Travel Tips :: How to get across the Tijuana San Ysidro Border into San Diego Faster

Every year the Port of San Ysidro sees thousands of vehicles crossing from Tijuana into San Diego. There are hundreds of American citizens who live in Mexico and work in San Diego, business owners with shops in Mexico, and regular day trippers. Getting into Mexico is easy. Getting back to San Diego, however, can be a nightmare! The border wait is often a minimum of 2 hours, 7 days a week at all hours. During rush hour traffic and high tourist season, the wait time increases up to 3-4 hours. For expats and patrons that cross this border on a regular basis, this wait can be excruciating! Many people only know of one or two entrances to the TJ border both to the West Lanes (Tourist Trap). These border lanes are the lanes that take you across the big rounding bridge, and through all the vendor shops nearing the border inspection booths.

We've all tried finding a faster way to get across without success. Otay Mesa lines are just as long and often have an even longer wait! And no matter what time you head out, the lines just don't ever seem to be shorter!

And to make matters worse, while we are stuck in this tourist trap we are constantly bombarded by vendors and window washers every 30 seconds the whole way up there. Tempers flare, common courtesies disappear, and our thoughts devolve into ways of blocking and cutting off other cars.

It's enough to drive any person insane!

The most frustrating part though is cresting that bridge and looking out to the East to see these short lines of cars heading to the border, with no visible way of entry.

You've already been in line for an hour or more and you can clearly see lines of cars just beginning to get in line at the halfway point.


For those of us out there that travel regularly, there IS another, faster way to get across the TJ Border the East Border Lanes! You do not need a Sentri Pass or a Fast Pass to access these lanes.

These border lanes are the ones that end up merging next to the West lanes almost right at the inspection booths. They run behind the vendor shops, and these lanes have a much shorter wait time than the West Border Lanes.

Many people think these lanes are all Sentri Lanes. However, only the farthest right hand lane is the Sentri Lane all the rest of them are for regular crossers, no special pass needed.

The entrances to the East Border Lanes begin practically up to the string of vendor shops so by the time you get in line, you have just cut your wait time by half or MORE.

Even if you are not especially familiar with navigating Tijuana, there are detailed maps and directions available showing you exactly how to enter these East Border Lanes, whether you are coming from the Toll Road or the Free Road. If you want to cut your border wait in half the time, then I highly suggest you use the East Border Lanes when crossing the San Ysidro Tijuana Border.

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