Travel & Tourism

December, 06, 2011 - 08:29 PM / ET

Paisano, Welcome to Laredo
City of Laredo celebrates 14 years helping Mexican citizens return home for holidays

LAREDO, Texas, Dec. 6, 2011 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ -- For 14 years, the City of Laredo has hosted a Paisano Rest Stop to help Mexican citizens returning home from throughout the U.S. have a smoother experience as they head home for the holidays. This unique bi-national project is offered only in Laredo, Texas. The City of Laredo Convention & Visitors Bureau works with the Mexican Consulate General to set-up the rest stop; however, there are many city, state and federal departments and agencies from both sides of the border who come together to help the paisanos.

The Paisano Rest Stop will be at IH-35 southbound, just off Mile Marker 13, beginning Friday, December 16, at 12 noon and closing at 12 noon on Sunday, December 18, 2011. For 48 continuous hours, the rest stop has individuals who help review documents necessary for travelers, as well as any goods or vehicles they may be taking into Mexico. Information on bridge wait times, directions, simple mechanic help, refreshments, restroom facilities and simply, an opportunity to rest and stretch their legs is offered at the site.

-- Additional information given includes:
-- Hotel and restaurant listings;
-- U.S. Customs regulations for return trip;
-- Legitimate nationalization processing business listing;
-- Complaint and crime reporting procedures with Mexican Consulate and local agencies;
-- Volunteer mechanic on-call to do initial inspection, minor car repairs;
-- Mexican immigration regulations and forms;
-- Free copies.

All is done with a smile and in Spanish.

"Laredo welcomes paisanos," said Laredo Mayor Raul G. Salinas. "We want their experience in Laredo to be positive, restful, and beneficial before they continue into Mexico. We host the Paisano Rest Stop to help facilitate their crossing experience here because Laredo, Texas does appreciate the work these Mexican citizens are doing in the United States," Salinas concluded.

Motorists will see signage and hear radio messages posted from San Antonio on south. Local, state and federal officials patrol the roadside on IH-35 South, to offer assistance to paisanos that need help, including security, traffic control, and road side assistance. This year, the exit to the rest stop will be marked with extra signage and lights, especially for those traveling at night or who may not be familiar with the turn-off to the facility. Motorists who have not stopped before are encouraged to do so before continuing on their journey.

Paisanos returning to Mexico through Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas should take Bridge I to avoid traffic congestion along IH-35 at Bridge II. Motorists exit Del Mar Exit #4 and will be on Santa Maria Avenue; follow Santa Maria south to Bridge I.

Along the alternate route to Bridge I, off of Santa Maria Avenue, the parking lot and bathroom facilities at Veteran's Field will be available to paisanos. Hours of operation are Friday, December 16 at 12 noon, through 12 noon on Sunday, December 18, 2011. This parking lot, located at the intersection of Santa Maria and Garden Street will also be available for overnight parking starting on December 16 through December 25.

Additional overnight parking facilities will also be available at the Laredo Civic Center, located at 2400 San Bernardo Avenue; those restrooms facilities in the auditorium lobby will be opened as needed.

However, for those motorists who do travel on Bridge II, portable restrooms will be located at key intersections along Santa Ursula.

Paisanos wishing to avoid congestion all together can take Colombia Bridge III into Nuevo Leon. The extended holiday hours of operation for Bridge III will be: December 17 opening at 8:00 a.m., operating continuously for 24 hours through midnight December 21, 2011.

Finally, paisanos seeking to nationalize vehicles for permanent importation only into Mexico must comply with a new Mexican federal regulation for emissions control that is now required as part of the nationalization process. Each vehicle, 1996 make / model and older, must have an emission control certification from an authorized inspection facility. There are no authorized inspection facilities in Laredo; therefore, before importing the vehicle to Mexico, this test and certificate must be obtained prior to arriving at the border. The nearest authorized inspection facilities to Laredo are located in Austin, Travis County, Texas. All standard inspection stations in this region have the authorization, as well as the equipment to perform this essential test for vehicles so that they may comply with Mexican law to be able to cross into and stay in Mexico.

For more information about the Paisano Rest Stop, paisanos should call the Laredo Convention & Visitors Bureau at 800-361-3360 or visit

SOURCE City of Laredo