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Driving To Loreto, Mexico

Highway 5 to Loreto, Mexico

Calexico / Mexicali Border Crossing

We have included information regarding crossing the Mexico border at the Calexico / Mexicali Border. We believe this is the best route/crossing to take since more of your drive time is in the United States. Calexico is located south of El Centro and east of San Diego. Once you cross it is pretty much a straight shot south to the Sea of Cortez.

To get to the border, you will have taken either Highway 98 or Highway 111 (coming from Palm Springs way). From there you will take Cesar Chavez Blvd. Once you get close to 2nd street you will see signs that say "Mexico Only, No USA Return." that means you are getting close! Go that way.  

Tourist Card (FMM) Forma Migratoria Multiple

Everyone who is not a Mexican Citizen needs to get, fill out and possibly pay for a "tourist card."  They are called Forma Migratoria Múltiple (FMM) and are small blue and white colored forms. DO THIS ONLINE! IT WILL SAVE YOU TIME AND HASSLE.

  • Click "Land" and then fill the required fields out. Once done, if your visit is longer than seven (7) days, you will need to pay. The fee is about $25. Print the card out and make sure it goes with you to the border.

  • The Tourist Card is good for 180 days. 

Ok, now that you have your FMM form printed and paid before hand, you will not have to do it at the border. But once you cross the border, look for the Immigration Office immediately on the left. It may be called the INM/SAT Aduanas building.

Go to INM office with your tourist card and passport. They will stamp it for you. This is a big deal because you need to have it stamped in order to travel freely in Baja. If you go further south and the immigration officials at the checkpoints find out that you have an unstamped FMM card, they will ask you to go back to the border and get it stamped. Not fun, so make sure you don't skip this step.

Upon your return to the USA, Mexican officials may/should ask for your card to surrender.

Can I Bring My Vehicle Into Mexico? I Heard I Need To Get A  Temporary Import Permit (Tip) 

No need to worry about having to get a (TIP). If you take your car into the Baja California peninsula, there is no need to get a TIP. However, your car must have valid and current US or Canadian license plates, and the plates/stickers must be kept current during the vehicle’s stay on the Mexican Baja peninsula. Many foreign residents keep their US/CA plated cars in Baja and have the plates/stickers/documentation mailed to them as required.

If You Are Bringing "Stuff" into Mexico You May Have to "Declare" Those Things Upon Crossing the Border

There are certain things that you can bring down to Mexico without having to "Declare" them and there are certain things that you need to "Declare." The reason behind this is because Mexico, just like the USA, doesn't want you bringing in things to resale or even bringing in things so you don't have to buy in Mexico. While Mexico is pretty cheap on certain things, other things can be quite expensive since those items had to be imported from the USA and pay a duty/tariff etc. And when you bring in those items that you have to declare, a duty will be imposed.

If you are bringing more than $75 USD worth of merchandise per person you may declare it by driving through the declaration lane at the border where you can fill out the proper documents and pay a duty on the amount (16% of the total). If you are bringing over $3,000 of merchandise, you must use a Mexican customhouse broker. 

There are certain items that you can bring over, and no need to declare. Think of them as items you can reasonably use on your trip here. They include:

  • Personal clothing and footwear

  • Personal toiletries and beauty products

  • Baby travel accessories such as strollers and baby walkers (you must have a baby present)

  • Two photographic cameras or video recorders

  • 12 rolls of film or videocassettes

  • Three cell phones or other wireless networks

  • Global Positioning Equipment (GPS)

  • One typewriter

  • One electronic calendar

  • One laptop computer

  • One portable printer/copier

  • One portable projector

  • Two items of sporting equipment

  • Four fishing rods

  • Three speedboats with or without sails and their accessories, trophies or recognitions, provided that they can be transported normally and commonly by the passenger

  • One stair climber

  • One bicycle

  • One portable radio or digital sound reproducer with speakers and accessories

  • Five laser disks

  • 10 DVDs

  • 30 compact disks (CD) or magnetic tapes (audiocassettes)

  • Three software packages

  • Five storage devices or memory cards for any electronic equipment

  • Books, magazines and printed documents

  • Five toys

  • One video game console and five videogames

  • One blood pressure instrument

  • One glucose-testing device

  • Personal medications (you must have your prescription with you for any psychotropic drugs that you’re bringing with you into Mexico)

  • One set of binoculars

  • One telescope

  • Luggage necessary to transport personal items

  • Passengers over 18 years of age are allowed: 10 packs of cigarettes, 25 cigars or 200 grams of tobacco, three liters of liquor or beer, six liters of wine. Any items in excess must be declared and have duties paid.

  • Two musical instruments and the accessories for the instruments

  • A camping tent

  • Camping equipment

  • A toolset

  • Up to three dogs or cats, may be brought to Mexico as well as their accessories, provided that the corresponding zoo sanitary import certificate issued by (SAGARPA) is presented to the customs officials.

Overall, don't try to bring new expensive things that don't get used for a vacation. If an item is brand new, take it out of the packaging. Maybe even sprinkle a bit of dirt your stuff. 

NOTHING TO DECLARE LANE: If you have nothing to declare, then you can use the “Nothing to Declare  – Nada que Declara” lane. Once in the "Nothing to Declare"  line, you will eventually be at a stop where there is a traffic signal. Here you play a game of red light/green light. If you get a green light, you may go through the border crossing. If it is red you will be directed to a secondary inspection. 

Just because you got a green light doesn't mean you are 100% in the clear. A Mexican Official can still order you to a secondary inspection after you had already received a green light. If so, proceed to secondary.

DECLARATION LANE: If you have things that need to be declared, you will need to go to the “Declaration Lane – Carril de Declaracion.”  There, you will stop at the customs building to fill out forms and pay duties.

SECONDARY INSPECTION: If you got the red light or you were just lucky to get chosen, you will end up n Secondary Inspection. Here they just do a cursory look in your vehicle. If they see things that warrant more inspection, they will dig deeper. If they find items you should have declared, be polite. They may let you go (if it is small) or they will require you to pay the duty/confiscate the item(s) or if you were really trying to pull a fast one, jail.

You Made It Through The Border, Now Head To Highway 5, Then  Highway 1 And Then You Will Be In Loreto

You got your FMM stamped, you either got the green light, paid your duties or made it through secondary and now you are on your way to Loreto. Only about 1/4 mile from the immigration building Avenida Pedro Moreno. Take a left there and then take your first right on Avenida Zuazua. That will lead you to Highway 5 in about a half mile at which time you just stay to your left.

Stay in the right lane. You will then see signs to San Felipe. You will take a slight right to stay on Highway 5 to San Felipe. You will be out of Mexicali shortly and the road becomes nice and straight. 

Highway 5 is paved all the way through to the junction with Highway 1. The Junction to Highway 1 is just a desolate left turn you need to make. From there, you just stay on Highway 1 for quite a while. You will be on the Pacific side for a bit and then head back to the Sea of Cortez. 

Average Drive Times:

2 hours, Mexicali to San Felipe

4.5 hours, San Felipe to Guerrero Negro

2.5 hours, Guerrero Negro to Santa Rosalia

3 hours, Santa Rosalia to Loreto

Total Drive Time: 12 hours

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