Is Driving In Mexico Safe?

When you think about taking a vacation to Mexico, the first thing you probably think of is the flights. But did you know you can actually drive from the U.S. to Tijuana? Driving to Tijuana from San Diego is much easier than you may initially think as long as you understand ahead of time what is required for entry.

Tijuana, though it has received some bad press over the years because of its high crime rates, has actually become safer over the years due to the strength in tourism and increased police presence. In order to cross the border by car, there are a few things you’ll have to know.

Do I need Mexican car insurance?

Firstly, you may be wondering; do I need insurance to drive to Mexico? And then the next logical question would be, do I need Mexican car insurance? The answer to both of those questions is yes, as U.S. car insurance policies do not cover you once you’re ready for that San Diego to Tijuana border crossing. You can quite easily purchase the additional Mexican car insurance from a variety of places including in San Diego before leaving, at the border area from an insurance firm, online and even through an additional policy from your regular insurance agent (the latter two of which are arguably most convenient). By law, Mexico requires any foreign vehicle on Mexican soil to have at a minimum Mexican insurance with liability coverage. If stopped while driving in Mexico and asked for this, you’ll want to ensure you have your documentation ready.

Another thing you’ll want to prepare for if driving in Mexico is traffic. Crossing in and out of Mexico between the San Ysidro border area and Tijuana can get clogged during high traffic times. Leave yourself at least an hour to hour and a half, especially upon exiting, as thorough inspections will be done by U.S. Border Control. Be sure to have your valid passport/passport card or green card within quick reach.

Many travelers ask, is it safe to cross into Tijuana? As a general rule of thumb when driving in Mexico or any foreign country for that matter, keep your wits about you and travel in pairs, especially when you’re not being escorted by a tour guide. in Tijuana, stick to the more populated areas and park in well-lit areas. The U.S. State Depart recommends while driving in Mexico to stick to roads that have tolls and do not drive at night. The biggest benefit of having a car while visiting Mexico is that it allows you the freedom to explore the city as you wish on your own time, without having to worry about bus schedules, trolley times or tired legs to get you back.

While you’re there, soak up as much of the culture as you can! Over the years, Tijuana has transformed from a city of cheap and borderline tacky souvenirs to one more sophisticated with even trendy dining spots emerging like Mision19. Walk along Pasaje Rodriguez and take in the colorful street art painted by local artists. Visit the Tijuana Cultural Center to get a history lesson about Baja California. Don’t forget to snap a selfie with a Tijuana Zebra while visiting. This tradition, which is a donkey painted with black stripes, is a memorable one that’s been around for more than 100 years.

Overall, driving in Mexico is both safe and convenient as long as you are armed with the proper information. Make sure you have your Mexican car insurance, U.S. driver’s license and passport on hand and stick to the well-lit toll roads during the day. As with travel to any new city, use your best judgement and stay aware of your surroundings at all times. By traveling to Tijuana by car, you’ll have access to not only a beautiful new country, but also a quick trip to a place filled with good food, shopping and cultural experiences.


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