I’ve decided to skip most of Honduras, as there’s nothing I really want to see in Tegucigalpa and it seems like all of the good places are way up north on the Caribbean coast. I haven’t gone into much detail about border crossings yet, for those who want to know the full process is posted below. Immigration is usually pretty easy, apart from having to wait in a long line if there are tourist buses going through at the same time. Customs is a different story, every country has their own process usually involving making copy after copy of all my documents. Then they stamp a copy and then I have to get a copy of the stamped document.
It was a pain but I got through it in in about 8 hours, including 2 hours driving across Honduras. The only snag came at the exit from Honduras, right at the foot of the bridge leading to Nicaragua. A Honduras police officer waved me over, which is not unusual as there is usually someone there for a final check. Instead of asking for my papers, he asks for my drivers license and gives me a stern look, then asks “Senor, do you speak Spanish?” By his look I am guessing that this is one of the times that I do not, so I tell him “Sorry, only English.” He tells me that I have a violation…no front license plate. However, he’s a nice guy and for only $30USD we can settle it right here. I tell him that in the US the state of Florida has only 1 plate and that if it is legal there it should be legal here as well. He tells me that all states in the US have 2 plates, which we debate back and forth for awhile. After 5 minutes or so another guy joins him and also insists that every state in the US has 2 license plates. But the price drops to $10USD. I just keep politely insisting that Florida has only 1 plate and that it should be legal here as well. Finally, he gives up, hands back my license and sends me on my way into Nicaragua.
Thanks to PanAmNotes for the detailed writeup of the border procedures. Below is pretty much what I did in the one day crossing of Honduras from El Salvador to Nicaragua, with the exception of the attempted bribery part.
El Salvador into Honduras
- Cancel El Salvador vehicle permit: $0. Drive past the big rigs, the office is a shack on the right side of the road, right after a speed bump. There should be several police officers nearby. Make 5 copies of the cancelled permit next door.
- Drive ~2km to a fork. When you reach the fork, take a left. You will be crossing the old bridge and taking what looks like a wrong turn away from a brand new bridge on the right.
- El Salvador Immigration: a blue and white building with a parking lot on the right side. Hand over your passport at the window, $0.
- Leave El Salvador, enter Honduras, drive over the bridge. At the bridge, an official will take a copy of your cancelled Honduran vehicle permit.
- At this point a Honduran official requested our original title, registration, and passport. This seemed unusual so B jumped out to follow him around until he made his way to the Aduana building a few yards away.
- Aduana: on the right, an unmarked, white building with wooden doors. There is a copy shop on the corner and five parking spots out front. Park here and walk across the street to the blue and white immigration building (intersected by a road).
- In the center of the building on the right: show your passports, give your destination, and fill our your tourist form. Fee: $3/person. Save the receipt.
- Go to the copy shop near Aduana. Make 3 copies of your tourist form and receipt, as well as 3 copies of the driver’s passport page showing the new Honduras stamp.
- Back to Aduana. This will look almost like a trap: a single official at a cramped desk with one computer nearby and stacks of paper everywhere. You’re in the right spot. Hand over the following paperwork:
- 3 copies passport main photo page
- 3 copies El Salvador vehicle import cancellation3 copies registration
- 3 copies drivers license
- 3 copies tourist card/receipt
- 3 more copies of passport, with new stamp
- Once this is done, fill out the vehicle import paperwork (our official did this for us and there was no vehicle inspection: Sunday bonus). Fee: $36US. Make 5 copies of the Honduras vehicle import permit. Aduana official will take two copies and one is taken by another official as you leave the border.
- Collect your originals and enter Honduras.
- Half a KM down the road is fumigation and it is pretty straightforward, roll up your windows, $3US.
- Another half KM away an official will collect a copy of your Honduras vehicle import permit.
Honduras into Nicaragua
- Honduras exit: You will know you have arrived by the roped entrance with a cardboard shack on the left. Do not expect the official to come to you. You must get out with the paperwork (copy of driver’s license, passport, title, and the original vehicle import permit) and meet him in the shack. The official will check your VIN and stamp the permit, further processing is needed down the road at immigration.
- Drive past the rope gate, park in front of the blue and white Immigration building. Obtain exit stamp at the window on the right, $0.
- Make three copies of the passport page containing your new Honduras exit stamp.
- Go to Aduana, to the left of immigration in the same building. Provide the official with a copy of the driver’s license, passport, passport page with Honduras exit stamp and original Honduras vehicle import permit (they keep it).
- You are done with Honduras, continue through to Nicaragua (another roped entrance where the official will check your passport).
- Approaching the Nicaraguan immigration building, a familiar blue and white building on the left, park on the right side.
- Immigration: Go to the front of this building, use the window that says “Entrada Nicaragua.” Hand over your passport for entry stamp. You will also pay the tourist card fee here ($10US/person). Additionally we paid a $4US municipal tax. Keep your tourist card and receipts.
- You have probably already been approached by an insurance agent with a clipboard by now. This is necessary and costs a fixed fee of $12US. Provide the agent with 2 copies of the driver’s license, passport, and title. The agent will handle the majority of the insurance paperwork for you, this all goes down inside the building behind immigration.
- If there is no line, expect your vehicle import permit to be filled out by the Aduana official (yet another Sunday bonus) otherwise you do it yourself. Vehicle inspection is next.
- Receive your vehicle import paperwork, make three copies. One copy will be collected by an official as you leave the border area.
- If needed, change money to Cordobas ($1 US= $22 Cordobas).
- Leaving immigration, you will be asked to show your insurance, import permit, tourist card, and receipts. Then of course, pay US$3, keep the receipt.
- Drive safe, they’re waiting to pull you over for speeding and crossing a solid yellow line.