Every day we receive a lot of questions from patients in the United States. Although some of them deserve to be answered more personally, we prefer to share some of the most common ones here:
Why is it a lot cheaper to undergo dental care or treatment in Mexico than in the United States?
First, how much can a client save if they choose to have their dental treatment or consultation here in Mexico, for example, in Sam Dental? Overall, you can save as much as 70% of the regular cost. Thus, even if you include other expenses such as travel, accommodation, or fuel, you can still save a good amount of money.
But why? It has something to do with our economics. Mexican living standards are generally lower than those of the United States, even in states with a low cost of living like Texas. In the process, we do not pay much when it comes to labor and specialization. Our education and training are also much less expensive. Although some dental clinics charge high, most of us give affordable prices. We believe we owe it to our clients to pass on the savings to them.
Is the quality great?
Many people live in the idea that they always get what they pay for. In other words, if they spend less for a service, they do not obtain quality service in return. That is definitely not true, though, with Sam Dental. We make sure that we hire only the best committed people to be part of our growing team. Some of the treatments that require more specialized skills should be handled by board-certified specialists. Although labor is generally cheap in Mexico, we provide very competitive compensation to these individuals, for they help us grow and maintain our clientele. We also invest in advanced training, constant education, and other activities that can help us provide high-quality service to all our patients.
What do I need to present to cross the border?
The Mexican officials will probably not ask you for anything, although what they do require is just a photo i.d. like a drivers license. As far as re-entering the US, the American Customs will ask for your US passport, a passport card, or an enhanced driver’s license. Although the new mandate calls for these one of these documents, and you will have less hassle if you have them, don’t be alarmed if you need to come, and don’t have a passport yet. Unofficially, if all you have is a drivers license, you can get back into the US without any problem. If you have a birth certificate, bring it too. We still have patients every week who come to the clinic, and go back across the border with just a US driver’s license. However, it will be smoother if you have your US passport.
Passport card or Enhanced Driver’s license: If you can take the time to get a US passport card, or if you are from a border state, like Washington, that issues enhance driver’s license, it is well worth it to get one. These documents have a RFID chip, (radio frequency identification chip). The US has created special lanes for both cars, as well as pedestrian, call READY LANES. If you have an i.d. with an RFID chip, you can use the ready lane. For pedestrian, you can walk right past the people standing in the line, and go in though the Ready Lane gate. This can save you a lot of time crossing back into the US. We definitely recommend getting a US passport card. You get it the same way as you passport, just apply for the card instead of the book. It costs about $40.You can have both documents, however, when coming into Mexico by land, you do not need to carry a passport book. The small, driver’s license sized card is all you will need.
Have an Expired Passport? This will work as a valid I.D. to US Customs. It is better than a driver’s license with a birth certificate.
So what can we conclude from this? We personally asked the Customs, and they informed us that documents like birth certificates and other authentic proof of citizenship will suffice when crossing the border. Nevertheless, we would like to remind you that some of the customs officials are stricter than the others. They may decide to delay your reentry while trying to confirm your identification or ask you where your passport is or when you are planning to get one. What we are trying to say is that if you do have your passport, then might as well present that to the U.S. customs to avoid delays.
I am arriving from San Diego Airport. How do I get to the clinic?
You actually have two options. First, you can just travel directly to the border and cross it in different ways, whether walking, taking the Mexicoach bus, or driving a vehicle. Please refer to the page entitled “Border Shuttle” on how to cross the border. We can then pick you up through our white van. This service is completely for free.
The other choice is to have yourself picked up straight from the airport in San Diego, and brought to our clinic in Tijuana. We can make this arrangement for you, and it will cost only $60. We can then send you back to the border once your treatment is over.
Is it safe in Tijuana?
One of the frequently asked questions is their safety when in Tijuana. The concern and anxiety are 100% understandable. Mexico has received a lot of flak over the past years due to the high level of violence and death. Go to Google, read newspapers, and ask about anyone about the country. You will definitely learn how “dangerous” we are. But here is the reality: everything is far from the truth. Tijuana, for one, is a very safe place to be in:
1. Tijuana also has some crimes, but what place does not have one? Even the United States cities are not free of such bad situations. Often, what you see in the media has been hyped or completely exaggerated. After all, isn’t it how most of the news agencies earn money?
2. In terms of crimes, most of them are committed not against Americans or other tourists. The violence you have seen in the media are consequences of different Mexican gangs and cartels fighting over drugs. They target one another. Even so, in Tijuana, the violent crime rate is actually the same as in San Diego, and is less than half the rate as in Los Angeles. In fact, the violent crime rate in Chicago is 3 times higher than TJ, and the rates in New Orleans and Oakland is nearly 5 times higher than in Tijuana.
3. Tijuana has experienced relative peace over the past few years. Compared to last year, for example, we have experienced even fewer crimes. We have to attribute it to our police force who are definitely working hard to assure the safety of everyone, especially the tourists, who are so important to our economy.
4. Our clinic is found in the Zona Rio area of Tijuana, which is the nicest part of the city. It is very far from down town, where most of the action is. In fact, we still have to hear a negative tourist experience from our clients. One of the main reasons why they keep on coming back is they feel very safe and secure when they are in town.
5. Definitely, though, we strongly advise you to take the necessary precautions when you are in a new place like Tijuana. Just like when you are traveling abroad, avoid those risky areas, and never go out incredibly late at night and pass by very dark areas or alleys. Be vigilant and watch out for your belongings. If you see or feel something suspicious, report it immediately to the police. We can also help you in this regard.
