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Old 22 Aug 2013
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Thumbs up Complete Central America/Mexico/Colombia Border Crossing Information

Hi all,

Below is taken from my article at Border Crossings - Central America | Horizons Unlimited , with a couple of edits - a special thanks to Grant for posting it. I had the following information completed late last year, but we had some glitches on the link, which are now fixed.

These are my recent border crossings from Mexico through Central America to Colombia from late October - September 2012 to the best of my recollection (sorry I skipped El Salvador as I was motoring hard, but the rest are there). The immigration processes I've listed apply to an Australian and the vehicle processes apply to a USA title and registered bike. I used the drive the Americas website as a guide which was fairly accurate at the time and HUBB postings. My Spanish is pretty basic but somehow effective.

Mexico-USA, Santa Teresa border: Crossed 26/8/12.
Border is about 15 miles west of the main El Paso/Ciudad Juárez border. First got insurance (mandatory in Mexico) at Palms Mexico Insurance, Paisano Office near central El Paso, took 20 mins. There's another one out near Santa Teresa. Got it for 21 days cost USD$113.46. If you leave Mexico earlier than the insurance goes for, you can apparently get credited back the money at their other offices near the other USA, Guatemala or Belize borders. Also exchanged USD for Mexican pesos in downtown El Paso (for a pretty good rate) to get me a fair way into Mexico without having to hit up an ATM. The nearest gas station to the border is at the interstate turn off to Santa Teresa if you want to get as far as you can into Mexico.
Exit USA:
No exit stamp required from USA side I was told, as they only deal with the green slips which they staple in passports at land border crossings. They apparently have no electronic connection to immigration at airports (I originally flew into LA and was given the 3 month tourist visa stamped in my passport).
Enter Mexico:
Border was very chilled out. They first had a quick search of my bike (don't bring a gun as many of the signs suggest). Went to Mexican immigration for entry stamp, no charge. Next to aduana (vehicle entry) in same office to get temporary vehicle import paper and sticker for 45 pesos or USD$3.50. The guy told me not to put it on the windscreen in case it was "souvenired" and keep it safe. You also have to pay a refundable deposit to the Mexican government for your bike of 5830 pesos or USD$449, so you don't leave the bike in Mexico. If you pay cash you get cash back when you exit Mexico the same goes with a credit card refund. Next, copies are needed of all the paperwork, there's a copy guy in the same building cost 26 pesos or USD$2.00. Then you're good to go. Whole process took about 30 mins. If you're edgy about the border region, I was advised to take the toll roads which are supposedly patrolled more by police. They are also well kept and don't go through towns which really can slow you down. Although you don't want to spend your whole journey on boring toll roads. There's plenty of PEMEX gas stations along the way. You'll need a bunch of pesos too for the toll roads, I paid 85 pesos or USD$6.50 from the border to Chihuahua, where I stayed the first night. There's secure garaged hotels/motels in town.

Belize-Mexico, Chetumal Border: Crossed 15/9/12.
Border is well signposted from Chetumal.
Exit Mexico:
First got the Mexican exit stamp from the tiny little hut (no charge), then was directed by the guards and parked next to the Mexican aduana gave the temporary import paper back and they gave me a receipt saying the funds would be transferred back into my credit card over the next few days, which was (I lost a little $ due to the exchange rates, should have handed over cash originally).
Enter Belize:
Then it's a 2 minute ride where you get flagged down to have your bike fumigated $USD2.50 and they give you a receipt. Then another 2 minutes to the main immigration building to get stamped in, cost nothing, they just asked how many days I wanted in Belize. I made the mistake of saying I was in transit and they gave me only 2 days! Aduana is in same building, they didn't check the bike at all or issue temporary import paper, just a vehicle stamp in passport with my bike make, colour and plate scribbled down. Next drove down the road another 2 mins to the Insurance Company of Belize building. Friendly Raul filled out the insurance paperwork, paid the minimum of 7 days for USD$29. I was advised that it was mandatory in Belize to have insurance. Whole process took about 40mins. Plenty of accommodation, fuel and ATM's just after the border in the lovely beachside town of Corozal.


