Honduras – Nicaragua (El Espino)
We found this to be one of the easiest borders that we done in Central America. We had decided to arrive early so we could drive through the remaining 80k of Honduras before the cops were on the prowl. This paid off as we didn’t get stopped in the morning and we arrived at the border at 8.00am.
Everything was pretty quiet and we were the only vehicle on the Honduras side. Instead of the normal scrum of tramitadores only one guy came up to us offering to help. He had decent English – we thought we knew what we were doing but he helped us anyway.
First step is to go to pull up at a rope across the road where there is a small blue hut. I think this is new and has replaced a wooden shack. The first thing that you have to get done is to get this guy to sign off on your Vehicle Import Permit. He needs a copy of your driver’s licence, passport, registration and the original vehicle import permit.
When we arrived the guy in the booth was out to breakfast so we went to Migracion first. This is on the left hand side of the big yellow building. We had to hand over our passports and then we got stuck for a USD3 exit fee each. We got our passports stamped and then back to the booth at the rope.
The guy in the booth had reappeared and he came out checked our VIN number. He then stamped our Import Permit. Next stop is the aduana part of the main building. You can drive and park outside the main building at this point.
Instead of going in the main doors which are marked Aduana you need to go to the right and you’ll find a window into the customs office. Hand over your import permit here .#
Hanging round at this point will probably be some money changers – we got a good rate of 22 Cordovas to the USD (the actual mid market rate was 23 at the time we hit the border).
We paid our helper USD2.50 as he hadn’t done too much
At this point we were free to go and hit the Nicaraguan side of the border. We drove out of Honduras and then quickly came to a stop by a small blue and yellow hut. This is the fumigation facility. You will have your wheels sprayed and then have to pay the man in the hut – he will also need your licence plate number. It cost us USD5 for fumigation but there is a price list posted on the hut and smaller vehicles are less.
After this drive a couple of hundred metres and park on the left hand side of a large circular blue and white building. This houses customs. It used to house immigration as well but this has now moved to a small building across the road on the left hand side of the big building.
This is your first stop to get your passports stamped. We had to pay $12 each for our tourist cards. This part was very straight forward.
Next stop is the customs window in the circular building (to the right). Here we had to wait awhile because the clerk was busy. There was no queue though.
While we were waiting a man with a clipboard came over and offered to sell us insurance. The insurance is mandatory and costs a set $12 for a month. He filled out the forms for us and gave us the insurance documents.
The customs guy needed a copy of our vehicle registration, driving licence and my original passport. With these he filled out the import form – he did come out and do a vehicle inspection briefly and check the VIN number. The photocopy booth is in the customs building which is convenient and sensible – why can’t all borders be like this !
Once we had the permit the last step was to get the police to sign off on it. They need copies of the permit, driving licences and passports of the drivers. They are situated in a small building to the left of the migracion building. The police just sign off the permit and didn’t require to see the vehicle.
Once all this is done you can drive to the exit are where another man stops you. You have to give him a copy of your import permit which he will check and then you are free to go.