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Old 22 Dec 2005
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Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
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Borders central America

Hi Im planning a trip through mexico and possibly into central america, I went in a Van about 4 years ago and the borders were absolute hell (especially mexico Guatemala and el selvador) about 6-12 hors of paperwork and scary folks (helping but actually screwing us over) have things gotten any better? thanks
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Old 22 Dec 2005
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I´m amazed that was your experiance in any one of those countries you mention. We´ve just come through every border south of the USA to Ushuaia and never had a serious problem. Sometimes it can be a problem if your papers aren´t in order but if they are there should be no problem whatsoever. The longest a crossing took us was 3 hours but that was because of an international volley ball match between Ecuador and Peru on the crossing bridge. (Ecuador won).

Perhaps things were just not so good 4 years ago, I don´t know. As for the here and now make sure your papers are in order, make sure you smile and say thank you even if it makes you choke and be patient. We used big, small and dodgy crossing and they were all fine.

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Old 22 Dec 2005
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Comming into Guatemala shouldn't be that of a hassle. Have the vehicle in you name, and have photocopies of all documents. It should not take more than half an hour.
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Old 22 Dec 2005
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Wow, well I hope your right things must be better now, maybe summer is more of a hassle, also probably tried to cross to many borders to quickly, thanks
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Old 22 Dec 2005
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Be sure to cross into Guatemala at La Mesilla. Cross into Honduras at Copan Ruinas.
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Old 28 Dec 2005
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Check out this same topic,it was covered with lots of good advice in '04 and '02, and I will add some of my own.
C.A. borders are still generally a lot of paperwork and can take from a half hour to 3 or more, the crossing from El Salvador to Honduras at El Amatillo being the worst case scenario, as everybody else reports too. Honduras/Nicaragua are slightly quicker. The best crossing to Honduras is indeed at Florida Copan because of light traffic with a high ratio of tourists which got their attention.Most of the other entries are reasonably quick, in C.A. terms.
The Copan entrance is smart enough to provide a big sign outlining the exact procedure to follow,in FOUR steps which apply to every border crossing in C.A.
Step 1 Migracion- tourist card , fill out
form, stamps in passport, pay
Step 2 Transito -get temporary import per-
mit ,stamp in passport, pay
Step 3 SEPA ,or OIRSA, or Cuarentena or
Fumigacion- get bike sprayed
with insecticide, get a small
certificate, pay fee.
Step 3 is not carried out at
all of the borders, the CA4
(GT,ES,HON and NIC) may rec-
ognise entry into one as
being proof of having been
cleared of insect pests.
Step 4 Aduana, get all papers checked ,
have luggage checked, Finish !
The difficulty of the process at any border is easily gauged by the number of guides who chase after you offering their "help". At El Amatillo they will accost you several km before the actual border in El Salvador where all the trucks start to line up. If you don't speak Spanish well a guide MAY be of help ...but... many of them are con men who will try to slip you phony documents and tell you you have to pay a fee for something .Don't believe them. Hire the young kid who is less apt to have learned all the gimmicks yet. Agree to a price, to be paid AFTER you are done. Never hand a guide all your papers expecting him to get it done for you, this is an invitation to get ripped off for phantom fees. You should be the only one handing documents and fees to officials who must give you receipts. The guide needs only to lead you to the various wickets.If you speak Spanish , find the Migracion wicket and ask them to point you to the next one .
Belize, Guatemala, Costa Rica ,Panama borders are much easier, better organized.
If you are going to be travelling back from Panama, you will have to go through all the routine, and fees again, except for Guatemala and Costa Rica.
If you plan to take the alternate route from Panama back into Costa Rica ( either the Panam highway or the route from Bocas del Toro,Changuinola area to Sixaola ,CR) tell the CR customs so before you leave. They will then give you a photo copy of the documents you handed in so that you can present them at the other entry and expedite the process ,no fee. If you don't use another route back they will keep your paper on file and give it back to you.
Also if you are doing the round trip be sure you keep the Guatemalan SAT temp.import document with exit stamp to show on your return or they may not know your bike was legally out of the country, not sold in GT.
In every case make your border crossings early in the day so as not to get snagged by bureaucratic bungles that could drag you into the night. Be patient, have a sense of humor, if you start screaming and ranting they would probably make you suffer more yet.
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Old 18 Jan 2006
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Location: Wakefield, QC, Canada
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Very good advice and to the point. However... this is what can happen. Last October I arrived at the Panama/Costa Rica border at Paso Canoas to be told that I could not enter the country, because the record showed that my bike, a 1991 R100GSPD had not left the country when I was there last time in 1998. How can you prove that you did, indeed, exit seven years ago with the bike in question? Luckily I had a current insurance certificate with me that listed the 1991 R100 together with the bike I was riding, a 2000 F650. I couldn't explain this to the agent (intellectually challenged), but his supervisor got the point, and grudgingly let me in. Lesson: If you have been in any of the Central American countries before, make sure you can prove that you left with the bike, e.g. by producing an old passport, or other documentation. I suspect that the honcho who signed me out in 1998 simply didn't bother to enter the information in the computer, and computers never forget.
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