Border crossing in Central America – Entry fee, Exit ticket: Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama
Here is a summary of the entry and exit fees for Central American countries. These countries like to use the US dollar very much. Some of them use ONLY US dollars, so plan on using dollars before coming here (or get some from distributors who also offer dollars).
Some countries require proof of exit from the territory (Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama), it is better to think about it in advance. A bus ticket will suffice.
Entry: When you enter Mexico, you will be asked for your proof of exit. You can simply buy a bus ticket on the ADO website (e.g. to Guatemala) and exchange it afterwards. You can stay for up to 180 days, so buy a ticket for a longer departure, so we will stamp a 180 day authorization on your passport.
You will be given a sheet called FMM forma migratoria multiple, to show when you leave the territory. If you do not receive it (especially at land borders), you must ask for it.
Note: There are some buses leaving from the USA to Mexico that do not stop at the US or Mexican border. Be very careful and look on Google Maps where you are and demand a stop at border crossings.
You will also be asked an entrance fee (derecho de non residente) of 533 pesos. This tax must be paid before leaving the territory. Either you pay it at the border posts (the FMM will be stamped to show that you have paid the tax) or you can pay this tax in one of the Mexican banks. Keep the MMF or you will have trouble getting out of the country.
If you arrive by air, this entrance fee is normally already included in your air ticket.
Output: Just show the MMF
Be careful, if you then go/return to the United States (either by land or by plane), pay close attention to the special conditions of the American ESTA because Mexico is part of the WHP zone (read my article on the subject) and your ESTA meter may be running while you are in Mexico
Entrance: 0 fees. Attention, this country is part of zone C4 (Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua), as soon as you enter one of these countries, you will have to leave the zone within 90 days maximum.
Output: 0 fees
Entrance : 0 fees. Belize isn’t part of Zone C4. You can go there to get a run visa if needed.
Exit : 20$
Admission: 3 dollars. Attention, this country is part of zone C4 (Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua), as soon as you enter one of these countries, you have only 90 days to leave this zone.
Output: free, but corrupt officers may try to scratch $3. Ask for a proof of payment(billura)
Entrance: 0 fees. For land borders, you don’t even get out of the bus. An officer comes to look at our passports, ask a few questions. There is no stamp on the passport.
Output: 0 charges. You will be given a small exit paper to show when you enter Guatemala.
Admission: 10 dollars if you arrive by plane. But 12 dollars for land border crossings. Attention, this country is part of zone C4 (Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua), as soon as you enter one of these countries, you have only 90 days to leave this zone.
People talk about a form to fill out in advance, to send to the Ministry of whatever, but in reality, whether you arrive by air or by land, there is no authorization to ask *upfront*. All you have to do is pay the 10$ (or the 12$). Keep the proof of payment.
On the small paper you are given, it will be indicated on the back that you can stay up to 30 days in Nicaragua but in practice it is up to 90 days in Nicaragua or in zone C4.
If you come from a country where yellow fever is rampant (Panama, Colombia…), you will be asked for your yellow fever vaccination booklet. This vaccine is valid for 10 years, so remember to get it before you leave.
Going out: 2$ to go out (but I think it really depends on borders and people. We already gave 2$ to the bus guy, but the employee at the border wanted to ask 2$ more).
A more detailed article on the different borders in Nicaragua is available here, I invite you to read it.
Entrance: no entrance fee. This country isn’t part of the C4, so you can make a detour here to get a visa-run if needed. Attention, exit ticket MANDATORY. You can show a bus or plane ticket. If you forgot to buy one, there is a bus company right next door, selling tickets to Nicaragua.
Exit: 7$ to go out. Agencies will try to sell you the proof of payment for 8$. By paying through an automatic machine (with payment card only), you will only pay 7$
Entrance: Normally 0 but officers will try to scratch $3 if you arrive by land. Attention, exit ticket MANDATORY. You can show a bus or plane ticket.
Exit: 3$ exit if you cross the border by car. If you are flying, the fee is already included in your airfare.
Did you like our article? Check out our itinerary in Central America & our articles in Panama, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico and our return on the border crossing between Nicaragua and El Salvador through Honduras