Border Crossing Update

COVID-19: Updates On Crossing the Border

Updated on March 2nd, 2021

The border restrictions are currently in place until March 21st, 2021.
Please note that COVID-19 tests are NOT REQUIRED for land travel between the USA and Mexico. The new restrictions that take effect on 1/26/21 are for air travel only.
Want to see what's going on in Baja? Click here.

After it was announced that the USA and Mexico would restrict non-essential travel between the two countries, many people were left wondering what exactly that meant. With the news changing by the hour, it can be hard to keep up with the most current information. Below are answers to some frequently asked questions regarding crossing the USA - Mexico border.

What is "essential travel"?

According to the Department of Homeland Security, essential travel through land ports of entry and ferry terminals includes, but is not limited to:

  • U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents returning to the United States;
  • Individuals traveling for medical purposes (e.g., to receive medical treatment in the United States);
  • Individuals traveling to attend educational institutions;
  • Individuals traveling to work in the United States (e.g., individuals working in the farming or agriculture industry who must travel between the United States and Mexico in furtherance of such work);
  • Individuals traveling for emergency response and public health purposes (e.g., government officials or emergency responders entering the United States to support Federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial government efforts to respond to COVID-19 or other emergencies);
  • Individuals engaged in lawful cross-border trade (e.g., truck drivers supporting the movement of cargo between the United States and Mexico);
  • Individuals engaged in official government travel or diplomatic travel;
  • Members of the U.S. Armed Forces, and the spouses and children of members of the U.S. Armed Forces, returning to the United States; and
  • Individuals engaged in military-related travel or operations.
What is "non-essential travel"?

The Department of Homeland Security defines non-essential travel as individuals traveling for tourism purposes (e.g., sightseeing, recreation, gambling, or attending cultural events).

How long will the restrictions on border travel last?

The restrictions are currently in place until March 21st, 2021.

I am an American citizen returning from Mexico. Will I be able to cross back into the United States?

Yes, American citizens returning to the US would be considered essential travel according to the Department of Homeland Security.

I plan to travel to Mexico. What can I expect when crossing the border southbound?

According to the Instituto Nacional de Migración, people entering Mexico may be subject to:

  • A medical revision in which a laser will be used to measure your temperature
  • An interview regarding your current state of health and the countries to which you have recently traveled

What's going on in Baja?

As of June 1, 2020 Mexico has begun its phase “Nueva Normalidad” or the New Normal, allowing for a gradual, orderly and cautious reopening of the country. Every week, each region in Mexico will be assigned a color which will determine the level of permissible activity.

The colors are as follows:

  • Red - Maximum Alert: Only essential activities are allowed. Essential activities include mining, construction, and auto manufacturing.
  • Orange - High Alert: Essential activities are allowed and restricted non essential activities are allowed. Vulnerable workers require maximum precautions.
  • Yellow - Intermediate: All economic activities are allowed and limited activities in public spaces.
  • Green - Normal Daily Activities: Resumption of scholastic, social, and leisure activities

To check out Mexico's interactive map, click here.

Below you can find some of the latest info on what measures select cities in the Baja California Peninsula are taking.

Baja California

Baja California is currently in orange zone, meaning the following activities are suspended:

  • Bars
  • Concerts
  • Theme parks
  • Event halls

The following activities are permitted with the following capacities:

  • Supermarkets - 50%
  • Hotels - 75%
  • Restaurants, cafes, theaters, movies - 75%
  • Shopping malls, parks, museums, movietheaters, cultural events - 50%
  • Hair and nail salons - 75%
  • Gyms, spas & public pools -65%


Tijuana restaurants have received national recognition for their effective implementation of the "Mesa Segura" protocol - food safety and sanitization measures set forth by Mexican authorities.


Masks are strongly encouraged in public.


Ensenada has begun setting us random sanitary checkpoints throughout the city to ensure people are wearing masks. They encourage no more than two passengers per vehicle.

Check out the restaurants and hotels that are certified by the Clean & Safe protocol.

If you plan to visit Isla de Cedros, you will need to provide a COVID 19 test demonstrating you do not have the virus.

Guadalupe Wine Valley

Many wineries are back open with limited capacity indoors. Check out the wineries, hotels, and restaurants that are certified by the Clean & Safe protocol.

Mexicali Municipality

Mexicali has checkpoints at the border to ensure travellers are entering for essential reasons (proof of essential travel is required). The following additional restrictions are in place:

  • Masks are required
  • Only two passengers per vehicle
  • Official may check for symptoms and your temperature may be taken

San Felipe

Travelers may encounter checkpoints upon entering town where proof of residence and/or nationality may be requested.

Baja California Sur
The Baja Sur state government issued a mask mandate, they are required in all public spaces.

Looking to see which establishments have complied with the sanitary protocols and are permitted to open? Check out the approved businesses here on the Baja California Sur government's official website. Simply choose the locality and type of business you're looking for.

Did your FMM expire while you were waiting things out in Baja California Sur? If so, you can get a new one at the Mexican Immigration offices. Just bring your passport and your expired FMM. Many offices have limited hours from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm; it is recommended to arrive as early as possible.


The following restrictions are in place:

  • Supermarkets and commercial establishments will close at 10:00 pm.
  • Alcoholic beverages may be sold until 6:00 pm. If you are at a restaurant, you are able to order alcoholic drinks during their hours of operation.
  • Only two passengers are permitted in a vehicle.
  • The boardwalk is open for fishing activities only.

La Paz Municipality

Restaurants, hotels,movie theaters, museums, gyms, theaters, ecotourism are open at 40% capacity.

The boardwalk is open for physical activities during the week but will close at 6:00 pm on Thursdays and remain closed until Monday.

Los Cabos

Los Cabos is following the guidelines set forth by the Baja California Sur State Government.


Puerto Peñasco aka Rocky Point

Puerto Peñasco aka Rocky Point is allowing visitors, although there are restrictions. For more detailed information, check out the Entry Protocol for Tourists.

Federal Register
Department of Homeland Security
Gobierno de México

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