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Honduras to Nicaragua Border Crossing

Written by Jessica on April 20, 2012

Honduras and nicaragua flags

This article is part of our Border Crossing Report series.

Border name: Guasaule
Closest major cities: Guasaule, Honduras and Somotillo, Nicaragua
Cost for visas: $12 per person
Cost for vehicle: $3 for fumigation. $12 for insurance. Permit is free.
Total time: 1 hour

Update August 2013: The buildings at this border have been rebuilt. I'm sad to say that you may not have the same sketchy, bombed-out building experience as we did. Thanks to Tanja & Armin from www.travelsouthbound.de for the update.

Note: This is part two of the border crossing marathon day. We left from San Miguel, El Salvador in hope of reaching Leon, Nicaragua on the same day. Part 1 of the border crossing is here. To complicate matters, we were attempting this on the Friday of Semana Santa, which turned out to be a blessing. Borders were quiet and touts had better places to be. We were in Leon drinking mojitos before sun down.

The steps

    1. When you see a small shack on the left of the road with a guard. Go to the far left. It will look like a bomb recently went off in the area, and your intuition will be telling you that you are about to be mugged. Welcome to the Guasaule border.
  1. Immigration building on the left at Honduras Nicaragua crossingThe guard will ask to see your permit and they wave you forward. I repeat, stay to the LEFT. Drive all the way to the back, past the sketchy buildings. In the back of the parking lot you will see two gray buildings.
  2. In the building to the left chances are the official will have moved his desk outside cause it’s too damn hot. That’s immigration. Give the hot grumpy dude your passport. Be nice, this has to be the worst border post on the planet.
  3. He will stamp the passports and return them.
  4. Wander aimlessly around the bombed out wasteland looking for customs. Finally walk to the back side of the building on the left (directly behind where immigration was).
  5. There is no door, just a bunch of windows. Finally, a smiley lady will tell you through the barred window that she is a customs (aduana) official. Hand over your original Honduran vehicle permit and the driver’s passport. She will keep the original permit and scribble on the stamp in the driver’s passport, effectively cancelling the permit.
  6. Then with a smile, she’ll wave you back to your car. Where you should go, immediately, before the bombing starts again (ok, just kidding).
  7. Drive back out of the parking lot, and head to Nicaragua.
  8. When entering the border area, stay to the right. There will be a fumigation area. Roll up your windows and get fumigated.
  9. Go to the window just after fumigation and pay the $3 fumigation fee. Keep the receipt.
  10. At some point you will need to buy mandatory insurance. For us this happened at the fumigation shack. It cost $12, and you can buy it from anyone with a clipboard, providing they don’t try to charge more than $12. He/she needs to see the driver’s passport and title. She will ask for 2 copies of the drivers' IDs. Our insurance lady didn’t keep the copies, she returned them with the vehicle paperwork.
  11. From there, take a sharp left and park on the left side of the big parking lot. Look for the signs to migracion and aduana.
  12. Go into the long building on the left of the parking lot (hidden behind all the trees). Immigration is in front of the building.
  13. Hand over your passports, pay a $10 tourist card fee, and a $2 tax per person. They do accept USD and have an ATM in the lobby that dispenses USD and Nicaraguan Cordobas. Keep the receipt from the passports.
    NOTE: Be aware that, even though Honduras doesn’t respect the CA-4, all other countries count your time in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua cumulatively. You have 90 days total. No exceptions. We were reminded of this when we entered Nicaragua.
  14. Head over to the aduana counter. Hand over your title, drivers passport and drivers license. The official will want a copy of the driver's documents but doesn’t need a copy of the title.
  15. The official will ask some random questions about the car and where you are going, then will issue a permit. Check the info on the permit carefully. Ours claimed that Kobus was from Sudan. Not far off from South Africa if you’re in Nicaragua, I suppose. The guard corrected without hassles.
  16. With the vehicle permit, tourist card receipts, fumigation receipt and insurance paperwork in hand, drive to the right past the immigration building.
  17. Just past the building, officers will stop and ask for all of the above paperwork and may verify your VIN. Then they'll send you on your way to Nicaragua.
  18. Get to hostel, and have a mojito or six. Pass out. Do not repeat.

Our Experience

After two hours of driving trying to cross Honduras, 14 police check points later, we finally arrived at the Guasaule border. It looked like hell.Honduran border entrance station

Totally lost, we stopped at the cement booth on the left side of the road (not much traffic here). The only guy with an ID badge took a look at our vehicle permit and then waved us onward. We tried to ask where, but he just sort of flailed at some distant building.

