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  #1  
Old 25 Jan 2008
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Need Central America info

Hello everyone

Well we have managed to drive from England to Australia and the next leg of our journey is to take us from Buenos Aires to Tierra del Fuego then up through Chilli, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia and over to Panama. From there it’s all the way up through Central America and the USA to Canada, however, I have heard some worrying stories about getting a right-hand drive British registered Land Rover through the Central American countries. Does anyone know if we will encounter any problems getting hold of temporary import paperwork for these countries at the borders, and do they have a problem with Right-hand drive vehicles? If anyone has been through Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras or Mexico recently and peals of wisdom would be greatly received.

Thanks for taking a look at this and I hope you can help.

Jason
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  #2  
Old 28 Jan 2008
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no problems . . .

Hi Jason,

I came down from the US a couple of years back in a UK registered RH drive Landrover 110 - but only as far south as Nicaragua then back up to the US - so can't comment on Costa rica or Panama but . .

no real problems encountered at any of the border crossings - some more pleasant than others though!

Nicaragua - an absolute joy, as is the entire country

Honduras - a patience tester, disorganised and chaotic

El Salvador - slow but fine, while queueing with all the lorry drivers I realised I was one of the few not packing a hand-gun . . .

Guatamala - fine, though do vagualey remember getting stung for some sort of 'enviormental spray' - might have been 5 bucks or so, but fairly sure it wasn't official.

Mexico - highly organised and efficient.

As for the US - I had an absolute nightmare at Cuidad Acuna - 2 hours search of vehicle, hour long interview, then 5 hours of unbelievable stupidity at the vehcile import place. Because I had been in the states 6 months previously on a 12 mth temp import order they tried to refuse to either allow me back in with the one month left on it, or issue another - citing a line in his rule book that could be interpruted as saying that a vehcile can only have one temp import in its life. . . . I think if it hadn't been that it would have been something else . . . .guy was the biggest a^%&hole I have EVER come accross . . .

another issue in the US might be insurance - were you planning on getting any?

Huey
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  #3  
Old 28 Jan 2008
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The Beastly Adventure - a drive around the world in a Land Rover FC 101

The Beast and weblinks

I'd speak with these guys, they had quite major problems in Costa Rica where customs impounded their vehicle.
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  #4  
Old 1 Feb 2008
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Cheers

Thanks for the info.

Yeh to be honest we had not really done much planning on central America and just assumed it would be a breeze, then we happened upon 'The beastly adventures' and it got us a bit worried. I think in light of what happened with them we will probably avoid Costa Rica and by default Panama and just ship straight from south America to Nicaragua or wherever is convinent.

As far as insurance is concerned we would get it if it is nessesary. Did you have problems getting it when you went through? Also was your temporary import paperwork easy to sort out when you first entered the US?

Thanks for the replies so far.

Jason
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  #5  
Old 6 Feb 2008
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Hi Jason,

I think you would find it quite difficult to find shipping into Nica . .. the 'beastly' problems in Costa were related to the vehicle being left at the port for too long were they not? If it were me I would most definitly ship into Panama, well established route and who wants to miss seeing the canal? . . then when you get to Costa Rica high-tail it through to Nica . . .

All paperwork for each country I visited in CA was sorted out at the border.

As far as the US goes, when I first arrived (shippped into New Jersey) the temp import papers themselves were a breeze - they gave me a years temp import licence, though it was on such a bad photocopy that it was barely readable. I persuaded them to stamp it to give it a a minor amount of clout.

I was probably stopped by highway patrol between 10 and 20 times during a total of around 9 months in the US, and none of them had a clue what the form even was. I got asked for insurance a few times - it depends which state you are in - for the first 5 months I was there I had some, but when I returned from 'south of the border' I didn't bother. I told them the temp import 'bond' (they call it a bond even though there is no charge) was also an insurance policy and got away with it . . .

Having a RH drive landy will certainly get you noticed in both CA & the USA . . But by the sounds of it you've been on the road for a while and will be well used to that!

safe travels

Huey
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  #6  
Old 6 Feb 2008
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insurance

Hey Jason

We are RH drive Iveco 4x4 and have come from Europe via Mongolia to arrive in USA back last November.

