Baja California

The Magic North of the Penninsula

Travel Tips

Customs

  • Tourists are allowed to enter Mexico with their personal items and other articles necessary for their stay in the country. The Customs General Office distributes brochures describing duty-free articles.
  • Upon entry into Mexico, declare all electronic equipment valued at more than 50 dollars. You could be asked to provide a receipt for each item showing the value.
  • Carrying, possessing, selling or transporting weapons without a permit is a federal offense in Mexico.
  • Importing hunting weapons requires an updated permit, for more information go to our HUNTING section of this brochure.

Temporary Importation of Vehicle Permits

For travel within the Baja California peninsula, you do not need to import your vehicle. When traveling into mainland Mexico by car, you need to apply for a Temporary Importation of Vehicle Permit.

To do this you must have:

  • Vehicle registration or title to your vehicle.
  • A valid USA or Canadian driver ’s license.
  • Proof of citizenship: birth certificate, passport or resident alien card.

If you are going to travel by car to the main land visit:
The BANJERCITO web page at: www.banjercito.com

Where you can pre-process your temporary vehicle importation, or

  • Go to the BANJERCITO branch (Mexican Army Bank) available at all border ports of entry.
  • Fill out the “Temporary Import Permit Form”
  • Fill out the Vehicle Return Promise Agreement Form” and comply with the corresponding guaranty deposit procedure.
  • Fill out the Tourist Card Form. (FM-T)
  • Complete vehicle security deposit procedure by using any of the two available methods: Credit Card or Bond. If you use credit card you will pay around $29.70 USD for the Temporary Importation Permit in all cases, and leave a credit card voucher as a guarantee. If you use a bond, you will pay for the permit, plus $200.00 USD for vehicles 1998 and previous models, for vehicles 1998 to 2003 $300.00 USD and for vehicles 2004 and later models $400.00 USD.

Important notes:

  • Others are allowed to drive the temporary imported vehicle, only if the permit holder is in the vehicle.
    Before you leave Mexico:
  • You must go to BANJERCITO (Mexican Army Bank) and turn in the Temporary Import Permit as well as the “Vehicle Return Promise Agreement”
  • You have to also turn in your Tourist card (FM-T) at the outbound Mexican Immigration office, if it ’s a multiple entry tourist card, you can return it before its expiration date.
  • Your vehicle security deposit or your bond agreement will be returned, depending on which you ’ve used.

On the Road

  • Make sure to have a valid driver ’s license and registration for your vehicle.
  • Car insurance is not mandatory but it ’s highly recommended. There are many companies along the USA-Mexico border that sell Mexican car insurance by the day, week or month. Keep in mind that most US insurance policies don ’t provide coverage while driving in Mexico.
  • Be aware that speed limits in Mexico are set in kilometers (1 mile =1.6 km.) for example speed limit on highways is 55 Miles per hour and within city limits it averages 25 miles per hour.
  • While driving in México respect and obey traffic signs, don ’t drink and drive.
  • It is a traffic violation to use a cellular phone while driving in the state of Baja California.
  • Always use your seatbelt.
  • Along certain Mexican roads and highways you will find military checkpoints where you may be subjected to a routine search. Please cooperate, be patient and before you know it, you will be on your way.
  • Do not advertise you are a visitor. Place maps, travel brochures and valuables in the glove compartment or trunk once you get to your destination. Carry wallets, checkbooks and purses with you.
  • Park in well-lighted, busy areas.
  • Whenever you stop overnight, remove bags and other valuables from the car and take them inside your room.
  • If your vehicle is stolen, you should immediately call our Tourist Assistance Hotline 078, they will direct you on how to go about filling a report with the Deputy DA Office (Ministerio Público). Just show any document that proves ownership of the stolen vehicle. The Deputy DA will take a report and open an investigation.

NOTICE: As of May 3rd, 2008 the City of Tijuana, Baja California, is enforcing new regulation that bans the use of tinted windows in all motor vehicles, excluding those that have manufactures tinted windows.

Per the new rules, law enforcement officers can stop any vehicle that does not comply with this regulation and request the owner/driver to remove the unauthorized tinted film on the scene. Failure to comply can result in the vehicle being impounded and payment of a fine.

For more information, please dial the 078 Visitor Assistance Hotline, 7/24 from any cellular or conventional phone while in Baja California or dial 066 for emergency services, they can put you in contact with the State Secretariat of Tourism of Baja California.