Guatemala-Belize, Melchor de Mencos Border: Crossed 16/9/12.
There's only one well signposted border crossing.
Exit Belize:
Belize immigration gave exit stamp in passport 37 Belizean dollars(BZD) or USD$18.50 and aduana gave an exit stamp in passport (no charge).
Enter Guatemala:
Motorbikes didn't have to get fumigated, you're just signalled to drive around the side of the fumigator shed. Unfortunately I misunderstood this signal and got fumigated with the bike, cost 12 Guatemalan Quetzales (GTQ) or USD$1.50. Then got entry stamp in passport for USD$2.50 or GTQ20 at immigration and combined aduana building. Guy at aduana was painfully slow, got the SAT temporary vehicle import paper and sticker for my windscreen valid for 90 days. I was told to hand this over as I left Nicaragua or if I left Guatemala. This paper has some affiliation with Honduras and Nicaragua, although I still had to do all the usual vehicle entry requirements in those countries. This paper I believe was then cancelled when I left Nicaragua, so it was worth keeping. I guess you would get this vice versa if you were coming north into Nicaragua. The fee for the vehicle temporary import paper was GTQ160 or USD$20. I was told insurance wasn't necessary. Whole process took about 1hr and 30mins. There's a real nice hotel just after the turn off to Tikal about 1hr 30mins ride from the border overlooking the lake, with aircon and a great restaurant. Think there was gas and ATM's at the Guatemalan border, but it was nighttime so not too sure. Gas stations were on the Belize side.

Honduras-Guatemala, Corinto Border: Crossed 18/9/12.
Exit Guatemala:
The immigration office (sign posted) is about 10kms back from the Honduran side and the aduana is 15 mins back from the immigration office. The aduana was not signposted, just a small office with a blue door after a small bridge, I think called Rio Negro. Got my immigration exit stamp (no charge). No one could tell me exactly where the aduana was and rode around the nearby town trying to find it. After some bad directions I ended up driving 15kms back to Puerto Barrios where I was eventually directed to an aduana. They gave me the exit papers with copies (no charge, I still kept the original SAT paper for the Nicaraguan exit to show) and asked why I hadn't gone to the one near the border? They explained exactly where it was and told me I have to give the copies to that office. Drove back to the un-sign posted aduana near the border and handed over the photocopies. Took about 2hrs 30mins, should have taken about 30 mins.
Enter Honduras:
At immigration, passport was stamped, entry fee cost USD$3 or 58 Honduran Lempiras(HNL). Aduana was in a building across the car park. The lady at the office checked my paperwork, issued me the temporary import paper and stamped the entry in my passport (no charge). Then had to walk 100m into Honduras to get photocopies of the documents, passport entry stamp etc. USD$1.20 or HNL24. Returned back to aduana and handed over photocopies. I was told insurance was not necessary. Could then drive into Honduras. Fumigation guys told me to pass and was not necessary. Whole process took around 1hr 30mins. Nothing really at the border until around Puerto Cortez, where there are nice hotels, restaurants, gas, ATM's etc.

Nicaragua-Honduras, Las Manos Border: Crossed 20/9/12.
As it was along one of the main borders, there was a heavy traffic jam of 10kms up to border. A lot of annoying helpers, although some may be selling insurance.
Exit Honduras:
Immigration and aduana in same building with different offices. Passport stamped out (no fee). At aduana, vehicle temporary import paper taken and exit stamp put in passport (no fee).
Enter Nicaragua:
Directed to fumigation (no cost), didn't even give receipt of fumigation. First to immigration to get a tourist card and receipt with stamps cost USD$12 or 282 Nicaraguan Cordoba Oros (NIO). Although looking at my entry receipt now it says 44.28 cordobas?, someone may want to check what the real cost is and post it. Insurance helper guy pestering me was hanging around while I got the entry stamp, immigration officer knew of the guy and said that insurance was necessary and the guy was ok to buy from. Insurance cost USD$12 or NIO282. Vehicle permit took ages due so lots of helpers doing truckers papers and a general slow process. Showed all the usual paperwork and was given the temporary vehicle permit (no charge). Had to also pay a road tax of USD$1 or NIO24 (receipt was given) to the guard at the border, before another border guard who checked all my other paperwork would let me pass. Whole process took about 1 hr. 30 mins. Couldn't find any sign posted hotels until Esteli which was around 100kms into Nicaragua. Think there were a few gas stations on the way though.

