Question: From Melissa. I am coming to Puerto Peñasco soon and will be bringing my son and his friend. His friend is 11 and has his passport. Is there any other documentation that I need or a consent letter?
Answer: Melissa, you should definitely have a letter of consent for the friend. In case of an emergency and you need to have medical attention, you will really want to have that. In the case of a child whose parents are divorced, you should get that letter from the parent who has custody and if the parents share custody, I would have both parents sign it and have it notarized. This would also apply to yourself. Even if you get questioned going back into the United States for some reason, you have proof that you have permission to have the children out of the country. I am sure the boys will have a great time on the beach as there is so much to look for in the tide pools.
Question: From Bill. Can you clarify at what age do children need passports and can you clarify if the what documentation is needed to travel from Mexico to the United States by auto. There seems to be a great deal of confusion about the new AZ driver’s license. Is it acceptable?
Answer: Thanks Bill, this question comes up all the time. Below is what I found out. It seems to be different depending on the source you are looking at, which is contrary to what I have been told previously. In other reports it says everyone has to have a passport or passport card. On my next trip to the USA I plan to stop and ask at the border. Regarding your question about the new drivers license that has to be done by 2020, there is nothing that I have been able to find from their site that says it can be used for border crossing from Mexico. Best bet is get a passport card.
Western Hemisphere Land and Sea
Under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, children under age 16 who are U.S. or Canadian citizens do not need a passport when traveling by land or sea within the Western Hemisphere travel zone. This area includes the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the countries of the Caribbean Region. You must present your baby’s birth certificate or naturalization card.
Recently the U.S. Consul General from Nogales, Virginia Staab and the Consular Section Chief, J. Michael Harvey put on a presentation for all U.S. citizens living in Puerto Peñasco. They covered a lot of issues that were of concern to many in the crowd such a Bank Trusts and buying property in Mexico. They also stated that they are going to try to have meetings every 3 months.
One of the most important things they informed the group about is a program called STEP or Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. This is a free service and your information will not be shared with anyone other branch of the United States government such as the IRS, etc. What this program does is to let the U.S. Consulate know that you are either living or visiting abroad by registering at the nearest U.S. Consulate. By registering you will receive important travel warnings and other safety conditions in your destination country in order to help you make informed decisions about your travel plans. It will help the U.S. Embassy contact you in an emergency, whether it is a natural disaster, civil unrest or a family emergency. It will also help family and friends get in touch with you in case of an emergency.
In all areas of Mexico where there is a large population of American’s living you will find people that are volunteers for the U.S. Consulate and they are referred to as Wardens. The job of these volunteers is to help you or a loved one in case of emergency. For example if your child who might be here on “Spring Break” should get hurt and is taken to the hospital or clinic, the U.S. Consulate will notify the warden who then goes to see what the person needs. They will be asked to sign a Privacy Act form, so that the warden can give you as a parent all the info on the injured person. This can relate to auto accidents or anything effecting a tourist or resident in Mexico. In Rocky Point there are 2 people to contact, one being Rick Busa and the other is myself Beverly Arrowood. Although we have not had to be called on very often, know that we are here to help when needed.
To register simply go to https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/go/step.html/ or for a specific country like Mexico go to https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/mexico.html/. It is very simple to do and only takes a couple of minutes. You can register individuals or groups traveling to Mexico.
You can also reach the U.S. Consulate General in Nogales during business hours (8 am to 5 pm) by dialing 01-81-8047-3145 from Mexico or 011-52-81-8047-3145 if calling from the U.S. For emergencies out side of the normal business hours or weekends the number to call from Mexico is 001-619-841-3203 and if calling from the U.S. 1-619-841-3203.
If you would like information on the services provided by the U.S. Consulate General in Nogales you can reach them at https://mx.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/nogales/.