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 other 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.
Traditional passport books are not eligible for the ready lane even if they contain an RFID. This is because the card reader technology used at the border is not compatible with electronic passports. We have heard of travelers being able to use newer passport books without any issues in the Ready Lane even though they are not listed by CBP as an official document, but this would depend on the discretion of the border agent.
No. The California Real ID is not an Enhanced Drivers License (EDL). Enhanced Drivers Licenses are currently offered by the following states: Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Vermont, Washington
RFID compliant means the card contains a wireless tag that allows the information to be picked up and sent to border officials.
The Ready Lane is the far left lane of the border crossing. It becomes a dedicated lane further up, sectioned off with concrete dividers. If you are familiar with the Otay border crossing you may enter by going up the bridge or the entrance below the bridge. It may be better to enter by taking the bridge and have easy access to the left hand lane. If the border is short enough and you enter from below the bridge, you may be able to get all the way across the lanes to get into the left hand lane.
There are signs for the entrance to the Ready Lane off of the Via Rápida as you approach Pueblo Amigo. View photo directions to get to the Ready Lane in San Ysidro/Tijuana.
The Ready Lane is available at these border crossings:
The Ready Lane is open Monday - Friday 4am - 8pm; Saturday and Sunday 8am - 10pm.
1. Stop at beginning of lane & wait for signal.
2. Hold card up & drive through to booth.
3. Stop at officer's booth.
Most likely no unless you have other passengers in your vehicle who are not SENTRI compliant, but have a Passport Card or other compliant card. It has been reported that the SENTRI is faster. An officer at the Otay border told us the SENTRI is about a 5 minute wait in the morning.
The Passport Card is an affordable and convenient option if you do not have an RFID card at this time. Learn more about how to apply for the Passport Card. For previous passport holders, the fee is only $30. For new applicants, the fee is $55. The Passport Card is valid for 10 years.
As of April 9th, 2018, the State Department website reports it is taking 4-6 weeks to receive a Passport Card using their 'routine' service. For expedited service the wait is 2-3 weeks door to door with overnight delivery.
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