Costa Rica-Nicaragua, Penas Blancas Border: Crossed 22/9/12.
Usual Pan Am heavy traffic jam coming up to border. Also about 10 helpers rushed out at me to get business as I entered the Nicaraguan exit, nearly hit them. Definitely be cautious. Bit more of a run around than other borders, as there are 4 different buildings which you have to go to several times to get everything done. I would have preferred to go to the more mellow Los Chiles border but I was pressed for time. For the Los Chiles border however, you have to drive a fair way into Costa Rica to get insurance and back to this border to get properly stamped in though.
Exit Nicaragua:
Aduana and immigration in same building. Showed tourist permit paper and passport to immigration who stamped out passport and also tourist form. Cost USD$1.85 or 44NIO. Make sure you go to the exit side of immigration (2 separate offices) and not the entry, as they think you have just entered and try to get the entry fee again off you. Then you get directed to take your vehicle to across the parking lot to a policeman who checks your papers and is supposed to search your vehicle and signs them. He didn't search my bike, just signed them and directed me back to the aduana where you hand over all the paperwork. They didn't seem to care too much about the SAT paperwork or sticker from Guatemala. Just took the Nicaraguan paperwork, signed, stamped it and kept it.
Enter Costa Rica:
No fumigation necessary, just waved me through. Waited in line behind about 100 tourists for about 50 mins and got stamped in (no cost). Next ride 2 mins away from the immigration building where all the trucks are parked up. This is where the insurance office and aduana #2 is located, to get necessary insurance - cost USD$17. Get a photocopy of this and also your Costa Rican immigration entry stamp at the building next door, cost USD$2.00 or 1000 Costa Rican Colons (CRC). Next, back to aduana #1 (building across from immigration) to show all the paperwork and hand over the copies. The guy then checks the bike, gives you a paper to copy at the copy place next door USD$1 or 500CRC and give one back to him (no charge for aduana #1). Then go back to aduana #2 where they take all the copies and issue you your temporary vehicle permit (no charge). Nothing stamped in passport. Whole process took about 2hrs. There were hotels down towards Liberia and beyond. Most places take USD.


Panama-Costa Rica, Sixaola Border: Border crossed 24/9/12
No gas stations on the Costa Rica side. Note: this border isn't a 24hr job. It closes around 6pm, so get there early. I nearly didn't make it, getting there at 430pm and just finishing at 6pm and there was only 2 people in line ahead of me. The Panamanian dollar had the same exchange rate as the USD so everyone pretty much uses the currency which the ATM's distribute.
Exit Costa Rica:
Immigration and aduana in same small building. Immigration gave exit stamp (no charge). Vehicle permit was taken and cancelled (no charge), nothing stamped in passport.
Enter Panama:
Cross over bridge. Paid kid USD$0.50c to watch bike as it was out of sight. Get insurance first (was told it was necessary by some police, but they were a little unsure) upstairs at the nearby building in the shop, cost USD$15. Then up the stairs to a small combined aduana and immigration building. Got stamped in to Panama (no charge), then 2 doors down to aduana #1 to get a little sticker in my passport for vehicle. Paid USD$3 then the guys joked and said no its $5 for a moto, seemed pretty dodgy guys. I paid the $3 and they handed back my passport. I asked for a receipt but they wouldn't give me one. Then next door to aduana #2, where the guy took forever and eventually handed me the temporary vehicle import paper (no charge). There's not really any hotels, gas stations or ATM's until around Changinola. Whole process took 2 hrs.

Panama to Colombia by Boat: Panama boat departure 27/9/12 Colombia entry 1/10/12.
I sailed with Fritz on Jacqueline organized through Hostel Mamallena in Panama, which departed from the main Pier at the Kuna portside town of Carti Suitupo.
Panama Exit:
On the road to Carti Suitupo you have to pay a USD$9 tax to the Kuna at a boom gate. Make sure you go to the pier near the airport to load your bike (I was misdirected to the place where the small boats take people out to the sailboats and lost $30 from the Kuna on a circular boat trip with my bike). Then pay USD$20!! Again at another boom gate to get access to the pier to load your bike onto the ship (don't think the Stahlratte guys have to do this). Road to pier takes about 1hr from the main highway. After departing from Carti Suitupo on the sailboat, you head out to one of the nearby islands in the San Blas. The captain collects your passport and vehicle import paper. Takes to the island himself and gets an exit stamp for your passport (the small fees? are included in the boat ticket). The vehicle permit was handed back with no apparent markings on it. Presumably it may have been cancelled by the immigration, but I can't say for sure. Took around 1 hr waiting on the boat.
Colombia Entry:
After arriving on dry land in the open port in Cartagena (there is no secure port as you just get the dingy up to a jetty) you get a taxi with the captain and crew to the Colombian immigration office about 5 mins away.

