I took the middle border crossing in Rio Sereno from Panama to Costa Rica. It’s not busy as the big one in the south. I was the only one leaving Panama and met just one couple on the Costa Rica side. The whole crossing took more than two hours, but most of it was just waiting for the Costa Rican insurance to be processed (details below). Without this waiting time, it would be done in less than an hour.
Make sure you drive in from the north east between the Panamanian buildings (see map below). Somehow I came from the south and was technically already out of Panama. The customs got confused why I came from the other side, but wanted to leave Panama…
The immigration office is the building north of the road and the customs (aduana) on the south. Just park the bike/car on the road between the buildings. At the immigration they take a photo of you and your fingerprints. He wanted a copy of my passport, although he had a copy machine right behind him…
Head to the aduana south of the road to give the TIP (temporary import paper) and you are free to leave.
The Panamanian side took me just 15 minutes.
Entering Costa Rica
Drive right up on the gravel road to the second and third buildings. The white containers under the roof is the immigration. This took only 5 minutes. The new building after the containers is the customs. This will take some time here.
They start the process and need passport and the vehicle papers to make copies. Meanwhile you need to complete two forms: one for the vehicle and one for importing goods (or money over 10000$).
Then she will hand you a paper with the bank account information to pay the vehicle insurance (seguro). It is 37$/20159colon for a motorcycle and has to be payed at the supermarket south of the customs. You can see the red roof of the supermarket from the customs.
Go into the supermarket and there to the back and walk up the right stairs. If there is nobody sitting at the computer, then knock on the white door. You can pay with USD also for everything else in the store.
Go back to the aduana with the payment confirmation. From here on it will take about an hour for the insurance: they send the information to an insurance company in another city, which will process and print the paper, make a photo of it and send it back to the customs. After getting the photo of the new insurance, the customs will further process the TIP. You will not get the original insurance paper, but a print of the photo, stamped by the customs. Now she asked me for copies of the passport and vehicle paper, although she already did some an hours earlier… just make sure you always have copies with you.
Another customs officer came to see the bike and check the plate and the chassis number. I didn’t need to open the luggage.
If you ride a motorcycle in Costa Rica, you must wear a reflective band! I got one for free from other bikers, but I’m sure you will get some at motorbike shops in the next town.
Two signatures later I successfully entered Costa Rica!