SAN DIEGO -- Americans planning to cross the border into Mexico may want to bring along some cash -- or ‘pesos’ -- because crossing the border could cost a fee.
U.S. citizens and other non-Mexican citizens who walk across the border to spend an extended period of time must now pay a fee for a permit, similar to a visa.
The fee is $28 to remain in the country for seven or more days.
The permit fee is part of a pilot program that currently only applies to people crossing on foot at both Otay and San Ysidro ports of entry. It could eventually be extended to vehicle lanes, Mexican officials said.
The new procedure will help Mexico keep better track of foreigners in the country and those who cross for work, Mexican immigration officials said.
But many see the fee as an inconvenience.
“We have enough things going down in Mexico to add another barrier or another excuse for not going into Mexico,” said Andres Mosqueira, who lives and works in San Diego but has family in Tijuana.
Others say the procedure is confusing and worry frequent crossers could get ripped off.
“If you’re staying more than seven days, you're supposed to buy the permit. The confusion is that at the border, [officials] are not telling people that. They’re saying, ‘Oh you need to start buying a permit,’” said Mike Coburn, an American who lives in Mexico and crosses the border frequently.
Some Mexican businesses are not happy with the new fee.
“It doesn’t sound very smart,” a local businessman said. “The economy isn’t doing well and tourism is just starting to pick up and if you start charging people, well that won’t help.”