San Ysidro Port of Entry

Last updated
San Ysidro Port of Entry
San Ysidro Border Inspection Station in 2011
Country United States
Location720 East San Ysidro Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92173
Coordinates 32°32′36″N117°01′47″W / 32.54333°N 117.02972°W / 32.54333; -117.02972 Coordinates: 32°32′36″N117°01′47″W / 32.54333°N 117.02972°W / 32.54333; -117.02972
HoursOpen 24 Hours
Exit Port El Chaparral
2015 Cars [1] 14,435,252
2015 Trucks [1] 0
2015 Pedestrians [1] 7,056,022

The San Ysidro Port of Entry (aka San Ysidro Land Port of Entry or San Ysidro LPOE) [2] is the largest land border crossing between San Diego and Tijuana, and the fourth-busiest land border crossing in the world (second-busiest if one excludes the crossings between Mainland China and its two Special Administrative Regions) [3] with 70,000 northbound vehicles and 20,000 northbound pedestrians crossing each day, in addition to southbound traffic. [4] It connects Mexican Federal Highway 1 on the Mexican side with Interstate 5 on the American side. The San Ysidro Port of Entry is one of three ports of entry in the San Diego–Tijuana metropolitan region.



There is a northbound and southbound vehicle crossing, as well as two separate bidirectional pedestrian crossings.

Northbound vehicle crossing

There are currently 25 northbound vehicle lanes to cross from Mexico to the U.S. [5] which will increase to 34 lanes (and 62 booths) when the expansion project is complete. [6]

Southbound vehicle crossing (El Chaparral)

The southbound lanes of Interstate 5 which take vehicles into Mexico have been moved west of their previous location through the new El Chaparral Point of Entry (Spanish : Puerta México el Chaparral). [7] This relocation and expansion was necessary to provide space for the construction of new administrative and border inspection facilities and to increase the number of northbound vehicle lanes. The El Chaparral gateway also has a vehicle and passenger inspection station at which U.S. officials may conduct inspections of southbound traffic, and provides for more thorough inspection of southbound traffic by Mexican officials. El Chaparral was the name of the Tijuana border crossing prior to the 1983 modifications.

Eastern/main pedestrian crossing

Pedestrians may cross northbound immediately east of the northbound vehicle crossing. As of May 2017 they are temporarily processed in the Milo building while a new facility is built to the west. [8] There are currently 15 pedestrian lanes, [5] and more will be added with the current expansion project.

The eastern (main) southbound pedestrian crossing is east of the northbound crossing, immediately south of the San Ysidro trolley station. Pedestrians pass through the 6.9-million-dollar, three-story Puerta Este México-San Ysidro building, opened in August 2015, containing Mexican passport control and customs [9] which since late 2017 exits to a path leading to Frontera street just southwest of Ferrocarril street. Prior to 2012 the southbound pedestrian crossing was west of the northbound vehicle crossing and exited to a bridge leading to Plaza Viva Tijuana. [10]

PedWest (western pedestrian crossing)

The PedWest pedestrian crossing is located at the east side of the Las Americas outlet mall where Virginia Avenue dead-ends at the border, immediately west of the El Chaparral port of entry into Mexico. On the Mexican side a walkway connects PedWest southeastward, ending across the street from the Plaza Viva Tijuana mall, from which there is a bridge to Downtown Tijuana. [11] PedWest opened for northbound pedestrians in July 2016 [12] and July 31, 2017 for southbound pedestrians. [13] PedWest improved efficiency as now 63,000 people pass through it each day. There are 10 northbound and 2 reversible lanes. This has also become a better alternative for pedestrian traffic, due to the Southbound I-5 re-alignment. [14]


There has been a land border inspection station in the community of San Ysidro since the early 20th century.

San Ysidro Border Inspection Station in 1922 San Ysidro Border Station 1922.jpg
San Ysidro Border Inspection Station in 1922

Cars, pedestrians, trucks and trains have been inspected at this crossing. In the 1950s, due to congestion, truck traffic was moved a short distance west to a crossing at Virginia Avenue. Then in 1983, the Otay Mesa Port of Entry was opened and all truck traffic is now inspected there. In 1933 the NRHP-listed Old Customs House was built in Mission Revival style, and still stands housing offices.