The captain takes the passports of all the passengers into the office, gets the entry stamps and hands back the passports (no fee, in boat ticket?). The captain kept the passports from Panama, until after we got stamped into Colombia which is the norm.

After immigration was done, we were approached by a dodgy German accented helper called Manfred, who obtained our passports from the captain and told us (there were 2 motorbike riders on board) that he would sort out our bike paperwork for USD$35 each at the DIAN (Colombian vehicle entry/ aduana). He also exaggerated that it was a difficult process to do as the office may be at lunch and you have to know who to talk to, the officials were dodgy and it could take a few days blah blah blah. We both decided to get our passports back off this scammer, who was obviously trying to make out that it was more difficult than it was. Immigration took 1hr.

After having crossed 7 Mexican and Central American Borders you kind of get the gist of how borders work.

Next back to the boat to unload the bikes and the captain pointed us in the general direction of the DIAN around near the main port. Took about 1hr 30mins to eventually get there after asking a lot for directions (most people knew where it was), probably usually a 40 minute 10 mile drive. I would suggest however paying a cab driver to get you there, get GPS co-ords, or maybe Fritz by then would have started to take his motorbike passengers there and help sort their paper work as the Stahlratte Captain does – although speaking to other bikers, the Stahlratte also uses Manfred..... You can park pretty safely in the large secure car park.

Inside the main office (its quite large) just ask for the person who does the paperwork for the vehicle imports. You then fill out the form, they do the usual check of documents, then check the bike VIN numbers and then print out your temporary import paper (no charge). All done, no agent needed and in a nice air-conditioned office with the beautiful Colombians. Process took 40mins.

We were informed also that insurance is mandatory (I have also had to show my insurance several times already in Colombia). Not really knowing where to go for insurance, we headed back to the Colombia Mamallena Hostel to park up the bikes. Then googled some insurance companies and walked 15 mins to the nearby Seguros Del Estado. They checked all the paperwork, including vehicle import and gave us minimum insurance for the 3 months our visas were valid for. I think you can get it for a year if you want for the same price. I'm sure there's probably cheaper insurers (and probably one closer to the DIAN) if you shop around, but we just got this one in a hurry. Cost around USD$50.

Ecuador/Peru/Chile/Argentina/Uruguay Borders
I found all of the South American borders a breeze, and much more straight forward than the CAM borders - thus I haven't written anything for them in other posts. I crossed the main Pan-American borders for Ecuador/Peru and Chile, Paso Roballos for Argentina, San Sebastian Patagonian Chile/Argentina and Colonia port-boat entry for Uruguay. Basically at all these borders you follow the similar exit/ entry procedures you do in CAM. Insurance: Ecuador/Chile and Uruguay officials said I didn't need mandatory insurance, whereas at the main Peru Pan-Am border, they make you buy it at the border before you can enter, check the http://www.drivetheamericas.com/south-america for a bit more detail. Argentina also required insurance proof at some borders, see http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hub...rgentina-67956 for more details. There were no entry or exit fees to enter any of these countries, except the $100!! entry fee (valid 1 year) in Argentina for Australians (US and Canadians also have to pay a similar fee) paid online before your allowed entry, the main borders have computers so you can do this while the more remote borders without internet will turn you back to do it at the nearest town, see http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hub...-borders-67957 For insurance you also have to pay $35USD (1 month cover) for the mandatory La Positiva Seguros Generals, SOAT: insurance at the border in Peru and $22USD (4 months cover) for the Federacion Patronal Seguros S.A: Argentinian insurance (offices in some Argentinian cities).


