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Texas-Mexico Columbia Bridge Border Crossing With A Dog

If your goal is to drive with a dog to a destination in central Mexico, I highly recommend crossing the border in Texas using the Colombia Solidarity International Bridge.

It is about a 30-minute drive west of Laredo Texas.

Below is information about crossing from Texas to Mexico with pets at the Columbia Bridge.

I provide tips on places to stop and get gas, have lunch at a pet friendly restaurant and where to spend your first night in Mexico.

What you need before crossing the Texas-Mexico border

Paperwork Requirements For You, Your Car, Your Dog.

For YOU to enter Mexico:

Passport –A valid passport that is good for the duration of the visit.

Have a few black-and-white copies with you.

Note: For some reason Mexico does not allow color copies.

NEW Visitors Permits Requirements (FMM)

Getting a FMM is not the same as it used to be. The Mexico Immigration Office no longer allows tourists to visit Mexico for up to 180-days automatically.

A FMM is a visitors permit, known as Forma Migratoria Multiple or FMM. It is what you need to enter Mexico legally.

When driving across the border you will be required to complete the FMM card at the immigration office.

Often times the desk for the FMM is in the same building where the desk is for the TIP (temporary import permit, for cars) is located.

The immigration official will ask how long you intend to stay in Mexico. Be sure to let them know your plans so that they provide you with sufficient days for your visit.

The immigration official may ask for proof of how long you are staying; such as hotel, Airbnb, and VRBO reservations.

If you are flying out, show the airline ticket.

Be sure to surrender your FMM and TIP when leaving Mexico!

Their new systems will keep track of your entry and departure.

The officials will look you up on their system before determining how many days they allow you to stay in Mexico.

You can learn more about the FMM here.

 

 For your CAR to enter Mexico:

Bring your current Driver’s License. Make sure it will not expire while you are visiting Mexico.

Bring a few black-and-white copies with you.

Registration of the vehicle

Original and photocopy of the registration of the vehicle issued by a foreign authority in the applicant’s name. If the title or registration is in the name of a spouse, a marriage certificate must also be presented. Only the titled owner of the vehicle and/or their spouse can get a TIP.

Temporary Importation Permit (TIP) for your car

This allows foreign plated cars to cross the border into Mexico from other countries, such as the U.S. and Canada. TIPs are obtained at Banjercitos.

The good news is that the Columbia Bridge has a Banjercito on site. Note:  deposit and fees apply.

Proof of temporary Mexico auto insurance for the car.

More detailed information on TIPs, driving with a leased car and more can be found at this very helpful website Mexperience.

For your dog to enter Mexico

Although Mexico does not require a health certificate for your dog, I highly recommend bringing the following documentation with you:

  • An up-to-date rabies certificate. New CDC regulations implemented July 14, 2021.
  • Record of all vaccines and due dates
  • Record of medications for flea/ticks/mites and lice. Plus, heart worm prevention.

Columbia Bridge Border Crossing Information

Point A –  Enter Mexico at Colombia Solidarity International Bridge

If you are driving from the US or Canada this is one of the easiest and most straight forward border crossings from Texas into Mexico.

The popular name is the Columbia Bridge border crossing.

The official name is the Colombia Solidarity International Bridge.

It is about a 30-minute drive west of Laredo Texas by taking Mines Road heading west.

 It is small and convenient place for processing all the immigration paperwork.

You are able to get a tourist FMM card and a TIP (temporary import pass) for your car.  All in one building!

You cannot bring your dog with you inside the building unfortunately.

You do not need to show any paperwork for your dog. No one will inspect your dog; however, they will inspect your car.

Aerial View of Customs & Banjercito Building

picture of the columbia bridge border crossing in Mexico

Once you cross the bridge you will drive straight ahead to the Aduana/Customs and Banjercito building.

The building will be on the right. There is a small parking lot in front of the building.

On our first time crossing here we missed the entrance to this parking lot.  We ended up parking at the car inspection station.

We were able to park there and walk back to the main building for our FMM and TIP.

Once you enter the building, to towards the right-hand side. This is where you will get your FMM card. 

In the center of the building is a small shop with a photocopy machine in case you need it.

To the left-hand side (once you enter the building) is where you will get your TIP. This is the Banjercito office.

