CROSSING BACK INTO THE U.S.
I cannot be held responsible for anything listed below; due to the various pests, diseases, and Alert levels, the rules change rapidly at the borders. The below was current when I wrote this (July 25, 2009).
Documentation for Reentry into the U.S.
(Taken from the US Customs website)
- On June 1, 2009, U.S. citizens returning home from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean or Bermuda, by land or sea, will be required to present one of the travel documents listed below.
Many of these documents are already available, and obtaining one now will ensure that you are ready on June 1, 2009, when they will be required.
- U.S. Passport – This is an internationally recognized travel document that verifies a person’s identity and nationality. It is accepted for travel by air, land and sea.
- U.S. Passport Card – This is a new, limited-use travel document that fits in your wallet and costs less than a U.S. Passport. It is only valid for travel by land and sea.
- Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL) – also called “REAL ID”: Several states and Canadian provinces are issuing this driver’s license or identification document that denotes identity and citizenship. It is specifically designed for cross-border travel into the U.S. by land or sea.
- Trusted Traveler Program Cards – NEXUS, SENTRI or FAST enrollment cards can speed your entry into the U.S. and are issued only to pre-approved, low-risk travelers. The cards are valid for use at land or sea; the NEXUS card can be used in airports that have a NEXUS kiosk.
- Special Groups – Information for Children, Groups of Children, Native Americans, "Closed Loop" Cruises, U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents, U.S. Military, Merchant Mariners, Ferries and Small Boats, and Boaters is available on the US Customs website.
Knowing what documents are required and having them ready when you return home will help streamline the entry process and ensure your return to the U.S. is as smooth as possible.
U.S. Agricultural Quarantine Information
(Taken from the US Department of Agriculture pamphlet)
Notice to Travelers
* Declare all agricultural items you bring from Mexico. Failure to do so can result in delays and fines of $10,000 or more. Fruits, vegetables, mats, and birds taken from the U.S. to Mexico may not be allowed to reenter. Consult in advance with inspectors of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. All agricultural products are subject to inspection.
Agricultural items are prohibited if they can carry plant pests or animal diseases.
Fruits and Vegetables
All fruit not on the PERMITTED ITEMS list below are prohibited. Potatoes, including Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, and yams, are prohibited. (Exception: Cooked potatoes are permitted. Avocados without seeds are permitted, except in California. Fresh squeezed Grapefruit and Orange juice is permitted)
Plants and Seeds
Special permits are required. Some plants are prohibited. Check in advance with agricultural inspectors. (Exception: Dried plant parts, such as for medicinal purposes, are permitted)
Meat and Game
Raw and cooked pork, including sausages, cold cuts, skins, and pork tacos are prohibited. (Exception: Shelf-stable, canned pork and hard cooked pork skins - cracklings- are permitted) Poultry - raw meat from both domesticated and game fowl is prohibited. (Exception: Thoroughly cooked poultry is permitted) Game - Check with agricultural inspectors in advance.
Prohibited, (Exception: Hard boiled and cooked eggs are permitted)
Wild and domesticated birds, including poultry, are prohibited. To import personally owned pet birds, contact agricultural inspectors in advance.
Generally prohibited. This includes wheat straw, seeds, and all articles made from this material, including animal fed.
In addition to the excepted items listed above, many agricultural items are permitted if they pass inspection to be certain they are free of pests, soil, sand, and earth.
Fruits and Vegetables
Permitted fruits are; Bananas, blackberries, cactus fruit, dates, dewberries, grapes, lychees, melons, papayas, pineapples, and strawberries. Most vegetables are permitted except for those in the prohibited list above. Okra, however, is subject to certain restrictions. Those little sour limones are now permitted.
Permitted items are; Acorns, almonds, cocoa beans, chestnuts, coconuts (without husks or without milk), peanuts, pecans, pinions (pine nuts), tamarind beans, walnuts and waternuts.
Alcohol, Tobacco, Drugs, and Firearms
(Taken from the U.S. Customs website)
- There is a $800 exemption for gifts and personal articles you've purchased in Mexico; anything over that amount will be taxed.
- One liter of alcoholic beverage per person over 21 is okay - more will be taxed; note that the state of Texas taxes all alcohol brought back from Mexico. (there is a higher limit for beer brought back through the California border crossings, if you're NOT a resident of California, but I've been unable to find that limit)
- No steroids, period; make sure you have a prescription for any other medication. (Some medications, even though they are legal in Mexico, have not been approved for use in the U.S. These will be confiscated, prescription or not.)
- No illegal drugs; if you have the slightest amount, you can be fined and sent to jail -- your car may even be confiscated.
- No switchblade knives.
- So many fruits from Mexico are prohibited in the US that you may as well not bring any back (see above).
- No guns of any kind; even ammo is a no-no. You can get documentation showing that you legally purchased a firearm you're carrying in the U.S., but why bother taking a gun to Mexico?
- Fish you caught in Mexico are okay.
- Tobacco Products
- Within the duty-free personal exemption limits, you are allowed to return to the U.S. with 200 cigarettes or 100 cigars (excluding Cuban products) that were previously exported (usually found in duty-free shops in the foreign country).