General Tips For Central American/Mexican and Colombian Borders:
Paperwork: Most, if not all borders required: a valid passport (did not need a visa to enter any country), title of bike, registration paper with matching licence plate, valid original drivers licence (although my copied one sufficed many times except in Nicaragua and Mexico).

When exiting and entering countries general rule: Get exit stamps in passport for yourself then exit stamps in passport or hand over paperwork to get stamped out for your bike. Then get entry stamps for yourself, then entry stamps/paperwork for your bike.

Take a heap of USD$1 and a few $5 and $10 for all of the Central American border crossings, there are plenty of ATM's to cash up at the nearest towns. Know the exact exchange rate at the border if you are to use USD. All money changers I talked to generally had pretty bad rates as they thrive on you not knowing what the current exchange rates are. They are at every border.

You can easily split lanes through all of the border traffic to get to the front of the line and you can park right outside the Aduana and immigration offices.

Most Aduana officers checked that I had an exit stamp or paper(s) for the country I was leaving before they would issue me a permit for their country. Some border crossings had electronic scanners for the passport. Let the immigration officer know the maximum or minimum amount of days to stamp in your passport, most gave 3 months. Ideally get the maximum time, in case you stay longer than expected or something out of your control, forces yourself and bike to stay longer.

All borders had police/army checkpoints immediately at the border and again somewhere down the road after borders checking paperwork, I would advise obtaining the correct paperwork/insurances.

Good to have spare black and white copies of at least your passport, title, registration and drivers licence. A few borders will ask for copies and it's handy having one less thing to do. Probably smart to either photograph/ photocopy/scan the new vehicle documents/ receipts, passport stamps given, when you get to the next town after the border. If you lose them it would be a major hassle to get replacement ones. At the border exits they sometimes take the paperwork, so also a good reason to keep a copy for you records.

If you somehow got your licence plates lost/ souvenired, it would be a major hassle. Have them scanned, printed and laminated in case the worst happens. At least you could then confirm it with the registration papers and not get pulled over if your laminate is pretty good. A digital photo could also be a good back up to show the officials. All border crossing aduana officers (except at Nicaragua and Belize) checked the bike VIN and licence plate numbers to match my paperwork.

It's good to learn the most basic Spanish words at the border as it will make life easy, although I honestly think if you just hand all over all your paperwork and passport you wouldn't have to speak a word. You don't need a helper or need to pay anyone . Although I may have had good luck compared to others. All the border officials basically wanted to check my papers were legitimate and get me through. Didn't have any dodgy officials at all.

Most of border officials only spoke Spanish except some English at: Mexico aduana and immigration entry and aduana exit, Belize aduana and immigration entry and exit, Honduran aduana entry and Costa Rica Immigration entry. Good Spanish is not necessary, they understand what you want to do.

If you can, ask the border officials at the entry ports to the country if there are any exit fees for yourself or the vehicle at the other side, so you know what to expect.

If you're lost (and you probably will be), just ask anyone where to go, everyone is generally helpful. Some of the borders have very annoying helpers trying to get your business. Generally they will stop bugging you immediately after you tell them no thanks and ignore them.

Most borders had an arrival form to fill out with the usual questions i.e. name, passport etc. Many of the forms had English as well as Spanish words in them. Immigration forms asked what your address was in the country, although I may have made up a few hotel names it probably would be wise to research a hotel name across the border somewhere.

If things change at border crossings from posts like this on any of these travelers websites, please inform others to make life easy.

Ride safe and buy me a if you use the info and come through Colombia!

cheers
Dom

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Last edited by sellheim; 8 Feb 2014 at 12:57.
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  #2  
Old 23 Aug 2013
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Dom,

I for one am grateful for this info, compliled in a neat, easy-to-access format.

For lunch today, I am meeting with a couple or 3 HU travelers who are in San Diego en route to points south in the next couple days.

They used the info that you and others provided. It makes it so much easier when we can lean on the experience of those who've gone before us.

Thanks!

Dan
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Old 24 Aug 2013
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Many thanks for this info

Will be using it on my November to February ride through the region.

Peter
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Old 24 Aug 2013
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There are import fees for a vehicle entering Honduras. Total should be under US$40 for self and vehicle. Some crossings are known for frequent scams, with ignorant riders paying vast sums.

I'm not sure why the OP got off without paying the legitimate rate.

