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Crossing from Calexico, California to Mexicali, Mexico

Calexico border crossing into Mexicali

Calexico border crossing into Mexicali

We have been crossing the Mexicali- Calexico border regularly, since we re-located to Mexicali in 2008.  The normal waiting time to cross from Mexicali to Calexico is 1 ½ hours, or more.

The waiting time for coming back to Mexicali from Calexico has always just taken a matter of minutes – now it can take hours.

Now that has all changed.

At first all we noticed was that Mexico has spent a lot of money to upgrade its border entry, giving it a brand new high tech look, with wide lanes, and big impressive signs for vehicles entering into Mexicali.

“Guess the Mexicans are taking revenge on the U.S. for all the delays our guys cause,” said Jim.

The line waiting to enter Mexicali

The line waiting to enter Mexicali

Later we learned that this had nothing to do with revenge, but is part of a new federal program started by the Mexican Government known as SIAVE, to search for illegal weapons from crossing into Mexico from the U.S.  You can’t bring guns or ammo into Mexico – before there were just warning signs – now there is an inspection.

The new surveillance program takes eight seconds to inspect each car, making, for the first time, long lines to cross into Mexico. The wait has been as long as three hours on the U.S. side of the border.

This has backed up traffic on Calexico’s main street, Imperial Ave., and caused a lot of problems for the businesses on the road.

The vendors and shops on Imperial Avenue are beginning to find business tough. All of their entrances have been taped off by the Calexico police, to keep people from breaking into the waiting line. Anyone using these shops has to head back to the end of the line if they want to go to Mexico.

This also affects people who work in Calexico, and other nearby towns, who live in Mexicali and have to go back home. In spite of the fact that they have the best of both worlds – U.S. salaries and Mexicali living expenses – it is a problem.

The Mexicali border warning sign

The Mexicali border warning sign

Once while waiting in line way back at the end, near Calexico’s Wal-mart, a couple of wise guys in SUVs cut around us and zipped down the dirt median by the side of the road. They were churning up a lot of dust as they sped by the rest of us law-abiding folks to get ahead of us in line.

Well, guess what?  Boom! They were all stopped by the California Highway patrol and given tickets. The rest of us in line rolled down our windows, clapped and whistled as the “smart guys” got tickets.

“Geez,” said Jim, “don’t that just make you feel good all over?”

Matthew, who is a bit of a day dreamer, added, “Gosh, I thought it was a dust storm?”

I answered, “Well, it was – look at the hood of our truck it’s full of dust!”

Since we always have a ton of errands to complete in Calexico, and El Centro, we now return home to Mexicali late in the evening – about 8 or 9pm.  Like everyone else, we patiently wait in line. No rush, we just listen to the radio, eat burgers and fries in the truck and relax!

The Mexicali border crossing

The Mexicali border crossing

Like Jim says, “Ain’t no one paying us to rush back home.”

Jim turns up his favorite cowboy music on the radio, and we all relax.

Well, not exactly – Matthew fashions himself to be a singer, and sometimes, he sings along.

Until Jim says, “C’mon, Matthew, gimme a break.”

47 comments to Crossing from Calexico, California to Mexicali, Mexico

  • Stephanie:
    I don’t know how much a taxi would cost in Mexicali, but I think the rates are very low so it should not be a problem. Best if you stay in the northern part of Mexicali, close to the border. The pedestrian crossing from Mexicali to Calexico is very ease. On the other side you will find plenty of taxis should you need one.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Stephanie

    Mary Ann –
    Thank you for your website. I am a small young women traveling by myself to Calexico. I live in La Paz, flying to Tijuana and taking a bus to Mexicali. Do you know about how much does a taxi cost from bus to hotel then hotel to pedestrian border crossing? I speak Spanish fluently and can negotiate, but better if I have a price in mind to offer. Also, can you please tell me about the pedestrian crossing from Mexicali to Calexico? I can’t find any information online. Thanks!

  • Linda:
    Maybe in theory you need some kind of a document, but we have never asked to produce anything when entering Mexicali. You may, however, need a passport or some proof of citizenship to get back into the US.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Linda Mcgourty

    Do you need a passport to to into Mexicali?

