Visiting Mexico, there are some changes that travelers must be aware of due to health screenings. This post will give you more information on how to streamline your path to the Tijuana airport through CBX, the Cross-Border Xpress bridge updated for 2021. You can also view my prior experience with CBX.
The US-Mexico border has been more accessible than the US-Canada border throughout the pandemic, for better and for worse. Last year Mexico was one of the countries that did not outright ban Americans from visiting. Now that many Americans are vaccinated and looking to travel again, our neighbor to the south is an appealing option.
The global COVID-19 pandemic has affected travel in every way. Please refer to local ordinances in the country, state, or city, and look up the website of the museum, tour, restaurant, or hotel you are considering visiting.
1: Make sure to use your phone to fill out the health questionnaire while on the US side, especially if you will not have phone data in Mexico. There are QR codes available for this posted everywhere while in line.
2: Either get in line to register your checked luggage with your airline. Those who are checking bags will keep those bags until all the way across the border and through to the Tijuana terminal, at which the bags will be checked to their final destination. If you are doing carry-on only, proceed to the Mexican Tourist Card (sometimes called the visa) counter.
3: CBX has rolled out a new computer-based Visa counter, which is very nice because filling out these forms by hand is time consuming and the blanks are small. Fill out the blanks on the computer such trip duration and destination address. Swipe your passport through the reader to collect name and passport number. The visa document comes out pre-printed, which is very nice.
4: Proceed to CBX entry. If you bought your CBX on its own, you can scan that right away. If you bought it when you bought your flight, you may have to check at the counter and have them look up your ticket. They will print a CBX pass on a receipt for you. You will pass through the duty free shop and then you will have your health screening (from step 1) looked at before you officially enter the Tijuana airport.
In the Tijuana Airport
5: Walk across the first-of-its kind airport border bridge. Arrive at Mexican customs where they will take their half of the tourist form and give you back the part to keep with your passport.
6: Proceed through the first level of security. This consists of putting your luggage on a conveyor belt to be X-rayed.
7a: If you are checking your baggage, and you registered it earlier on the US side, now go to the airline counter and check your luggage to its final destination.
7b: If nothing to check, go to security (this one is more similar to the United Sates TSA). They will x-ray your carry on for the second time, and you’ll walk through a metal detector and possibly get wanded. There are some restrictions on what you can carry-on, but I found them to be unevenly enforced.
8: You are now officially in the Tijuana airport! Wasn’t that easy? You can now find your gate, do some shopping, get food or drink, etc. I advise finding your gate early so you can be aware of any changes. This is good common sense for any airport!
As is true with most things, travel is a complicated issue right now. Many are opting to not travel. Some destinations truly depend on international travel as an important part of their local economy. My comment is this: Please remember that Mexico’s vaccine rate lags behind the United States, so be vigilant and considerate by wearing your mask to reduce the likelihood of contributing to virus spread in Mexico. It’s mandatory on the plane and it’s required by Mexican authorities when you are out and about at your vacation destination.