New Fine for no Tourist Card in Baja..

Discussion in 'Latin America' started by brecchi, Dec 3, 2010.

  1. brecchi

    brecchi Been here awhile

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    ...so, I rode down to La Paz from San Diego and didnt get the tourist visa at the border. Figured I would take care of it all here in La Paz before I boarded the ferry to Topolobambo. Well, at the migracion office I was goven 2 receipts to pay at the bank, one for the normal 262 peso fee and another for 1156! They were not much help there in explaining why this was, only that everyone pays this. I went to the tourist information office and they made a couple of calls and said that this something new in all of Mexico that they are doing to make sure people get their visa at the border. I'm still trying to find a way around this, i.e. saying I had one and lost it, etc. But it's not looking too good, because it seems legally legit. I'm pretty much posting this as a heads up to other riders who might be thinking to do what I did. Had I known about this, obviously I would have taken care of it at the border and just come back from my trip a little earlier. :eek1
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  2. tricepilot

    tricepilot El Gran Payaso

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    I can't speak to what you were charged having not been there to talk to the officials (sounds like the normal tourist card fee, plus a fine), but:

    The requirement for tourist cards related to Mexico, Baja included, are fairly easy to find, and I don't think they've changed. Based upon what I know backed up with a fast online check this evening to see if I've left anything out, I offer the following (along with a quick review of vehicle permits):

    The TVIP, or Temporary Vehicle Import Permit, isn't required for Baja or Western Sonora State. You can travel to the end of the peninsula without a TVIP.

    A tourist card is required anywhere in Mexico except for the Border Zone and designated tourist corridors.

    In the case of Baja, the applicable tourist corridor is Tijuana to Ensenada. Anything south of Ensenada (technically, Maneadero, just south of Ensenada) requires a tourist card. Anything south of Mexicali on Mx 5 requires a tourist card. Any visit in the excepted areas anywhere, including th Border Zones, over 72 hours requres a tourist card.

    Ergo, you were fine without the tourist card when you left San Diego and entered Mexico, up until the point you continued on past, essentially, Ensenada. Hind sight being what it is, the fact that you were going to La Paz equals tourist card requirement, and that you were planning to go to the mainland equals TVIP requirement. Given your routing, next time get them both at the border at the same time and travel worry-free.

    Yours is a good post, in that it is bound to help someone else.
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  3. brecchi

    brecchi Been here awhile

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    Thanks for your input tricepilot. It's my own stupid fault for not taking care of this at the border. I was under the impression that I could just get the visa at La Paz with no fine at all, or maybe a minimal one if anything. Almost $100 on top of the normal visa fee was just a big shock as far as the amount of the penalty, but I know better now. I PMed an inmate who got a visa in La Paz recently and I talked to a couple of locals to see if I can get around the fine, but unfortunately I may have to swallow it. Its just frustrating, because it would have taken just a little while at the border. I was just trying to get fancy and stretch out my allotted time in MX as long as possible, and seems Ive shot myself in the foot.
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  4. brecchi

    brecchi Been here awhile

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    I forgot to mention that the "new" part of the fine seems to be the AMOUNT. I wasn't very clear about that. Basically from what I gather, they used to either look the other way and not care at all, or impose something like a 200 peso fine. Ive also been told that the farther south you went without one, the higher the fine would go (i.e. 50 pesos in Ensenada, maybe double that in Guerrero Negro and something like 200 in La Paz.) The nice women at the tourist office I went to made some phone calls for me, and apologetically told me that this seems to be a new measure taken nationwide to get folks to get their tourist cards right away. I'm going to go back to the migracion office on monday, hopefully with a local and say that I had a tourist card but lost it, and try to finagle a "replacement", hopefully with a lesser or no fine. Its a long shot, but I cant think of anything else. Whatever ends up happening, Ill be sure to post my experience on this thread.
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  5. tricepilot

    tricepilot El Gran Payaso

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    Well, at least you have a good story to tell, and can chalk it all up to lessons learned. As I said before, your post will serve to educate others and hopefully cause them to research paperwork requirements as they plan their Mexico adventure.

    I know of two riders who traveled the length of the Mexican mainland without getting a TVIP or a tourist card. Their rationale was much more extreme than yours. Theirs was: "I'll never get caught". Good for them. On my recent trip to Oaxaca I wasn't asked for them either (first time that's happened), but I factor that carrying the worry that I will be asked and not having the documents outweighs any thrill I might get for rolling the dice. But that's me.

