Gun (weapons) laws in Nicaragua

Does anyone have any information on the weapons laws of Nicaragua as relates to citizens and ex-pats? I have been having trouble finding out what the restrictions are, specifically as relates to handguns.

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The law

Here are the requirements from the national police (in spanish)

Portacion de arma

It's good for 5 years now. You must have a certified physical exam, psychological exam, attend a school on firearms usage, Prove ownership, get a certificate from the alcaldia on your police record, Once you get everything verified and certified you go to the local police station, present all these papers and if everything is ok, In a couple of days they issue you a 5 year portacion de arma card.

There are restrictions on where you can carry the gun. I usually just keep it at home. Also, no automatic weapons.

It used to be that you just needed to show ownership. This law 510 is actually in effect now in many countries. I think its connected to CAFTA, but not sure.

Send me your e-mail

If you send me your e-mail, I can TRY to e-mail you an informative Bulletin that I scanned about Ley 510, you can pick it up at the Policia Nacional but I hace it scanned to Adobe Acrobat-- 11,862 KB total.


Brought my 9mm S&W 3913 after obtaining a certified paper from the consulate in S.F. that my receipt for the gun was "authentic". Took the paper, gun and my cedula to the police station and they issued me a permit which must be renewed every year. Apparently the gun can be kept on me concealed with this permit, whether that is special or not, I don't know. 4 years ago I use to have a body guard/ driver, and now, I just use him when I want to go out Friday and Saturday nights so I don't want to worry about parking or drinking/driving. I feel as safe in Managua as I do in the states. IT's a matter of being aware. I like to walk for exercise and enjoy visiting new areas, so for peace of mind, I carry a small collapsible batton.

Firearms in Nicaragua

Strange. I never been to Nicaragua, but the country claims to be the safest country in Latin America and even whole America. Crime rate is really low according to the numbers, Washington DC looks like a battlefield compared to Nicaragua. At the same time I read here that people are really armed and as I can see sometimes violent. Does it mean that official statistics is fake or absolutely wrong?

Unreported not the same as "fake" numbers

Most crime in Latin America is not reported. This makes it more or less impossible to accurately compare any city in the U.S. to any city in Central America. Some official stats are fake. Most, least for violent crime, are not fake, but do not represent what actually took place or takes place in that area. If real crime numbers do not make it to the statistician, he or she cannot be blaimed for the good looking numbers. New guns are VERY expensive in Latin America. Most people have never owned a gun. Rich people tend to own guns, or employ men who do, but this is more life in Managua, than most any other place in Nicaragua. I have lived in the U.S. and all over Latin America. If you can imagine living in Denver, or Toledo, or Austin, or Boise, or Sacramento, or a host of other places without a gun, you can certainly live in Esteli or Rivas or Leon or Grenada without a gun.

es verdad...

that is too true. one morning i work up around 5:30 and just sat outside welcoming the beautiful, Nicaragua, morning sun...and while doing so i hear two different sounding guns fire almost simoltaneously (spelling). no cops were called, nothing was said within the community. when i asked my sqeeze he said "it was prolly two people that were mad and just doing target practice." i like the way Nicaraguans think...

En Cristo, -Marissa

Buy New vs. Own ?

I cannot now locate the law, not in English or even Spanish. It may have changed recently. But, not long ago, in many Central American countries, buying and owning were with different restrictions. To buy a new gun, you needed a residencia. But, to own a gun you did not necessarily need this. This might seem strange, but I believe it dealt with paperwork for new gun sales. You could buy a used gun, without concern, though of course every place has conceal / carry / caliber restrictions, some of which are weird or at least "different" (in many western countries, carrying a concealed weapon can be a crime; in many Latin countries carrying an unconcealed weapon can be a crime. Also, not long ago, in some countries 9mm is restricted to police and/or military; no civilian is permitted to own a 9mm handgun, nor purchase ammunition for one). All prices will be insane by U.S. standards. My little joke of a target pistol (Phoenix P22) is about $120 with accessories as bought in Wisconsin, and about $300+ in Guatemala or Honduras.


I visited a gun shop in Managua last summer. They told me that I must have residency in Nicaragua to be able to own a gun.

