Central America Central America: Border Crossing Fees

Central America: Border Crossing Fees


Border crossing fees suck but what makes it even worst, is not knowing exactly what the “real” fees are. There are almost never signs at the border, just people telling you what to pay and Central America is no different. While traveling throughout Central America, one of the hardest things to find out was the land border crossing fees for entering and exiting a country in Central America. Searching online was no help either. Every site had a different price and not to mention the scammers at the border trying to get rich off of every tourist crossing the border.

So to help everyone traveling by land throughout Central America, we collected border crossing fees and compiled a list so you don’t have to spend hours searching online or make the same mistakes as us. Of the seven borders, we have personally crossed six of them and can give you the exact fees.

1. Belize

Belize is one of the countries that has signs everywhere, informing you of the border crossing fee as well as what the fee is used for.  There is no entry fee for Belize, however there is an exit fee. For the departure fee, you pay a combination of fees, $30 BZD for the border exit fee, $7.50 BZD if you’ve been in Belize for more than 24 hours, and $2.50 BZD for border development fee making your departure fee total 40.00 BZ$ ($20 USD) payable both in US dollars and Belizean Dollars.

VISA NOTE: Most visitors vising Belize do not need a visa. You will receive an entrance stamp at the border when entering and this stamp is good for up to 30 days.

Heading to Belize? Here are some of our articles to help plan your trip:

2. Guatemala

There is no entrance fee or exit fee for Guatemala. However, other travelers have reported paying 10 Guatemalan quetzeles (~$1.30USD), so be aware of this possible scam. According to the Guatemala government website the amount above is the amount a foreigner would pay for every day they overstay their 90 day visa. If they do ask for you to pay this fee, ask them for a receipt and you will notice that they miraculously changed their mind.

VISA NOTE: The visa you receive at the Guatemala border is good for 90 days and applies to the rest of the countries that are a part of the CA-4 Agreement (Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador). This means that you have 90 days to travel throughout the 4 countries. The 90 days will not start over when you cross the border of one of the 4 countries.

Here are some of our guides to Guatemala:

3. Honduras

Honduras was probably the easiest to find online when we were looking for border crossing fees for Central America. Pretty much everyone online agreed that the fee is $3USD. That entrance fee can be paid in dollars, Honduran Lempiras, and Guatemalan quetzales (~30Q ). Keep the receipt that is given to you at the border to avoid reported scams from other travelers when exiting Honduras.

There is no exit fee for Honduras. Some officers might ask you to pay the $3 fee again when leaving but if you show them the receipt or even just tell them you paid that fee when you entered they will “let it go”.

VISA NOTE: The visa you receive at the Honduras border is good for 90 days and applies to the rest of the countries (Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador) that are a part of the CA-4.

Here are a few of our articles about Honduras:

4. El Salvador

Unfortunately, El Salvador was the only country we did not travel too while in Central America. However, after some research we found there was no entry or exit fee for El Salvador. If you have traveled by land to El Salvador recently, please verify or correct our information in the comments below and we will be glad to update the info.

For the country known for pupusas, there is no entry fee thanks to the CA-4 Agreement. Prior to the CA-4 agreement there was a $10 entrance fee but not anymore. That means you can get all the pupusas you want from the $10 you save at the border. (Hint: We love pupusas)

You can find our backpacking guide to El Salvador here.

5. Nicaragua

Nicaragua has by far the most disputed border crossing fees of any country in CA. It seemed like almost everyone paid a different fee. When I was researching the entry fee, someone wrote “no one would ever know the true fee, just expect to pay between $10-$20 USD for entry”.  After some serious digging online we found that the fee was $12 USD + another $1 USD fee to enter Rivas making it a total of $13 USD. However, when we got there we had to pay $15 USD. We took the Tica bus over the border. The driver collected the fee and our passports while we were on the bus and they did not give us a receipt or an entry stamp in our passport (suspect). (A reader mentioned she took Tica bus in 2017 and paid $18 USD, so I think they upped the price) I am pretty sure the fee was suppose to be $13USD they just took a $2 bonus for their service. But hey, I guess we win some and we lose some .

