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What to expect when crossing the Mexican border

If you have never driven across the border, into another country, it can be intimidating. You don’t really know what to expect. Will you be searched? Have you brought more than you are allowed? What questions will they ask? And so on and so on. For some, crossing into Mexico for the first time can be a bit scary perhaps because they have heard stories from their friends or they don’t speak Spanish or a number of other reasons. Let me tell you that first of all, that people do get into trouble at the border, but it is mainly because they are trying to smuggle in items well above and beyond their allowed limit whether it is cases of beer or a flat screen TV for their home or condo. So, if you follow the rules and obey the laws of Mexico, you have nothing to worry about.

The Mexico border crossing that most of us use to get to Rocky Point, Mexico is at Sonoyta, Sonora on the Mexico side and Lukeville, Arizona on the U.S. side. This border is 66 miles from Rocky Point and has two lanes for traffic to pass through if you have nothing to declare and an area to pull over if you have items to declare. So, the first thing to do is figure out if you have any items to declare – this is called “Voluntary Declaration”. If you are not sure if you should declare something it is always better to pull over and ask before trying to cross the border. The Rocky Point Times Newspaper lists the items you are allowed to bring into the country legally in every issue of their newspaper so grab a copy. If you are coming to Laguna Shores Resort or any other resort in Rocky Point chances are you have just brought along your personal items plus a small amount of food. In this case you have no need to stop and declare and this goes for most visitors.

At our Sonoyta border there are three “agencies” you will be involved with when you cross into the country: Immigration, Aduana (duty taxes), and Agriculture. There are actually more, but these are the three most prominent. There are two different paths to follow depending on whether you have items to declare or not. As mentioned above, if you have items to declare you will pull off to the left just as you cross into Mexico. Take the receipts for the items you are declaring into the little building that sits between the incoming and outgoing traffic. In here, they will add up your receipts and minus any deductions you may have coming and assess a percentage to that amount to come up with the amount of taxes you must pay. This figure is in pesos and the percentage depends on the kinds of items you are importing – electronics tend to carry a higher percentage tax. The tax on standard goods can range anywhere from 13% to 18%. Once the officer has figured the tax, you will then go to the bank to pay the tax. If the bank is closed then they have a cash drawer in the office and can take care of your tax payment. After you have paid, the copy of your receipt will be stamped – this makes it official and serves as your receipt. From here you still have to pass through one of the two lanes where you will either get a green light or a red light. Just because you paid taxes does not exempt you from inspection. If you get the green light you are free to pass and if you get the red light (and annoying alarm) the officer will show you where to park so they can inspect your vehicle.

If you get the red light it is nothing to panic about. Many of the officers speak some English and they ask very simple questions that may include:

  • Where are you going?
  • What are you bringing into Mexico?
  • Would you please open the back of your vehicle for me?
  • May I see your Passport?
  • Is this your vehicle?
  • May I see the registration to your vehicle (and anything you are towing)?

These are some of the more common questions. If they see something that looks interesting or that they do not recognize they may ask you to open the item. They are always polite and you may watch them as they inspect any part of your vehicle. In fact I highly recommend that you do watch anyone searching your property and leave everyone else in the vehicle seated unless they are asked to step out of the vehicle. Many think that the border officers are there to make trouble for visitors, but they are not. They are to make sure you are not bringing illegal items into the country and that you are who you say you are (in some cases). Their job is the same as our U.S. officers. In fact, they are there to help solve problems instead of create them. If you ever feel you have been wronged you make ask to speak to their superior officer and make sure you get the name of the person you have the grievance against. There is really nothing to crossing the border into Mexico at Sonoyta and no reason for panic if you get the red light. Every country monitors who and what comes into their country and Mexico is no different.

After you get through the border and are on your way to Laguna Shores Resort, you’ll say, “That was a piece of cake”. Don’t have reservations at Laguna Shores Resort? Go to their website at www.lagunashoresresorts.com and take a look at their homes and condos for rent and book online. If you have never been to Laguna Shores Resort in Rocky Point, Mexico, check out their Facebook Page www.facebook.com/lagunashoresresort or current reservation specials and packages. And while you’re there, enter to win a fractional share in one of their condos or a vacation package. You can always call their toll free number at 1-800-513-1426 to make a reservation.

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