With no signs, and no one but money changers in sight, we took the middle road, towards the end of the some abandoned building. We looked around for a sign. None. The money changer said this was the place to park. Or to be robbed.

Parking at border. Photo taken from Immigration.We parked, hesitantly. I asked where immigration was. We were waved to the center of the seemingly abandoned buildings. Another parking lot. Some more people. A good sign. I asked again “Donde esta migracion?” More people waving in vague directions. Back there, more sketchy buildings. Seriously, we’re going to die.

Immigration official at Honduras border crossingThen we saw it, an old school desk, piled high with papers, and a grumpy guy sitting behind it. He waves us over. I notice “migracion” written in permanent marker on a piece of cardboard, taped to the wall behind him. Awesome.

We walk up the hill of rubble, and notice that there was in fact an office behind him, but it’s probably hotter in there. Kobus goes back to get the car and drives it to the parking lot closer to immigration.

Jared and I walk up to the immigration desk. The official takes our passports and stamps them apathetically.

We asked where customs was, and were again waved in a vague direction, somewhere at the end of the building. Seriously people, use words.

We walked to the end of the building, went in a door. Wrong door. Next door, wrong door again. More vague hand gestures. Ok, around the building. There is nothing around the building.

The back is just piles of dirt and cement rubble, and a row of windows. Ok, what now?

I go up to a window. “Buenas Dias. Donde esta aduana?” (Where is customs?)

“Aquí!” Oh, thank god.

Jessica and Jared standing at the customs window

A nice lady took our vehicle permit and Kobus’ passport through the window. She stamped his passport with the vehicle exit stamp and kept the original permit document. Then waved us away. Ok, guess we are done here.

BBridge between Nicaragua and Hondurasack in the car we snap photos of the border war zone, for your viewing pleasure. Then head out of the parking lot. We drive over to the Nicaraguan side without being stopped.

We start on the right side, the rest of the area is blocked by traffic cones. A nice guy with a creepy end-of-the-world gas mask checks to make sure our windows are up.

Fumigation area at Nicaragua borderFumigation time. He sprays our car and then waves us forward. A guy with in a cement booth, tell us we need to pay the $3 fumigation fee.

We pay the fee just as a lady approaches asking if we need insurance. The fumigation cashier cranks up the Metallica tunes, and we rock out as she fills out the insurance paperwork. She asks for two copies of the drivers passport and license. I hand her the copies. She hands me back the insurance paperwork and the copies. Is this just an exercise to make sure the copy guys have made their money? We pay $12 for the insurance. Signs to customs and immigration in Nicaragua

Next, we follow the signs across the street to immigration. We park in the shade and walk in the long building. Damn, no air con.

At the end of the building, the immigration officials take our passports. They inspect them carefully and let us know that we have less than three weeks before our CA-4 visas expire. Good to know they are keeping track. We explain that we plan to leave in Nicaragua in two weeks. Whew.

Customs and immigration building at Nicaragua border crossingThe official asks for $36 ($12 per person). He returns our passports and a receipt. We head to the audana counter at the other side of the building. The official behind the glass takes our vehicle title, and the driver’s passport and license. He asks for a copy of the passport and license.

It takes 15 minutes or so for him to enter all of the information into the computer. Then he presents us with two copies of the permit, asks Kobus to sign both copies, and keeps one for himself.

Back in the car we notice that Kobus’ nationally is listed incorrectly on the paperwork. Kobus goes back to aduana to explain that Sudan and Sud Africa are not the same place. The official scribbles on the permit, signs it, stamps it again and returns it to Kobus.

The exit booth when leaving the border area into NicaraguaWe pile back in the car and drive around behind the immigration/customs building. A short ways up the road we are stopped at a booth where an official asks to see a pile of papers including: Nicaraguan vehicle permit, fumigation receipt, tourist permit receipt and insurance. He inspects all of the documents, returns them and wishes us a happy journey.

Another 2 hours and 80 miles later we arrive in the sweltering city of Leon. We unload, order mojitos and spend the rest of the day drinking and sitting in front of a fan.

Comments  

 
Cory Logan
#1 Cory Logan 2013-07-31 02:53
Thanks for the awesome writeup. It gave me something to go by when showing up. I wasn't so lucky with the fixers, they were right there. But, things seem to have changed since you passed through.

There is now a glass door over on the left (southbound Nicaragua side) that leads into a big air conditioned room where you want to take care of your stuff. Immigration and aduana are both there.

Good luck!
 

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