If you are considering driving to Mexico and crossing the border to Mexico from the US, you may be looking for some information on what it’s like to cross the border to Mexico at Eagle Pass.
The Eagle Pass border crossing has recently started to become more popular, due to some disturbances at other border regions, such as Laredo, Colombia bridge, and Juarez.
In this post, I will go through the exact step by step of crossing the border to Mexico at Eagle Pass. You’ll find tips for making the crossing as seamless as possible, what to do ahead of time and pictures from the road.
The Eagle Pass / Piedras Negras border crossing, has international bridges to pass from the US State of Texas to the Mexican State of Coahuilla. Read on for all the details on which bridge to choose, what documents to prepare, and what to expect driving into Mexico from the US.
When we decided to embark on our Worldschooling adventure, we decided to cross the border to Mexico at Eagle Pass, Texas. The reasons for choosing this border crossing, was because we heard of people having issues driving near the Laredo / Nuevo Laredo crossing in the State of Tamaulipas and the Colombia bridge crossing in the State of Nuevo Leon.
Preparing to Cross the Border to Mexico at Eagle Pass
In general, here are things you should be prepared to do before you leave home:
- Make sure your passport is current
- Apply for a tourist visa online (recommended but not required)
- Apply for a TIP car permit online, at least 10 days before you intend to cross (highly recommended but not required). Alternatively, bring your original car title to get a TIP at the Banjercito bank.
- Get Mexican car insurance (you need it from the moment you cross, so get it ahead of time)
- Get travel insurance (not required but recommended as a best practice)
- Download google map to your phone- optional but there are many areas without cell service near the border
- Get a no foreign transaction fee credit card – optional but a great idea. If you need a suggestion for a specific card, leave a comment below and I will email you a link. Bonus: it’s a great card for getting points you can later redeem for hotels.
- Figure out your phone plan: adding Mexico to your current service, or buying a phone locally.
Documents You Need to Drive to Mexico
First things first, if you are an American citizen and driving an American car into Mexico, you will need to get a tourist visa for yourself and a permit for your car. While both of these can be acquired at the border, you do need to make sure you have all of the correct paperwork before you get on the road, so make sure you prepare them ahead of time.
1. Mexican Tourist Visa (FMM)
The FMM (Forma Migratoria Multiple) is the tourist visa you can get at the border. If you are flying into Mexico, normally you will fill out the form on the airplane and then get it stamped at border patrol in the airport. The fee for the FMM is included in the cost of your flight.
However if you are driving to Mexico, you will need to pay for the FMM separately. You have two options: fill out and pay for the form online, then get it stamped at the border.
Alternatively, you can wait until you get to the border and fill it out in person, then go to the caja (cashier) and pay for it, then get it stamped. We suggest the former!
Click here to go to the INM website to get your visa. Disable any pop-up blockers for the website to work correctly.
Do you need a passport to cross to Mexico?
How much does the FMM cost?
As of July 2021 the cost for the FMM is 594 pesos per person.
How long can you stay in Mexico on a tourist visa (FMM)?
The time you are allotted is at the discretion on the agent. However, American citizens can be granted up to 180 days.
How can I stay for longer than 180 days in Mexico?
If you want to stay longer, you will need to get either a Temporary Resident Visa, or a Permanent Resident Card. I suggest going through the requirements on the consulate website directly for the most accurate information.
2. Car Permit (TIP)
The second thing you will need to drive into Mexico is a TIP (Temporary Vehicle Importation Permit).
You are now able to get your car permit ahead of time, and we highly recommend you do this! The line for getting a TIP at Eagle Pass was insane (many hours long wrapping around the building).
To get a TIP online:
To get the TIP online, you need to apply for it at least 10 days ahead of time. You will need to upload a copy of the original car title or registration and pay a deposit fee. (This fee is returned to you when you leave Mexico and turn in your TIP).
As the TIP is attached to your tourist visa, you must first get your FMM. The online form will ask for your folio number.
Click here to get to the Banjercito website to apply for a TIP online.
To get a TIP in person, you will need:
Your original car title or registration to your name, proof of US car insurance, your passport with FMM and two photocopies of everything. (We have heard various versions of exactly what you need. If you have done the TIP in person leave a comment and let us know what documents you needed).
Crossing the Border at Eagle Pass / Piedras Negras
Here’s the step by step of what you can expect before, during and after crossing the Mexican border.
Step 1: Driving in Texas to Eagle Pass
If you are driving from San Antonio, Austin or any other area of Texas, you will eventually need to get on the 57 Highway. Once you get on the 57 from La Pryor to Eagle Pass, the road is very remote.
Tip: Fill up gas before you get on this segment. We suggest filling up in Uvalde on the 83, where there is a cluster of many gas stations.
Note: The 57 highway goes through different counties with different speed limits, make note as you drive. You will also notice all types of police, law enforcement, border patrol, etc. Drive safely and be on your way.
Step 2: Choose a Bridge – Eagle Pass International Border Crossings
There are two bridges that cross the USA-Mexico border, from Eagle Pass to Piedras Negras.
Eagle Pass International Bridge 1
- Bridge 1 is only one lane.
- This bridge is free.
- It is open during daytime hours 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. (this changes so check before you go)
Eagle Pass International Bridge 2 (Camino Real Bridge)
- Bridge 2 has multiple lanes.
- The toll to cross is $4 (USD), it can also be paid in pesos. (On the way back from Mexico to the US the toll is 33 pesos).
- It is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- If you are hauling a trailer or driving an RV you should use this bridge.
In Eagle Pass follow the signs to the bridge you wish to cross. The signs are very clear, or you can use your navigation.
Step 3: Crossing from Eagle Pass to Piedras Negras
The actual driving across the bridge is very simple:
Choose a bridge, pay the toll if necessary, and cross the bridge over the Rio Grande. At the end of the bridge is Customs (Aduana). Drive through the green light if you have nothing to declare.
The vehicles we saw being pulled aside for inspection were all very overloaded with gear. This is a no camera/no phone area so I don’t have a picture for you.
Step 4: Drive to Allende, Coahuilla to get your visa and TIP
The actual INM (Instituto Nacional de Migración) i.e. immigration office, is located in Allende, Coahuilla (pronounced kwa-wee-la). Allende is located roughly 45 minutes drive from Eagle Pass. Just keep driving on the 57 and you will find it!
The white building is located on the right side of the road, at kilometer 53.4, if you are driving south from the border. There is a parking lot where you will park your car and get out to stand in line.
There are two lines, one for immigration and one for car permits.
Note that this INM office has been very overloaded. Expect to wait in line for several hours in the sun. (Our experience on a Thursday morning at 10 a.m. was a 2 hour wait for the immigration line, and even longer for the TIP). Expect longer waits on holiday weekends.
Step 5: Welcome to Mexico
Once you have your FMM and your TIP, you are free to go! Keep heading south on the 57 and enjoy your Mexican road trip!