I cant rember the name of the Shop, it was close to Plaza Espana's Rotunda. They sell a lot of Taurus's there, Way over priced.

Go to Transito

I just did some searching on the web and couldn't find a thing useful other than an article in La Prensa about how Nicaraguans are aremed to the teeth.

It is Transito, the same people that issue driver's licenses and vehicle restrations that issues gun permits. So, that would be the place to check the details. Needing residency, however, makes sense. If you can't open a bank account, it doesn't seem like you should be able to buy a gun. :-)

But...Remember, it is Latin America!

Yes, you are right, it makes sense to require that. But, many, many things in Latin America do not make sense! I am not an expert on Nicaragua, but have been there many times, and have friends living there. Some of them there now do have bank accounts, but they lack a residencia. I am not sure how this came about. Unless something changed fairly recently, this was not required before. In fact, Nicaragua, like Costa Rica and Honduras, allowed some types of business licenses and vehicle permits and banking without a residencia (though I think there are often restrictions on large accounts, large deposits from countries other than the ones issuing your passport(s), and accounts for Euros and dollars -- but this might have more to do with laundering concerns than residencia concerns, per se).

From what they told me

From what they told me in doesnt have to do with the money factor. If you did kill someone with the gun or do some kind of damage you could esily escape the system and go to your respective country. Anyone that carries needs to be accountable in the system.

I honestly dont think this is the place to be discussing, For or Against, to the other guys posting.

of Course if you want to, maybe we should discuss Death Penalty, abortion and so on.


A residencia does not make you more accountable, and really doesnt help the Nica government or police one iota (beyond the money you give them for the residencia in the beginning). If a foreigner wants "out", there are any one of a thousand ways to get out and avoid repurcussions, residencia or no residencia, should anything go wrong. This happens every week in every Latin country, and has for more than a century. One of the easiest things to do is to escape the "system", if that system is in Central America. Have you ever seen Latin American crime scene investigators? They do not usually even mark off areas, eat food and smoke cigarettes on the scene, and more often than not collect evidence with their bare hands. Outside the capitals, most places cannot even do a real autopsy, nor can they handle ballistics, nor any complex fingerprinting or fingerprint detection. The initial assumption might be that a residencia provides more information on people than a tourist visa, but it is easy to get around that, and avoid almost anything you want avoided. There is far more damage done via autos than guns, when handled by foreigners. I havent a clue what your comment on abortion has to do with anything mentioned here.

Gun Laws

Thanks to the both of you. I got the impression when I was there that it is in some ways similar to the US, lots of people own them and just don't advertise it. I just don't want to run afoul of the law when I start carrying there. On my next visit I will do some more in depth research and post here about it. I was quoted about 300 for a used Beretta which is actually not a bad price for here but alot more than I thought it should be for Nicaragua. Sorry about the double post, I don't know how it happened. Mike

Any Quality Imported Item is $

I am not an expert on guns, but do know the difference between kinds of handguns. I do not think the price you found (found to be high) has anything to do with the fact that it is a weapon, if that makes sense. If you go anywhere in Central America, and go looking for a truly high-quality item which is imported, it will be quite expensive (remember, almost no one pays retail in the U.S., and may be used to getting 20-30% off that, whereas in many Latin countries, the norm is 100-110% of suggested retail, pluse the wonderful IVA taxes). Doesnt matter if you want a Sangean world band radio, or a Husqvarna chain saw, or Singer sewing machine. Anything of the best will usually have a good sized price attached to it (and often the U.S. products come in higher than those from Spain or China or Mexico or Brazil -- where many guns are still made). It has been my experience that used items are almost always grossly overpriced in Central America, which is why so many people never actually sell the things they have for sale.

Local perspective

Let me offer what I observe here in Estelí I listen to the morning news most days. This is one hour of almost all local (meaning north-central Nicaragua) news. Everything is covered from the rise in the price of benas to who got killed and how.

From what I hear on the radio there are some "big" murders and there are some accidental deaths related to guns. By "big" they sound related to organized crime--things like a car being filled with bullets. The most recent accidentail death was on the news today where a 24-year old shot a 16-year old family member. The "middle region" of barroom brawls and such happen but not often.

I also remember a jewelry store being robbed at gunpoint. No shooting, the robbers were caught and, I believe, were all from Honduras.


