I am a EU citizen and will be living in Mexico (Baja California) for 3 months. During that time I would like to do some sightseeing in the US on the weekends by car (California, Arizona).

I will enter Mexico by plane, where I will need to fill out the immigration form for Mexico.

I suppose before entering the US for the first time I will have to do the ESTA application as if I would enter by plane directly from the EU.

  1. What happens to my immigration status in Mexico when I cross the border to the US? Will I need to fill out the immigration form for Mexico again every time when I return to Mexico?
  2. Is there anything else I need to consider when leaving and (re-)entering Mexico?
  3. Is there anything else I need to consider when leaving and (re-)entering the US?
  • According to cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/i-94 you don't need an ESTA but you can use it to expedite the process.
    – jcaron
    Aug 16, 2022 at 16:14
  • 1
    Something to note: the USA is HUGE compared to Europe. You may find that you don't have that much time "to do some sightseeing in the US on the weekends by car" when it could take you half a day just to drive to Arizona (for example)
    – Midavalo
    Aug 16, 2022 at 17:45
  • Also depends on where you are in Baja. Drive time from Cabo to Tijuana is 22 hours. San Diego and Los Angeles are easy. Tijuana to Phoenix or Las Vegas or six hours, SanFran is 9 hours
    – Hilmar
    Aug 16, 2022 at 20:03
  • @Midavalo Good point, thanks. I'll be living in the north, close to the border. So San Diego, Joshua Tree NP, Los Angeles, Phoenix should definitely be possible.
    – lbfreak
    Aug 17, 2022 at 5:19
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    @lbfreak don't forget the 2-5 hour border wait times too. Phoenix is 6 hrs away from Tijuana not counting the time it takes to cross the border. Not trying to put you off - I wish we did more road trips like that (we live in TJ) but be prepared for weekend trips to actually be more like 3-4 days
    – Midavalo
    Aug 17, 2022 at 5:52

1 Answer 1


You do not need ESTA to arrive at a land border prior to October 1, 2022 or when re-entering on an unexpired I-94W. If you are eligible for VWP, you can enter without any preclearance. On your first entry to the US, you should receive admission for 90 days. Once that clock starts, it will keep rolling until you return to Europe or visit a country other than Mexico, Canada, or Carribean countries. On subsequent entries to the US, you will likely be admitted only for the remaining time from that first entrance.

On your last exit from the US, you should stop at the US border control office if possible to tell them that you are departing from the US. You may have to cross the street to do that. If you cannot do so, you should contact Coleman Data Solutions to provide evidence that you have left the US within the period of your final admission (see this answer). This is required because the US does not record exits at the Mexican border automatically. (They will know that you departed the other times because of your subsequent reentry.)

  • 4
    You will need ESTA for land borders starting October 1, 2022, although the OP is probably entering before then.
    – user102008
    Aug 16, 2022 at 18:13
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    From the link in the previous comment: VWP travelers intending to travel to the United States by land must instead receive a travel authorization prior to application for admission to the United States and continue to pay the $6 I-94W fee provided for in 8 CFR 103.7, unless entering within the 90-day admission period. Aug 17, 2022 at 12:55
  • Thank you for your great answer. It covers everything I wanted to know about the US side. However, I still would like to know how things work for Mexico. So I will still wait if someone has some insights on that. If not, I will accept your answer.
    – lbfreak
    Aug 19, 2022 at 5:24
  • @lbfreak I don't know anything about the Mexican requirements, so I didn't answer that part of the question. Sorry. Hopefully someone else can help.
    – A. R.
    Aug 19, 2022 at 10:57

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