Catching a ferry to mainland Mexico from La Paz seemed daunting at first but in hindsight it was pretty easy. Here is the process (see photos at the end):
- Leave La Paz on the north west side of town and drive towards the terminal for about 10 miles.
- When you near the ferry terminal, you will see a long blue fence and you will enter through the only entrance.
- Immediately after entering the fence take a left into the paid parking lot area. It costs about 26 pesos per hour.
- After parking, walk to the large building directly across from the parking lot and go to the right at the end where you will find the Banjercitos office. This is where you will get your Temporary Import Permit (TIP) for your vehicle. As we mentioned, we needed a document proving ownership of our camper so make sure you have this if you have a camper!
- Required documentation for the getting the TIP is the owner’s passport, vehicle registration (if your registration is expired you must have the original title), and Mexican tourist card. Make sure to have copies of all of these documents. If you don’t or the officials need an extra copy, there is a copy room, just ask for directions or they will direct you.
- Once you have your TIP, hop in your vehicle, pay your 26 pesos, and drive straight through to customs which will be right in front of you when you pay your parking fee.
- After passing through customs, drive straight through and curve a bit to the left where you will have your vehicle weighed. As a side note, we were a little freaked out by this as Mexico will not let you import a vehicle weighing more than ~7,700lbs and we weigh nearly 10,000lbs. As long as your registration shows a weight of less than the 7,700lbs, you will be able to get your TIP and the weight at the scale is only for the ferry.
- Once you have your weight, make a large U-turn to the left and drive to the large building close to you. This is where you will get your ticket for the ferry. Both Baja Ferries and TMC Ferries are right next to each other.
- After purchasing your ferry ticket, the process changes based on the ferry you choose. For Baja Ferries, you will drive to the backside of the building where you purchased your ferry ticket and stage here. For TMC, you will follow the signs towards the exit (salida) where you will wait to load.
- We went with TMC ferries as it is less than half the cost (~$250USD) of Baja Ferries, included two meals and allowed us to sleep in our camper. It is the “trucker’s ferry” but we really had a good time and talked with our new friend Gabriel for a couple of hours. Also, the showers are probably the best we have had since leaving Arizona!
- We missed our meal which was served before the ship set sail so make sure to ask when meals are served. Everyone but us had carne asada, but the nice kitchen lady made us chicken quesadillas instead!
- Some final tips: Make sure to park on top so you get fresh air. Also, if you can park towards the front of the ship, do so as many trucks idle their engines from time to time and the smell began to give us headaches. If you have a roof top tent that folds to the side or back of your vehicle, you may be able to camp in your tent, just wait for the other trucks to get on first. Our ship was about 50% capacity so there was tons of room where you would be able to open your tent.
Here is the blue fence, then the entrance:
In front of my face is where you park to go to the Banjercitos office. If you look at the photo above, the blue roof is where you get your ticket and where you pay. Just behind the semi is the customs area.
Our ship, the San Jorge:
Drive to the left to make sure you can park on top!