As for the exit fee, we are 100% sure it’s $3USD. The exit fee is paid at two separate windows. The exit fee is $2 USD (55 Nicaraguan cordabas) per person at one window and then you pay a $1 USD (26 Nicaraguan cordabas) municipal fee at another window. I guess all the money you save from the other participating C-4 countries you pay for at the Nicaragua border.

Don’t forget to check out backpacking guide to Nicaragua here.

6. Costa Rica

There is no entrance fee for Costa Rica however you do need to show proof of onward travel. And yes, they will check.

Crossing the Costa Rica to the Panama border was my least favorite and frustrating border crossing. I just felt like I was being scammed and couldn’t do anything about it and regardless of how I felt, apparently it was all legal. Costa Rica’s exit fee is $7 USD and can be paid in dollars or Costa Rican colones. The $7 fee consist of a $5 exit tax and a $2 luggage search fee, regardless of whether the traveler has luggage or not. The extra $2 fee foreigners pay must not be enough for the luggage searchers because the cops that searched our bags took everything out and then had the nerves to look at us like “umm can you hurry up and pack your shit.” Like we were the ones that threw all our stuff on the table. I definitely wasn’t feeling it at all and neither were they.

There are several ways to pay this exit fee. There is a kiosk machine in the departure building that apparently is always “broken”, at least according to the guys that are trying to get you to pay through the second option.

Outside the office, there are two houses not to far from the border where you pay an $8 fee for an exit fee sticker. People by the border will do anything in their power to get you to pay $8 bucks instead of $7. They even wait for you by the bus terminal whispering crap in your ear. We felt that this had scam written all over it and we decided to take our chance with the “broken” machine. And it worked.

So for paying this exit fee you can pick your poison. We picked the cheapest one.

NOTE: You cannot pay the officer at the window booth in the departure building, he will not accept it. He is only there to see proof that you paid and give you an exit stamp. The kiosk takes cards only.

7. Panama

After crossing the bridge from Costa Rica to Panama, the same guy that was trying to get to pay an $8 USD exit fee instead $7 USD was waiting for us at a little office (which is not the official immigration office) trying to tell us to pay another fee for another damn sticker. He said we had to pay $3 USD for a stupid sticker on our passport, and we weren’t buying it, so we refused. But of course, the guy dressed in army gear that he called over told us we had to pay. So unfortunately, I will have to say that there is an entrance fee of $3 USD that can also be paid in colones. No matter how much you argue, you will pay this fee and then walk away frustrated as shit to the real Panamanian border office to get the official stamp in your passport.

As for the exit fee for Panama, it varies depending on whether you choose to leave panama via plane (almost the only way to exit Panama if you  plan to go to South America) or continue to travel north into Costa Rica. If you choose to fly, like we did the departure fee mostly likely will be included in your plane ticket price. We took a flight out of Panama to Colombia and our departure fee was $40 USD. The land exit fee is $3 USD.

Note: You are required to have proof of onward travel to enter the country. Yes, they do ask. You can stay up to 180 days in Panama.

Summary of Border Crossing Fees for Central America

  • Belize: No entry fee | $20 USD exit fee
  • Guatemala: No entry fee | No exit fee
  • Honduras: $3 USD entry fee | No exit fee
  • El Salvador: No entry | No exit fee
  • Nicaragua: $13 USD entry fee, or $18 USD if you take Tica Bus | $3 USD exit fee
  • Costa Rica: No entry fee | $7 USD exit fee
  • Panama: $3 USD entry fee | $3USD exit fee

Have you ever been scammed at a border crossing before? Please share below, so we can all learn from each other.



