Why Uber Can Take You to Mexico, But Not Back to the US

PHOTO: Uber Technologies Inc. signage stands inside the companys office in Washington, March 24, 2016.Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Uber Technologies Inc. signage stands inside the company's office in Washington, March 24, 2016.

Uber announced this week that drivers can bring passengers across the border to Mexico from San Diego, but logistical problems prevent the same trip in reverse.

Riders can travel to Tijuana, Mexico, from San Diego in "one seamless and hassle-free" trip, Uber wrote on its website. The trip isn't cheap though. The ride through the newly launched UberPassport can cost $100 from downtown San Diego to Tijuana International Airport, for example.

So why not offer the return trip? One logistical challenge for anyone crossing the border from Mexico to the U.S. is the wait. Travel websites describe the relative ease of trekking to Tijuana from San Diego by foot, car, trolley or bus. But the return trip can take an hour or more due to the wait through U.S. customs.

Another challenge has to do with liability. Uber is able to offer cross-border service to Mexico because regulations define commercial activity at the point of pickup, instead of passenger drop-off. Uber drivers are covered by commercial automobile insurance provided by a Mexican insurer, including civil liability coverage of $281,469, according to Uber's website. But that insurance policy doesn't cover Uber drivers from Mexico who enter the U.S. with passengers.

Uber said the company is always looking to innovate and expand a product. In the meantime, Uber instructs passengers who want to return to the U.S.:

1. Bring a passport or other documentation. 2. Hitch an Uber ride in Tijuana to the San Ysidro International Border Crossing. (Uber launched in Tijuana in August 2014.) 3. Passengers are instructed to cross into the U.S. by the pedestrian lane and request an Uber in San Diego to your final destination.