Nicaragua to Costa Rica: Penas Blancas Crossing

1.) Show passport and Vehicle Import to guards at small booth as you drive up to border.
2.) Drive up to the Immigration and Customs building on the left and loop around it making two lefts, to the parking area.
3.) The side opposite where you park, (the side you saw originally coming in) is Immigration, pay exit tax at small booth (1 USD), and continue to the exit line.
4.) Fill out exit form and pay fee, keeping the receipt you are given (2 USD)
5.) To Cancel your Vehicle Permit, go to other side of building and find an official and policeman, They will inspect your vehicle, and sign your Nicaraguan Vehicle Import Permit.  (Mine were already hanging out together)
6.) Enter the room on this side of the building and give paperwork to the police officer at the desk, and then the official in front of the computer.  They will stamp your paperwork and you can continue onto Costa Rica for the entry process.
7.) Show all paperwork to guy at booth, and drive down through the fumigation area on the right.  (I blazed through this getting sprayed but didnt stop and continued on, never paying a fee, I believe you have to pay something, but no one asked me about it)
8.) Proceed to the large immigration building and park on the left.  Enter the line to get your entry stamp in your passport.
9.) Ignore the Aduana across the street from Immigration for now, you will need to go there later.  That is Aduana #2.
10.) Drive further on the road and follow signs to the Aduana #1.  Purchase your Costa Rican Insurance (17 USD), make copies of Vehicle Title, Costa Rican Insurance, Passport Photo page, Passport Costa Rican entry stamp, and Drivers License (a couple USD).  Believe you only need 1 copy of each.
11.) Drive to Aduana #2 and give them your paperwork, fill out a new form.
12.) Return to Aduana #1 and give them that paperwork, where you will then obtain your Vehicle Import Permit.


Ok, this should be an easy process, especially since Costa Ricans love to pride themselves on how advanced they are compared to other countries.  Its relatively simple, but takes forever, and doesnt consist of much efficiency.  When arriving at the border there is a small greyish building in the center left of the lanes.  Drive there and give the guys your passport and Vehicle Import Permit from Nicaragua.  They will do their thing, and someone will give you the free paperwork for the Immigration process, expecting a tip.  When he commented on it I said I thought they were free at the Aduana, which he verified and let it go.  Doesnt really save any time, so I wasnt tipping him, call me a cheapskate, I did take the forms of course.  Then drive ahead to the Immigration/customs building.  This building is on the left, drive just past it and snake around to the reverse side to park.  Here I had to brush off more helpers.  Joe spoke great English having worked in Atlanta for a few years.  He didnt want my money, he just wanted my friendship…when I told him that was find but I had no money for him anyway he lost interest, what about our friendship Joe?  Anyway on the side of the building facing the main road is the exit portion of Immigration.  I paid 1 dollar at a small counter/booth and received a paper which I then took to the exit line counter.  here I paid another 2 USD dollars and got my passport exit stamp.  Why dont they just charge 3 in one spot….questions like that can land a man in a Central American prison, so I didnt ask.  Next up is your Nicaraguan vehicle Import Permit cancellation.  You need an official, as well as a policemans signature on your Vehicle Permit.  I found them both hanginout out in the center of the concrete structure, almost like at a train terminal.  They took a quick look at the van and signed the form.  I then took that form inside the room on the other side of the building were I parked (same side as the booth I paid 1 USD, just opposite end, when you are there you will understand).  In here I presented the papers to a police woman who did her thing, and then told me to get in line for the official at the computer.  Once the official entered stuff in the computer and added her stamps I was all set.  Goodbye Nicaragua.

Driving up the road to Costa Rica you will see the large Immigration building in the center, as the road splits and loops around it, people entering will go to the right, those exiting are coming from the left.  Go right and park up on the left.  There are a fair amount of buses coming through here so there may or may not be a huge line.  I had a huge line, which snaked around several times outside.  Eventually I made it inside and got my passport entry stamp.  the process was real quick, but with all the people it took over an hour.  The vehicle Import Process is also easy, but a bit tricky, pay attention.  Across the street is Aduana #2, ignore that, you will be back later.  Drive up the road and following sign for the Aduana veer right.  Aduana #1 s a large building on the left of the lot, but was hidden by the many large trucks parked in front.  Eventually I found it.  Everything you need here is on the far end down on the right of the building.  1st you want to purchase insurance, there is a window where you will provide your paperwork and pay 17 USD).  I then went to the small building next door that is clearly marked “copies” to make copies of Vehicle Title, Costa Rican Insurance, Passport Photo page, Passport Costa Rican entry stamp, and Drivers License (a couple USD).  Then I had to take these and drive back to Aduana #1.  At Aduana #1 they had me fill out a new form and took a look at the van.  I then took the paperwork back to Aduana #2 and completed the Vehicle Importation.  Its all much easier than it sounds, just dont try and over think it you may hurt yourself.

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