Get your FMM first, then get the TIP for the car.

The Banjercito no longer provides the holographic sticker to prove your car is legal to drive in Mexico. All you need is the paperwork they will provide you. Make copies and keep one in the glove box.

Be sure to use a credit card to pay for everything, especially the TIP. When you leave Mexico the deposit for the TIP will be refunded to your credit card.

Car Inspection

After you are done getting all the proper paperwork, drive your car to the inspection station.

Be prepared to open your trunk and doors. (We kept our dogs leashed and outside of the car while they inspected.)

They will ask you questions about what you are bringing in such a food and alcohol. 

Bring copies of any purchase receipts for items that are new or items you may have a large quantity of. For example vitamins.

Be sure to take all items out of their retail box before packing.

After you are done with the inspection, set your GPS to Matehuala San Luis Potosi Mexico.

Regarding GPS apps. We found that using the WAZE App in Mexico was far superior to Google Maps.

WAZE never got us lost or sent us to the wrong location.

Getting To The Toll Road – Quota

When leaving the inspection area, head towards Highway 1 for a short drive to Highway 2.

Be very careful because Highway 2 is known for speed traps!  It is a small two-lane road.

Highway 2 will take you outside the big busy city of Nuevo Laredo and take you directly to Highway 85D – which is a toll road (Cuota).

To tell the difference between a Calle Libre (free road) and a Cuota (Toll Road) look for the letter “D” after the number. If it has a “D” – then is it a Toll Road.

Try to use the Cuotas when they are available.

Cuotas offer a more direct route, and are continuously being repaired and repaved. I have even seen people cleaning the guard rails!

Point B – Stop for lunch in Saltillo Coahuila Mexico

Saltillo is about 2 ½ hours drive from the Colombia Solidarity International Bridge border crossing.

I suggest eating lunch at the Four Points Hotel by Sheraton in Saltillo.

It is conveniently located on Highway 40, on the right-hand side if you are driving south.

This is a pet-friendly hotel with a nice restaurant.  There is a patio in the back where you can bring your dog and have lunch.

The parking lot is secure, so you can leave your luggage in the car while you eat.

If you need gas, there is a Costco gas station 5 minutes from Four Points Hotel on Highway 40.

Saltillo is one of the most industrialized areas in Mexico. It has one of the largest automotive clusters in Mexico, with plants such as Grupo Industrial Saltillo, General Motors, Fiat Automobiles, Chrysler, Daimler to name a few.

After filling up the car with gas, continue to head south to the 57D toll road towards Matehuala in the state of San Luis Potosi. About a 3-hour drive.

Templo-del-Santo-NIño-Matehuala
Templo-del-Santo-NIño-Matehuala

Point C – Spend the night in Matehuala, San Luis Potosi

In total, this town is about a 6.5-hour drive from the US border on the Pan American Highway – Toll Road 57D.

Normally folks spend the night in Matehuala and then leave the next day for their final destination.

Las Palmas Motor Hotel a perfect place to stay for the following reasons:

  • Pet Friendly
  • There are carports available for many of the rooms. This means you can park your car right next to your motel room door and never unload the car (if you wish).
  • A safe place to stay; completely fenced in.
  • Large grassy areas for dogs to walk or run around.
  • The restaurant on site is decent and offers weekly specials.
  • Nice pool, fairly large and clean.
  • Friendly staff

More on the Las Palmas Hotel here.

Matehuala is the jumping off point to other cities in central Mexico:

  • Aguascalientes
  • Guanajuato and San Miguel Allende
  • Guadalajara
  • Querétaro
  • Mexico City

I would like to suggest taking some time to visit (some not so famous) interesting places in this part of Mexico.

A really cool ghost town, an Opel Mine where you can mine your own opals, a great place to buy some wonderful cheese and wine, plus more.

All of these places are pet friendly and kid friendly too!

Read more about my pet friendly/kid friendly road trip!

Travel Resources

The GrinGO App for traveling in Mexico.

WAZE is the best app for directions and up-to-date information on accidents and where the police are. All information is supplied by other drivers. It is also a great resource to contact other drivers around you to find out why you find yourself stuck in traffic.

Another great resource is the private Facebook group called On The Road To Mexico.  Even if you are not a fan of FB, this private group is well worth joining.