Mark
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Old 27 Aug 2013
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Gas Stations Guatemala/Belize border.

There are two gas Stations just on the inside of Guatemala. First one at the the first light just passed the bridge and one a few hundred meters on the road to Flores/Tikal. It is much cheaper to refuel on the Guatemalan side, by about 20%.
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Old 10 Oct 2013
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details

Excellent write up sellheim!

Some updates and additional thoughts -

Cash vs. Credit
Regarding cash vs. credit card for the required "security deposit" in Mexico, a rider told he had problems getting cash back as he was leaving Mexico and entering Guatemala. It seems the small border crossing office didn't have enough cash on hand. And they only will return cash for cash, credit for credit. Not sure how it was resolved...

Copies of Documentation
The Chetumal, Mexico side of the frontier was shiny new in the end of May 2013. It was so new they didn't have copy machines to make the require copies and there were no vendors (copy shacks.) I still have one black and white copy of my passport. Everything else they were able to make copies by running through a fax machine. Suggest taking lots of copies when you hit the road. Make more as needed. Scan your key documents, then store them on a thumb drive AND online. If you lost a critical document, a printed copy night be excepted at a border. Having a scan of your passport will make getting a replacement at an embassy easier.

Border Cambo Guys
I highly recommend getting a currency conversion app for your phone. I use Currency for my iPhone. The app was very useful when negotiating with the Cambo Guys and for every other purchase where I wanted to know/confirm the value in USD. Be sure to add all of the country currencies to the app before hand; chances are your phone won't be connected and there won't be wifi at the border. I assume there is a version of Currency for Android. Worse case, prepare a list exchange rates for each country before leaving home and take a palm sized calculator. Expect the Cambo Guys to make a little bit of money on the deal. Keep the amounts low, so you don't get wildly ripped off in the event of an exchange miscalculation. PS: If you have a Bank of America account, you can withdraw cash from Santander Bank (Mexico), without any fees.

General
Most riders dread crossing borders. It really isn't so bad. Have your key documents handy and offer them up to the officials (Passport, title, license and vehicle registration) with copies. If you approach process with a smile, it can actually be a little fun. Its just a game of fill in the blanks.

NEVER EVER give your original documents to a "helper." If you don't want to hire someone that is making a hard sell, make eye contact and say "no gracias." If they persist, say "¿Entiendes? no" (Do you understand No?) It works every time.

Heading toward Guatemala, on the south side of Tapachula, Mexico, a mile or two before the border, guys with nice, official looking shirts flagged us down and started demanding our papers and passport. These were aggressive (very) helpers. We figured out that they were not official and rode off. Sometimes its hard to tell who is official and who is not. At the border, if they have a gun or a embroidered emblem on their shirt, chance are they are with the government. If they have a cheesy ID card around their neck, which they are eager to show, then they are a service for hire. Buyer beware.

If you do decide to use a helper, set the price/tip up front. The few times I hired a helper, I would only offer $5.00, saying frankly that I am on a budget and that is all I have to spend. Worked every time and I probably over paid. Often there are several helpers standing around, so competition is stiff.
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Old 11 Oct 2013
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Hi Dom,

Great write up! Thanks for sharing the info and helping future travelers.

I put together BorderHelper.com to be a database of border crossings around the globe (because the info tends to get lost in forums). With your permission, I'd like to repost this on the site. Thanks!

-Ben
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Old 16 Oct 2013
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Cheers for the extra info Peter, every bit helps

Hi Ben, cool site. sure feel free to add the info to your site - you can throw me and the HUBB in as a reference if you want

ta
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Old 20 Oct 2013
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Originally Posted by sellheim View Post
Cheers for the extra info Peter, every bit helps

Hi Ben, cool site. sure feel free to add the info to your site - you can throw me and the HUBB in as a reference if you want

ta
Done and done. Happy riding amigo!
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Old 22 Nov 2013
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A very useful guide, but important to remember that rules and regs can and do change. And you cannot beat local information.

Certain rules are more flexible than others.

Carrying spare tires and fuel across some borders may incur duty if not approached correctly.
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Old 29 Jan 2014
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Mandatory insurance for Mexico

I have travelers insurance with my job - Can I exempt myself from travelers insurance to Mexico?