Having travelled for a few years in various countries I now have drawn the opinion that US is the most awkward we've come across so far. (for people not vehicles).

We arrived Long Beach having previously arranged insurance, 12 month temp import issued with no problem and we were able to drive vehicle from container without any US official ever seeing it.
We enetered utilising the '90 day, Visa Waiver Program' rules (ie no visa reqd.) again no problems.
We have spent our 90 days in and around Southern California and New Mexico. Stopped once (too slow on interstate!) but nobody has asked to see any paperwork for vehicle.

We crossed border in Mexico couple of weeks back, no problems getting in whatsoever and we saw nobody on the US side of the border (so technically we did not officially exit USA, you are required to find a suitable member of personnel to hand your green immigration form back to, we saw no-one, nobody atall, first officials we met were the Mexican border guards.)

Our plan is to re-enter the usa and spend Spring and Summer touring on our way up to Canada.

But, and here's the issue . . . .. . . . The VWP allows a 90 day tourist visit, but you should thenexit country for at least 90 days before trying to re-enter again. The problem is the US immigration/border control do not class entering Canada or entering Mexico as exiting their country. In other words your visa does not stop just because you enter Mexico or Canada, so if it does not stop then technically they are allowed to refuse entry when you attempt to come back. And that is our potential problem.

A fix for this issue is you could apply for a standard US tourist visa which would allow entry for 6 months out of any 12, this kinda helps but doesn't totally solve the problem if (like us) you plan 6 months in US then 4 to 6 months Canada and then back into US. because again the issue of only going into Canada does not class as exiting USA.
BIZARRE eh !

However, in reality despite the rules and regs I doubt there will be any major problems for a British passport entering US in an obvious tourist vehicle with proof of a tour (check the passport).
My advice is to cross at a quieter border point and not one of the main throughfares. theory being more sympathetic guards.

With regards getting vehicle in. The temporary import is easy to obtain, we were told that though it is valid for up to 12 months if we exit and then re-enter we would need to re-apply. It is just a paper exercise, doesn't involve any check of vehicle as such, does not cost anything. But if your vehicle is valued at more than $2000 it may fall into the next category which can be stricter ( I believe). So obviously regardless of your actual vehicle value for the sake of import keep it less than $2000.

Mexico - if you are coming through mainland mexico you will require to pay a vehicle deposit (usually about $300 and via your credit card), this is normal and is refunded (or not taken if credit card used) upon vehicle exit from country.

INSURANCE - Mexico - you will require insurance, they will ask for it at point of entry. We have had various military checkpoints in the country but nobody has asked to see insurance documents.
We purchased out insurance online via "Discover Baja" ( Discover Baja Travel Club - Mexican Auto Insurance ) it cost a total of $170 for 1 years liability only cover.

INSURANCE - USA - possibly you could get away with not buying, we haven't needed it yet so who knows??? Again we purchased online and cheapest we found was using an agent in SanDiego who arranged insurance through company called 'Progressive'. We searched around to get the best price for this one as the cost fluctuated wildly. I highly recommend using kimberley at 5th avenue insurance (tell her the english guy phil sent you !) 5th Avenue Insurance or telephone 619-955-1261. Again liability only and it cost us $310
They will require an address in US to send documents (we used hostel at Hermossa beach).

Both insurances are for British registered, tourist, temp import vehicle.

Hope this all helps, sorry bit long winded !

Regards
Phil.

www.travel.uklinux.net
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  #7  
Old 7 Feb 2008
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Huey, why were you getting stopped so often!!?? Mohawk? Roofrack surfing or just a touch of Rambo Part 1?
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  #8  
Old 10 Feb 2008
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Hey Darrin,

clearly it was the kick arse landy ! . . . though the clouds of smoke she produced at over 6000 feet might have contributed some . . . .

Huey
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  #9  
Old 11 Feb 2008
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So no tickets just curiosity?
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  #10  
Old 12 Feb 2008
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yep - no tickets, though no humour either. US cops are no fun at all.
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