  • Rich:
    What you are doing is correct. Walking across the border brings you in to a very active area with the Mexican border police quite close and you will find taxis waiting. You should have no problem with your plan. You can also get a taxi at the border crossing in Calexico which will take you into Mexicali. That will be fairly expensive, however. You can ask for a price at the border crossing.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Rich

    I am planning a 4-day work trip in Mexicali, driving from San Diego. I planned to drive my car to AA Parking on 2nd street (thanks to your previous postings), then walk into Mexicali and take cabs to the hotel (Araiza) and to/from the job site each day. I am doing this to avoid what I perceive as a real risk in driving my own car in Mexico and to avoid the 1.5 hour return through the US Border. (1) Are these realistic concerns? (2) Is it reasonable to walk with a rolling suitcase from the parking lot to where I can get a Mexican cab? I’m in good shape, this will be early Novemeber so not concerned with sweltering heat.

  • John Pike

    In case of any problem when crossing the border by car, I’m glad I purchase BestMex car insurance, they always help me if I get in case of emergency, a personal recommendation when traveling to the border.

  • Jose:
    Sure, Mexicali is safe. There is a very good parking lot right near the border crossing. Here is the link.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • jose valle

    Going ti mexicali next week to visit a friend how much it cost ti leave the car park in the border in the us and is it safe

  • jose valle

    Going to mexicali to see a friend and goung to get pick up at the border I want to leave my car In The usa to park the car for a whole day how much it cost and is it save to park it there and leave it there

  • Yes, you can walk from Calexico to Mexicali, and there are pharmacies right across the border BUT there is more availability in Los Algodones than there is in Mexicali.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • SaidMary

    How far is it walking from Calexico to Mexicali? Was in Algondonas and they didn’t have the meds I wanted. Told me to go to Mexicali and I could get it. Want to park in Calexico and walk across the border? Is that feasible?

    Thanks,

  • Roger:
    Hotel Siesta Real is 3.5 miles from the border crossing – an easy cab ride. It is in a safe area and is enclosed with safe parking. That is my recommendation. Generally, in Mexicali, the closer you are to the border the better. Our house is 176 feet from the border. However, the area around the border crossing is not a good area. .
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Thanks MaryAnn, for your thoughts and recommendations.
    I prefer to walk across the border as it saves a lot of time.
    But would love to find a safe place to park and a walkable hotel on the Mexicali side.
    Is Hotel Siesta Real within a safe mile or so of the border crossing?
    Cheers
    Roger

  • Roger:
    Thanks for the compliment! Your plan sounds like a good one. You could also drive into Mexicali, and stay at the Siesta Real which I recommend as it is close to the border and in the best part of Mexicali. The only downside is the border wait getting back to Calexico (usually 1 1/2 hours).
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Hi MaryAnn,
    Thanks for creating this site. Like many others, I have a business meeting in Mexicali for a day. Driving in from San Diego CA on Monday the 21st, 2014, arriving at around 4:30 pm. Looking at various options, including staying in Calexico the night before and walking across the boarder to a waiting driver from the company. Then walk back through customs that evening around 6:00 pm. Is this something that you would recommend? Other alternatives?
    cheers
    Roger

  • Don

    Thank you Mary Ann. I plan to park on the US side and walk across. Hopefully a reader will offer suggestions for a boutique tequila store close to the border.

  • Don:
    If your coming via Yuma, you might cross the border in Los Algodones. There is a huge selection of tequila there. Then take the Mexican highway from Los Algodones to Mexicali. It passes through some beautiful green farmlands. As for buying tequila in Mexicali, we have to rely on our readers to add a comment to better inform you. (Jim drinks Mount Gay Rum – he says nothing can compare.)
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Don

    I am planning a trip to Mexicali to shop for great tequila. Where is the best shop to taste and purchase great tequila ?

  • Rey:
    Good you are coming to Mexicali on Wednesday – Friday afternoon is the worst time. Try to hit the border by 3:00pm to avoid people returning to Mexicali after work. We always recommend that people stay at the Siesta Real only 5 minutes from the border and their website has a map. It is in a good neighborhood – has a large internal courtyard and a restaurant. You can call 1-800-426-5093, their US number to make a reservation. Their website is http://www.hotelsiestareal.com.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Rey

    Can you give an update of the crossing conditions -to and from Mexico… & best times to avoid long wait times?
    I am planning a trip next Wednesday 1/29.

    Also, hotel to stay the night.