If you believe you are safer without a gun, then you probably are safer without a gun; however, no one else´s safety with/without a gun could be determined based on your beliefs, or your life.

It is not silliness which gets people into bad situations; there is nothing silly about walking to the movie theatre or tavern, and dong just this is what can get many people into a VERY bad situation. They are not about to pay for a bad choice they made, because they haven´t done anything wrong, nor anything stupid, nor anything silly.

Diplomacy skills are irrelevant. A huge portion of crimes are committed by people under the influence of one or more substances. Rationality plays a smaller role in any machismo society, and toss in some drugs and alcohol, and you have a recipe for disaster. Ever try debating someone on a 3-day crack binge? The idea is laughable.

The reason some people think they need a gun (and I am not saying they are right in this belief), it to help make sure they do not get to the point where they are mad and have alrady lost whatever was taken from them; they have the gun as a deterent, not necessarily for revenge; they have the gun to make sure they do not lose the thing you are assuming they have already lost.

A gun may or may not escalate matters. Depends on the situation. In many cases, if used, the gun ends matters permanently. Yes, of course the best defense is being smart. But, that does not preclude one from doing what some consider to be the second-best defense -- having the gun.

Many people who have guns in Central America do carry them at all, or almost all, times. They believe the very reasons which lead them to buy the gun, lead them to believe they should have it with them at all times. If you give anyone familiar with weapons a choice between a gun and a machete, they will pick the gun for reasons I think should be obvious. If true that most crimes are committed with machetes, then this, for people who are inclined to have a weapon, is just another reason to have the gun, and have it with them at all times.

If having a gun is such a "bad thing", then why recommend that someone pay someone else with a gun (armed guards)? Having a gun is not a rarity in the ex-pat community (though more rare -I think- in Nicaragua, than in neighboring countries, due to the kind of people attracted to Nicaragua in recent decades), and many wealthy Nicaraguans have them. There are many reasons to have or not have a gun in Nicaragua or elsewhere, but I dont think you provided them here. I have more than 20 weapons in Wisconsin, but none when in Central America. I am not advocating that anyone actually have them or carry them at all times, but I can envision a different life in Central America from what I have had in the past, where the gun would be present.

Right to Life

Hello in the Great White North, Sherif6. I can see your country from the Detroit River about half a mile from my house. I really like Canada, they have lots of room and proportionally few people, lots of resources too. Sure you have less crime than the US, most countries do, but it has nothing to do with law abiding citizens owning and carrying firearms. A person does not have to be "silly" to be in a situation where violence may erupt. Risk avoidance is a huge part of staying out of trouble, being able to recognize a potentially volatile situation and avoiding it is common sense to me. Your argument that if you are in a position to use a gun then YOU must have no diplomacy skills or are inexperienced is a fallacious argument and to say that someone with a lack of those skills needs a weapon is ridiculous they are the last ones to be justifiably armed. Did the Nicaraguans who fought against a repressive dicatator foot the responsibility for being repressed? And how did they overthrow the government? Harsh language? I don't think so, you can't blame someone for inept social skills when confronted with pure evil, try to reason with a human or a government intent on hurting you or killing you and most times you will lose, the mere presence of a handgun or rifle can prevent most violence from even getting a start, and no one has to get shot to prevent it. When you are angry is the last time you should be pulling a trigger. It's not murder and revenge to stop someone from killing your wife or yourself, it's called self defense. Do you remember the genocide in Rwanda? Yugoslavia? Uganda? Those countries had very restrictive gun control laws, laws that aided the killings and prevented common people from protecting themselves. Millions of people have been murdered by repressive governments in just the past 60 years and every one of those governments banned the ownership and carrying of weapons. You are right about one thing though, the best self defense is prevention and being smart, and the smart money says knowing how to use a gun, when to use a gun and when not to use one as well as arming oneself if you so choose to is essential to protect your liberty. I'm a big fan of civil rights and the only way to protect them is to be prepared for violent confrontation, why? Because when someone comes to take away your right to live your life they don't ask you they send someone with a gun to do it. Every country in the world enforces the rule of law with soldiers and police armed with firearms. They don't ask you to behave, they don't put in a request that you leave your home and family, they just point and bang you have just become a victim. Here is something I bet you weren't aware of. The first gun control laws in the US were enacted to keep Black Americans from defending themselves from their tormentors. I'm trained in safe weapons handling and also edged weapons, and I'll tell you this I'd much rather face a machete carrying assailant with a handgun than another machete or my bare hands. I don't have a responsibility to be a victim, I have a responsiblity as a man to protect my life and the lives of those around me. I don't need to hire someone to do what I can myself and do it cheaper and better. I've met the armed guards in Nicaragua and they seem more concerned with looking good in a suit than actually being aware. Besides they are not responsible for my protection and my wifes, I ultimately am. When the revolution was going on in Nicaragua my wifes family armed themselves to prevent being killed or kidnapped and pressed into service with the military or the Contras. My brother in law was taken away to be killed for holding an unpopular opinoin and only by fighting literally for his life is he alive today. Do you think everyone who desires to carry a weapon is incompetent just because YOU don't choose to carry one? Canada is very fortunate to have avoided the horrors the rest of the world lives with day after day and that's why so many people want to live there. No thanks, I'd rather be free and armed than a safe subject.... I don't know if it is ok to put a link here but this site is full of lots of useful info one this very polarized subject. Stay Safe and Happy, MikeF