The 1933 Mission Revival-style Old Customs House, in a photo from 1981 U.S. Custom House (San Ysidro, California) front.JPG
The 1933 Mission Revival-style Old Customs House, in a photo from 1981

The current San Ysidro Land Port of Entry facility was constructed in the 1970s to meet the needs of the time and the projected growth in the coming years. This port is considered the busiest international port of entry in the world in terms of individual crossers and vehicle movements from one country to another. [6]

With over 90,000 daily commuters crossing between Tijuana and San Diego, commuting has become a challenge for everyday commuters in the metropolitan region; visitors to and from Baja California spend one to three, and as many as five, hours waiting to enter into the United States. U.S. Border and Customs officials have said that newly implemented inspection technology and properly processing the large number of persons and vehicles who go through the port on a daily basis have resulted in long lines and long wait times. [15]

2018 confrontation

On Sunday, November 25, 2018, groups of Central American migrants tried to forcibly cross the border into the United States. Some of them threw rocks at US Border Patrol agents, who responded by firing tear gas into the crowd which included families with small children. [16] [17] [18] The firing of tear gas across the international border into Mexico was immediately protested by the Foreign Ministry of Mexico, which demanded a full investigation. [19]

Expansion project

Proposed San Ysidro Port Facility
San Ysidro.PNG
Aerial view of artist's rendering of the finished San Ysidro Land Port of Entry in 2015.
San Ysidro Port of Entry
General information
TypeAdministrative, Immigration and Customs Inspection
Location San Diego, CA
Construction startedDecember 2009
Estimated completionSeptember 2015
OpeningCurrent facility will remain operational during expansion and construction phases.
Technical details
Floor count4
Floor area225,000 sq ft (20,903 m2) of office space, 110,000 sq ft (10,219 m2) of inspection operations space [20]
Design and construction
Architect Miller Hull Partnership
Developer General Services Administration

The San Ysidro Land Port of Entry Expansion Project is a bi-national effort between the United States and Mexican governments which aims for the demolition, relocation, expansion, renovation, modernization and construction of new administrative and operational facilities of the current land port of entry in the San Ysidro district of San Diego. The project calls for a complete overhaul of the current international border inspection facilities on both sides of the border at a total cost of about $625 million which includes $577 million [21] for the expansion of the northbound U.S. point of entry and roughly $48 million (MXN $598) for the construction of an entirely new southbound Mexican point of entry. [22]

The project is being carried out in three phases: [23]

After the completion of the expansion project, the total northbound lanes is expected to be 62 automobile lanes. This will also add 110,000 square feet of energy preserving and producing material. Not only is there an expected increase in lanes, but an increase in efficiency to S.E.N.T.R.I. (Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection) system. [24]



Prior to September 2012, pedestrians walked from the U.S. to Mexico by crossing a pedestrian bridge, entering Mexico to the west of Interstate 5, and walking through a corridor leading to the west side of the crossing (Avenida de la Amistad). Then a temporary pedestrian crossing facility was built on the Mexican side on the east side of the crossing. This was replaced when in August 2015 Mexico inaugurated a new pedestrian crossing facility to the east of the northbound traffic lanes. For the first time foreigners are required to show passports when entering Mexico at the border, whereas previously they only had to be shown when entering the interior of the country. [28] [29]


On July 15, 2016, [30] the PedWest pedestrian crossing and Virginia Avenue transit center were opened. On the Mexican side a temporary, partially enclosed walkway was opened connecting this crossing southeastward to the pedestrian bridge from Plaza Viva Tijuana that heads southwest to Downtown Tijuana. [11] This walkway was nicknamed "Puente Chicanadas" ("cheap/quick fix bridge") and characterized by some as dangerous, suffocating and embarrassing to Mexico. In September 2016, a definitive walkway from Plaza Viva Tijuana costing 25 million pesos (about 1.3 million dollars at the time), was opened. [31]


Phase III began in September 2017, once the realignment of Southbound Interstate 5 had been completed. Once complete, it will result in an increase from 5 inspection lanes to 10. This project also includes an increase in the Northbound inspection lanes by adding 8 new lanes on the east side of the border crossing. This project does not affect existing pedestrian lanes. [32] Architects Miller Hull Partnership are leading the third phase of the project with a budget of US$150 million. [33]

See also

Related Research Articles

Border checkpoint place, generally between two countries, where travellers or goods are generally inspected

A border checkpoint is a place, generally between two countries, where travelers or goods are inspected. Authorization often is required to enter a country through its borders. Access-controlled borders often have a limited number of checkpoints where they can be crossed without legal sanctions. Arrangements or treaties may be formed to allow or mandate less restrained crossings. Land border checkpoints can be contrasted with the customs and immigration facilities at seaports, international airports, and other ports of entry.

