A tourist card is required except near the Tijuana-Ensenada-Tecate region. You will probably never be asked for a tourist card except possibly at Guerro Negro. But play it safe… get one. If you fly out of the country because of an emergency you wil be asked for a validated tourist card at the airport before boarding the plane.
If you are stopped by the police because of an accident or a traffic violation, you will be asked to show your tourist card (FMM). If you don’t have one you are in worse trouble and have to pay a fine.
You must have a passport to get a tourist card (FMM). You can save time at the border by getting your tourist card and paying your fee in advance through Vagabundos Del Mar. in Rio Vista near Sherman Island.
When you cross the border at Tijuana you should get your tourist card (FMM). To get your card present your passport, drivers license and car registration at the Immigracion office. Then pay the fee at the bank office several yards away. Then return to Immigracion to have your FMM validated.
If you do not get your card validated and bank fee paid at the border you have two options: do it in Ensenada between 8AM and 8 PM. As you enter Ensenada follow 1D to Centro (Downtown) keeping to the right. As you enter downtown the road comes to an intersection and curves right. At this point make a sharp right. Down this road several hundred feet on the right is Migracion Office. Look for several tall palms near the office. If you are in an RV start looking for parking. You will may have to go about 4 blocks or more for parking. Then walk back to the Migracion Office road. On the north side of this road between the 4 tall palms is the Migration office. They open at 8AM and close at 8PM. It is a good idea to bring a blank Tourist Card form with you from the USA as a backup. The officials there will fill out the form and you will provide proof of citizenship with a passport. They may accept a birth certificate and a photo I.D.
If you are in a caravan you will probably not find parking near Migracion. Just make the next right and look for parking after about 6 blocks. Then leave most of the vehicles with one person and walk back to Migracion.
Proceed to the nearest bank with your completed tourist card. There pay $150 MN and the bank will STAMP the card in the LOWER LEFT corner and give you your copy.
If the banks are closed or you can not find one then head on south keeping an eye for a bank along the road south of town or in Guerro Negro.
It may be possible to get a validated tourist card iin Guerro Negro. They are open from 8 to 8. They may ask for your toll road receipts. You can go into town to pay your bank fee. Alternatively when you get to your destination go to a bank and pay your fee and get your card stamped. If you do not get your card stamped in Ensenada or the border it is important to save your receipts from the toll road as proof of when you entered the country.
The fine for getting caught without a tourist card is around $45 US dollars. You can expect to be detained for a while by the immigration official if you get caught. If you have been a traffic accident and do not have a card you are in more serious trouble.