  • As of September 16th, 2023. I crossed into El Salvador from Guatemala. I had to pay $12 for an entry stamp and a tourist card. I was the only American on the bus, and the only one who had to pay. I exit today, so we will see if it costs to leave, too.

  • Just done Mexico (May 2023) to Panama (August 2023) and here’s what I paid in border fees:

    Belize: No entry fee | $20 USD exit fee
    Guatemala: No entry fee | No exit fee
    Honduras: $3 USD entry fee | No exit fee
    El Salvador: No entry | No exit fee
    Nicaragua: $13 USD entry fee | $4 USD exit fee
    Costa Rica: No entry fee | $8 USD exit fee
    Panama: No entry fee

    Almost all fees in this post were accurate for me except for the following three:

    Nicaragua exit fee seems to have gone up from $3 to $4 (I crossed at Peñas Blancas)
    I had to pay $1 to get into the building and then a $3 exit fee, both of these felt legit.

    Costa Rica exit fee has gone up from $7 to $8
    the new official breakdown is: $5 exit tax, a $2 luggage search fee and $1 Quarantine measures service applied by the National Animal Health Service
    You can now also pay for this online, just google “banco bcr exit fee” this will allow you to skip the first queue at the border crossing.

    I did not have to pay anything to enter Panama, I crossed the border at Sixaola (between Puerto Viejo and Bocas del Toro)
    I’m not sure if that means there’s no longer an entry fee, or if they were on their lunch break when I crossed the border.

    Hope this helps

  • Ariana M.

    Took a shuttle from Chetumal over Belize city to Flores (Guatemala).
    At the Mexican border we could only pay the 35USD p.p. cash in Pesos or Dollars.
    We were told we didn’t have to pay for exiting Belize if we didn’t stay there longer than 24h but it turns out we only had to pay half the exiting fee (so I think it was 16USD).
    Coming to the Belize/Guatemala border the shuttle driver told us we could get our money changed to Belize dollars if we didn’t have any with the guys who were readily waiting outside. Since we had to pay cash at the Mexican border we thought “oh yeah, we’ll need some cash.”
    The guy charged a 20%comission for the exchange, which is crazy. Turns out we could pay by credit card at the Belize-Guatemala border all this time.

    So: make sure to carry enough cash for your way out of Mexico and if you have a credit card pay with that for exiting Belize, better the 5% commission fee from the bank than 20% from the guy outside the border.
    Hope this helps :)

  • I have just left Guatemala via Livingston to go to Belize and to get your exit stamp you have to pay 80 quezalas that was in October 2022. Hope this helps you cheers.

  • I crossed into Guatemala yesterday via Tapachula. It was a tad frustrating. I took Cristóbal Colón (owned by ADO but somehow affiliated with Ticabus), which was the only bus line I could find that would take me from Tapachula to Guatemala City. As soon as we arrived to the Guatemala border we were told to get off the bus and to leave all luggage/belongings behind (no luggage inspection whatsoever unless they brought the dogs in while I was otherwise occupied). Almost as soon as I stepped off the bus I was surrounded by people telling me which way to go (some pointing in opposite directions). Several people had “official looking” IDs with government seals. Most of these people don’t actually work for the government…they have permission to work as “personal assistants” to you (they expect a big “tip”). I first walked to the Mexico migration building to turn in the the form I always fill out when I enter Mexico. After brief friendly conversation the border agent stamped my passport. I then walked out the way I came in…walking back into Mexico. (WT..?) I then had to walk a ways to the Guatemala migration office. I was surrounded by a dozen or so people the whole way, all shouting different things. Some wanted to convert my pesos to quetzales (at a horrible rate btw), some wanted to “help” me copy my passport and vaccination card, some wanted to “hold” my passport to help me protect it. Basically a bunch of BS. When I finally arrived to the Guatemala migration office I was told to push my passport under a completely blacked-out window. I couldn’t see a border agent at all. But…others were putting their passports under the window and getting them back with a stamp so I followed suit. I was happy to see my passport emerge with an official stamp…lol After that the vultures were still trying to convince me that I needed to pay fees to them or get copies or get money or…or…or… But just remember the stamp is all you need. There’s no fee and you don’t owe anyone any money to enter Guatemala. And you don’t need to make your own copies of anything to enter Guatemala. (And you will have plenty of time later to get quetzales.) As the post suggested, asking for “una factura con un sello del gobierno” will stop requests for fees. (I heard stories from passengers about outrageous demands for fees that some people unfortunately paid.) Once you have that stamp get your booty back on the bus. AND — don’t hand your passport to ANYONE in Guatemala who isn’t physically inside the “official” migration office. If you’re reading this and heading to Guatemala enjoy it! It’s a beautiful country with tons of friendly people.

