People's experiences vary depending on crowds at the border, corrupt or honest border officials, and rules can also change. Read about individual experiences at specific borders below.
Entering Costa Rica
A difficult crossing only because of the difficulty of finding 2 different Adana offices and the thousands of semi trucks parked everywhere. Fumigation is the first stop, pay then drive through. Then go to immigration. It's an easy process, fill out the tourist card and get a stamp. Notice that there is an Aduana office across the street from immigration, remember where it is, but don't go there first. Drive about 300 meter down the road and find the insurance window. Buy insurance, then go to the copy shop. You will need a copy of insurance, drivers passport photo page, drivers passport costa rica entry stamp page, car title, and driver license. Note that you need passport and license copies for everyone that is going to drive the car in the country. Right between the copy place and the insurance window is Aduana #2 (don't go there yet either). Take your copies and insurance and go back to Audana #1. The official will give you a form and a packet of papers. Return to Aduana #2. Here they will issue your official permit. They will keep all of the copies. The permit is free.
Cost for vehicle: CR$2175 colones ($4.50 USD) fumigation, CR$8365 colones ($17 USD) insurance, permit is free. Read our full experience with photos here.
-- Posted by Life Remotely
January 20, 2009
After complete the exit procedure for Nicaragua, we headed down the road. At a fork in the road, there will be a small blue building, where we paid $2 to have our car fumigated. Make sure to get a receipt for the fumigation. Take the righthand road through the fumigation station, and then immediately take a sharp left. There are no signs here, so we mistakenly kept going straight and were turned back by a police officer who told us this road was for heavy trucks only. After correcting our mistake, we reached the mobbed Costa Rican immigration station, where people surrounded our cars and offered to help us through the process. For $5/person they would get us to the front of the line so we wouldn't have to wait for '3 hours.' We declined, as we didn't think it was right to cut in front of all of the people who were patiently waiting in line, and didn't want to perpetrate a system of corruption. Even though the line was long, I don't think we waited more than 45 minutes before we were ushered into the immigration station. After reaching the front of the line, we were given immigration forms to fill out, which we then presented with our passports. They stamped the passports and took the forms. In the same building just next door, we bought 'obligatory insurance' for 7,890 colones (about $12 US) even though our cars were already insured. Make sure to get a xerox of your freshly stamped passport with the receipt for the insurance payment as they will need this to begin the vehicle import permit process. Xeroxes were 50 colones each (about 10 cents). For every person driving the car, make similar xeroxes. We then proceeded across the street to the aduana and presented the xeroxes, our passports, and vehicle title. We then filled out the form the aduana gave us, and the official will take the form over to your car to make sure the numbers match. He then stamped the paperwork, and directed us up the road. After taking the first right, we entered another building where they processed all of the paperwork and gave us our final vehicle import documents. This process took about 3 hours, so we were glad we left plenty of time even though we weren't driving very far.
Exiting Costa Rica
Very easy exit. Go to immigration, fill out the exit form, get your stamp. Go to aduana, fill out a paper, let the official inspect your car. Get the exit permit (that no one will ask for) Go to Panama! If you need to change money do it at the BCR bank between the Costa Rica and Panama offices. They are the only ones that change colones. Full write up and photos on our site.
March 13, 2009
Very painless and quick. There are two windows, one for migracion and one for the aduana. You need to shuttle paperwork between the two windows a couple of times, but it's pretty easy. Get the tourist paperwork at migraction fill out the form for leaving the country, check your paperwork with migracion, and then head to the aduana for cancel the car permit. There are the ever present 'helpers' who offer to speed you through the process, but they seemed pretty unnecessary and weren't nearly as pushy as we've seen at other borders. They also had signs posted in English, Spanish, and French stating that 'All custom procedures are free. The ones related with tourism should be handled by the interested party only. No third parties are allowed.'
Sixaolo - Guabito
Out of Costa Rica - hassle free. Park your vehicle just before the bridge by the vendors and walk to the little house just beyound the stop bar - here you will find Migration where your passport is stamped and to the right inside the building is Aduana where you get your temporary vehicle import permit cancelled - they do not stamp it or take it - but data is altered in their computer system. If you need photocopies they can be made in the building just before the bridge on the right hand side across a walkway (50 colones each).