San Ysidro, San Diego Community of San Diego in California

San Ysidro is a district of the City of San Diego, immediately north of the U.S.-Mexico border. It neighbors Otay Mesa West to the north, Otay Mesa to the east, and Nestor and the Tijuana River Valley to the west; together these communities form South San Diego, a practical exclave of the City of San Diego. Major thoroughfares include Beyer Boulevard and San Ysidro Boulevard.

South Bay (San Diego County) Region of the San Diego Metro Area in San Diego County

South Bay is a region in southwestern San Diego County, California consisting of the cities and unincorporated communities of Bonita, Chula Vista, Imperial Beach, Lincoln Acres, National City, and South San Diego.

Otay Mesa, San Diego Community of San Diego in California

Otay Mesa is a community in the southern section of the city of San Diego, just north of the U.S.–Mexico border.

The Progreso–Nuevo Progreso International Bridge on the U.S.–Mexico border, has been in operation at this location since 1952. It connects the cities of Progreso, Texas, and Nuevo Progreso, Tamaulipas.

San Diego–Tijuana Transborder agglomeration of the Californias

San Diego–Tijuana is an international transborder agglomeration, straddling the border of the adjacent North American coastal cities of San Diego, California, United States and Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico. The 2012 population of the region was 4,922,723, making it the largest bi-national conurbation shared between the United States and Mexico, the third-largest shared between the US and another country, and the fourth-largest in the world. In its entirety, the region consists of San Diego County in the United States and the municipalities of Tijuana, Rosarito Beach, and Tecate in Mexico. It is the third most populous region in the California–Baja California region, smaller only than the metropolitan areas of Greater Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area.


The Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection (SENTRI) provides expedited U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) processing, at the U.S.-Mexico border, of pre-approved travelers considered low-risk. Voluntarily applicants must undergo a thorough background check against criminal, customs, immigration, law enforcement, and terrorist databases; a 10-fingerprint law enforcement check; and a personal interview with a CBP Officer. The total enrollment fee is $122.25, and SENTRI status is valid for 5 years.

Otay Mesa Port of Entry Border crossing between Mexico and the U.S.

The Otay Mesa Port of Entry is one of three ports of entry (POE) in the San Diego–Tijuana metropolitan region, in the U.S. state of California, connecting Otay Mesa in the City of San Diego with the Otay Centenario borough of Tijuana. The facility was opened in 1983, and was constructed primarily to divert growing commercial truck traffic from the busy San Ysidro Port of Entry. Since then, significant passenger vehicle and pedestrian traffic has grown as development in the area around the crossing has grown. Commercial importations through Otay Mesa accounts for billions of dollars' worth of freight.

Tecate Port of Entry Border crossing between Mexico and the U.S.

The Tecate Port of Entry is one three ports of entry in the San Diego–Tijuana metropolitan region. The land port is located between Tecate, California in San Diego County's Mountain Empire and Tecate Municipality in Baja California. It connects California State Route 188 with Paseo Lazero Cardenas, a spur of Mexico Federal Highway 2, as well as Federal Highway 3 to the south. It is a minor port in comparison to the larger San Ysidro Port of Entry and Otay Mesa Port of Entry. This is attributed in part to the fact that reaching the crossing on the US side requires driving on narrow, winding mountain roads.

San Luis Port of Entry Border crossing between Mexico and the U.S.

The San Luis Port of Entry has been a busy US port of entry since the early 1900s. It connects San Luis, Arizona, to San Luis Río Colorado, Sonora. It connects to U.S. Route 95 on the north and Mexican Federal Highway 2 as well as Sonora State Highway 40 on the south.

