What You Need To Cross
U.S. citizens can visit within the frontera area, a 26-mile border area of Mexico, for up to 72 hours without a permit. Naturalized U.S. citizens must carry their proof of citizenship, which means a passport. A passport is required by US law to return to the US, so you should definitely bring this. They’ll ask for a passport when you return and it’s a hassle to make the folks wait in line while you hem and haw and search for something that proves who you are and where you’re from. They are also going to require
If you plan to go beyond the limit of the frontera, you will need to acquire tourist permits for yourself and your car. These are available in Nuevo Progreso just after you cross the bridge. Turn into the lot and go inside the office that says “Aduana”. Tourist permits are 180 pesos (approximately $19) per person and can only be paid in Mexican pesos. You will need a birth certificate with State Seal along with a current picture I.D. or a valid passport. Birth Certificates must be the original or a Certified Copy – a copy won’t do. Car permits are $19 and you will need the items listed above, plus title or vehicle registration papers. If there is a loan on the car, it’s a good idea to have a note from the bank or finance company saying it’s okay for you to take it into Mexico. Credit cards are the only form of payment accepted for car permits fees. Please note that credit cards and vehicle registration papers must have the name of the person applying for the car permit.
Read about recommendations on car insurance here.
You must have a U.S. passport or passport card to cross back into the U.S. if you are an American citizen after June 1, 2009. Canadians and other nationalities must have a passport with visa for the U.S.
A toll is collected when crossing, both going and coming. This is 50¢ for each person going (if walking) and you’ll need a 50¢ in change for the turnstile on the U.S. side. Don’t worry, there’s a bill changing machine at the gate and there’s an ATM machine on the wall. Be sure to save some money for the return trip, which is 30¢. They’ll take any combination of coins, U.S. or Mexican, on the other side.
Option 1: Park & Walk
Parking is located on both sides of FM 1015 before you enter the toll gate. Parking is nominal and the lots are paved and there’s someone on duty during all daylight hours, so you can park and lock and walk. The walk across will take about five minutes and you get a great view of the river and you can stop for a picture at the U.S.-Mexico border plaque.
Option 2: Drive & Park
You may drive across the bridge. Currently, about a $2.00 toll is required when traveling in either direction per vehicle (not per person in each vehicle). After crossing the bridge wait until you’re directed to enter the Customs stop point. There’s a traffic light that flashes either red or green. If you get a green, just move on through. If it’s red, you’ll have to permit the Customs (Aduana) agent look through your car for any contraband or major new merchandise that you might be attempting to transport into Mexico without paying required duties. This is only a minor inconvenience and nothing to be concerned about, unless you have something you shouldn’t have. Absolutely no guns or ammunition are permitted and penalties are severe. Don’t do it!
Parking in Progreso is free on the main street and helpful, friendly parking guides will stop the traffic and help you into and out of the parking spaces, when available. (A small tip is appropriate, but not required.) Parking lots are available on the streets that run parallel within the first two blocks. They charge a fee and there’s usually someone there who’ll wash your car while you’re away for a modest fee. Arturo’s Restaurant also has parking, but there’s an expectation you’ll eat there and you should get your ticket stamped in the restaurant or bar to avoid paying upon return.
A handy map is available here to see and or download and copy to bring along.
|The speed limit is about 16 mph (25 kmh). It’s rare when you can actually go this fast in the first few blocks, so don’t worry. Just be alert to pedestrians and cars merging from cross streets.|
Taxis are pretty scarce since most folks walk or drive. There’s a couple hanging out about the 6th block in if you want to go out of town to the South.
To get information on the latest requirements of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), click on this link. http://travel.state.gov/travel/cbpmc/cbpmc_2223.html . This was added on September 20, 2007. More added on October 18, 2009.
A couple thousand vehicles cross the border into the U.S. from Nuevo Progeso every day. A small number are stopped at the border by Immmigration Service for random vehicle checks. All drivers and passengers are asked their citizenship and asked to declare items they are bringing form Mexico. Every adult in the vehicle must answer these questions. Be polite and serious. Jokes about drugs and weapons are taken seriously. Make an honest declaration of your purchases. When you tell the truth, the worst thing that can happen is that an item might be confiscated. If Customs finds undeclared items in an inspection, you can be fined and the items seized.
If you walked over, you walk back on the other side of the bridge. Pay the toll and go through the turnstile. When you get to the U.S. side you will have to go through the border station and submit to a brief interview with the Immigration Officer who will ask for citizenship status and what you’re bringing back. Don’t worry. Like it says above on crossing by car.
What You CAN NOT Take Into Mexico
Do not attempt to take knives, guns, ammunition, and/or any dangerous or illegal substances into Mexico. Knives???? New merchandise from the U.S. can raise suspicions, especially if still in the box with the tags attached. So long as you are not taking it to the iterior of Mexico, you won’t have problems. Be calm and collected. “No tenga pena!” as they say in Mexico.
