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Old 29 Apr 2008
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Mexico and CA Border Crossing Info Part 2

And now for part 2

Costa Rica
– Panama Sixaloa/Guabito border

This was easy but a bit time consuming.

Pass all the trucks and park your bike on the road just before the bridge. Walk towards the barrier and you will see a line up of people waiting for immigration on the right hand side of the bridge. Fill out the form, get your passport stamped and that’s done.

Customs is the through the door to the right of immigration. Hand over the forms you got when entering Costa Rica and they gave me back my insurance receipt. All done

Not for a slightly tricky bit. You have to cross the bridge. It’s almost one lane wide with train tracks running down the centre of the lane when they used to have trains in the area. They are long gone but big trucks are still around. There is a barrier at the Costa Rican side and one of the local officials gave us the go ahead to cross. There are missing planks and a few wheel swallowing gaps between the planks but take it slowly and you will be fine.

As soon as the bridge ends there is place you can park your bike on the left hand side on a small concrete sidewalk. You want to get it off the road ASAP because of all the trucks.

On the left hand side is a series of offices/windows. From left to right they are fumigation, immigration, customs and tourist card office.

As usual head to immigration first and get your passport stamped. Next you may need to visit the tourist card office to get a tourist cards (cost $5). Whether you need a tourist card it depends what passport you have. They have a listing of who needs them in the office. Australian, NZ, USA and Canada were all countries on the list.

If you do need a tourist card head back to immigration and get it stamped as well.

Semi-finally go to customs with all the usual photocopies to get the bike permit. They wanted to know which port/airport the bike was being shipped from which was a slight problem for me as I didn’t know at the time. I just got them to make it at Panama City. There was no insurance so all I got was the import permit and a stamp in the passport. And that was it or so I thought.

When I got back to the bike I found that they wanted to spray the bike for bugs like when I went into Costa Rica but in this case they wanted me to take the entire luggage off as they wanted to put the bike through the spray shed they used for the big trucks. The shed is built onto the end of the bridge. Several trucks had crossed without being sprayed and eventually after some pleading they decided it was too much hard work.

If you liked crossing this bridge about 20km south is another bridge just like it only longer. They are building a new bridge next to it but that will be a long way off.

Total time for both borders 1 hour 40 minutes

Air Freight from Panama Tocumen Airport

We ended up flying the bike out of Panama back to Oz as all the shippers I had spoken to wanted me to pay for an entire 20ft container for the bike (just after we had the bike packed up I found a shipper that would allow for part container loads to Oz)

Getting to the cargo terminal is easy enough, just follow the signs as you enter the main passenger terminal area. It’s around the other side of the airport so it will take a while to get there.

Eventually you get to a restricted area checkpoint and the guys there want to know where you are going tell them you are to ship your bike out and they wave you on. At the checkpoint is a roundabout, take the first exit (to the right) and travel about 2 km to the freight agents buildings (UPS, DHL etc).

We used Servicarga as our agent. The bike was strapped down onto a couple of pallets, wrapped in cardboard then plastic wrapped. I was told that you could have a few litres of fuel in the tank but the guy there insisted that it was totally drained out. (Call me cynical but I wonder what happens to that fuel?)

After getting the paperwork done in the office we got a taxi and went to the checkpoint we had stopped at earlier as this was also the location for customs. I handed over my passport, Airway bill and original customs form from the Guabito border crossing. They stamped my passport and that was it.

So that was our experience of Central American bureaucracy. It was a lot easier that I was expecting but I think we had quite a bit of luck on the day. As I said at the beginning don’t read this as gospel this is what happened to us. I hope others find it useful.

Be patient, keep smiling and learn that Spanish


Ian J
Always have plan B, and maybe plan C
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