Donde estan sus papeles?
November 14, 2006 7:37 AM   Subscribe

Can we leave our California-registered car in the Tijuana airport parking lot for a week? Should we?

Mom and I are going to Mexico City in April for my birthday (yay!), and it's heaps cheaper to fly from Tijuana instead of LAX, and we live about the same distance from both.

The plan is this:

- drive down there
- cross at Otay Mesa (which is thankfully not San Ysidro, the busiest border crossing in the world)
- drive to the airport (theoretically just ten minutes away!)
- park
- enjoy a TSA-goon-free airport experience
- fly to Mexico City
- repeat in reverse a week later

So: does anyone know if we leave our car at the airport for that period of time? Should we? What needs to happen at the border - do we need to get some sort of importation permit for the car since we're there for more than 72 hours? Where do our passports get stamped at a drive-through border like Otay Mesa? And what if something happens to the car and we're far away, but still in Mexico - do we need to be physically near our car for the insurance we may have to purchase to apply?

Various posts and links here have talked about driving past the "border zone," or just travelling by car in Mexico generally, but none seem to have addressed this specific question.

NB: We (sort of) speak Spanish, and we live ten miles from a Mexican consulate. We've also parked at those adjacent-to-the-border parking places in San Ysidro, but they seem to be far shadier than an official airport parking lot would be.

posted by mdonley to Travel & Transportation around Tijuana, Mexico (8 answers total)
Response by poster: does anyone know if we CAN leave our car at the airport for that period of time?

posted by mdonley at 7:45 AM on November 14, 2006

You might want to ask your agent about insurance requirements first - the cost and/or hassle might tip the balance back to LAX.

I wouldn't like the idea of leaving my car at an airport parking lot in a foreign country for a week.

Any chance to grab a ride?
posted by KAS at 9:03 AM on November 14, 2006

This idea, it is terrible.
posted by keswick at 9:38 AM on November 14, 2006

I'll ask my parents for you. They live in San Diego and have flown out of Tijuana many times. Although, as far as I can remember, they always had a relative drive them to and drop them off at the airport. Alternatively, you can use public transportation:

1. Coaster/Trolley to the border
2. Grab a mexican taxi from the border to the airport
posted by vacapinta at 9:56 AM on November 14, 2006

What needs to happen at the border - do we need to get some sort of importation permit for the car since we're there for more than 72 hours?

I wouldnt worry about this though. My parents often go down and stay with relatives in Ensenada for several days. And lots of gringos go down for multi-day surfing trips etc.
posted by vacapinta at 9:58 AM on November 14, 2006

If you drive your car into Mexico you HAVE to have Mexican insurance. This will cost about $30 per day for a week.
You are probably better off parking somewhere decent in San Diego and taking the trolley to San Ysidro and then a taxi to the Airport from the Mexican side of the border. That way also if your car gets stolen in San Diego your normal insurance will pay for it.
posted by adamvasco at 12:24 PM on November 14, 2006

I'm pretty sure you can leave your car there for several days, just like in most airports in the world.

You could also look for a public parking lot that offers "pension" service. It might be cheaper, but you must be sure it's a reputable place.

I'm sorry I can't offer any specific information, I've only visited Tijuana once. ¡Feliz cumpleaños!
posted by clearlydemon at 9:52 PM on November 14, 2006

Response by poster: In case anyone checks this in the distant future, we decided to fly from LAX - the price ended up the same in the end, though we could have driven up the road to Santa Ana and taken a free bus from Mexicana Airlines to the airport.
posted by mdonley at 10:59 PM on March 20, 2007

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