Perquin, El Salvador to Somoto, Nicaragua
May 26, 2014
Honduras has been cancelledHonduras North coast is well worth a detour. Way back in 2009 I had a chance to visit that region thanks to my good friend Santiago who at the time was working in San Pedro Sula. Santiago would tempt me with tales of epic kite-boarding sessions around Utila until I gave in and hoped on a red-eye flight. Less known than Rotan, it’s larger twin sister, Utila is popular among scuba diving bums for it offers a combination of gorgeous underwater scenery and really cheap diving schools. Ferries from La Ceiba depart several times a day. I spent a wonderful week there but was warned about the perils awaiting tourists on the mainland. A week after my departure, the government was deposed in a military coup
Fast forward to 2014, the political situation did not seem to have improved much and gruesome violence in major cities still made the headlines regularly. Add to that long detour required to reach the North coast and the Zebra and I decided to cancel Honduras by getting in and out in a day.
Entering Honduras at El Amatillo[map style=”width: 300px; height:300px; float:right; margin:10px 0px 10px 10px; border: 1px solid black;” marker=”yes” markerimage=”http://www.wolfandzebra.com/files/map_pin.png” lat=”13.597629″ lon=”-87.767201″ maptype=”OSM” z=”11″] We left Perquin at the crack of dawn (read more at Deeper into Central America) and found ourselves at El Amatillo border at 8:30am.
Here is an overview of the key steps
- Check your bike out of El Salvador. you get –> cancellation stamp on your Temporary Import Permit
- Check yourself out of El Salvador. you get –> exit stamp on your passport
- Check yourself into Honduras. you get –> entry stamp on passport + copy of tourist entry form
- Get your vehicle import fee assessed. you get –> Invoice from the Aduana
- Pay import fee at bank. you get –> fee payment receipt
- Vehicle check by the Aduana. you get –>
Temporary Import Permit for Honduras
- Vehicle fumigation. you get –> the right to finally get out of here!
What makes this border crossing particularly painful is the copies of each document needed at almost every step of the process. Whenever you complete one of the step outlined above, you will be requested to make a stop at the copy shop, make several copies of the document obtained at your last step and hand it to the official in charge of the next step. And repeat…..
Several other travelers have documented in great detail their experience entering Honduras at El Amatillo, you will notice a few differences but the key steps remain the same. Check out their reports RideDot, PanamaNotes and MyOverlandAdventure.
Here is how things went for us:
Exiting El Salvador
- Pass the long line of trucks parked to the side and look for the Aduana
- Copy stop #1: The copy shop is to the left across from the Aduana booth. Get 1 copy of your Salvadorian Import Permit
- Go to the Aduana booth hand over your TIP and a copy. The officer keeps the copy and returns your original TIP with a cancellation stamp
- Copy stop #2: back to the same copy shop. Get 3 copies of your cancelled TIP, passport, driver’s licence and vehicle title
- Drive 2km, veer left away from the official building and the new bridge
- El Salvador migracion is the next building. Park your bike, queue up and get your passport exit stamp
- Ride over the bridge, you’ll be approached by a Salvadorian official, give him a copy of your cancelled TIP. You are now out of El Salvador
- After crossing the bridge we were approached by what looked like a DEI official who asked us for a copy of our cancelled TIP, passports, bike titles and driver’s licences. Other travelers have reported going first to the immigration and then heading to the Aduana.
- We followed the DEI guy to the large Aduana building, parked in front and headed inside to the window to the left. There he handed our documents over to the official in the office.
- We waited for a short while and were instructed to get our entry permit at the immigration.
- The immigration building is at the left of the road. We gave our passports and completed the tourist entry form
- We payed $3 / person and got our stamped passport and a yellow copy of the tourist form. You are now done with immigration
- Return to the aduana window, hand over both documents. You will get an invoice corresponding to your bike importation fee. Payment takes place at a smaller building to the left of the Aduana
- If you do not have Limpiras, now is the time to buy some for the import fee can only be paid in local currency
- Copy stop #3: Make 3 copies of the import fee invoice at 1 limpira each
- Go to the Bank building, pay import fee (we paid $35/motorcycle) give the 3 copies of the invoice and the original. You will get a receipt and a copy
- Return to the Aduana window, give a copy of your receipt and get your Permiso de Entrada y Salida Temporal de Vehiculo
- Copy stop #4: Make 5 copies of your Permiso
- Return to the Aduana window, the officer keeps 3 copies
- Ride away. You will get to a checkpoint where the official will collect another copy of your Permiso
- Last step is fumigation, we just rode through. Pat yourself on the back, you made it into Honduras!
Entering Nicaragua at El Espino[map style=”width: 300px; height:300px; float:right; margin:10px 0px 10px 10px; border: 1px solid black;” marker=”yes” markerimage=”http://www.wolfandzebra.com/files/map_pin.png” lat=”13.447224″ lon=”-86.724497″ maptype=”OSM” z=”11″]Riding through Honduras took us about 2 hours. We did not run into any problems.
- Stop at the first booth, hand over Honduras import permit for exit stamp
- Go to main building, get exit stamp from migration. It is normally free but the very unfriendly lady there argued that we had to pay a $3 exit fee.
- Head to the Aduana on the other side off building, present your Passport, driver’s licence, Temporary import permit and vehicle title. Your passport will get a stamp showing that your bike has exited Honduras
- Stop for fumigation, pay $3 at the booth on the left, get a form certifying fumigation
- Ride to next booth. Present passport to migracion official, get custom declaration form, proceed to main building
- Buy insurance from guy outside selling it for $12. Present vehicle title + driver’s licence, get insurance form
- Complete tourist form, get DGA official outside to inspect the bikes and sign the form
- Present form, driver’s licence, passport and vehicle registration to DGA booth inside building
- Get Declaracion de Importacion Temporal Para Vehiculos
- Make 3 copies, return one at the DGA booth. Give one to the guard when entering Nicaragua
- Go to migracion, give passport and pay $12 person to get your entry stamp. Welcome to Nicaragua!
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I remember all of this too well. Amazing, how well you documented the procedures. After a while, it all became just a blur and I went thru the motions.