Getting to and from Nicaragua by Land
The Nicaragua borders Costa Rica to the south and Honduras to the north. It is possible to enter and leave Nicaragua from both countries.
There are 2 border posts in the south
: – Penas Blancas–
San Carlos / Los Chiles
And 3 border posts in the north:
– Guasaule (Somotillo
)- El Espino-
Arriving in Nicaragua, customs formalities
You will first have to go to the customs post of exit from Honduras or Costa Rica.
In Costa Rica, you will have to pay a land exit tax of US$10, which you can pay at the bus terminals in San José or directly at the border.
Afterwards, you will be able to go to the migration station of entry into Nicaraguan territory. You will then have to pay in US dollars (you will have to change your colones or lempiras at the border):
- 10$ US tourist card: the equivalent of a visa to be paid directly at the border. No need to warn in advance of your arrival.
- 3$ US border crossing tax and entrytax.
The Nicaraguan border police may ask you for more information:
- Your reason for coming on the territory
- The address of the accommodation where you are going (if you don’t know, give an address of a known hostel in Granada)
- Your profession in your country of residence
- Your date of exit from the Nicaraguan territory and the exit ticket (I was asked only once out of ten border crossings)
- Proof of yellow fever vaccinations if you have travelled to a country where yellow fever is prevalent (Colombia, etc.). Be careful, a stopover of more than 12 hours in Panama, which is a country where yellow fever is rife, makes it mandatory to be vaccinated.
Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months after you leave the territory.
You have theright to 90 days without applying for a specific visa in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras (not 90 days per country!). This is the C4 agreement.
Editor’s note: The Guasaule border crossing was the one where I spent the most time with a thorough check of suitcases, passports, etc. The one in Penas Blancas is the one with the most traffic, with the most people, where they ask the fewest questions in general.
Welcome to Nicaragua!
Take local transportation from border crossings
At each border crossing you will find a bus terminal more or less large depending on the number of destinations offered. This is the most economical way to travel in Nicaragua. The buses are reliable and efficient. You will also find cabs (always remember to strongly negotiate prices).
- In Penas Blancas you will find buses to Managua, Rivas, Masaya. From Rivas you can go to the port of San Jorge to take the ferry to Ometepe, or go to San Juan del Sur.
- In Guasaule there will be buses to Chinandega. Where you will find buses to Leon, Managua.
- In Las Manos, there will be buses to Ocotal (then connection with Esteli,…)
- El Espino is close to Somoto
- In Los Chiles, you will find a microbus that will take you to San Carlos (lancha connection possible to El Castillo, Solentiname Archipelago, etc.)
Leaving Nicaragua, customs formalities
It will be necessary to pay between 3 and 4 US dollars of exit tax (it all depends on the customs officer … Corruption is present in Central America).
To know more..: The entrance to Costa Rica is free, the entrance to Honduras costs 3$ US of customs and land taxes.
The “visa run”
It is very common for foreigners in Costa Rica and Nicaragua to live in one of these countries on a 90-day tourist visa and has been doing so for several years. They go back and forth every 90 days at the border to start from scratch. Officially this is forbidden. Unofficially it is done. Not even the need to stay several days in the neighboring country. The return trip can be made during the day.
The best thing to do is obviously to comply with the migration services of the country of residence according to one’s occupation (apply for a courtesy or retirement visa, etc.).
Conclusion: Crossing the border is relatively simple and fast (it all depends on the number of people present at the border). Be in good standing and everything will be fine.