Nogales-Grand Avenue Port of Entry Border crossing between Mexico and the U.S.

The Nogales Arizona Port of Entry on Grand Avenue has been in existence since the early 20th century. It connects Interstate 19 with Mexican Federal Highway 15. The port of entry is named after former Arizona Senator Dennis DeConcini. The border station was completely rebuilt in 1966 and upgrades to the pedestrian gates were made by the General Services Administration in 2012. It is one of three border crossings in Nogales; the Nogales-Mariposa Port of Entry, built in 1973, handles commercial traffic west of the Grand Avenue crossing, while the adjacent Nogales-Morley Gate Port of Entry is used for pedestrians.

Nogales-Morley Gate Port of Entry Border crossing between Mexico and the U.S.

The Nogales Port of Entry evolved over time, rather than being planned. When an international fence divided Nogales in the early 20th century, vehicles were inspected at a gate at Grand Avenue, trains were inspected just east of there, and pedestrians were inspected further to the east at Morley Avenue. A small tile-roofed inspection station was completed in 1931 and was expanded in 1949. Substantial renovations were performed in 2011.

El Paso PDN Port of Entry Border crossing in El Paso, Texas, United States

The El Paso Paso del Norte (PDN) Port of Entry, is among the United States' busiest border crossings. More than 10 million people enter the US from Mexico each year at this location. Upon arrival, the admissibility of each person is determined by an officer of Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Frequently the vehicle and/or possessions of those entering the US are inspected by CBP in an effort to prevent contraband from being brought into the US.

Marcelino Serna Port of Entry

The Marcelino Serna Port of Entry is a new border crossing that has replaced the Fabens Port of Entry on the U.S.-Mexico border. It opened on November 17, 2014. The new crossing is built around the Tornillo-Guadalupe Bridge about 1800 feet west of the previous two-lane Fabens–Caseta International Bridge and can accommodate vehicular, pedestrian and commercial traffic. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facility at the crossing served as the site for the Tornillo tent city, which housed as many as 2,800 detained migrant youths from June 2018 to January 2019. As of July 2019, a 2,500-bed holding facility for adult migrants is under construction at the site.

United States Custom House (San Ysidro, California) United States historic place

The United States Custom House in San Ysidro, San Diego, California, is a 1933 Spanish Revival building located 50 feet (15 m) north of the Mexico–United States border at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places with the full historic name U.S. Inspection Station/U.S. Custom House and common name U.S. Custom House.

Las Americas Premium Outlets

Las Americas Premium Outlets is a 560,000 square feet (52,000 m2) outlet mall in San Ysidro, San Diego, California located directly on the Mexico–United States border just west of the San Ysidro Port of Entry at the new PedWest crossing from Tijuana to Virginia Avenue on the U.S. side.

El Chaparral

The El Chaparral port of entry or border crossing is as of 2012 the main vehicle crossing point from San Diego into Tijuana, Mexico, replacing the former entry point known as Puerta México which stood immediately east of El Chaparral. It is roughly in the same location as the former Virginia Avenue crossing, where trucks entering the US from Mexico prior to 1983, was located. The opening of El Chaparral roughly tripled the number of traffic lanes to 22, reducing wait times for vehicles entering Mexico.

The Otay Mesa East Port of Entry is a planned border crossing between San Diego and Tijuana, approximately 2 miles east of the existing Otay Mesa Port of Entry. The crossing will connect the Otay Centenario borough of Tijuana with East Otay Mesa in unincorporated San Diego County, an as-yet undeveloped area slotted for future development including a business park. Although the crossing will allow cars and pedestrians, it is mainly designed for trucks and commercial vehicles.

East Otay Mesa is an as-yet undeveloped area in the South Bay region of unincorporated San Diego County, southern California.

Plaza Viva Tijuana Open Air shopping center in Tijuana

Plaza Viva Tijuana is an open-air shopping center in the Empleados Federales neighborhood of Tijuana, immediately in front of what was formerly the only exit to Mexico for pedestrians crossing from San Ysidro, San Diego on the U.S. side of the border. It houses numerous pharmacies targeted at U.S. customers, handicraft and souvenir shops, restaurants, and one of Tijuana's largest gay nightclubs.


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