Gun laws

If memory serves, the original question concerned Nica gun control laws. From the high-risk "wild west" Nica travel advisories out and the fact that police will not go into certain areas and are just a light reaction presence apparently, those most comfortable walking around unarmed are blessed with an optimistic safety outlook. You are on your own. With so much poverty, there are going to be a lot of men looking for a fast buck. If one physically can blend in with the local greasers, that is a form of protection, but if one is a tall, fair gringo who stands out in the crowd, you are fresh fish. Knowing this, I will let my 9mm habla espanol.


Instead of a Gun get a nice Rottweiler, and go everywhere with him. People will stay 20 feet away from you, and if you have the dog trained they are a lot safer than guns and wont be turned against you in a bad situation.

...and the only guns which I saw individuals have were shot guns that gringos owned.

I have been living in a not so upscale neighborhood in Managua and have in-Laws in very impoverished areas and have never seen one gun in these areas. I have seen plenty of Kitchen Knives however. I saw a gang fight in Monsenor Lezcano, surprisingly it was with fists, and when someone pulled a knife out everyone ran away.


yeah they are there, fortunately theres a high price tag on a gun and bullets in Nicaragua used or new, so it illiminates many of the typical street thugs from having this kind of thing.

They would rather drink that much money away.

Yes I suppose people that can afford to buy a $7000 car may have a gun, but even the people with the under $2000 cars could not afford to throw several hundred dollars down to buy a hand gun.

I could probably drive 10 minutes away to Camden, NJ here in the US and purchase a loaded pistol for under $50. but this would not happen in Nicaragua. at least thats my take anyway

Josh - I Think

&#9829 Miskito Alan:

I disagree with you on the U$7,000 car with handgun.

With the current available credit on new vehicles in Nicaragua; I think that minimum valued car with handgun would be U$15,000.

I have only seen and/or known about 4 people that carry handguns in my 15 years on the "Atlantic Coast".

Casa Pellas

hmmm... Since you can get a credit card a bottle of liquor and a car and insurance all in one place, I wouldn't be surprised if they start selling guns and bullets too.

thanks but

Your points are cogent, Derek, right up until you hit "greasers". Was that really necessary?

Reading about Nicaragua

&#9824 Miskito Alan:

#1 - Reading about Nicaragua is only reading opinions about Nicaragua.

#2 - Living in Nicaragua is knowing Nicaragua.

I have personally never seen any violent crime in Nicaragua in my 15 years.

Check my blog and link.

You're lucky

Next time you're in Managua we'll watch the 7pm Canal 10 newscast at the super-secret bar. You'll see plenty of violent crime...

Of course we can also watch the NYC feeds on ABC/CBS/NBC and see exactly the same types of violent crime. It exists everywhere and not seeing it personally doesn't make it any less real...

Please Tell Us

&#9829 Miskito Alan:

I think that the only violent crime that you have seen happened in your good friend's bar-room in Boaco.

Maybe, you can relate your 1st-hand experience. :-)