Since locals told us that there wasn’t much to see on the Pacific side of Honduras, we decided to blaze on through in one day. This means there is not one – but two border crossings. This is not for the faint of heart. Get ready for one hectic day folks!
We traversed the southernmost highway in Honduras, which is the shortest and fastest route through the country. The highways you’ll take are labeled CA-1 and CA-3 on Google Maps. Here’s a link to our route. The whole drive through the country takes about 3 and a half hours. It was easy and we didn’t feel unsafe.
Here’s a checklist for both border crossings.
Here’s a list of action items to do before leaving El Salvador.
- Before pulling into the customs office, an apocalyptic mob of border assistants will charge your car before you pull up to the first immigration kiosk. We had to chnange from ‘no gracias’ to ‘por favor no’ as this was the most aggressive mob of ‘helpers’ we’ve seen thus far. A few guys driving a van accepted help. From what we saw, the assistant only stood in line and made a few copies — they do not accompany you to immigration and won’t help you on the Honduras side.
- After the mob, you’ll get flagged down to cancel your El Salvador vehicle import permit. The official will want copies of your passport, driver’s license, car title and the cancelled vehicle import permit. Even if you already have copies of most documents, you’ll need to head to the photocopy shop to make a copy of the vehicle import permit with the cancellation stamp. There’s a shop just around the corner to the right.
- Line up at immigration to get your passports scanned. El Salvador has a pretty nifty computer system! No fee.
- Grab your last pupusa.
Once you’ve entered into Honduras, follow the steps below.
- Pull up to two buildings with an open air patio in the middle.
- Line up to get your passport stamped and pay a $12 per person entrance fee.
- Walk diagonally across the hall to Aduana, and fill out the form describing your car.He’ll request the usual – copies if the driver’s license, car title, passport. The official will come out to inspect the car, VIN and license plates. He’ll give you a bunch of papers to bring to the bank to pay for the permit.
- Although paying for the car import permit is the final step of this border crossing, this was by far the longest and most strenuous step of the day. In order to pay the $33 USD, head further down the road to the air-conditioned red BAC. You cannot pay with U.S. dollars so change about $33 to Honduran.
Beware! The BAC bank closes from 12 to 1. Unfortunately, just as we were changing money to Honduran, the bank closed. The bank next door was not processing payments for vehicle import permits. Banco Occidental processes vehicle import payments and does not close during lunch time, but it tends to have a massive line.
- Bring the receipt of payment to the customs official.
- Finally, he’ll also want 3 copies of the newly created car import permit, 2 copies of the passport info page and passport page with the new vehicle import stamp. There’s a photocopy place just before the patio. Bring those back and you’ll get your permit.
- Keep the little receipts from immigration, as you drive away the officer will request one per person.
The steps below are required in order to leave Honduras.
- If you see a long, long line of truckers extending one mile from the border, drive on the opposite side of the road to approach the border. It’s best if you can follow behind another car while you swim upstream.
- Wait in line to get your passport stamped. No fee.
- After getting your passports stamped, walk across to customs to cancel the vehicle import permit. He won’t give you a document with receipt of cancellation, just a stamp in your passport.
Once you get to the Nicaragua side, you’ll do the following.
- Approach a black kiosk. He’ll ask you a few questions and give you a tiny piece of paper with a stamp.
- Pay $6 USD to get the board fumigated. We kept the certificate but no one asked to see it again.
- A lady with a clipboard will sell you insurance from a local company, which is legally required in Nicaragua. $12 USD for 30 days.
- Wait in line to get your passports stamped and pay the $11.90 entrance fee.
- Look for officials with blue shirts to start the vehicle import permit process. After their inspection, walk inside to customs. She’ll want the original car title, passport, and license to make her own copies!