If you are crossing to the U.S. you can expect the wait to be anything from 30 minutes to over an hour and a half; on U.S. holidays is usually less, if it is a Mexican holiday usually more.
Border crossers now have another faster border crossing option. The northbound lanes, called the Ready Lanes, were opened with the goal of reducing wait times returning to the U.S. from Mexico. All border crossers who use the lane must have an RFID compliant card such as a passport card, SENTRI card, or another card with an RFID chip (Radio Frequency Identification). All passengers in the vehicle must have RFID compliant cards in order to use the lane except those under 16 years of age.
The following cards may be used in the lane as long as they are RFID compliant:
- U.S. Passport card (NO passport books allowed)
- SENTRI card, FAST, and NEXUS
- Enhanced drivers license (EDL)
- Enhanced Tribal Card (ETC)
- Enhanced Permanent Resident card (EPR)
- Border Crossing Card (BCC)
A fast pass is available for purchase at hotels and other tourist destinations in Tijuana, Rosarito, and Ensenada. The fast pass allows you a ‘one time only’ access to a special lane called ‘Fast Lane’, this lane is also known as the ‘Medical Lane’ and many hospitals and medical entities offer this pass.
This lane will significantly reduce your wait time to get back into the U.S. Reports say the wait on average is 30 minutes or so. 15-minute waits or less are not unusual. Of course, it depends upon the time of day and the day you travel. Sometimes the Fast Pass Lane is faster than the SENTRI.
The Fast Pass lane is open daily from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm.
SENTRI Program (Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection)
This program allows pre-screen applicants a faster border crossing, available for car or pedestrian crossing on the San Ysidro and Otay border crossings. To apply, you can visit the Otay Mesa offices located at 2500 Paseo Internacional, with office hours Monday - Friday 7 am - 8 pm; Saturday and Sunday 7 am - 3 pm.
For more information visit https://www.cbp.gov/travel/trusted-traveler-programs/sentri
Or to begin your application visit the Global Online Enrollment System at https://ttp.cbp.dhs.gov/
If you are considering the SENTRI pass, we advise not to put it off, it takes some time to get an appointment.
Remember that a Passport is now required to re-enter the U.S. for all American citizens.