recent Central America border info
Just did a bunch of crossings and here are the specifics:
MEXICO-BELIZE at Chetumal: no entry fee; $9 obligatory insurance. No photocopies required and it took less than 30 minutes. BEWARE OF $20 EXIT FEE.
BELIZE-GUATEMALA: fumigation fee $2; immigration fee $5; no photocopies required; whole process less than 30 minutes. (approx 20k before reaching the Guat border there is a little restarant on the left side of the road called Abigail's... AWESOME food and cheap.
GUATEMALA-HONDURAS at El Florido/Copan Ruinas: $20 road tax; $3 immigration fee; $10 to the customs guy who filled out the paperwork (I'm pretty sure this was a "tip", but well worth it as the guy was quite helpful). Again no photocopies required and it took less than 30 minutes. NOTE: THIS CROSSING CLOSES AT 6PM AND THERE IS NOWHERE TO STAY IF YOU ARRIVE LATE. The road on both sides of this crossing is fun and curvy, but twice I encountered livestock in the road, so be careful.
HONDURAS-NICARAGUA at Guasalles/Somotillo: $7 immigration fee; $5 vehicle fee; $12 mandatory insurance fee (I wriggled out of this by saying I have international insurance); $5 "helper" fee. This is the only crossing at which I paid for a helper and it was worth it as there is a big run-around. HAVE TITLE/PASSPORT/LISCENCE PHOTOCOPIES READY. This is a horrible crossing with throngs of glue-sniffing little kids begging for money and basically forcing you to pay them to watch your bike ("guarding" it from no one but themselves). There are also throngs of very harassing money changers at this crossing... WAIT until you actually cross to change or get ripped-off.
And get this absurdity: upon getting the vehicle permit you must get it stamped by the police and give them a photocopy... but there is no photocopy machine anywhere at the border! Luckily I had the little helper dude who rode his bike into Somotillo to get a copy. Talk about ridiculous. The whole process was about 90 minutes.
NICARAGUA-COSTA RICA at Penas Blancas: the only cost was the $10 mandatory insurance. This border was quite crowded though and it took a good 90 minutes. Photocopies ARE required here.
These borders were a hot and sweaty pain-in-the-ass, but there's no avoiding them. One thing I learned is to always wait to change money until you cross the line into the destination country, and then just change enough to get you to an ATM will you will get a much better exchange rate.
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