Green angels

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Traffic Ticket

If you are stopped by a police officer for a traffic violation in Tijuana, Rosarito Beach or Ensenada, you should always politely insist on a written citation that you could pay either at the police station or by mail.

Tickets in the City of Tijuana can be paid by sending a check or money order made out to: H. Ayuntamiento de Tijuana, 416 West San Ysidro Blvd. Suite “L”, No.725, San Ysidro CA 92143. Tickets issued in Rosarito Beach, can be paid by sending a check or money order made out to: H. Ayuntamiento de Rosarito, P.O. Box 439016 San Ysidro, CA 92143-9016. Tickets issued in Ensenada can be paid by sending a check or money order made out to: Municipio de Ensenada, PMB 147 P.O. Box 189003 Tickets issued in Mexicali can be paid by sending a check or money order with ticket made out to: H. Ayuntamiento de Mexicali, P.B. 6027, 23 Paulin Ave., Calexico, Ca.  92231-2646. For the cities of San Felipe and Tecate, traffic fines must be paid at the police station.

When faced with a fine that you consider unfair, you can contest the fine by filling an appeal (Recurso de Inconformidad), either in person or in writing, for a municipal judge to review. To do this, immediately go to the nearest municipal judge within the police station; if you need information on how to do this, call our Tourist Assistance Hotline 078

The cost for traffic fines varies by city: (fines are in Mexican Pesos)

You could get fined by the following traffic violations:

  • For running a red light.
  • For not having or not using the seat belt.
  • For using cellular phone while driving.
  • For driving without a valid driver ’s license or car registration.
  • For drinking alcoholic beverages on the streets, sidewalks or public property.
  • For exceeding the speed limit.
  • For driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI) in addition to the fine, you may also be detained.

What Should I do if I find myself in a Traffic Accident?

  • Dial the state wide Emergency Response Hotline 066 (equivalent to 911 in the USA) from any private or public telephone, to notify the authorities. Ask that a policeman and a police accident investigator come to the scene. If you have any questions, call the Tourist Assistance Hotline 078
  • Do not move the vehicles that are involved in the accident and wait for the police accident investigator to arrive at the scene.
  • You should call your vehicle insurance company representative.
  • Once the police accident investigator has determined who ’s at fault, you will be asked to go to the nearest police station, to discuss with the other party involved possible mutual settlement agreement concerning payment for repairs thus avoiding the State DA ’s office.
  • At the police station, if necessary, you have the right to ask for an attorney.
  • If someone is injured in the accident, no matter how slightly, the person alleged to have been at fault must go before the States DA ’s office.
  • You should find out if your medical insurance policy applies when traveling abroad or overseas. Many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas, including emergency services such as medical evacuations.

MEXICAN AUTO INSURANCE

If you are traveling to Mexico by car, it is important to obtain Mexican auto insurance for your trip. Mexican insurance is worth buying not only to have peace of mind, it also immediately demonstrates your financial responsibility to Mexican authorities if you are involved in an accident, even if it is not your fault. Your U.S. or Canadian auto policy cannot do this.

Many travelers falsely believe that their U.S. or Canadian insurance policy covers them into Mexico. Generally, this coverage, if offered at all, is limited in many ways:

  • It may only cover damage or theft to your vehicle
  • It does not provide liability coverage for damage to other parties
  • It usually only covers a limited distance into Mexico
  • Sometimes it will only cover for a small number of days

The most important limitation is - your U.S. auto policy is not recognized by Mexican law and authorities - no matter what your agent at home tells you.

For this reason, it is recommended to at least carry a liability insurance policy when you drive in Mexico. This will pay for damages you cause to others in case of an accident. Mexican insurance policies are also available with full coverage, which includes physical damage to your vehicle and total theft, as well as the liability component. Another very important coverage is legal assistance, which will help you with legal services if necessary. Some policies also offer roadside assistance, including towing, which can be very useful if you get a flat, have a dead battery or break down. Conveniently, Mexican insurance policies can be purchased for daily and short term use, along with 6 month and annual policies for more frequent travelers.

Traditionally Mexican insurance has been purchased at the border, but now there is also the option to buy it online. Buying online makes it convenient to shop around to learn about various Mexican insurance companies and obtain immediate quotes. Several reputable agencies, such as Baja Bound Insurance, Adventure Mexican Insurance offer an online service where you can buy and print out a Mexican insurance policy directly from their website.