    On another note, what I found online as far as the line of demarcation for the tourist card in Baja to kick in to be right at Ensenada (two websites), there is a posting in your other thread that it is the line of lattitude separating BCN and BCS which basically corresponds to Guerrero Negro. I suppose I could continue researching this but since I'm not going to Baja tonight, I'll let someone else tip the vote. At least Ensenada is the more conservative of the two locations.
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  6. MikeMike

    MikeMike Long timer

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    Just a quick note. All fines in Mexico from federal to state to municipal now seem to be skyrocketing. For example, the fine for driving while talking on a cell phone in Boca del Rio in Veracruz is now 800 pesos. Gone are the days of low fines.
    It clearly gives the corrupt transit cops an opportunity to simply extract a bigger mordida. Ditto for government officials everywhere. Be advised and be careful, also it is Christmas season and that means every corrupt official is looking for an easy mark so they can buy their offspring some toys for 3 Kings Day. I don't have a problem with kids getting toys, just that they won't be doing it with my money unless it comes from a charity.
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  7. crashmaster

    crashmaster ow, my balls!

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    I understand the rules require you to get a tourist card at the border, but it sounds like they just changed past practice for tourist cards in BC. As with all of Latin America, there is the letter of the law, and then there is the way that things are actually done.

    Before, you could get a card in GN (Baja Norte/Sur state line) or just get one in La Paz. I've done that more than a few times. I just told them that I forgot to get it at the border and they have always had the attitude, "no problem amigo, we can issue you one here." So, they have changed the way they do business I guess.

    Also in BC, the only two places that you will be checked for a tourist card is the checkpoint on Mex 1 at Guerrero Negro, Baja Norte/Sur state line, or before you try to get on a ferry to the mainland. You can easily avoid the GN checkpoint if you so wish.
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  8. tricepilot

    tricepilot El Gran Payaso

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    ^ My advice, which is worth what you pay for it :rofl, would be to skip the worry about policy flux ahd what checkpoint is where, and simply get the tourist card whenever you plan to be in Mexico past the border zone, and a TVIP anytime you plan to travel the mainland.
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  9. Adv Grifter

    Adv Grifter on the road o'dreams

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    This mirrors my experience in Baja over the last 10 years or so. We've bought Tourist cards at the Guerrero Negro check several times, other times we rode around it and never got it at all. Funny though, last time I went through at GN, the check point was abandon! No one there at all. This was two years ago. Now? Obviously things are in flux, no surprise given the instability of the country, the violence, especially around the border areas.

    Tijuana is confusing to find the Aduana/Migracion/Bancjercito offices if you don't know it. But actually its quite easy, and just a stone's throw from the border line. You could literally park just beyond the Mex. Border Kiosk and walk to it. It's due West about two blocks. Driving there requires a minor detour but everyone knows it. Ask.

    But seems to me if the Mexicans want compliance on this .... then they should set up an easy roadside check/Migracion office on the road between TJ and Ensenada. (well lit and open 24/7) A kind of drive through do-it-all tourist service center staffed by English speakers. It's so obvious ... and they already have the toll booths along there so you have to stop anyway .... and its the only main road.

    With Tourism in the toilet its hard to imagine what more idiocy the Mex. govt. can do to keep people away and bring down the country. Maybe set some IED's for the Baja 1000 racers? Kidnap some tourists? Burn down a few Hotels? :eek1

    Once the Cartels begin to fight back ... and open fire on road side military checks, then things will get very scary for tourists riding Bikes ... as bikes are already suspect as assassination vehicles. Say thanks that the Mex Military are not as Trigger Happy as Black Water guys.

    At this point the Mex Tourism dept. should offering welcoming Drinks and snacks to anyone who shows up, complete with Gift coupons. :D
    #9
  10. markharf

    markharf Been here awhile

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    People are going to stop going to Mexico because there is a fine assessed for not following the rules? Sheesh. I thought we were "Adventure Riders" here.

    Every country I've been to has rules about what sorts of permits you need, how long they're valid for, where you can go and what you can do there....and perilously few of them place well-lit, 24 hour, English-speaking welcome centers on the highways to let you know how it all works. Mostly you blunder along doing whatever seems functional, and sometimes just when you begin to get the hang of it they change either 1. the rules or 2. the enforcement. If you're lucky, you get away with it; if not, you pay. It's not a big deal, and the OP's attitude seems totally appropriate--he tried to game the system, lost, and it'll cost him a hundred bucks or so.

    They change the rules like this in the USA, Canada and Europe too. They're probably doing it right now, at this very moment (late on a Sunday night, yet). The only reason we don't notice is because we're mostly citizens or residents.

