This is our experience/record of crossing the Nicaragua-Costa Rica border on Sunday, 22 March 2015. Our traveling party consisted of two people and two motorcycles.
There were numerous fixers on the Nicaragua side, which we ignored but then one man followed us around and was actually helpful and very low key so we gave him a tip when we were finished.
Border Name: Guasaule
Closest major cities: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua and Penas Blancas, Costa Rica
Costs: 53.35 USD for two people and two motorcycles
- Nicaragua immigration fees 2 USD plus 90 NIC / 3.35 USD (1 USD and 1.70 USD per person)
- Costa Rica insurance: 48 USD (24 USD per motorcycle for three month policy)
- Copies: 1 USD
- Passport plus one photocopy
- Driver’s license plus one photocopy
- Motorcycle title plus one photocopy
- Nicaragua vehicle import and customs form
- Note: we keep all originals in individual plastic sleeves. We labeled these sleeves clearly to avoid confusion as to what was what, to keep original documents clean, and to differentiate what was original and what is a copy. All border-crossing officials have respected the sleeve.
Step 1: Approach border on the Pan-American, stay to the left and go through a huge gate into a fenced complex. As you drive down the highway there might be a line of semi trucks on the right, just drive into oncoming traffic to get around them. Once inside the gate you will be told to stop. Park and show passport to the attendant.
Step 2: Nicaragua Immigration: Drive to immigration (100 meters or so southeast). Look for the smaller building that is across from an area that looks a bit like a bus platform with awnings over it (this is part of customs). At entrance there is a ticket booth where they will charge you 1 USD before you are allowed get in line for migration. At migration fill out short form and pay 90 NIC to get exit stamp. Our helper gave us the form before we got in line and he also gave us a second copy as it is the same form for Costa Rica.
Step 3: Nicaragua Customs: This step is very confusing. Customs (the bus station looking area) is across from the immigration building.
- At customs window provide passport, driver’s license, title, and Nicaragua import and customs form.
- Items will get reviewed, stamped, and signed
- Go find a policeman and customs agent (light blue shirts) to review, sign, and stamp the form. You will need both the policeman and customs agent to review, sign, and stamp your customs form.
Enter Costa Rica
Drive out of parking lot towards Costa Rica. A customs agent will stop you to check your passport and will review and keep the customs declaration form (the one with all the signatures and stamps).
Step 1: Costa Rica Fumigation: At the fork go to the right and drive through. No fee.
After fumigation make a sharp left and then a right onto the road into Costa Rica
Step 2: Costa Rica Immigration: You will see a large building on your left and smaller buildings on your right. With the motorcycles we just parked on the right by the smaller buildings. The large building is immigration. Each person must present his or her own passport. Present passport and get a stamp. No fee.
The next few steps have been in different orders for people but this was our experience.
Step 3: Costa Rica Insurance: Drive your motorcycle down the road, away from the border and turn right into what looks like a parking lot for semi-trucks, this will seem odd, but there is a small sign pointing you towards this way so just trust it. Drive towards the back past all the semi-trucks and buses and the road will go to the left. You will see a second customs office with ramp instead of stairs. Park, walk up ramp, go past the customs office to the insurance window. Give title, registration, passport, and driver’s license. Three months was 24 USD per motorcycle. You receive an Insurance Certificate. Across from this building by the base of the ramp is a copy shop – go make one copy of the Insurance Certificate.
While you make Insurance Certificate copy – make a copy of the Costa Rica immigration stamp in your passport.
Step 4: Costa Rica Customs 1: Drive back to the small buildings across from the immigration building to the Aduana/customs. Get a long customs form to fill out. Provide official with form, title, registration, passport, and driver’s license, and insurance certificate plus one copy of each including photocopy of Costa Rica immigration stamp in your passport. They will review all documents and staple the copies together and add one stamp. No fee.
Step 5: Costa Rica Customs 2: Drive back to the area where you got insurance. Go to the Aduana/customs office at the top of the ramp (this is the second Aduana office) and give the official the stack of copies with stamped form. They will keep everything and provide you with a vehicle import permit. No fee.