Authorities Misconduct

If you feel you have been mistreated by any public official or law enforcement authority, you can file a complaint with the State Secretariat of Tourism of Baja California. Make sure to get the persons name, agency, badge or patrol car number, as well as place and time of the incident and report it immediately to our Tourist Assistance Hotline 078 or by e-mail at: assistance@baja.gob.mx

What Can I Be Arrested For While in Baja California.

  • Disturbing the peace or being a public nuisance.
  • Drinking in public.
  • Fighting.
  • Nudity or immoral conduct.
  • Use, production or sale of false documents.
  • Possession, introduction or use of any weapon.
  • Possession, introduction or consumption of restricted drugs. (Note: Most drugs that are restricted in the U.S. are also restricted in Mexico.)
  • Drunk driving or being under the influence of drugs.
  • Causing an auto accident or injuring someone.

If you are arrested, you should call our Tourist Assistance Hotline 078. And ask them to notify the Consulate from your country. Consular officers can work to protect your legitimate interests. They can provide you with a list of local attorneys, contact your family or friend, transfer money, food and clothing to detention centers.

Public Transit

  • Ask you hotel staff or at any visitor information center for directions and bus routes available to and from your destination.
  • There are two means of public transportation for tourist in Baja California:

Local transportation. - provided by bus or taxi cab. Some taxis are metered (recommended). Others taxis are not. Make sure to negotiate the fare before boarding and if possible, have exact change available.

Out of town transportation. - provided by bus companies with service throughout Baja California and the rest of Mexico. They are operated out of bus depots (Central de Autobuses). You can call the Tourist Assistance Hotline 078 for more information.

Taking Care of Valuables & Documents

  • Make a photocopy of your passport, credit cards and tickets before leaving home and store copies in the hotel ’s safe.
  • Keep a record of your traveler checks and credit cards serial numbers in a separate and safe place in case they are lost or stolen.(travel checks are not widely accepted in Baja California, personal checks are not accepted anywhere)
  • Keep track of your plane or bus tickets.
  • While sightseeing or walking on the streets, we suggest carrying your purse in front of you and wallet in your front pocket.
  • Carry only the cash you need in small denominations and never discuss your plans or the amount of money you are carrying.
  • Don ’t be flashy with your money, jewelry of other objects of value.

Hotel / Motel Safety

  • Take valuables with you or leave them in the hotel safety deposit box.
  • Never leave money, checks, credit cards, jewelry and other valuables, extra room keys or car keys in the room.
  • Report any lost or stolen items to the management and to the police, if you require further assistance call our Tourist Assistance Hotline 078
  • Determine the easiest route to and from your room to the fire escapes, elevators and nearest telephone.
  • Use all auxiliary locking devices on doors and windows.
  • Use the doors viewer to identify anyone requesting entry.
  • Report to the management any suspicious activities in the corridors or rooms.

Beach / Ocean Safety

  • Check with the lifeguards about safety conditions around the beach and water areas and tell your kids about unsafe conditions or non-swimming areas.
  • Beware of rip currents.
  • If your children become separated from you, have them contact a lifeguard or police officer for help.
  • Observe posted signs around the beach area.
  • Do not carry glass containers to the beach.
  • If you are going to leave valuables in your car, place them in your trunk or conceal them before you arrive at your destination.
  • Drinking alcohol beverages is illegal at all public areas.

Children Safety

When visiting local attractions, dress kids in bright clothing and designate a meeting site for lost family members. For small children, write down their names and where they are staying and put the paper in their pockets.

  • Instruct kids not to open hotel room doors to people they don ’t know.
  • Make sure kids are familiar with hotel/ motel escape routes.
  • Discuss which adult is responsible for which child/children in an emergency.
  • When in a car in Baja California, children 3 years old or under must be in an approved safety seat.
  • Never leave children alone in a car.

Sightseeing Safety

  • Always ask for directions to the sites or places you want to visit.
  • City and road maps are available at your hotel or at any of the visitors centers listed in this brochure.
  • If you get lost ask for directions in any retail shop or business, or call our Tourist Assistance Hotline 078
  • Avoid driving isolated highways at night and if possible avoid traveling alone.
  • Visitor ’s can be targets for pickpockets. Stay alert to what ’s going on around you.

Using a Telephone

We recommend using local phone company Public Telephones. You can identify them by the word TELNOR, for all of your local and long distance phone calls, you need to purchase a phone card available at most retail shops.

