We found the Nicaragua to Costa Rica border crossing quite time consuming.  Normally an exit is quick and easy, but when a few coach loads of tourists turn up and it’s lunch time, you can end up waiting and waiting….. The Costa Rica side was quite straight forward especially if you follow the steps below. We were held up at the insurance office as the only person working had “gone to the bank”.

Nicaragua Exit 

Nic Border 2


  1. Park in one of the spaces here 11.218199, -85.612790
  2. Immigration The immigration office will be behind you. On entering the building you may be asked to pay a dollar and then another $2 per person exit tax at the immigration window. 11.218232, -85.612629 
  3. Cancellation of Temporary Import Permit (TIP) On entering the border area you would have been given a customs declaration to complete. To complete the exit paper work you need to:
    1. Have customs inspect the vehicle; you will find someone in the car park with a clip board checking cars. They will not help you at the customs window until this is complete!
    2. Go to the customs window with the stamped/signed paper work.  They will then also add their stamp. 11.218199, -85.612790
    3. Find a policeman hanging around, they are normally near the food stall 11.218503, -85.612673-They will also need to stamp the paper work.  You are then free to leave.
  4. On exiting the border area, they will take the complete paper work.



Customs windows

Where you are likely to find the police




Entering Costa Rica

Costa Rica

  1. Park here 11.211942, -85.611448  (if busy, park up past the huts)
  2. Immigration – First go to immigration here 11.211921, -85.611302.
  3. Temporary Import Permit (TIP) This process is completed in two parts. Part 1: The office is opposite immigration here 11.211942, -85.611448 , you will need the following: Vehicle Registration, Passport and Driving Licence with copies of the same.  Complete the forms they give you.  Once complete they will stamp and then check your vehicle.
  4. Insurance  Turn right into an area where you will drive past lots of trucks. Park here 11.210213, -85.612173 and firstly go to the window on the left.  Purchase the insurance $36.
  5. Copy shop Take a copy of your Vehicle Registration, Passport, Driving Licence, Entry stamp and the vehicle insurance. 209977, -85.612115
  6. TIP Part 2 Go to the second customs office here 11.210153, -85.612141 and give them a copy of all the documentation. They will process it and provide you with the TIP.
  7. Keep hold of all the documentation you have been given as you need to show this when exiting.



Customs 1 (on the right small white hut)

Insurance Window & Customs 2

Customs 2 & Copy Shop



  • Carnet is not required to enter Costa Rica with a foreign vehicle
  • Insurance is required
  • Fill up on fuel, food, alcohol in Nicaragua, it’s expensive in Costa Rica!
  • Avoid 12-2pm, most people are on lunch…
  • Beware at traffic lights and petrol stations in Nicaragua, people are trying to rob foreigners by cutting their tyre and then pretending to help them with the flat!


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