Travelers can obtain Mexico tourist card online
The new enforcement of old border-crossing rules has generated few readily available reports of long waits for Mexico-bound pedestrians, but the National Immigration Institute (INM) has introduced a new option that might improve traffic flow.
Just as the Mexican government opened a new facility for pedestrians crossing the Mexico-U.S. border between Tijuana and San Diego, it began requiring foreigners to present a passport. And anyone staying longer than a week would pay a 330-peso fee.
Paying that fee, and the tourist card it buys, can now be carried out online, where the necessary paperwork can also be completed in advance of crossing the border.
The INM says that visitors can obtain the tourist card, known as an FMM, or forma migratoria multiple, by entering the required information online, paying the fee, now 332 pesos, with a credit or debit card and printing the document and proof of payment.
The traveler has 30 days to use the document to cross the border, where it will be stamped upon entry. The FMM is good for 180 days and must be kept until leaving Mexico.
The new process is intended to make it easier faster and safer for travelers, says the INM, and reduce the time spent waiting in lineups. (It reportedly went into effect yesterday but obtaining the tourist card is not yet an option on the website indicated.)
Those lineups could result from enforcement of a 2012 regulation requiring foreign visitors to show a passport, a rule that has not been widely enforced in some areas. But officials are aiming to get things organized.
“The way that people enter Mexico has been growing very disorganized, and now we are making it organized, that’s the big difference,” said Carlos de la Fuente of Indaabin, the Mexican agency in charge of building federal facilities.
But enforcement won’t necessarily be constant, said Rodulfo Figueroa, the INM chief in Baja California. When the port gets busy the rule will not be uniformly enforced, he said.
In Mexico, where enforcement of rules is often somewhat lacking, the new policy received mixed reviews. One Tijuana resident told the San Diego Reader it represented the dawn of a new era of regulation. “If they’re getting serious about customs, can ridding the government of corruption and stopping the wholesale slaughter of the drug wars be far behind?” asked Immaculata Nallevitez.
But Tijuana bar owner Hector Bibit said his American customers want neither regulations nor long lines. “Tijuana needs to be a lark, careless and crazy,” said the owner of Club Chug. “I need the border to be as loose as their wallets after five chugaritas. Standing in line only gives them time to reconsider their life choices.”
He and other businesses are reporting a 20% drop in business since enforcement began. Bibit said it’s proving “worse for business than a couple of cartel boys burned alive and hung upside down from an overpass.”
The new Puerta Este crossing, where 22,000 pedestrians cross each day, opened August 19.
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