  • Thanks for this helpful post! I am currently planning a backpacking trip through Central America. Is it typical that they check your bag at the borders? I am a bit worried about getting anything stolen by scammers, should I keep my valuable belongings on me at the border crossings just in case? Will they try to search my jacket and/or bum bag and if so, should I allow them? I will bring prescription medications with me as well (which will be hard for me to renew over there if they get lost), should I also keep them close to me or will they want to inspect it either way?

    • Dawson Bolus

      Did you go? Was wondering about crossing the nica and el sal border. Is it allowed with the covid restrictions?

    • A

      They never checked our bags (or us) by hand at the border. However, some borders might run your luggage through a baggage scanner. Keep your belonging on or near you at all times and you should be fine. Border crossing are nothing to be afraid of.

  • Leaving Nicaragua to Costa Rica: Exit fee is $3USD. We had someone come up to us to pay the $1 city tax – which we paid in NIO. At the counter, we were asked to pay $3. Had to explain we already paid the city tax, no problem when we showed the receipt. They only accepted US dollars for the second counter.

    General tip: Always have dollars for the entry and exit fees.

  • Thanks for the post!
    I crossed from Guatemala to El Salvador by land a week ago. There was no fee, they just checked the date on the passport stamp from when I entered Guatemala.

  • Entered from Honduras to Nicaragua at the boarder near Chichigalapa. It was $10 + $2 (usd).

    The Nicaraguan side is a bit of a joke. Once you’ve paid, you go get your bag checked – but there is nothing stopping you skipping this part at all.

    There is also absolutely no signage to say where immigration actually is. You can accidentally walk straight past it! (It’s on the left, a small-ish building with building work going on around it.)

    Been travelling México to currently Nicaragua, everything along this route has matched up with on the site so far.

  • Fresh info from December 2019, exiting Costa Rica was 9 USD and entering Nicaragua 14 USD.

  • Hi, I just entered Nicaragua a few days ago (9 Aug 19) from Costa Rica from the Penas Blancas border crossing. Fees were as follows:

    Costa Rica exit fee $9 USD
    Nicaragua entry free $13 USD ($1 + $12).

  • I have read that once you leave one of the CA-4 countries, you cannot re-enter for 90 days. Is this accurate? I am thinking of driving to Panama from the U.S., and at some point (a month), driving back. But if I can’t re-enter those countries, that would certainly crimp my plans.

    • From what I’ve read online, it’s you have too be out for “24 hours”, not sure if they actually check by the hour, but the next calendar day I believe should be okay.

  • William

    I crossed the El Salvador border coming from Guatemala yesterday and I wasn’t asked for a fee on either side. You will get a slip of paper that is then checked at a checkpoint in El Salvador. I got an exit stamp for Guatemala but no entry stamp for El Salvador.

  • Having entered El Salvador both by air and on a border crossing from Guatemala I can confirm that there is a $10 fee when arriving by air but not when crossing the border. I was a bit surprised today at the airport since there was no fee 6 months ago when I crossed from Guatemala but luckily I carry some USD just in case.