    Thank you

  • Your best bet is to park on 2nd street in Calexico and walk to the border crossing. There, you will find an English-speaking taxi to take you across the border and to your location. The cost should be about $60+. Or, you can walk across the border and find a cheaper taxi on the Mexican side. Here is the Google map from the parking lot to the border crossing.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • David

    can someone help. I am meeting with Coppel in Mexicali on Thursday. I have there address, but have never been there before. Is there a service or driver that can drive you into Mexicali, take me to Coppel, wait a couple hours and then drive me back to my car in Calexico? Is there a parking lot in Calexico that I can use to keep my car safe. Just trying to figure it out the safest and most efficient way.
    Thanks for your help

    DC

  • Sue:
    You don’t need any documents to cross the border from Calexico into Mexicali. You do need a passport or passport card to get back into the USA. Yes, perhaps someone elxe could get your dad’s death certificate. You might save yourself some time (and money) by contacting a lawyer, Fernando Antonio Aguilar who speaks English and has offices both in Calexico and Mexicali. The firms website is http://corporativoaguilar.com/. The Aguilars, father and son, gave us some advice, and didn’t charge us a cent – nice folks.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Sue

    I need to get a death certificate. My dad died in Mexicali Oct. 1989, and is buried there as well.

    To cross the border Calexico/Mexicali could I use my birth certificate and drivers liscense? Is there a link for information on obtaining the certificate and a list of cemeteries I could contact to see where my father is buried?

    Another question could someone else go get my dad`s death certificate or id it next of kin?

  • Fatima:
    Thanks for the comment. Hope all went well with Coppel S.A. de C.V.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Fatima

    Hi MaryAnn I just wanted to say thank you for your reply – sorry I didn’t thank you sooner – I’ve been out of town quite a bit.

    Sincerely,
    Fatima Ow

  • Kathy:
    Crossing from Calexico into Mexicali takes no time at all. At around 4:00pm when people are going home from business there could be a line and it might take half an hour. At 1:00pm you will have no problem in crossing. That pertains to automobiles. Walking is very quick, as well.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Kathy

    What are the border crossing times from Calexico into Mexicali?

    I have a late flight into San Diego and wont ame it to Calexico until 1:00AM. Should I spend the night in San Diego or can I cross into my destination that late?

    Thanks in advance!
    ~Kathy

  • Fatima:
    It should be safe, but I could give a better answer if you told me where Coppel is located. We have a new Garmin and it works fine for Mexicali.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Fatima

    Hi MaryAnn,

    I want to meet with the buyer of Coppel S.A. de C.V – I just to visit them in Calexico but they close the offices and now I have to drive to Mexicali. Is it safe? My husband is worry and thinks in not worth to risk my life for potential business. Is it easy to drive there? Can my GPS work?

  • It should be safe. Just don’t drive when it’s dark and don’t stop to help anyone and you should be OK. There may be some construction on the road to watch out for, as well.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Lee

    Do you consider it safe to cross the Mexicali border and drive to San Felipe, Mexico?? Any advice?? Thanks

  • Thanks, Flaca and Feliz Navidad to you and you husband.
    God Bless
    MaryAnn

  • Flaca

    P.S. Feliz Navidad

  • Flaca

    Thank you MaryAnn for your help..it’s very nice and helpful you have this page up for us people who have no idea what to do. I visit Mexicali about every two months and I don’t have an idea where to go and what to do. My husband meets me in front of the park near the border and takes over the drive..It would be really nice to meet you on one of those trips…take care and may the lord bless you!!