    Mark
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  11. brecchi

    brecchi Been here awhile

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    Had to pay the fine. Took a long time. Lot of extra forms, even had to write a letter explaining that I went through Tecate without stopping for the visa. Its even more of a hassle if you actually lose the permit and tell them that. I had a slight hookup at the Cabo immigration office and it still took 4 hours and cost me the extra $100. On top of that, I messed up even more and wrote in the letter that I crossed on the 15th of November (which is true) so I got the visa for 6 months from that date. I should have said I crossed 2 days ago. The whole point of me not getting one at the border was to maximize my time stay in MX.

    Pay at the border, dont be a tool-ass-mofo like me.
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  12. markharf

    markharf Been here awhile

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    Shoot, I think you did fine. You made a mistake, owned up, paid the price and saved others from doing the same thing. And it'll probably be a long, long time before you make the same mistake again. Everyone wins!

    (Easy for me to say)

    Mark
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  13. PirateJohn

    PirateJohn Banned

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    Yup.

    Although $100 in Mexico is a ton of money. A few years ago you would have had to work at it to get the fine for anything over $20. :eek1
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  14. tricepilot

    tricepilot El Gran Payaso

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    :rofl

    Well, you're not even close to being a tool-ass-mofo, but that's an excellent phrase and I'll put it in my insult arsenal to toss out at the proper time down the road.

    Like I said before, experiences like yours make the best stories years later.
    #14
  15. ontheborder

    ontheborder Been here awhile

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    http://intransit.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/10/28/tourism-to-mexico-is-up/

    Tourism in the toilet in Mexico? Where did you hear that?

    Undeterred by travel warnings and frightening headlines about safety in Mexico, an increasing number of international tourists are flying to the country, according to the Mexico Tourism Board. The number of international tourists who flew to Mexico from January to August increased 19 percent over the same period last year, according to the board, and most were from the United States. More than four million American citizens flew to Mexico, an increase of 15 percent over the same period last year, and about 61 percent of international tourists to Mexico are Americans.
    “There are several reasons why Mexico’s tourism numbers are up, but the strongest reason is the value Mexico delivers,” said Alfonso Sumano, director of the Americas for the tourism board. “In addition to having several of the top sun and beach destinations of the world, Mexico has 30,000 archeological sites, 110,000 monuments and 31 Unesco World Heritage sites. Many places have one or maybe two of these elements, but only Mexico combines all of them in one destination.”
    The surge in tourism is being matched by a surge in flights from North American hubs: Continental, United Airlines and Delta have all announced plans for additional flights to Mexican destinations, including Mexico City and Cancún.




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  16. PirateJohn

    PirateJohn Banned

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    It's in the toilet, only among gringos that don't understand geography and don't understand what's going on. :lol3

    Last I heard tourism in Mexico is up 20% from last year, mostly from non-USA residents flying into the various resorts. :clap

    We should be proud that we are creating a generation of illiterates who are proudly ignorant of Mexican and other foreign culture and history, and this is why the Euros and Asians are eating us alive.
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  17. Adv Grifter

    Adv Grifter on the road o'dreams

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    Not following the rules?
    Did I say that? :D How about the 10,000 murders in the last three years in the border regions? Or the running gun battles in broad daylight? The added BS Bureaucratic Visa paperwork and "fines" will just further dissuade visitors.

    The US/Mexico situation is unique. How many borders did you cross in Latin America where you just drove through into the next country ... with NO STOP REQUIRED of any kind ... on either side of the border? (Foreign national need to stop before crossing and get stamped out of the US if so desired) But US citizens breeze on through.
    The Mexicans only occasionally stop Mexicans loaded with Goods from the USA. Most cars/bikes go straight through, no stop at all.

    Far as I know, the Mex / US border is unique in this regard. And there is no sign or notice about obtaining a Tourist Visa or anything else. You just drive in. You're there and on your way. Do tourists have an obligation to know all the rules regards Mexican Tourist Visas? Fact is, most don't.

    The Tourism factor is why this is the way it is. Tijuana and Ensenada alone get (or used to get! :eek1) over a million US visitors a year. The Mex govt. try to make it easy for tourists just coming in for a day or two or weekend. It's been an open, no stop border (Rumbo Sur) for 30 years or more ... and Northern Baja/Ensenada is the example of the economic success of this policy.

    Its true, very few countries have English speaking staff ... but then the Mexico / US border is a unique situation ... with lots to be gained/lost by Mexico.

