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NEWS - Otay Mesa Faster Border Crossing

New Faster Border Crossing Lane Open in Otay Mesa – the Ready Lane

Border crossers now have a new faster border crossing option! A new northbound lane, called the Ready Lane,has been opened with the goal of reducing wait times returning to the U.S. from Mexico. Ready Lanes are already open in Arizona and Texas, but the first California Ready Lane officially opened on May 2nd, 2011 at the Otay Mesa border crossing. 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.

We tested this lane twice and found the Ready Lane to be much faster than the regular border lane. It took us about 25 minutes to cross on a Friday morning and 20 minutes on a Tuesday morning, both times during rush hour. The lane consistently moved faster than the regular lanes. When we crossed both times, the one dedicated Ready Lane opened up to 3 booths!

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 (NO passport books allowed)
  • SENTRI card, FAST and NEXUS
  • Enhanced drivers license (EDL) – States available: MI, NY, VT, WA
  • Enhanced Tribal Card (ETC)
  • Enhanced Permanent Resident card (EPR)
  • Border Crossing Card (BCC)

Important: RFID passports are NOT eligible in this lane unfortunately.

Why can’t I use my RFID passport in the Ready Lane?

The card reader technology used at the border does not read passports.

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.

Is there a Ready Lane at the San Ysidro border crossing?

No, at this time there is not a Ready Lane in San Ysidro

What border crossings have the Ready Lane?

The Ready Lane is available at these border crossings:

  • Otay Mesa, CA
  • Nogales, AZ – DeConcini
  • Lukeville, AZ
  • Del Rio, TX
  • El Paso, TX -Ysleta-Zaragoza Bridge
  • Progreso, TX – Donna-Rio Bravo International Bridge

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?

The website offers the simple steps below. Click for more details and watch a video.

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 May 16th, 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

Where can I get more information about the Ready Lane? answers many additional questions that you may have about the Ready Lane.

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