To dial follow these steps:

  • To dial within Mexico: 01 + area code + number
  • To dial to the USA and Canada: 001 + code area + number
  • For international Long Distance dial: 00 + country code + city code + number
  • Operator Assisted Long Distance phone calls: Within Mexico dial 020, International dial 090
  • For collect calls to the USA dial: 091 + city code +number (02 or 090 for operator assistance)
  • For local information (bilingual operator) dial: 040

Read more about Dialing Information

Buying Medicine/ Prescription Drugs

  • When buying any type of medication, make sure that there is no restriction for its purchase over the counter.
  • To buy any controlled medication, you need a prescription with the original signature issued by a Mexican doctor. It must also include the seal from the State Health Authorities and serial-number.
  • Possession of controlled medications without a Mexican prescription is a serious crime.
  • With a prescription you can only obtain up to 30 days of medication.
  • Under no circumstance should you buy or pay for a prescription, it is considered a serious federal crime.
  • For more information call the State Health Authorities by dialing the toll free number locally 01 800 025 6580 for a complete listing of controlled medication in Mexico, go to: www.cifepris.gob.mx, you can also contact the Federal Attorney General ’s Crime Prevention Office at: area code (011 52 664) 633-6889 & 90, and the Association of Pharmacies at (011 52 664) 685-0170 in Tijuana, or contact your nearest consulate.
  • Remember that if you purchase any medicine requiring a prescription and you buy it over the counter, you are at risk of being detained by the police authorities. Use common sense.
  • For information on bringing prescription medication into the USA, go to the Customs web site: www.customs.ustreas.gov

Fishing

Fishing in Mexican waters requires an individual Fishing License. They can be obtained easily at the Secretariat of Tourism ’s Offices conveniently located in Tijuana, Rosarito, Ensenada, San Felipe, San Quintín and Bahía de Los Angeles or if you prefer visit www.bestbajafishing.org were you can purchase it online, by paying with any mayor credit or debit card.

The permits can be issued for a day, week, month or year. Boat Licenses are not required.

To enjoy the great fishing opportunities that await you in Baja California, please look for contact information in the back of this brochure. Once in our State, you can call the Tourist Assistance Hotline 078, for further information on the Baja California Fishing Experience.

Hunting

Hunting and Fire Arms permits are required to practice this sport in all of México. Please contact the Secretariat of Tourism ’s in Mexicali at: (011 52 686) 566-1277
by e-mail at: secture@baja.gob.mx or go to: www.discoverbajacalifornia.com (and look under permits).

You can obtain locations, authorized outfitters, as well as legal regulatory information to ensure a great and safe hunting experience.

Smart Drinking

The legal drinking age in Mexico is 18 years of age.

  • You should always carry a valid ID when visiting bars or nightclubs.
  • It ’s unlawful to drink on the streets or in your car.
  • Do not drink excessively, “smart drinking” is always recommended when visiting bars or nightclubs.
  • If you plan on staying out late, make sure someone accompanies you.
  • When going to a bar or nightclub, always be aware of what you are being served and never leave your drink unattended.
  • You may be vulnerable when visiting the local“red light districts”, particularly if you are departing alone in the early hours of the morning.

Use common sense.

Using ATM ’S

  • You will find ATM ’s at all major bank branches throughout the State.
  • ATM ’s in Mexico can be used with most USA issued credit and debit cards that operate in the Cirrus or Plus system. Look for the logo on the back of your card.
  • ATM ’s provide only Mexican Currency. (Pesos)
  • When using ATM ’s machine make sure that no one is looking to surprise you and please contact the police if you feel it necessary.
  • Never give your credit card or secret access number to anyone.

Panhandlers

This social problem is common to urban areas in every major city in the world. Their presence need not prevent people from enjoying Baja California. We suggest using a combination of caution and respect around panhandlers and other strangers. Contributing to panhandlers will not help the problem. If you whish to help, contribute to a charity, mission, food bank or social service agency that assists the needy.

Shopping

In order to ensure total satisfaction, follow these suggestions:

  • We strongly recommend NOT buying from street vendors.
  • When purchasing a product or hiring a service, make sure it is exactly what you requested regarding quality and service.
  • You should always obtain a receipt or invoice as proof of purchase.
  • Ask if the prices are in Mexican or U.S. currency.
  • The sales and service tax, known as IVA (Value Added Tax), is 11% of the bill, hotels will also add a 2% transit occupancy tax to your room rate.