    IMHO, the onus is on Mexico to "allow" US tourists to "buy" a Tourist Visa. The Mex govt. needs to make the Migracion offices obvious and easy to find ... If they don't then how can they expect tourists to comply? A road side office is the answer ... or have an office right at the border Kiosk with well marked signs : GET VISA HERE!

    Remember that for years and years this tourist Visa was free. Not sure when they started charging for it? (70's or 80's maybe?) Most US tourists don't mind paying the Visa fee but the Mex govt. needs to make buying it easy ... and not a Snipe hunt like it is in Tijuana.

    If I were the OP I would have never paid that $100 fine. That's extortion, pure and simple. He is not in violation of anything. He was never informed about any requirement for a Visa and never asked to show it. His crime is showing up at a mex govt. Migra office and trying to do the right thing. And for this they punish him? This all smacks of reciprocity by the Mexicans ... based on current US Migra policies/Arizona immigrant laws and more.

    Pure BS. Talk about killing the Goose that lays the golden eggs! :wink:
    #17
  18. Adv Grifter

    Adv Grifter on the road o'dreams

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    Do you work for the Mexican Tourism Board? :D
    Not to question your figures but I think parts of Mexico are indeed, in serious trouble regards tourism. Baja is one place I know personally. Talk to merchants, hotel/restaurant owners. Times are tough.
    Also, I just heard a report from the United Nations Climate talks in Cancun, going on NOW. Reports suggest the place is pretty much deserted.
    Comments?

    I don't disagree with the Mexican promo spin you've provided ... Mexico is good value for sure.

    But people are afraid ... and the media don't help things with their selective reporting. Also, lets remember, last year was a very bad year as well. So showing a 15% increase from Zero is not much of a rise.

    But lets hope tourists return in big numbers. I'm all for it ... just don't see it happening quite yet. Probably more Euros there than N. Americans. (don't count Canadians ... they're so cheap they'd go into a full War Zone to get a free drink. :lol3 poor bastards, can't blame them really.
    #18
  19. markharf

    markharf Been here awhile

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    This is all pretty funny. The OP doesn't seem to need anyone to hold his hand, and neither should any of the rest of us. Yes, tourists have an obligation to know the rules and to follow them, same as everywhere in the world. No, the government of Mexico has no obligation to ensure that you or anyone else understands all the rules....although the fact that most people manage just fine is highly suggestive of the fact that they succeed in doing so in most cases anyway.

    Yes, tourists have an obligation to pay the legally-assessed-and-applied fine when caught failing to follow the rules, same as everywhere in the world. You are invited to refuse to pay the fine if and when your time comes, and free to post here as to how it all works out for you. Extortion is not uncommon in Mexico, but that's not what I'm seeing described in this case.

    Many borders throughout Latin America offer opportunities to wander through without getting properly stamped in or out of countries. Queries on internet forums are common, generally taking the form of "I never noticed the migracion building when I entered [.....]; now I've got no entry stamp in my passport. What should I do?" Mysteriously, none of the countries involved seem troubled by this fact, and none of them feel obligated to build welcome centers staffed by English-speakers. Sometimes they do post little notices at borders telling you what to do, and sometimes these notices are even translated--usually very badly--into English. Sometimes there's a little guy checking paperwork as you exit the border area....but sometimes not. In such cases it's up to you to get it right or risk suffering the consequences. No big deal.

    Whether or not charging for tourist cards, fining violators and/or building elaborate welcome centers is in the best interests of the government or citizens of Mexico is a topic I'll leave to others to debate.

    Have a nice trip!

    Mark
    #19
  20. Animo

    Animo Beastly n00b

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    I live in Mexico, our Hotels in the Maya Riviera (all inclusive with 4,000+ rooms) are at 80% occupancy right now and we are not even in high season yet. Cancun is PACKED, but that is a mixture of tourists, and all the representatives for the Climate Conference. Maybe the Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, Tijuana tourism went down, but who went there on vacation in the first place? Yes, Baja has been hit, but maybe it is due to the US California economy and not as just due to all the narcos that will chase you down for blood if you cross over on you bike (Just kidding of course) On this side we have a huge European tourism as well as North America, and yes we see less Americans now but I think their wallet has a lot do to with it.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>

    Not to say, but name one Country that when caught without an entry visa they do not throw your ass in jail and then deport you? I think a small fine for being in the Country illegally, and then still being allowed to stay and return is a pretty good deal. I'm sure had I crossed into California and skipped emigration they would not be so nice to me......<o:p></o:p>
    #20