What You CAN Bring Back From Mexico
Each visitor is allowed $400.00 worth of duty free goods for personal use every 30 days. There after, every $100.00 is taxed at a flat rate of 10%.
Restrictions on Items Being Brought into the United States
A person must be 18 years of age to import cigarettes. However, regulations change and it is recommended that you contact the U.S. Customs office before buying any quantity of cigarettes for importation. The tax on cigarettes is $15.00 per carton of ten.
Texas Residents are allowed 1 Quart or liter of distilled spirits, 3 Gallons of wine, or 24-12 oz containers of beer. Non-Texas Residents are allowed 1 Gallon of distilled spirits or wine (or any combination of the two), or 24-12 oz containers of beer.
There can be no substitutions between the types of beverages. The importation of alcoholic beverages must be for personal consumption and cannot occur more than once in a 30-day period. Minors (persons under 21 years of age) or intoxicated persons may not bring alcoholic beverages into Texas.
All alcoholic beverages imported into Texas are subject to a state liquor tax and an administrative fee. For example, the tax and fee on one liter of distilled spirits is $1.25. The tax/fee on beer and wine is less. Pay this at the TABC booth after clearing the border checkpoint.
Certain prescriptions may be purchased in Mexico and brought into the U.S. provided that you have a valid U.S. Doctor’s prescription for a reasonable amount. A reasonable amount generally means up to 90 days supply. U.S. Customs may exercise judgment in allowing the transport of prescription drugs. Do not bring any type of diet pills across the border.
Items Strictly Prohibited from Crossing Into U.S.
Hazardous items, guns, switchblades, illegal drugs, some fruits and vegetables including mangos, avocados with seeds (the vendors know this and will remove them), citrus (except limes) and potatoes; all poultry, pork, and products made from them; all birds, exotic animals including sea turtles, stuffed or alive; most exotic animal products such as skins and most animal hides except cowhides.
There are exchange houses (Casas de cambio) on both sides of the border that will exchange dollars into pesos, however that is not necessary. Most stores, restaurants and hotels in Nuevo Progreso charge for goods and services in U.S. dollars. Canadian currency is not accepted. Most restaurants and some shops accept major credit cards. There are a couple automatic teller machines (ATM) in Progreso, but be sure to request money in US dollars.
Security and Friendliness
A recent study by the University of Texas-Pan American found that Nuevo Progreso is ranked as a place with a high feeling of personal security. This is one of the major factors that makes Nuevo Progreso the border crossing of choice, with visitors from throughout the Valley, even from places with more crossings nearer to their home. Friendliess is also a major attribute of the folks in Nuevo Progreso and had the highest rating of all, earning the grade of “A.” Be sure to say “hola” to the folks and listen for the frequent use of the word “amigo” or friend. They really mean it.
Av. Benito Juarez Shopping
This is Nuevo Progeso’s main street. You will find handicrafts, clothing, jewelry, leather goods, blankets and so much more! Just cross the border and you’re right there in a shopper’s paradise. This begins with pharmacies and dentists in the first block and then stores, both large and small, selling all sorts of Mexican products from all over the Republic. Vendors selling jewelry, sun glasses, carved novelties, anything and everything, are located along the sidewalks, adding to the hubbub of activity and the ambiance. Get a shoe shine from an expert limpiabota. A haircut for the men and hair braids for the ladies. Pick up a refill of your arthritus pills at one of the over sixty-plus pharmacies and save some money. Shop ’til you drop and then take a break on one of the handy benches or seats provided by generous merchants. Have a drink and watch the crowds of happy shoppers as they make a run for the border.
Don’t hestitate to enter the various shopping arcades that jet off to the right or left. These little pedestrian ways have shops selling all types of things and they are cool in the summer and protected from the occasional chill winds in the winter. The shop owners are very friendly and will welcome you to view their goods.
Prices are clearly marked on goods in most of the shops and this is the price that you can expect to pay, unless you’re buying in volume. Prices on the street are subject to a bit of negotiation, so don’t hesitate to show some interest, but make a counter offer and be prepared to walk. Don’t worry, they won’t be offended and will respect you more for your thriftiness.
Enjoy the occasional street entertainment, as kids sing and dance for tips. Musicians may play a flute or beat a drum and shake their tortoise shell anklets while wearing native costumes. Hey, it’s part of the trip…and it’s free.
There are many fine restaurants in Nuevo Progreso, where you will find quality food at reasonable prices. Click on the Restaurants button to find some of the better places to eat. Try the Cabrito (barbecued goat with a smoky flavor). Vendors sell tasty tacitos and lonchas or icy aguas. It’s a grunt-a-rama for the daring. And, you can’t beat a margarita and a plate of panchos (special nachos) after a long day of shopping.
Nuevo Progreso Police
City police wear blue uniforms and handle theft and disorderly conduct. Traffic police wear khaki and brown uniforms and handle parking duties and direct traffic.