Planning for your trip!
- Bring your passport and the documents you will need to return to the USA.
- Acquire Mexican Car insurance in advance. You can buy short term or long term coverage. Bring the proof of insurance written in Spanish. Your US auto policy does not cover you.
- If you are renting a car at the Phoenix airport, insist on talking to a Phoenix based agent about insurance. The national rental desk usually gives wrong/bad information. Enterprise is known to offer cars and insurance for Mexico, most others do not.
- Do not bring firearms unless you want to go to jail.
- We recommend a pit stop 5 miles before the border at the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument Visitor Center before you take the last 60 miles of your journey.
- US Citizens do not need a Visa to go travel in State of Sonora. The Highway to Puerto Penasco is designated a "No Hassle Zone" (i.e. no Visa)
- We strongly recommend that you adhere to the speed limit in cities of Sonoita and Puerto Penasco. There is a Speed Trap (40 km/hr = 24 mph) just past the Red Cross collection area on both directions. If you ares stopped and ticketed, follow the officer to the police station to pay your hefty fine.
- You may be gently harassed by Panhandlers just as you cross the border at Lukeville, AZ into the border city of Sonoita. Simply ignore them and drive on.
- As you leave Sonoita just before entering the desert there is a stop sign in the middle of the road where the Sonoita Red Cross takes collections from travelers. Recently it was to pay for new 911 service. You can donate or just wave as you stop and proceed. Also the Puerto Penasco Red Cross will have funding drives on the main streets in town from time to time too. Just be sure there is an Ambulance parked nearby to confirm they are legitimate.
- You may bring $150 per person of good into Mexico without duty. Beyond that expect to be asked to pay import duty if stopped and searched.
- With a complete kitchen at Encanto Living, bringing food to cover your first few days can be convenient. Bring only food sealed by the original store packaging! Open package are not allowed. You may not bring/import raw crustaceans, raw, refrigerated, dried or frozen fish, beef, pork, poultry. Also no seeds or berries. For more details: https://consulmex.sre.gob.mx Just be prepared to lose food upon inspection - sometimes they let you keep it, sometimes they don't. Just go with the flow.
- You can buy almost any type groceries at Ley (my favorite), Bodega (Wallmart), and Sams Club and at smaller shops. See our Grocery post for location.
Getting Back into the USA
- You will need a passport to reenter the US.
- Children under 18 when not accompanied by both parents: U.S. Customs and Border Protection require a letter from the absent parent(s) stating, "I acknowledge that my wife/husband/grandparent/etc. is traveling out of the country with my son/daughter. He/She/They has/have my permission."
- U.S. citizen children ages 15 and under arriving Mexico may present an original or copy of their birth certificate (issued by the Vital Records Department in the state where he or she was born), a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or a Naturalization Certificate. For more information: https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/list/search
- You must declare all food you are bringing back to the USA. Do not to try and bring back meat, poultry, fruits, eggs as they will be confiscated. Other food is hit or miss with agents not always being informed by USDA.
- The importation of seafood is governed by the FDA and the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). Personal quantities of seafood not intended for commercial consumption are not subject to approval by the FDA. Most personal quantities of seafood are admissible, with the exception of endangered species which are subject to restrictions by the FWS. If you limit the seafood to less than 50 lbs. for personal use (i.e. not selling) there probably won't be a problem.
- Your prescription medications should be in their original containers with the doctor's prescription printed on the container. It is advised that you travel with no more than personal use quantities, a rule of thumb is no more than a 90 day supply.
- The importation of prescription medicines is restricted and subject to the approval of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Depending on the FDA review of the medicine, it may be released to the addressee or seized. There are, however, provisions allowing travelers to hand carry prescription drugs into the United States if they enter through a land border with Mexico. Traveler beware.
- If you are traveling with medical devices such as needles or oxygen tanks that could pose a security or safety concern to others, be sure to have a copy of the prescription for those items from your doctor. You should also contact the Transportation Security Administration about any additional requirements they may have.
- To avoid the lines at the border get there early. Leaving Rocky Point by 9am works best.
- All articles acquired in Mexico must be declared. There is an $800 exemption for gifts and personal articles, including one liter of alcoholic beverages per person over 21 every 30 days.