked for our tourist cards. We usually
get them at Santa Rosalia and show our toll reciepts for proof
of when we entered the country, but now you can get them at this
checkpoint. The officials were courteous and friendly. There
was no charge. This will be great for travelers heading
I personally would not recommend waiting to get a Tourist Card
at the Guerrero Negro Ag Inspection Station. Legally, you are
required to have one between Ensenada and the Ag Station.
In a Travelers' Report dated January 7, 1998, Natalie Thompson
related that some members of her group were charged $20US for
not having a Tourist Card when passing through a checkpoint near
This sounds to me like a case of some soldiers exercising an
authority they did not really have - however, when they are
carrying the weapons, there is a great deal of apparent authority!
In January, 1998, some neighbors in La Paz reported having
to each pay a 400 peso ($50US) fine for "being in the country
illegally." They had shown expired FM-2 "Rentista" books at the
checkpoint at Guerrero Negro, and been told to get them renewed
in Tijuana, but were allowed to continue on to La Paz. After
arriving in La Paz they went to the Migracion office to see about
getting the visas renewed there. At that point they were hit
with the fine, before being issued either a Tourist Card or a