There’s a lot of bureaucracy to enter Nicaragua, but it surprisingly didn’t take much time, just 1.5 hours for both crossings (including 15min waiting for the Costa Rican customs to open at 9am). Interestingly I didn’t need any copies, as they had copy machines this time!
An online form has to be done one week before entering Nicaragua: https://solicitudes.migob.gob.ni. Without that form, you may be stuck at the border for some hours until it get approved.
I took the smaller border crossing at San Pancho.
Leaving Costa Rica
There’s a big parking lot on the back where you must park. I didn’t really like it because I couldn’t see my motorcycle back there while doing the paperwork. But as it was early in the morning (8:45), there were not many people around.
You have to walk all around the fenced area, as there is no entry from the parking lot. All the buildings are just white containers with the offices in there. The descriptions below (right/left containers) are referring to the entrance of this area from the West.
Go to the first container on the left and pay the 7$ or 5000 colones exit fee. You’ll get a ticket, which is needed for the immigration. Alternatively you can pay at the provided ATM, but I didn’t try it. At this office they also made me a copy of the TIP (Temporary Import Paper) for the customs.
Go to the second container on the left side to the immigration to get the exit stamp. They open at 7am, but the customs (aduana) opens at 9am! I had to wait 15 minutes for the customs to open.
The customs is in the last container on the right. They stamp the original TIP and the copy, which you keep.
Took me half an hour, including 15 minutes waiting for the customs to open.
Back on the main road there’s a police check point on the left and you have to show your stamped passport and TIP before you are allowed to proceed to Nicaragua.
When I got to the Nicaraguan side I got approached by two officials, both wanted to see my passport and vehicle registration. One guy seemed to be responsible to write down the information of all persons which enter this border crossing area. The other handed me the immigration declaration form and wrote my motorcycle number plate onto it.
Then I had to proceed to the fumigation a few meters further, where a guy sprayed my tyres. After that I could go to the parking on the left side on the road.
There you are supposed to go to the police officers to get your declaration form stamped. They are just sitting there at a small table in front of the immigration office and are looking bored. Not sure what this stamp is for, but without it the customs won’t accept your declaration form later…
Now you have to pay 4$ for the fumigation process. The caja for this is on the left side of the immigration (I needed to ask, didn’t see it at first). You get a ticket, which is needed for the customs.
I got approached by another official (outside of the immigration building) and he started to ask me the same questions as the online form. So I showed him my email with the online confirmation number and he was very happy! He then sent me inside to the immigration. This costs another 12$ (2$ bureaucracy fee and 10$ tourist tax), you get your stamp in the passport and two receipts.
Go back outside to the round building, that’s the customs. You need to give all the papers and tickets to the lady there and she will do copies and give you the TIP. At the same place but at a different lady you’ll get the insurance, it’s 12$.
Finally go back to the police desk to get the TIP stamped. This seems to count as an ‘all done, free to go’ stamp.
When driving out of the border crossing area, there are two other guys which want to see your passport and paperwork again. One guy is the opposite of the very first one and ‘signs you out’ of the area and the second one seems just to be there to feel important.
My luggage never got searched or scanned nor have I been asked if I carry a drone with me (which I did).
There are no shady ‘helpers’ on this border, just officials. And they always help you out when you are looking lost and don’t know where to go and what to do next. So although it’s more complicated than other borders, it was no issue at all and everyone was friendly and helpful.