Border Crossing from Costa Rica to Nicaragua
Crossing the Border at Peñas Blancas with your (own!) Car
Pick up Car Papers in Liberia:
The Office of the Registro Nacional in Liberia is on the second floor in the Banco de Costa Rica building, on the northern side of the main plaza and church. Open Hours: 9 am – 3 pm.
Documents needed are your passport, a copy of your passport, the título, and marchamo.
First pay the documents at the Puesto de Timbres saying something like Necessito documentos para salida del pais con un carro. They will cost around $ 13 (paid in Costa Rican currency). Then line up in the file for the paper stampings. With the document you receive you can leave Costa Rica with your car within the next 4 weeks and it allows a three month's stay outside Costa Rica.
Once you have the document, make a copy of it (2 pages) at the internet place across the road from Banco de Costa Rica. You will need the copy at the Costa Rican border.
For the Nicaraguan border its advisable to have dollars in small denominations with you.
Costa Rican Border:
From Liberia it's 66 km, from La Cruz 18 km to the border post of Peñas Blancas. Before reaching the frontier you might need to drive past miles of waiting trucks. As they
block your lane you have to navigate on the opposite lane - a precarious situation.
Avoid the busy hours from 10 am – 1 pm as most buses arrive during that time and there are very long lines for the passport stamping. Money changers will offer you to change your currencies. You can support these local free lancers or change your money in the bank on the Nicaraguan border post.
First have your passport stamped, then go to the customs (Aduanas) office to have your car papers stamped.
From the Costa Rican border drive on to the Nicaraguan side. After 200 m a Nicaraguan border official gives you a customs form which you fill in later when you have time. A few meters further comes the "disinfection" area Fumigacion. You pay $4 for the smudge which they sprinkle over your car. Keep your windows closed.
There will be a bunch of people clinging to you and offering help for the Nicaraguan paper works. For their help they expect a tip of around $10. If you speak Spanish you don’t need anybody.
Park your car at the aduanas in Nicaragua, then get your passport stamped which for foreigners costs $12 per person. Again, if your arrival coincides with the arrival of some busses, there are long line-ups.
Before or after the passport stampings have an officer from the Aduanas (blue skirt) check your car and sign the customs form. Then search for a policeman who must also sign the customs form. After that go to the insurance booth and pay the seguro obligatorio ($14). The insurance is valid for one month and does also cover third party damages.
Now finally go to the aduanas office to pick up the derecho de circulacion. Papers needed here are your drivers licence, the titulo and marchamo of the car, the customs form, and the documents from the Costa Rican Registro Nacional.
Nicaraguan Border at Penas Blancas
Hurra! Now you’re almost through it! Drive on to the Panamericana. Before you may leave the frontier area, the municipality of Rivas wants another $1 of you and then that's it. Welcome to well-paved Nicaraguan roads!
The last time I made this trip with my car was November 2012. Let me know if you have comments or updates, so I will include your experiences in these information! » Contact
I use to visit the Island of Ometepe which I love. At the Shell gas station in Rivas turn right, continue straight until the yellow painted church of San Jorge, take a left there, continue for three blocks then turn right again to the port. Ferry schedules: Ometepe Ferry Schedules. At the harbour office you pay around $4 harbour fee and around $16 for the driver and car on the ferry. Crossing the lake of Nicaragua to Moyogalpa takes 1 hour.