Racing Baja: Do I need a passport?

So we're planning on racing the 500.

I've been hearing lately that a new law is requiring US citizens to carry passports if they are in Mexico more than 72 hours or go more than 20km below the border. Can anyone confirm or deny this?

Urban legend?

I've searched a bit on the internet and haven't found anything, but maybe the websites I visited are outdated?

If this is true, then my crew needs to get on the passoport thing soon if we're going to do some prerunning this spring.

OK, after some further searching I can answer my own question in case any of you are interested. We WILL have to have passports in the near future, but not yet.

Found this on a US Government website (Regarding the Dept. of Homeland Securitie's new Travel Initiative Plan):

US Citizens will need passports to travel in the Western Hemisphere.

When will the Travel Initiative be implemented?

In the proposed implementation plan, which is subject to a period of initial public comment, the Initiative will be rolled out in phases, providing as much advance notice as possible to the affected public to enable them to meet the terms of the new guidelines. The proposed timeline will be as follows:

December 31, 2006 – Requirement applied to all air and sea travel to or from Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda.

December 31, 2007 – Requirement extended to all land border crossings as well as air and sea travel.

I thought there was an additional phase to be implemented on December 31, 2005. Is this a change?

In April 2005, the Departments of State (DOS) and Homeland Security (DHS) announced a proposed plan to be implemented in three phases beginning on December 31, 2005 for the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. After further review and considering the delay in publishing the public notice in the Federal Register, DOS and DHS recognized that implementing the December 31, 2005, phase would be problematic for travelers during the upcoming winter tourism season. This change will simplify the implementation and provide a longer lead-time for travelers to come into compliance with the requirements.

I say just get your passport so you have it.

Your initial post sounds more like the requirements for a tourist card.

You are correct on the passport but you will need an FMT (tourist card) if you stay more than 72 hours anytime you travel south of Punta Banda/Maneadero (10 mi. so. of Ensenada) or south of San Felipe on the gulf side. You are considered illegal any further south and there is a checkpoint north of Guerro Negro that will ask for the papers occasionaly....... and sometimes not. If you were to be involved in an accident past Maneadero or San Felipe without a FMT..... you could be screwed.

The Tourist Card (FM-T) is free if your stay is limited to 7 days... otherwise can be requested for up to a 180 day (6mo.) period for about a $20 fee. You can get the FMT in Guerro Negro or at the San Ysdro crossing.

There have been numerous times I have been down without getting any of this and being "legal", but now that I am getting older (and wiser) and have a family and more money invested in my rig, toys and belongings..... I make sure all is legit. It is pretty easy and cheap to comply with Mexicos laws.

You are considered illegal any further south and there is a checkpoint north of Guerro Negro that will ask for the papers occasionaly....... and sometimes not.

The one and only time that I traveled beyond Guerro Negro without permit I was stopped. The guard's English was worse than my Spanish. Finally upon reaching the level of $50.US in his hand the guard instantly was able to communicate. Amazing. He gave me blank papers in exchange and sent me on my way.

Its always a good idea to have your papers.

In past decades when the US got serious about clamping down on illegal aliens--the Mexicans responded in kind.

Given all the coming anti-illegal alien laws, and new fences, and all that on this side of the border--and the strong protests from Mexico---i suspect they will be enforcing the laws down there strictly. Its like a 'tit-for-tat' thing.

Nothing major, but it can be a nuisance.

Dont be surprised if we soon see checkpoints south of Felipe, checks for papers just south of Ensenada, etc. It was like that for a time in the '70's--and again under Reagan in the eighties (after the amnesty program)--and for a time it was like that after Colosio was assasinated. I think we will see it again.

If this happens--make sure you have all your stuff in order. Drivers license, copy of all vehicle registration, passport, and of course tourist cards if you need them for the area/duration of your stay. With your papers you will be fine--without they will hassle you.

and of course tourist cards if you need them for the area/duration of your stay.

where does one get the tourist cards?

The scuba diveing shops in San Diego have them.

The scuba diveing shops in San Diego have them.
Good info, I never knew that.

At the border crossing (Mex. side) you can get/pay for them and it's fairly easy. Parking the the difficult part.

At the Instant Mex Auto Insur in San Ysidro (CA) you can get/pay for them and parking is easy but the "open" hours for tourist card sales are bad.

Instant - 619-428-4714

I hear banks from TJ-Ensenada and Mexicali-Felipe have them as well. Again, this is hear-say but I'll look into it next trip down.

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