Our clinic receives not only patients but dozens of questions related to our services, Tijuana, and U.S. Customs, to name a few. As a basic guide, we’ve come up with a short FAQ section:
Do you need a passport?
For the past few months, Mexico has started enforcing the regulation for visitors to the country fill out the application for a Tourist Visa, even for a visit to the border cities. This requires all US citizens, to bring a US Passport.
Walking into Tijuana: When you walk into Mexico, you will need to go to the “Migracion” desk, where you will see all the other Americans standing, fill out the Tourist Form, and show your Passport. The cost for a visit for one week is free. However, if you are planning multiple visits, and don’t want to fill out the form again, you can ask for 180 days, and the cost is $28. One you walk through Customs, just follow the sidewalk until you get to the street Our driver will pick you up in front of the “Super Farmacia Milenia”, that you will see across the street. (Make sure you give us a call before you enter Mexico, so the driver will know to be waiting for you).
Driving into Tijuana: When you drive into Tijuana, Mexican Customs will not ask you for a US Passport. Technically, you can just drive in, and not bother to get the tourist permit. Some patients have done so, because they didn’t have a passport, and needed treatments right away. However, it is still best to get a tourist permit to avoid any possible problems. To get a tourist visa, when you drive into Tijuana, the “Migracion” office is located in the main building you see straight ahead, as you are driving across the border. Follow the signs that say “Auto-declaracion – Something to Declare”. Instead of turning into the lanes that take you by the Customs officials, you will go ahead, and go through the opening in the fence, turn left, and park where the other cars are parked. Go into the entrance, going through the next opening, and turning left you will see the “Migracion” office. You can ask anyone where is Migracion. Once you fill out the form, they will stamp your passport, give you your visa, and you can go back to your car, and then drive through the lanes through Customs, like all the other cars entering Mexico. (Make sure you call us before you drive across, so our driver can meet you, and guide you to the clinic).
The best document to have is a US Passport Card, or an Enhanced Driver’s license. These documents have a RFID chip, (Radio Frequency Identification). US Customs has created some special lanes called te “Ready Lane”, that is equipped to scan the documents with the RFID chip, before you get to the Customs agents, so they will have your info pulled up on the screen before you even get to the counter. If you have one of these documents, (and a passport book does NOT have the chip), you can walk right past the people standing in the regular line, and go through the “Ready Lane”. This will spead tings up for you greatly. The walk through the Ready Lane takes from 15 to 45 minutes.
Will I be safe in Tijuana?
This is actually one of the most often-asked questions by patients and potential clients, and honestly, we don’t blame them. Mexico has been painted rather negatively in the media. However, it is very misleading to listen to rumors from sources that have an agenda. Also, it is a mistake to paint all of Mexico with the same brush. Certainly, Tijuana is NOT in the same category as Juarez!! Mexicans are usually portrayed as a mafia or drug dealers and that our country just has so much violence. But the statistics show that the violent crime rate in Tijuana is the same as in San Diego, and is certainly far lower than in Los Angeles. In fact, Chicago or Oakland has a violent crime rate that is more than 4 times greater than Tijuana.
We are not saying that crime is rare in Mexico, but the media usually exaggerates things. Here in Tijuana, we had also experienced our own share of street troubles, BUT our police force has already done something about them.
Does this mean we no longer have crimes? No, we still do, but not any more than in any US city. Just use common sense when you are out at night, and you will be fine.
Overall, however, Tijuana is peaceful—in fact, we find our city much safer than other metropolitan areas in the United States. Tourists are also well respected here.
Is it okay to take my car to Tijuana?
In general, yes, it’s perfectly okay to drive from the United States to Tijuana. Thousands of people do that every day. But you have to be mindful of traffic. If you like to really drive, there’s a pay parking area that is walking distance from our clinic. Hotels, if you’re planning to stay overnight or for a few days, also have spacious parking lots.
You can also choose to leave your vehicle in the U.S. border then cross using the pedestrian lane. Our clinic is within walking distance of the border. When staying at one of the hotels we recommend, they will shuttle you back and forth to the clinic.
Why is dental work much cheaper in Tijuana?
The answer is simple: Mexico has lower costs than the United States. Our country can provide the same level of quality education and work at a fraction of a price. We have lower taxes, friendlier government regulations, cheaper rent, and more affordable business expenses, especially payroll. This allows us to pass on the savings to our patients by providing them with more affordable dental care.