  • There are some countries that are required to purchase a 10US$ tourist card upon arrival in El Salvador, including US citizens.
    When crossing from Guatemala into Honduras near Copán I learned the hard way that it’s a good idea to have the exact amount in border crossing fees (3US$) helps. It keeps the border official from claiming he ran out of change.

  • Hello there,
    thanks for the interesting and helpful overview of the border fees. I know the general problem and allready had some discussions about that in different countries at the border posts.
    Best regards

  • Maybe this is a silly question, but are these fees per car or per person?

  • Thank you guys so much for this list of detailed information. We are literally in a van right now crossing into Honduras and had no idea about the entrance fee. We’ll definitely be referring to this again for the rest of our travels through Central America! Thanks again!

  • Eveline

    We just would like to share that we had to pay 80Q to leave Guatemala, and we even got an official receipt for that..!

  • Corissa

    El Salvador does not have any fees at the border. No entry, no exit, and no tramit fee (for those driving into the country). They have had a huge campaign to crack down on corruption. I think I even saw a sign stating it’s illegal to offer money or gifts. Their borders are extremely well run and well organized in comparison to other countries in this region.

  • This is such a useful list. Thank you. It’s really difficult knowing what the actual fees are and what is just made up and your right in saying that everyone tells you something different.

    This is a bit of reassurance for when i do my Guatemala/ Belize crossing in a few days time. I couldn’t find any clear information online so this was perfect.

    Let’s hope they’ve not changed it! I’ll let you know if they have.


  • Just wanted to add, if you’re coming into Belize from Mexico by land they try to charge a bogus $20 exit fee for Mexico. The bus drivers even insist on it. After refusing to pay the Mexican border guard tore up some paper work and said I would be permanently banned from Mexico.
    Coming from Southern California and crossing the border countless times, I can say you will have no trouble after they tear up your fake paper.

  • Hi all, great info, thanks!
    I have an agent friend in Baja Mexico’s border fees of $25 USD & want to clarify this fee is not a scam nor considered an entry/exit fee. There is no entry/exit fees for up to a 3-day stay at all borders; beyond 3 days becomes the FMM-Mexico Travel Visa fee valid for 180 days. I believe travelling by flight or boat, their fees are only for your particular length of travel but don’t quote me as I mostly travel by land.
    The border agents determine by the paperwork you provide or by you stating how long you plan to stay & Bam! pony up 25 bucks if more than 3 days. Good news is.. once paid, is valid for up to 180 days unless you say otherwise. Note: Always keep your recibo (teeny tiny receipt) because there is not a system to track it if you stay past the dates written on it. Hopefully this makes more sense to those who were not expecting this fee! Buen dia & happy travels :)

  • Tim smith

    Do if you a transiting from panama to mexico And you get the ca-4 stamp in nicaragua, does that mean you still need to check in to immigration at every bbotder and pay every fee or only at the beginning and end of ca-4 area ( Nicaragua and Guatemala paying entry fee for nic and exit for guat only) ?

  • Crossed into panama from costa rica today and there was no entry fee.
    Also when coming into costa rica from nicaragua i had to go buy a bus ticket out of the country even though i had a flight out of panama.

  • Hi thanks for sharing the info in your article.

    Just wanted to ask one thing. I am currently in El Salvador and my passport allows me to stay here up to the 5th of February.

    I am planning to take the TICABUS to Managua the 28th of December. Should I expect than to pay both Honduras and Nicaragua’s fees? How exactly does it work if you know?

    Thanks a lot

    • A

      Yes you will most likely have to pay both fees unless Ticabus has some kind of arrangement with Honduras. Best to ask Ticabus to know for sure.

  • Valerie

    I know you are talking about Central América, but be aware of Mexican border (México – Belize) if you travel thru airplane you need to show your bording pass or they will change you $390 pesos I think is around $25 for exit feel and they do not give you any ticket. Even when you have the bording pass they want to charge you. I had a really bad experience and they wanted to cancel my visa cause i had my entrance boarding pass and they wanted to charge me again the fee.