Also the last time I went to Mexico I came in thru Tijuana and none of the above was asked.

I am howver told that if you travel to the souther tip of Baja and need to get on the ferry, they wont let you onto it unless you have done all the paperwork correctly. I read a blog about two canadian who came in thru Tijuana and when they got to the tip of Baja, they had to get on a plane back to the border to get thie papers in order.

So in short : How is it that they dont aks you to get all these parers when you cross in Tijuana but you still need them in a sense...
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Old 30 Jan 2014
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Originally Posted by jfman View Post
I have travelers insurance with my job - Can I exempt myself from travelers insurance to Mexico?


...
Not sure what you mean by traveler's insurance? Do you mean insurance for your car/motorcycle? If that's the case, you should have Mexican insurance, as foreign insurance is not recognized in Mexico. Mexico does not closely control its' borders, they leave it up to the traveler to know what the requirements are. Not very convenient, I know.
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Old 30 Jan 2014
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Originally Posted by AndyT View Post
Not sure what you mean by traveler's insurance? Do you mean insurance for your car/motorcycle? If that's the case, you should have Mexican insurance, as foreign insurance is not recognized in Mexico. Mexico does not closely control its' borders, they leave it up to the traveler to know what the requirements are. Not very convenient, I know.
I have travel insurance thru my job, for my own person.

So the insurance cannot be "rider" on a US/Canadian policy? You have to purchase the coverage in Mexico?
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Old 30 Jan 2014
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Originally Posted by jfman View Post
I am howver told that if you travel to the souther tip of Baja and need to get on the ferry, they wont let you onto it unless you have done all the paperwork correctly. I read a blog about two canadian who came in thru Tijuana and when they got to the tip of Baja, they had to get on a plane back to the border to get thie papers in order.

So in short : How is it that they dont aks you to get all these parers when you cross in Tijuana but you still need them in a sense...
You can ride Baja without a temporary vehicle import permit (TVIP), but you will need it for the mainland. You can buy this at the ferry terminal in La Paz without any problems.

OK, that takes care of the bike, but for you, the person, you need to get a Tourist Visa Card, if you plan to stay more than a few days and go outside the free trade zone (about 20 miles from the border). Generally, you need to secure this at the border. But you're right, you can cross the border and ride south without anyone stopping you or telling you what to do or where to go. So you must look out for yourself and do the necessary paperwork. www.BorderHelper.com has some great border crossing reviews for the Baja area with thanks to the Great Sjoerd Bakker.
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Just a couple notes to add.

When entering Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, these are all part of the C-4 countries, and you get 90 Days Tourist Visa for all 4 countries, not 90 days per country, like Costa Rica, Panama is 180 days (North American Passports) and Belize is 30 days. For the C-4 countries, you can easily get an extension, at the Migracion offices, as a typical tourist, but with a vehicle, I have no idea.

Most backpackers traveling the area, would allow 3 months to discover and explorer the region, between Cancun MX (Yucatan), about week max, 2-4 days most, then, depending interest,3-4 weeks for Guatemala, if not scuba diving, many skip Belize, as you can get your jungle fix in Costa Rica. Honduras, if not going to Bay Islands diving, then Copan Ruins are the main stop, and then El Salvador many skip, though Suchitoto and El Tunco are popular. Nicaragua is about 7-10 days, the north Estelli region (Sandanista Country) is coffee country, then you have Ometepe (ferry required) and Granada and Leon. Costa Rica has a lot of national parks and eco systems, so anywhere 2-3 weeks. Panama has islands, some highlands (La Amistad & Buru) and of course some areas of the Darien, which you now need permits/permission.

Your vehicle goes in Passport in every country, but Costa Rica, so you cant leave the country without the vehicle, otherwise pay huge taxes/import fees, about 75% of the value of the bike, which they determine, not you, and its not in your favor.

The Pan Am is best avoided overall, its two lane and through mountains in many areas, and cargo trucks and passing on curves, rains and mist, and no shoulders, make it a risky prospect on a bike. Never ride at night, period, gets dark at 530/6PM.

I have been going to the region for over a decade, 2-3 times a year, so know the lay of the land well, especially, Costa Rica. Just spent a month there for the holidays in 4 different areas, but mainly beachside, fishing, and surfing.
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