Before You Go

Ready Lanes in San Ysidro and Otay Mesa

Border crossers now have another faster border crossing option. The northbound lanes, called the Ready Lanes, were opened with the goal of reducing wait times returning to the U.S. from Mexico. All border crossers who use the lane must have an RFID compliant card such as a passport card, SENTRI card, or other card with an RFID chip (Radio Frequency Identification). All passengers in the vehicle must have RFID compliant cards in order to use the lane except those under 16 years of age.

What cards can be used in the Ready Lane?
The following cards may be used in the lane as long as they are RFID compliant:
  • U.S. Passport card
  • SENTRI card, Global Entry, FAST and NEXUS
  • Enhanced drivers license (EDL)
  • Enhanced Tribal Card (ETC)
  • Enhanced Permanent Resident card (EPR)
  • Border Crossing Card (BCC)
Can I use my electronic passport in the Ready Lane?

Maybe. The card reader technology used at the border is not compatible with electronic passports, although it may depend on the discretion of the border agent. We have heard of travelers being able to use newer passport books without any issues in the Ready Lane.

What does RFID compliant mean?

RFID compliant means the card contains a wireless tag that allows the information to be picked up and sent to border officials.

Where is the Ready Lane located in Otay Mesa?

The Ready Lane is the far left lane of the border crossing. It becomes a dedicated lane further up, sectioned off with concrete dividers.
If you are familiar with the Otay border crossing you may enter by going up the bridge or the entrance below the bridge. It may be better to enter by taking the bridge and have easy access to the left hand lane. If the border is short enough and you enter from below the bridge, you may be able to get all the way across the lanes to get into the left hand lane.

Where is the Ready Lane located in San Ysidro?

There are signs for the entrance to the Ready Lane off of the Via Rápida as you approach Pueblo Amigo. View photo directions to get to the Ready Lane in San Ysidro/Tijuana.

What border crossings have the Ready Lane?

The Ready Lane is available at these border crossings:

  • San Ysidro, CA
  • Otay Mesa, CA
  • Calexico East, CA
  • Douglas, AZ
  • Nogales, AZ - DeConcini
  • Lukeville, AZ
  • Del Rio, TX
  • El Paso, TX -Ysleta-Zaragoza Bridge
  • Progreso, TX - Donna-Rio Bravo International Bridge
  • Eagle Pass, Bridge 1, TX
  • Gateway Bridge, TX
  • Hidalgo, TX
  • Laredo, TX - Lincoln-Juarez Bridge
  • Pharr, TX

What are the hours of operation of the Otay Mesa Ready Lane?

The Ready Lane is open Monday - Friday 4am - 8pm; Saturday and Sunday 8am - 10pm.

I have an RFID compliant card, how do I use the Ready Lane?

1. Stop at beginning of lane & wait for signal.
2. Hold card up & drive through to booth.
3. Stop at officer's booth.

I have a SENTRI card, does it make sense to use this lane?

Most likely no unless you have other passengers in your vehicle who are not SENTRI compliant, but have a Passport Card or other compliant card. It has been reported that the SENTRI is faster. An officer at the Otay border told us the SENTRI is about a 5 minute wait in the morning.

If I do not have any of the RFID compliant cards, how can I get one?

The Passport Card is an affordable and convenient option if you do not have an RFID card at this time. Learn more about how to apply for the Passport Card. For previous passport holders, the fee is only $30. For new applicants, the fee is $55. The Passport Card is valid for 10 years.

How long does it take to get a Passport Card?

As of April 9th, 2018, the State Department website reports it is taking 4-6 weeks to receive a Passport Card using their 'routine' service. For expedited service the wait is 2-3 weeks door to door with overnight delivery.

Passport Card FAQs from the State Department

Have you used the Ready lane already?
Please let us know your experience by emailing us at service(at)bajabound.com. Thank you for your comments.

Article sources:
Baja Bound field research