On our first US-Mexico border crossing, we went through at Tijuana/San Ysidro. On our second crossing, we wanted to try something new so we crossed at the Otay border crossing. Coincidentally, the same woman who’d processed our documents at the Tijuana/San Ysidro border crossing worked with us at Otay. And, even more amazing, (since several months had passed), she remembered us.
When we first arrived at the Otay border, the personnel weren’t going to give us the Banjercito vehicle permit because we didn’t have the original title with us, but only a copy. We stayed friendly and resisted the idea that we needed an original copy, asserting that it wasn’t wise to carry the original title in the car with us in case it got stolen. Eventually, John offered an original copy of the registration instead, all the while remaining friendly and cordial. I think the friendliness helped us and also, after they’d put up a lot of resistance to us and “committed” to the idea that we NEEDED the original title, we had to come up with a compromise. The original copy of the registration did the trick and then they started processing our visas and the Banjercito permit.
At both the Tijuana border crossing and the Otay border crossing, we had to go back and forth between and among three different offices to get our visas and the Banjercito permit. This part of the border crossing took about 30 minutes once they decided to go ahead with it. Be patient though and remain friendly. If there’s an Alpha Male in your group, have them keep their mouths shut and go with a friendly approach instead. Mexicans tend to be friendly most of the time and Americans crossing the border are on their turf.
The Otay border crossing time was quite a bit less than that at the Tijuana border, but the Banjercito permit office was quite a bit harder to find too so prepare for that. Knowing a little bit of Spanish helped us find the location of the place in Tijuana and hopefully this video will help people navigate to it as well.