To facilitate your crossing back to the United States from Mexico, be sure to keep the following items in mind. By following these tips, you can head home safely and without difficulty. While U.S. citizens cross the border every day, there are various aspects of the trip that all travelers should keep in mind.
Be sure to have the needed forms for reentry to the U.S. You will certainly need a valid passport or passport card to reenter the country. Since specific requirements often change, be sure to visit the U.S. State Department website with questions regarding Visas or other acceptable forms of identification.
Many travelers crossing back to the United States from Mexico return to the with a wide variety of goods from souvenirs to high-end items. Be sure to find out if the items you want to bring back are allowed in the country. Fruit or other foodstuffs may not be allowed while many foods and packaged items are. Be prepared to declare any items you purchased in Mexico to Customs’ officials. In most cases, travelers will not have to pay a duty to bring them into the U.S. if they collectively fall under the $800 personal limit. However, some items like wine, cigarettes, cigars, and perfume may have imposed duties nonetheless.
Prohibited Items – Don’t Try to Bring These Back to the United States
- Cuban cigars are prohibited.
- Check with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) about importing any medications prior to crossing into Mexico.
- Illegal drugs. ICE has zero-tolerance. Any type, in any amount, may result in serious fines, seizure of the vehicle, federal record and/or imprisonment.
- Switchblade knives, sea turtle boots or any other articles of endangered species (i.e. spotted cats, coral, crocodile, elephant, etc) are prohibited.
- Most fruits are prohibited (No oranges or apples)
Return Vehicle Permits and Stickers
If your trip to Mexico warranted a vehicle permit be sure to return the permit and stickers in person before leaving the country. If you do not return your permit in person, you risk losing your entire deposit (typically around $400) or having to make the trek back to Mexico simply to return this paperwork.
Don’t Do Anyone Any Favors
When it comes to re-entering the country with merchandise—be sure it’s your own. Do not bring materials back to the U.S. that you did not purchase or are not willing to declare in your own right. Certainly, if strangers ask you to carry something into the U.S., you should decline the task.
If you have a Sentri card or another acceptable travel card, you may enter the U.S. via the Ready Lanes. Remember that everyone in the vehicle will need to present a Sentri card to use these lanes. The Sentri cards expedite the customs process since card-holders are prescreened and determined to be low-risk travelers. You can find out more about these cards by visiting the State Department website or talking to Customs officials. Not every border crossing, however, is equipped with Ready Lanes at this point; however, many border crossings are planning to install them since during peak times, it can take as long as two hours to wait to cross the border. The Ready Lanes can cut down this time frame to ten minutes.
For any other concerns, please check our Border Crossing Page for a complete checklist of both southbound and northbound requirements.