How to Cross the Border from the USA to Mexico with a Motorcycle

This guide explains what you need to know about crossing the land border between the USA and Mexico with a motorcycle…

How to cross the border from the USA to Mexico with a motorcycle

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How to Cross the Land Border from Mexico to the USA with a Motorcycle

Crossing the land border from the USA to Mexico is simple, straightforward and nowhere near as complicated or as stressful as it is made out to be – or once was.

This guide’s job is to explain the crossing for motorcycle riders, the do’s and don’ts, our recommendations and experiences.

Where to cross the border from the USA to Mexico

There are a number of crossings from the USA to Mexico via Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. There are known borders that are supposedly far easier than others. For example, in California the Tijuana border and Mexicali West are notoriously painful, while Tecate and Mexicali East are easy peasy.

We haven’t tried every border so can’t comment on each crossing. So, the best way to figure out where you want to cross is to use the iOverlander app. Decide from which State you want to cross and then use the app to zoom in on the options, click each crossing marker and read the recent reports.

Another option is to ask away in the Motorcycle Mexico Facebook group for recent updates. But we reckon you’ll be fine with iOverlander.

READ MORE: The Best Free Motorcycle Apps

Where we crossed

We crossed using the Mexicali East border from California to Mexicali, Baja in early 2024. It was one of the smoothest and easiest crossing’s we’ve had in our 15 years of motorcycle travelling. Note, there is a Mexicali West crossing just a few kilometres away, and this is apparently a completely different kettle of fish! This is where iOverlander is key.

Leaving the USA

There are no formalities when exiting the US. There were no booths, no passport or vehicle checks, no guards, no officials, nobody there. You’re completely free to leave without speaking to or even nodding at another soul. 

READ MORE: USA Motorcycle Travel Guides

Motorcycle Travel USA

Entering Mexico with a motorcycle

There were no queues or lines when we entered, so we pulled up to a traffic light and barrier. It went green and we were waved in by guards and asked to pull over.

They asked a couple of quick questions and wanted to check our motorcycle registration document – it was a quick cursory glance. He then asked to look inside my top box and that was it. Alissa wasn’t checked at all.

The guard then said we were free to enter Mexico!

But hold on. There’s paperwork to do first – despite the fact that they’ll just let you enter without doing it. So don’t just ride on through because it will be a pain to come back and do it later.

There are a number of reports where riders leave the border area and find parking close by and walk back. Personally, I’d always ask to park in the border area.

Paperwork for Mexico

Aside from the paperwork below, you will need your passport, driver’s licence, vehicle registration and title to enter the country with your bike. 

FMM

Mexico offers a visa free entry to citizens from a number of countries. Check this link to the Mexico Consulate to see where your citizenship stands.

However, while you do not require a visa, you do still require an FMM (Forma Migratoria Multiple). The FMM allows you to stay up to 180 days in Mexico (at the discretion of the immigration officer) and your passport must be valid for this amount of time too.

Think of this FMM as a visa waiver or permit to enter the country. It’s also known as a tourist card or tourist visa.

You must get this at the land border when you enter. Simply ask the guards where to get FMM – or immigration office and they will point you in the right direction. The guards kindly let us park our motorcycles near them so our gear was safe as we wondered off to do our paperwork.

The FMM is purchased at the immigration office and costs around 720 pesos (35GBP / 43USD). You need to show your passport, fill out a form, they take payment via card, give you a slip, stamp it and you’re done. You must look after this piece of paper and keep it in your passport as that is your FMM.

Note: you can sort your FMM online, but you still need to visit this office to pay for it – so there’s absolutely no point doing it online. Just get to the office. 

Temporary Import Permit

Next up is the Temporary Import Permit (TIP). This allows you to keep your bike in Mexico for the same amount of time as your FMM is valid (180 days).

Note that you do not need a TIP if you are only riding in Baja as it is a ‘Mexico Free Zone’. However, if you plan on entering mainland Mexico, you do need a TIP.

So, in our case, we entered Baja Mexico and got our TIP, despite the fact we didn’t need it for Baja – however, we knew we were taking the ferry from La Paz to Mazatlan so got it at the border.

Once you have your FMM, visit the Banjercito office (still located in the border area), show them your passport, FMM, vehicle registration documents and apply for the TIP.

It costs around 40GBP / 50USD for the TIP, but you must also leave a deposit at the Banjercito of 315GBP / 400 USD (yes, you read that right!) This is refunded to you when you exit Mexico – provided you leave before the 180-day date stamped on your TIP.

You can pay in cash or with a credit card that is in your name. If you are travelling as a couple like we are, pay separately on cards in your own names. Otherwise you will have a problem when it comes time to return your deposit.

Motorcycle insurance

You must have Mexican motorcycle insurance to use your motorcycle in Mexico. This is compulsory – even though there are no checks for this at the border. Do not ride in without it. This should be sorted out before you reach the border.

We used and recommend Baja Bound for this service.

More on Mexico paperwork

We recommend having a read of our more comprehensive and dedicated guide for paperwork in Mexico for motorcycle riders and travellers. Here’s the link.

READ MORE: Mexico Paperwork Guide for Motorcycle Travellers

Entering Mexico

Now you’re armed with an FMM and TIP (or no TIP if you’re just riding Baja) and you should already have your insurance – so you’re good to go. Just ride on through and you’ve completed the border crossing into Mexico!

Read more on motorcycle travel in Mexico

Thanks for checking out the How to Cross the Border from the USA to Mexico with a Motorcycle Guide. We hope you enjoyed it! Here’s a few more articles on motorcycle travel in Mexico and North America that we recommend you read next. 

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Are you planning a motorcycle trip from the USA to Mexico? Do you have any questions, tips or suggestions? Let us know in the comments below. 

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