We have a few more trips on how to have a very safe travel here in Tijuana:
1. Always be discreet with your actions. As much as possible, never give a hint that you’re carrying something valuable with you. This also means just act naturally while being vigilant with your surroundings. We suggest wearing something with front pockets, where you can keep the essentials with you, including passport and some cash. Speaking of cash, bring only the amount that you need. Sam Dental doesn’t charge you with hidden fees, so you basically have an idea how much to pay for the service. Or if you want to be much safer, you can pay through Bank Money orders, traveler’s checks or credit cards. We accept major ones such as Visa and Mastercard. We also encourage you not to bring plenty of credit cards with you. One or two will already suffice.
2. About Credit Cards: Please make sure you advise you bank, prior to leaving the US, that you will be using your card in Mexico. If you don’t advise them, the bank will likely block the card so that you can’t use it. However, if that does happen, we do have a US phone line in the clinic, and you can call them from here to get the card unblocked.
3. Normally we advise our clients to just leave their vehicles in the U.S. side and commute once they come into Mexican border. Our clinic can provide the pickup for them. Because we are just close to the border, some of our clients decide to stay in a hotel in the United States or go back home. We’ll also suggest the same thing if you’re planning to stay for a couple of days to enjoy the city. By commuting, you don’t have to worry about the condition of your vehicle anymore, and you don’t need to understand Mexican traffic. Approach our front desk if you need help in finding the best taxis in town. You can also ask for some referrals from your accommodation.
Nevertheless, if you cannot really leave the vehicle, just make sure that you do the following:
- Make sure you get Mexican Insurance before you cross the border. You can get it online, or at one of the many agencies near the border.
- Don’t leave valuables inside the car, even if you’re leaving it only for a few minutes.
- Use a good locking device. A club placed on the steering wheel is a very common method here in Mexico.
3. If you can help it, don’t stay out too long at night. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, whether you’re in Tijuana or Los Angeles, most of the crimes are committed at night time.
New Border Crossing Regulations:
1.- You must now have a US passport to cross the border:
Just like the US Government requires everyone crossing the border into the US to have passports, the Mexican Government also now requires all persons crossing into Mexico to have a passport. Things have historically been a little lax, but now they are tightening up on the regulations. Make sure you get your passport before crossing into Mexico, to avoid any delays or hassle, by the US Customs, as well as Mexican Customs.
If you haven’t yet gotten a US Passport, we strongly recommend that you get the “Passport Card”, rather than the “Passport Book”. You can actually apply for both, or either one. But the reason the Passport Card works better than the Book, is because it has the RFID electronic chip, which qualifies you to use the faster moving “Ready Lanes” either as a pedestrian or riding in a car. Here is a link to the government website: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports/apply.html
2.- You will need to get a Tourist Visa at the border:
Pedestrian Crossing: If leave your car parked at the border, and are walking into Mexico, you will need to present your US passport, and fill out a tourist permit form. It will just take 5 minutes. However, make sure you keep your tourist permit on your person. In case you are stopped in Mexico for any reason, you will now have proof that you entered into the country legally. The cost of a tourist permit, to visit Tijuana for a week, is free. But, if you plan to stay for more than a week, plan to return for a second trip, or are thinking of going on to Rosarito or Ensenada, you will need to get the 180 day permit, costing $25.
Crossing the border by car: If you are stopped in Tijuana, you will need to show that you have legally crossed the border. So, even though you could just drive through Mexican Customs, and they don’t ask you for any documents, don’t neglect to first stop and get your tourist permit. The process will just take a few minutes.
When you first cross into Mexico, do NOT get into the lines of cars that are going through the lanes through for inspection. Rather, keep to the right, and go straight ahead to the area for Voluntary Declaration. Most of the cars going in here, and parking, are stopping to declare products that they purchased in the US, so they can pay the “Importation Tax”. But this is the same area where you will find the “Immigration” office, in order to get your tourist permit. Just park your car next to the others, and go into the building. Inside you will find the Immigration office, and tell them you want a tourist permit. It will be easiest if you just tell them you are coming to visit and shop, otherwise they will ask you for the exact address of the clinic, and hotel address where you are staying. Just a little less hassle.
“Hi! My name is Jim. One of the first questions I asked before I decided to have dental treatment in Tijuana is, “Is it safe to go there?” A lot of the articles have been telling me of the high crime rate in Mexican cities. But I took the chance, and I am a living proof that most of what you read are simply not true. One, I get to see thousands of people crossing the border every day to Mexico. Even Hollywood celebrities do that. If it’s not safe as the media paints it to be, then certainly these people wouldn’t risk their lives!
Tijuana also turns out to be safe, quiet place. I enjoy its very laid-back atmosphere, as well as the great food and culture of its people. Sam Dental staff are fantastic too. I even feel safer here than in other cities in the United States. One time, I came across an article about a tourist who got killed in Tijuana after a night of clubbing. Although it’s such an unfortunate news, it’s really not an isolated case as it happens everywhere in the world.” — Jim
“I needed a root canal therapy, but I couldn’t afford the treatment in the United States anymore, so I opted to look for options in Mexico. Before I did that, I had my U.S. dentist evaluate my teeth first and recommend the next steps to take. This way, I already had a good idea of the service I needed to have. The first Mexican dentist I talked to, however, was kind of suspicious. He enumerated a lot of procedures that were not included or talked about by my dentist.
I felt I needed to look for another option until I ended up with Sam Dental in Tijuana. The person who talked to me was very courteous and easy to understand. Most of all, he was knowledgeable of the clinic’s products and services. After I talked about my dentist’s evaluation and the first Mexican clinic’s suggestion, the Sam Dental staff immediately told me that I was duped—that I was actually asked to pay for unnecessary treatments.
I decided to try Sam Dental, and I was not disappointed. They had given me a thorough assessment and charged me only for the treatments that I truly needed. In the process, I got to save money from the treatment, and I felt safe and happy with my decision.” — Dennis