Bringing a Vehicle Across the Border

This page is a supplement to the other border crossing by land pages. It offers the additional considerations for dealing with a vehicle. (Like the other pages in this section, this is a work in progress. Please add comments for additions and corrections. They will be incorporated into this page.) First, the following questions need to be answered:
  • Is the vehicle registered in your name (vs. someone else's name or the name of a company)?
  • In what country is it registered?
  • Is it wherever it is legally?

Traveling with Your CA-4 Registered Vehicle in the CA-4

This should just work. That is, as long as you are legal (plates and insurance) and the vehicle is in your name, there should be no issue crossing the border and no fees. As for what you have in your vehicle, that's up for debate. Common information indicates that you and your significant other and some luggage is a non-problem. A pickup full of boxes of stuff probably means you get checked over and, maybe, taxed. More likely, you will probably say they are for your mother, hand the official an action certificate and be on your way.

Generic Considerations Crossing the Nicaragua/CR Border

  • Spraying—Vehicles are sprayed in both directions. The good news is that both spray facilities take colones, córdobas and US dollars.
  • Content inspection—In both directions, the content of your vehicle must be inspected. In practice, this tends to mean about nothing other than it has to be done.
    • Entering CR at Peñas Blancas—There is a little building across the road from the main border crossing point. Bring your insurance certificate, copy of your license and registration there. The guy usually doesn't want to go look at the car but will stamp stuff, log stuff. You then need to take that paperwork to another building near the border to get the real paperwork to drive in CR. Not hard but you can waste 1-2 hours with this.
    • A person (a cop, as I remember) will look at your car in the parking lot and give you an OK slip you need to bring inside with your other paperwork.
  • Possible mechanical inspection—I had this happen once entering Nicaragua from Costa Rica. Never in the other direction.
  • Insurance—You need insurance for the country you are entering. On the CR site, you purchase the insurance (only one vendor as the government is the insurance company) inside the main building. On the Nicaragua side you will find multiple insurance vendors. Generally you purchase insurance for 30 days. Prices are around $15.

Leaving Nicaragua with a NI-registered Vehicle

If you have a vehicle registered in Nicaragua, you need to get permission to leave the CA-4 region with it. That is, you can travel freely within the CA-4 countries but, for example, you want to take it to Costa Rica, you need to get permission. (This is not to harass you, it is a measure to help control car theft.) You obtain the exit permit from Transito (traffic police) where the car is registered. For example, if you have BO plates, you would need to go to Transito in Boaco. It's the usual Transito drill where you need to pay in a bank and bring the receipt with you. Legally, everything about your car needs to be up to date (Mechanical check, smog check, insurance) but such a thing as the mechanical check is sometimes overlooked. Make sure you bring copies of just about everything with you.

Entering Costa Rica with Any Other non-CR Vehicle

Entering Nicaragua from CR with a non-CA-4 Registered Vehicle

Dealing With a Vehicle not Owned by You

Traveling from CR to Nicaragua, this sucks. You end up needing two originals of a document done by a lawyer where the owner of the company (even if it is you) gives you permission to take the car out of the country. You take one to the Public Registry (the closest to the Peñas Blancas border crossing is in BCR in Liberia) where they give you a permisison slip. They keep the paperwork you give them. You then need the permission slip and the other original to cross the border. (You get to keep this second original so, the next time, you only need one new original.) Just in case you don't understand this from the paragraph above, no, you cannot cross the border in a rental car.

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dont u still..

need permission from the nica. police in the district u live in to take ure vehicle out of the country into costa rica..in the past u had to do that