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Did the Guatemala, El Salvador to Honduras border crossing last month with Maurice.
Upon exiting Guatemala I learned that I had accidentally skipped the Customs temporary vehicle import when I entered Guatemala from Belize. I thought I had done it, because I had a paper that said something about my motorcycle, and I paid $1.25. When I went to exit Guatemala, they asked for my motorcycle papers, and I handed them the paper that I got, but apparently that paper was a receipt for fumigation of the motorcycle (which was never done). They questioned why I didn't have the proper papers, radioed someone, wrote down my license plate, and let me go.
For Guatemala to El Salvador crossing, we did the southern most border crossing. It was a breeze, took us about 10 minutes, and $10 for the tourist card. We asked around if we needed to do any papers for the motorcycle, and they said no, and no one stopped us as we left the border crossing.
Upon exiting El Salvador I learned that the 10 minute border crossing was just to good to be true, and we had skipped the vehicle import for El Salvador, and the Aduana office must have been away for lunch. Exiting El Salvador without doing the proper import took a little longer, because they had to pulled the Jefe out of lunch. He questioned why we didn't have the import papers, said that this was a big problem, and then said, "Ok, go ahead, but next time remember, Immigration, and then Aduana." About 20 minutes to leave the country.
I had the same experience at the Honduras border crossing that everyone else says they did when crossing with a vehicle. It was horrible. Hours and hours of waiting around, and running from one place to another, getting stuff typed up, getting photo copies made, paying for pieces of paper, and running around to get a stamp. I’ve heard from others that apparently the Tramadors are in with the border officials on the whole scam to get extra money from foreigners crossing. Initially they say it is 20$, then 40$, then finally after leaving the border I ended up paying $65 for all the various bits of papers and stamps, $5 to the Tramador, and again $2 to leave Honduras, for a grand total of $72 to Honduras. I've talked to a guy who drove his van through, and spoke fluent spanish, didn't use any Tramadors, and he said he still got scammed and ended up paying $40, and it took him about 6 hours. If I were to do it over again, I wouldn’t get a Tramador, I would go get the immigration stamp, and then just drive out of the border crossing and see if anyone stopped me. When we drove out, some plain clothed boys ran down from under a tree on a far away hill to get our last piece of paperwork, which was the clearance to exit the border crossing. If I had just kept going, instead of stopping to let the boys run down the hill, I could have skipped the vehicle import completely, and gotten through the border crossing for only $10 for the tourist immigration card. Upon exiting Honduras (I exited via the southern most border), I could have just drove right out of the country across the bridge without stopping for the proper exit procedures. I almost did by accident as I just kept driving until a female tramador came running down the road behind me. We exiting Honduras at the southern most border crossing, and you actually have to turn off the road to go down to the customs and immigrations office, of you keep going straight you just exit the country without noticing by crossing a bridge.
Also the road on the Nicaragua side of the southern most border crossing is about 40 miles of loose dust, dirt, and ruts. I had fun on it, but you end up inhaling a lot of dirt from the other traffic.
So overall the times that I've skipped doing the vehicle import, the border crossings have been much more pleasurable, and exiting without the proper import permits was never a big deal.
[This message has been edited by TerryMoto (edited 21 May 2004).]
Similar stories here. I came south, from Guatemala to El Salvador with no issues, and got into Honduras just under the 5:00pm deadline, however, the bank at the border was closed at 4:30. So I asked politely the customs guy if he be so polite and bring my $35 (road use, this is in addition to the $10 customs fee, and $3 for me) to the bank in the morning for me. He agreed, and I was outta there, thinking I had gotten one up on the customs gods. Unfortuntely, when I tried to leave Honduras, they insisted on seeing both the permits and all the reicepts. I didn´t have one from the ´Bank of Customs guy´. After one objection from me, the jefe blew up: "$20 for the permit or you don´t leave!". I paid. So my 24 hours in Honduras was $48 in border fees. Entering Nic was pleasant enough, although mandatory insurance at $12 is a bit hard to understand (total cost for Nic was $29). If you go, not far after entering Nic on the left there is a fun little route. I can highly reccomend a little dirt road through San Salvador de Yali (although just Yali on the road signs) to Matagalpa. Good dirt roads, only one river crossing (at which there is a conviently placed pedestrain bridge that has held at least one overloaded F650).
Crossing from Guatamala into El Salvador was fairly painless and involved no expense at all. Route 2 down to La Libertad was a great coastal route too - the El Salvadorean Big Sur if you will.
The Honduras border at El Poy has a bad reputation and I have no better news following my experience today. I crossed at lunchtime on a Sunday and there was nobody else there. In total it took 90 minutes which seems reasonable compared to the other experiences detailed above (TerryMoto) and had to pay $50 - for what remains a mystery.
I looked into sneaking through undetected without the paperwork but the boom gate was down and they seemed to have been waiting for me!
I guess that if I average all the border costs for Central and South America at the end of the trip it is going to come out cheaper than Asia and Africa.
[This message has been edited by mattpope (edited 24 May 2004).]
As I recall, most of the Honduras border crossings have a big sign up with the costs. The correct fee for one motorcycle with one human is about $30 (varying slightly with the exchange rate), and that is what I have been charged. My complaint about this fee (which is also the highest of all the central american border crossings) is that it is a per border crossing fee, not a 30 or 60 day sticker. So if you leave Honduras after a few days and then return, you have to go through the whole procedure again and pay another $30.
I'm not sure how much this report affects us furrinners, it probably relates more to Central American residents at border crossings. The report is from Honduras This Week and La Tribuna:
Honduras and Guatemala sign customs agreement
Customs offices are no more. Yesterday Guatemala and Honduras signed a customs union agreement which will facilitate the movement of business and people between the two countries. The agreement was signed by Honduran president Ricardo Maduro and Guatemalan president Oscar Berger at the border crossing at Agua Caliente on Guatemalan territory, where an agreeable atmosphere prevailed.
This is a mark in the advancement of the process of the Central American customs union. Honduras will later complete the integration of its three border checkpoints with Guatemala, Agua Caliente, El Florido and Corinto, and two with El Salvador, Al Amatillo and El Poy.
The signed agreement makes the CA-4 document redundant, which is still being used for entering these two countries, as well as in El Salvador and Nicaragua. In the near future, the identity card will be sufficient to cross from one country to another.
Oscar Berger indicated that the meeting will go down in history as a mark towards a practical and effective union, “in fact, we won’t delay in presenting the positive results in this integration. What we are doing is taking a step towards globalization in an intelligent way.
The customs offices have become a reminder of the division of territory,” he said. The Honduran president considered that regional unity ought to be built upon common races, but in strict respect of cultural diversity, including within each country.
With integration, intense competition will be encouraged with all products and services from markets that on their own are too small to achieve success.
“All our countries have this problem but the commercial union will be complete with no taxes between all the countries, and equal taxes for exports,” he added.
The Minister of Economy, Norman Garcia, indicated that with the union, merchandise transport costs would come down, as tiresome requirements would not be necessary, but to improve the balance between one country and another, it will depend upon the aggression of the businessman and of the country.
“Inter-Central American commerce totals US$3.1 billion, but Honduras exports barely US$285 million, which is not even 10 per cent. This isn’t the fault of the customs offices; but we are working to improve this situation,” said Garcia.
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