Sean and Mittie | Cheap and Easy Border Runs from San Miguel de Allende to Laredo 4

Cheap and Easy Border Runs from San Miguel de Allende to Laredo

Border runs are a familiar part of the American expat life in Mexico, especially as (relatively) new laws complicate temporary visas to work and live there. Coming and going is easier than one would think, though. The most common route for people in San Miguel de Allende is to the consulate in Laredo, TX.

Visa requirements

Many Americans come to Mexico on 6 month tourist visas. Because the Mexican side of the border is quite lax with doling them out, some “renew” them indefinitely, crossing the border every 6 months and asking for a new one.  Mexican law stipulates, however, that a tourist shouldn’t spend more than 6 months in a given year. Someone who stays more than 6 months and less than 4 years is considered a temporary resident.

Temporary residential status (previously called FM3, forma migratoria 3, and currently called residente temporal) was previously obtained through the immigration office in San Miguel de Allende. A couple years ago that changed. The current procedure includes returning to the consulate in your country of origin to request the visa.

If you are being offered employment, this means *gulp* that you have to wait in your country of origin for as long as it takes immigration (INM) to process the paperwork and with the famous inefficiencies of Mexican bureaucracy, that can be a long time. But if you’re location independent and not looking for a work permit in Mexico, the visa can be obtained with a single visit to the consulate in your country of origin. *Here is a link to the requirements for the temporary visa without work permission.*

Make an appointment! They will not see you if you don’t. *Here is where you make the appointment.*

Sean and Mittie | Cheap and Easy Border Runs from San Miguel de Allende to Laredo 1

Bus to border

While many choose to drive to the border, we’ve found that taking the bus is a cheap, easy way to get to the border. It costs about 60-90 usd one way, is air conditioned, plays movies and has spacious seats. It takes around 12 hours to get from San Miguel de Allende to Laredo, Texas.

Sean and I have tried several different bus lines, routes and time tables. Our current favorite is through Grupo Senda, which includes Turimex (which also runs in the United States and is far preferable to something like Grey Hound), Transportes Del Norte, and Senda Express. We’ve explored the following options:

  1. SMA –> QRO –> Laredo, TX
    Cost: 75 usd, 1 way
    Times: 7 pm, arrives at 8:30 (supposedly)
    Notes: Taking the bus across the border can be slow depending on the volume of traffic crossing. Passengers must take all belongings off the bus and go through the border security individually. The bus station in Laredo is right next to the border, the consulate and the hotel Rialto where we always stay.
  2. SMA –> QRO –> Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.
    Cost: 65 usd, 1 way
    Times: 5 pm and 8 pm departure both arrive at reasonable times (7am and 9am respectively)
    Notes: 7 minute cab ride to the border, then walk across the pedestrian bridge (often faster than busing across the border)

Ease / Location of Consulate

Lucky for us, the consulate is only a few blocks from the border and easily in walking distance. Since they are only open from 8-11 am, we generally spend the night at the Hotel Rialto and make our appointment for the following day.

Here is their information:
Address: 1612 Farragut St, Laredo, TX 78040, United States
Phone:+1 956-723-6369
Office hours: 8-11 am

Do you have questions about taking a bus from San Miguel de Allende to Laredo? Getting to San Miguel on a budget? Driving routes? Get in touch in the comments. We have done it all!

  • Claudio
    Posted at 18:03h, 06 April Reply

    Hi Guys!!
    It’s me Claudio.
    I want to thank you for your support with my u-joint! My Guzzi is happier than ever!
    We look to see you in south america!

    Big Hug Olga and Cla!

  • Pat Sommer
    Posted at 13:32h, 09 May Reply

    Mmmm, I have to get the car out too… curious if swallowing the $400-some import duty is a better deal and just ignore it?

    Wishful thinkng: don’t want a world of violations.
    Read that my 2012 Fiat isn’t importable, so what are my options?

    Heh, who’s up for a roadtrip late July?!

    • Mittie.Roger
      Posted at 00:02h, 10 May Reply

      Hi Pat,

      Does your VIN number start with a letter or a number? That’s how you’ll know. If it starts with a letter, it can’t be nationalized. However, you’ll want to keep it up to date. If you have a tourist visa, you’ll need to drive it out of the country. If you have a temporary visa, the car permit renews with the visa. Good luck!

  • Julie Fleischhacker
    Posted at 17:17h, 27 August Reply

    Hi, I’m a first timer and am curious about needing to make an appointment to cross the border. Is that necessary if I’m returning on a travel visa or only for a temporary/residential visa? If I bus to Neuvo Laredo, Sorry to be naive. Any help is appreciated. Thanks, Julie

  • Mittie B Roger
    Posted at 17:41h, 27 August Reply

    Hi Julie,

    You don’t need to make an appointment with the Consulate in order to return on a Tourist Visa. You do need to make an appointment to return with a Temporary Resident visa. Crossing the border itself doesn’t require any kind of appointment; the consulate is on the American side of the border. Here’s some additional info that may help:

    Feel free to contact me if you have any other questions. Good luck!


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