Federal Attorney ’s Office of Consumer

The federal Attorney ’s Office of Consumer (Procuraduria Federal del Consumidor PROFECO) Promotes and protects consumer rights. They can provide assistance with problems related to retail and services purveyors, such as hotels, travel agencies, restaurants, transportation, etc.

When purchasing a product or hiring a service, you must assure yourself that it is in good condition and you should request a receipt, invoice or purchase order that proves your payment.

If you wish to file a complaint during your stay in Baja California, you can call PROFECO:

In Tijuana at: (664) 6848595
In Mexicali at: (686) 5573084 and 85
In Ensenada at: (646) 1788573

You can all so e-mail: tijuana@profeco.gob.mx, they will follow-up and will keep you up-dated throughout the process.

If you wish to file you complaint from your place of residence, you can e-mail the foreign travelers unit at: extranjeros@profeco.gob.mx or by dialing their Mexico City office at (011-52) 5552111723 & (011-52) 5556256700, please copy us at: assistance@baja.gob.mx

Items that you cannot Bring back into the U.S.A.

  • Fruits and vegetables that are not on the “permitted list”
  • Pork meat (canned pork meat is permitted).
  • Chicken meat (cooked meat is permitted)
  • Cuban cigars
  • More than one liter of alcoholic beverage per person, (21 years of age or older)
  • More that $10,000 dollars (without declaring the amount to U.S. Bureau of Customs & Border Protection)

For more information you can log the web site www.customs.gov

For information or assistance, contact the Baja California State Secretariat of Tourism

Tijuana
Vía de la juventud # 8800 2523, Zona Río
Phone: (664) 973-0424 / 973-0430
assistance@baja.gob.mx

Ensenada
1477 Lázaro Cárdenas Blvd. and Las Rocas St. Government center
Phone: (646) 172-5444 fax 172-5372
Jleonz@baja.gob.mx

Mexicali
1 Benito Juárez Blvd. & Francisco Montejano 2nd Floor.
Phone: (686) 566-1277 / 566-1116
egmoreno@baja.gob.mx

Tecate
1305 Andador Libertad, Downtown
Phone: (665) 654-4790 fax 654-1095
ergarcia@baja.gob.mx

San Felipe
300 Mar de Cortés Av. & Manzanillo St.
Phone: (686) 577-1865 fax 557-1155
rortiz@baja.gob.mx

Playas de Rosarito
Blvd. benito Juárez No. 42
Phone: (661) 612 5222 fax 612 0200
raragon@baja.gob.mx

San Quintín
Carretera Transpeninsular Km. 178.3
Col. Santa Fe
Phone: (616) 165-3645 rvillavicencio@baja.gob.mx

Convention & Visitors Bureau Information Centers

TIJUANA:

  • San Ysidro Border Crossing
    30 yards from San Ysidro International Border
    Opening hours: Mon- Thu 8:00 a.m.-5:00p.m.,
    Fri & Sat. 8:00 a.m. 7 p.m., Sun 8:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
    Ph. (664) 683-1405
  • Revolución Avenue
    Revolución Ave., between 3rd and 4th St.
    Opening hours: Mon-Thu 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.,
    Fri-Sat. 10:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.
    Ph. (664) 685-2210

ROSARITO:

  • Centro Comercial Oceana Plaza Local 14 Blvd. Benito Juárez
    Opening hours: Mon-Fri 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m., Sat 10:00 a.m. 1:00 P.m.
    Ph. (661) 612-0396

ENSENADA:

  • Blvd. Lázaro Cárdenas y Teniente Azueta No. 540.
    Opening hours: Mon-Fri 9:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.,
    Sat & Sun. 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
    Ph. (646) 178-2411

SAN FELIPE:

  • Centro de Gobierno, San Felipe, B.C.
    Avenida Mar de Cortez y Manzanillo No. 300
    Opening hours: Mon-Thu 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.,
    Fri-Sat. 10:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.
    Ph. (686) 577-2300

MEXICALI:

  • Blvd. López Mateos y Avenida Camelias s/n, Colonia Jabonera
    Opening hours: Mon-Fri 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
    Ph. (686) 557-3276

LOS ALGODONES:

  • Calle Mariano Ma. Lee s/n, Los Algodones, B.C.
    Opening hours Mon-Fri 8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
    Sat. 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
    Ph. (658) 517-7755
    cotucolosalgodones@hotmail.com

CONSULATES

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