  • Katie Lind

    I flew into El Salvador in January. There’s a $10USD fee for anyone who isn’t a resident from a CA-4 agreement country. It has to be paid in cash. I knew of this fee when I made plans but I was flying in from Honduras and figured that made me exempt. Only later did I see the fine print stating that only applies to land crossing situations.
    So me only having lempiras was a bit of an issue. My debit card didn’t seem to work at any ATM in the airport and I was literally stuck there. The agents couldn’t really give a shit about me and it’s not their job to but man it was frustrating and I had no idea what to do. Literally sat there about an hour wondering if someone somewhere would eventually take pity on me and get me out.
    I was lucky my Airbnb place sent a driver to pick me up. He was outside the airport waiting and they eventually allowed him in to pay the $10 fee. Sooo lesson learned. Always always always have cash, preferably in the currency of the country you’re visiting. Only one bank’s ATMs worked with my card (Scotiabank with my CapitalOne card) and those weren’t in the airport anywhere.
    I imagine I’d still be sitting in that airport today if my driver hadn’t saved me with his $10.

  • John Croniin

    May 2017……..Exiting Panama is 1USD and entering Costa Rica was free. However, leaving Costa Rica was 8USD while entering Nicaragua was 13USD. The Peñas Blancas border crossing between Costa Rica was full of scammers and Gringos paid double the price for a bus to Rivas even if you knew and argued the correct price. Horrible crossing with taxies drivers harassing you. The bus to Rivas is hidden and inside the gates beyong the only bank so look carefull for it. At one stage I had to contact the police as the taxie issue got out of control.

    • Hey John,

      Thanks for sharing your experience and the update.

      P.s. That border crossing is known to be annoying and full of scammers but then again what Central American border isn’t

  • Hey Natalia,

    Thanks for the updated experience/prices! The Belize border exit fee has increased by ~ $2 USD (to make it now $20 USD not $40 USD). $40 USD is the exit fee if you are flying out of Belize. I hope you didn’t pay that much for the land crossing?

    Nonetheless, thanks for sharing the updated info, I will update the post! Thanks :)

  • Natalia

    Great summary, very useful!
    We paid Mexico exit fee 25usd, Belize exit fee 40usd (which is 30 departure fee, 7,5 PACT fee and 2,5 border fee), Guatemala no entry no exit, Salvador no entry no exit, but then we took Tica bus from Salvador to Nicaragua and paid in total 18usd, no idea how much was for Salvador, Honduras or Nicaragua.
    Exit fee Nicaragua was 4 USD.
    No entry fee to Costa Rica.
    Greetings from Costa Rica :)

  • Brenda Funk

    When leaving Livingston, Guatemala paid a US $20 to obtain our stamp, then we traveled by water taxi to Punta Gorda Belize. While on the Taxi all passengers passports were checked to ensure we had paid.

    • Are you sure the amount you paid was not for entering Belize, and not an exit fee for Guatemala?

  • Chantelle

    Hey guys! Im heading to central and south soon and had a question I’m hoping you can help with. I will be flying from Canada to Honduras and have a flight booked home from Brazil. Will I have trouble getting into countries if I don’t have proof I am leaving that specific country? I appreciate any advice or info you have :)

    • Hey Chantelle, the only countries that check are Costa Rica and Panama. We went into Costa Rica with an onward flight from Panama to Colombia and didn’t have any troubles. The question is when is your return flight from Brazil? If it is more than 3 months away they probably won’t accept it. How are planning to get from Central America to South America?