  • Sonia: As you probably know, a Tarlov cyst is what I had, and it is a very rare condition. Dr. Carlos Maya (686) 554-29-60, Av. Riforma No. 1022, Mexicali, is a great doctor and did a wonderful job on my – much better than the results I have seen in the U.S. I would strongly recommend that your sisters daughter visit Dr. Maya.
    Sonia: Como usted probablemente sabe, un quiste de Tarlov es lo que tenía, y es una afección muy rara. El Dr. Carlos Maya (686) 554-29-60, Av.. Riforma N º 1022, de Mexicali, es un gran médico e hizo un trabajo maravilloso en mi – mucho mejor que los resultados que he visto en los EE.UU. recomiendo encarecidamente que sus hermanas, hija de la visita del Dr. Maya.
    Esto es lo que escribió a un comentario reciente sobre el Dr. Maya:
    Tuve una operación de columna vertebral extremadamente difícil, aquí en Mexicali. Fue por el drenaje de un quiste de Tarlov, una condición muy rara y difícil, ya que el quiste se encuentra en los paquetes del nervio espinal. Mi operación fue un éxito completo. En los EE.UU. esto los costos de operación de 1 a 200.000 dólares (el mío costo una pequeña fracción de eso), y rara vez con éxito. Mi médico me dijo que Mexicali permanecer en cama durante cuatro semanas después de la operación para evitar el crecimiento de tejido cicatrizal doloroso. En Estados Unidos, que la droga la gente con Vicodin y hacerles correr inmediatamente después de la operación. De esta manera, el médico de EE.UU. llega a hacer una segunda operación para hacer aún más dinero. Además, el paciente es adicto al Vicodin y tiene que volver con frecuencia al médico para una receta, que yo llamo una solución. Mi quiste de Tarlov era claramente visible en mi resonancia magnética realizado en los EE.UU. – pero la gente ni la resonancia magnética, ni el Dr. Rubin me dijo al respecto. Aquí en Mexicali, el técnico de MRI se vio de inmediato. Creo que debe confiar en los médicos de Mexicali. Mis resultados han sido grandes, y Mexicali es una ciudad muy segura. Puede leer más sobre mis experiencias médicas aquí por ir a mi sitio web y buscar en “Tarlov.

  • Sonia Barraza

    Hi, Maryann, my sister’s daughter who lives in tijuana have tarlov cyst, i was looking for a recognized Dr. to do a cirjury to help here in the USA tell me more information about Dr. Maya in mexicali please I did told my sister to bring her over USA because I tough should be the best but after I read about you operation was a succesfull , i change my mind, my niece have insurance for my brother-in law because they’are us citizens but my sister no, she can’t come over USA yet I will aprecciate any information you can give me specially if you speak spanish as you can se my english is not perfect, and my sister doesn’t speak english at all

  • Flaca:
    If you children are in school in the U.S. there is probably a way for them to go to school in Calexico if you live in Mexicali. Our neighbors, who are Mexican, send their son to school in Calexico. Also, my friend at the bank who is Mexican does the same. When it comes to it, if you need more information I will do my best to find out how they do it.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Flaca

    Hi Maryann,

    I’m thinking of moving to Mexicali. My husband was deported and we want to be together. I have four children two of which are still in school. Is sending your kids to school in the US hard? do they even accept them with a Mexicali address? Thank you so much in advance for helping me hope you are doing well after the earthquake .

  • Lucy

    Thanks for responding. I would drive back and forth M-F. Please find out about the daily wait for me. I heard that a Fast Pass sometimes doesn’t make a difference and you end up waiting long anyways- I’d be willing to pay if it is faster. MaryAnn, are there many foreigners living there? How are the job opportunities in Mexicali? Last question, 🙂 is Mexicali an okay place to start a small business?

    I really appreciate your help and time. It means a lot to me! Lucy

  • Lucy:
    I am not really sure of the crossing on foot. It may depend on the hour, etc. and be less than two hours. I will try to find out for you.
    If you can get a Sentri pass (not too difficult) you can make it across by automobile in about 10 to 15 minutes. I understand that the pass costs around $200 and is good for five years. That is a little bit of expense, but well worth it.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Lucy

    Hello! Is crossing on a daily basis a real hassle? I mean would that mean for a 730AM job I would have to leave at 5AM? Is the traffic bad at all hours both ways? HOpe you are well and blessed over there//

  • Craig:
    Mexicali is just fine now – some very small earthquakes, but that is all.
    Yes, you can walk across the border. Entering Mexico, I doubt that anyone
    will even ask you for a passport. Coming back to the US, however, you
    will need your passport.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Craig

    Any better recently? My wife and I just recently retired to Palm Springs and wanted to take a trip over to Calexico/Mexicali. What about just walking across? We both have passports – does that speed things up at all?
    Sincerely, C. Dutcher

  • Thanks – yes we survived the 7.2 earthquake, and have a post coming out in about an hour about.
    Thanks for the concern.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • d

    you havent posted since this day. i hope that you are okay from the 7.2 earthquake. im sure a lot of us are worried about your family. post as soon as you can so that we all know that you are alright.

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