There are 56K+ members who can help to answer your questions real-time with up-to-date travel information all throughout Mexico.

Google Translate, as it allows you to use your phone’s camera to translate menus, signs, ads etc if you are not familiar with Spanish.

WhatsApp for free texting and internet phone calls all over the world.

Uber and DiDi for ride -share services. Very inexpensive in Mexico. Note: not all states in Mexico allow ride-share services.

As always… safe travels!

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Rita

Hi Deborah,
Great information, well done.
We are crossing the Colombia Bridge in a couple of days.
Could you please tell me where you stayed State side before you crossed?
I am finding it challenging to find pet friendly lodging close to the Colombia Bridge crossing.
Thanks in advance.

Cindy

Hola Deborah!
I am so glad I found you and looking forward to reading the rest of your blogs! We are planning to drive with our 13 year old dog who is now on a special diet. We are planning to bring several cans of his food with us. Do you know if too much dog food is something they have issues with when doing the car inspection? Thanks so much and thank you for your blog!

Cindy

Gracias, Deborah! This is such a relief to hear as it would have been so stressful to find alternate food that would be right for him and that he would actually eat. Great idea about the receipt! We are so looking forward to the trip and your articles are helping us get better prepared and excited for what’s to come! 🙂

Sarah Parr

Hola! I’m happy I found this resource, it is super helpful to know what to have ready for the border. I will be leaving from Michigan to Cholula Puebla in a couple weeks with my friend and my dog (all females) (I’ve been living in Cholula and my two cats are awaiting my return). I had always thought I’d cross at McAllen Texas to Reynosa, but now I’m wondering if this would be an unadvisable route? I’m looking for any information about crossing to Reynosa or Matamoros and whether those places are safe/ advisable crossings. My friend was expressing some… Read more »

Rich R

Hi! I’m leaving MX by car in a couple of weeks. I am a permanent resident. I will be crossing at either Columbia or Laredo…do I need to get an FMM (like we get when we leave by air) before I cross back into the states? If so, where are these offices located (I don’t want to get into the line to cross and then realize I need this form). I usually only travel by air. Only asking about FMM (nothing to do with TIP or car stuff)…simply, do I need to stop for an FMM by land when exiting… Read more »

Dan

Hola! I have a trip coming up from Austin to Mexico City at the end of this month(May) and all this information has put me a little more at ease. A few things I did want to ask though: Are there any gas stations between the Colombia bridge and Monterrey that you feel are safe or any that you advice to completely avoid? Has your car ever stopped working while on the road or soon after crossing? I’m hoping to have a backup plan just in case my car breaks down any where between Laredo and Monterrey. One of my… Read more »

Alexa

Hola! This blog has been super helpful, I’ve taken so many notes. We’re driving from NYC to Sayulita and wondering which TX crossing/route would be the best for my guy and our two big pups? We’re also trying to get the 180 traveler visa. Lastly, do you think it’s safe to have NY plates in Mexico?

Clarissa A

Hi would is the safest route to drive I’m a single girl with 2 dogs from Colorado to Oaxaca? Also do you know if tmobile works there? Thanks !

Mark

We’ve heard the Laredo area in Mexico is not safe any more, and friends have suggested we cross in Eagle Pass instead. We have a large dog, and are a little nervous about driving to San Miguel. But we’re not crazy about the alternative of putting him in Volaris cargo. Does anyone have experience, either crossing at Eagle Pass, or flying dogs on Volaris? Is there somewhere to check Volaris’ safety record for pets?

Patrick

Buenos dias
We have received our FMM and TIP online and we are curious if this changes the process as we cross this border. Do we still go to the Aduana y Banjercito building? Or do we go direct to car inspection?
Gracias

Patrick

Thanks Deborah 👍

Andre Embersics

This is great, Deborah, thanks so much for creating this new blog, you can’t imagine how that will make things easier for us!

How long did it take them to process everything at the border? (FMM, TIP, car inspection)
And at what point do they check the documentation for the dogs? Let’s say we have only proof of rabies, do you think that could create us any issues?

Oh, and are you still in Mexico? When possible, my wife and I (and the dogs, of course!) would love to meet you all one day!

Thanks again!