  • We entered Guatemala early January from Mexico through Frontera corrozal / boat/ Bethel and here is what we paid:
    – nothing leaving Mexico ( which was really surprising considering we had to pay the enormous 25$ the year before that when we crossed from MExico to Belize)
    – 40 quetzales entering Guatemala at the ” border” bureau in Bethel ( Not happy about that since I know you don’t pay anything entering Guatemala)
    Crossing the border from Nicaragua to Costa Rica in two days…

    • Thanks for the update Jevly. You must have been really lucky to get away without paying the $25 at the Mexico/Belize border. Yea in Guatemala you are not supposed to pay anything but hey at least it was only ~5 bucks. It is really hard to argue with those border officials, especially if you don’t speak their language, so sometimes it’s best to just suck it up and move on. Have fun in Costa Rica.

  • There used to be an exit fee to leave Honduras by air, but now its usually included in airline ticket prices. It was about $40USD!!

  • Jean-Marc

    And regarding Costa Rica, last time I entered there was a 29$ exit fee (at the airport), provided your stay is longer than 24 hours, plus a possible 6$ USD security fee (might be incl. in your airfare).
    In El Salvador they wanted to charge 10$ USD at the airport upon entry, but that has supposedly changed recently so that there is now no fee anymore.

    • Hey Jean- Marc,

      Thanks for the additional information on the entrance/exit on Costa Rica and El Salvador if you fly into/out either country!

  • Jean-Marc

    Hey there, usually on land exit from Nicaragua there is no exit fee. The only thing that usually happens is a 10$ USD entry fee for Nicaragua. Also at the Nicaraguan border with Honduras the Honduran customs want to charge you a 10$ entry fee (which however is dubious). Upon air travel there is normally only a 10$ tourist card fee at the airport. The visa “itself” is supposedly free though.

  • im about to head over to Central America but don’t have any dates that I will be leaving countries to be able to show proof of onward travel. Have you guys or any fellow travellers had this situation? Thanks for the tips on scams

    • Hi Bee, we too had no idea when we would leave any country, we are actually really bad at keeping plans. But no need to worry, most countries in Central America don’t ask for proof of onward travels. The only two that I remembered asked were Panama and Costa Rica.

      • Anthony

        I am planning a bike trek from Canada down to Argentina, but have to fly out of Panama due to Darien’s Gap. I had planned to just buy a ticket once I got to Panama City, but have no clue what day that is going to be. Will that be a problem with the “Proof of Onward Travel” at the border, do you think? Trying to get stuff prepped before I go.

        • Hey Anthony,

          Biking from Canada down to Argentina sounds pretty amazing, we actually met someone along our travels that biked from Cali all the way to Argentina.

          Anywho to answer your question, at the Panamanian border they asked us to show proof of onward ticket for panama. So I do think it might be a problem if you don’t have it. Maybe you can just buy a ticket for a cheap bus and cancel within 24 hours and hopefully they will give you back the money and you will still have the confirmation email as proof.

  • Kimberly Reid

    Looks like these countries are trying their hardest to get all the money they can from travelers. Back in 2005 you could go to the border, get a new stamp and stay in Guatemala for another 3 months. Or like my extended stay in Honduras, we just went to the “office” and paid $50 to get a new stamp for another 3 months. I’m glad they are being a little more tight on the situation as back then there were lots of people scamming the system.

    • The way they see it is that everyone has to survive, and their way of surviving may include scamming others lol. But I am pretty sure it was worst back then.

      Thanks for sharing Kimberly :)

  • I’d love to travel Central America but people say the infrastructure can make it difficult and it can be unsafe. Would you agree? I know these are probably scare stories but they do put me off a bit!

    • Those are just scare stories. Central America is perfectly safe as long as you take the normal precautions and don’t flash around your jewellery or expensive electronics. Don’t believe those people who tell you otherwise. They probably have never even been there themselves and just repeat what they hear on the news.

  • Thanks for compiling this useful guide. When I took the bus from Belize to Guatemala this year, the man from the bus company said he used to tell passengers not to pay the entrance fee. However, he heard from an Australian couple who followed his advice that they were later accused of entering the country illegally because they hadn’t paid, and given a stiff fine. Now he tells people to pay the fee. It’s pretty small, in any case. I’ve gotten so used to exit fees in Latin America that I just pay them and don’t worry about it. Most of these countries need the money more than we do.

    • Oh wow. We didn’t pay an entrance or exit fee and nobody said anything to us. But you never know sometimes they just come up with stuff to intimidate you, but like you said the fee is pretty small so it’s not a huge deal. Thanks for sharing your story with us Paul.

  • Excellent and very useful post for anyone travelling through CA.

  • Excellent post with really detailed information.
    Its so hard to come across these details when you’re travelling overland so I’m sure this will be a well-needed source of advice. Thanks for sharing

    • Kate, I so agree with you. That’s why I wrote the post because it was impossible for us to find anything online about the right fees for each country.

  • Great guide, thanks for putting this together. We got hit with Costa Rica’s exit fee on attempting to depart the country – it’s all very confusing and nothing and nobody tells you what is required or where to go. When we paid it was more expensive to use a credit card so we used cash.

    • Thanks for sharing Meg. It is confusing and I guess they expect us to already know where to go and what is required before hand. Thank goodness travelers that have already been there are willing to give/share tips and advance on what is required, how to get there, and what to pay. Otherwise we would have to play the guessing game and take the scammers word that his fee is the “official” fee.

  • Excellent information for those traveling in the near future to central America. It has been a long time since I was there but can vouch for the fact that it is well worth a visit.

  • Very helpful information. What a fun trip this would be! Certainly worth the fees.

  • Good information. Regarding Panama they may have changed it but when I did a visa run in Oct there was no exit or entry fee for Panama. The whole thing took me about 20 minutes, exited Panama, walked over to Costa Rica, got stamped in, paid the $7, exited Costa Rica, walked back to Panama, got stamped in.
    Do you know if this was changed or was this a little scam?

    • I just did the Panama-Costa Rica border run a couple weeks ago. There is no entry or exit fees for Panama!

      • Thats true, did the same on the 1st of January 2019. You can walk directly to the immigration office for your exit stamp and than cross the bridge to Costa Rica. When I ask a police officer where I can pay the exit fee for Panama he was really angry about it, because there is no exit fee in Panama. So do not pay any ‘exit fee’ in Panama

    • Hey Rob, I honestly think that you went straight to the official border and somehow passed the “shack office” near the bridge. We unfortunately had to pay a $3 entry fee when we entered in Dec. Maybe the scammers were on a coffee break when you got there. I honestly do not believe it is an official entry fee, I think it is a scam.

  • Hi Jazzy & Ben,
    thanks for sharing this detailed information! Excellent overview.
    Two questions first:
    Are the entrance & exit fees the same for all nationalities? I do not know Central America, but I know that many South American countries apply “Reciprocity”.
    The CA-4 agreement means that you “only” have 90 days for the 4 countries? What happens if you want to stay longer?
    I must say that border crossings have been quite straightforward until now, except overland crossings in & out of Cambodia, where every stamp cost me 1 USD in 2008 & 2 USD in 2014. And the day before I crossed in 2008, someone refused to pay the bribe and they… closed the border for 3 hours (I think the guy who refused made a few friends that day…).
    Also the border crossing into Zimbabwe in Beitbridge was a challenging one. There, we refused to take a middle man and had to queue during 4 hours.
    Cheers, Gilles

    • Hi Gills,
      The fees are the same for all nationalities. Oh I know all about reciprocity, going to Brazil as an American is going to put a hole in my pockets. As for the CA-4 agreement you only have 90 days for all 4 countries and if you overstay your “welcome” you have to pay a fee. There are travelers that have overstayed the 90 days and they paid a good chuck of money for the fee. I have also read that you can renew the 90 day visa prior to it expiring.

      Wow. That’s serious. 3 hours!! They must have some friends in high places to do that!! and thanks for sharing your border crossing stories with me.

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