NicaraguaOfficial Name: Republic of Nicaragua
Length of stay
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:
One page per stamp
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:
No (90 days or less), but tourist card at airport. See Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements below
None. CDC suggests hepatitis A, hepatitis B, rabies, typhoid, tetanus and diphtheria
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:
Must declare $10,000 USD or more in cash
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:
Embassies and Consulates
Km 5 ½ Carretera Sur
Telephone: +(505) 2252-7100
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(505) 2252-7100
Fax: +(505) 2252-7250
See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Nicaragua for information on U.S. - Nicaragua relations.
Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements
Nicaraguan authorities have denied entry to or expelled foreigners, including NGO workers, academics, and journalists, for reasons not clearly defined.
- You should have an onward or return ticket and evidence of funds to support yourself while in Nicaragua.
- You must purchase a tourist card for USD$10 at the airport (exact change recommended).
- Your tourist card is valid for up to a total of 90 days in any of the member countries of the Central America-4 Border Control Agreement. Visitors remaining longer must obtain an extension from Nicaraguan Immigration.
- You must carry a valid identity document at all times.
- If you use a passport of a different nationality than you did on prior trips to Nicaragua, Nicaraguan authorities may deny you entry.
- Medical officials conduct a remote body temperature scan of all disembarking passengers at Managua’s airport. If you have been to West Africa or a region with medical epidemics, Nicaragua may quarantine you or not allow you to enter the country. For specific information, please contact the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health.
- You must exit Nicaragua with the same passport used for entry. If your U.S. passport is lost or stolen while in Nicaragua, you will need to get a new entry stamp from Nicaraguan Immigration before you can depart.
- There is a USD$42 departure tax, often included in the ticket, or you can pay the tax at the airline counter when departing.
- U.S. citizens traveling on official or diplomatic passports, or in diplomatic-plated vehicles from neighboring countries, should notify the U.S. Embassy in Managua, as the Government of Nicaragua requires special notification for official travelers.
- See the U.S. Embassy website for information regarding departure requirements for children under 18 who also are Nicaraguan citizens.
- See the CDC’s website for recommended vaccinations.
Advanced Coordination Required for Volunteer Groups: You should email the Embassy of Nicaragua in the United States (email@example.com) or the Nicaraguan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (firstname.lastname@example.org) to inform them of your trip if you are leading one of the following types of trips:
- Volunteer mission
- Charitable or medical brigade, or
- Assistance visit organized by NGOs, religious groups, schools, or any other group doing this type of work in Nicaragua.
If your group has worked in Nicaragua previously or has a local office, you are not exempt from this requirement.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Nicaragua.
Safety and Security
The Government of Nicaragua is authoritarian, limits freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, represses internal dissent, and monitors and responds to perceived threats to authority.
- Nicaraguan authorities may physically or electronically monitor, detain, and question private U.S. citizens concerning their activities, including contact with Nicaraguan citizens, especially related to topics as varied as the proposed interoceanic canal, elections, and criticism of the Government of Nicaragua. The government-controlled legal system can result in prolonged detentions of U.S. citizens without charges or due process.
- Demonstrations occur frequently throughout the country; in the past, these have turned violent. Avoid demonstrations and exercise caution around large gatherings.
- Roads may be closed, and public transportation may be disrupted due to large crowds celebrating the following holidays:
- Semana Santa (the week before Easter)
- Repliegue Histórico a Masaya (early July)
- July 19 celebration of the Sandinista Revolution
- Celebration in Managua of Santo Domingo, the Patron Saint of the city (August 1st and August 10th)
- Feast of Purísima (December 8).
- Messages regarding demonstrations, strikes, and weather-related events are posted on the embassy’s website and emailed to U.S. citizens enrolled in STEP.
Crime: Violent crime occurs throughout Nicaragua. Vehicle burglaries, pick-pocketing, and occasional armed robberies occur in store parking lots, on public transportation, and in open markets like the Oriental and Huembes Markets in Managua. Street crime is also common in Puerto Cabezas, Bluefields, and the Corn Islands. Police presence is extremely limited outside of major urban areas, including on the Pacific Coast and Nicaragua’s Caribbean Coast. Due to the Caribbean Coast’s geographical isolation, we have limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens there.
- Several U.S. citizens have been sexually assaulted in beach locations or at hotels.
- There are no forensic doctors on the Corn Islands, so victims of violent crimes, including sexual assault, must travel to Bluefields at their own expense for medical examinations and collection of evidence. In several recent cases, police were reluctant to produce police reports or pursue charges. Please report such incidents to the Embassy.
- Exercise extreme caution when renting or driving vehicles. In one common scam, “Good Samaritans” pull over to help change a flat tire. While the driver is distracted, an accomplice steals the driver’s possessions.
- We prohibit off-duty U.S. government personnel from entering the Oriental Market in Managua due to high levels of crime and other illicit activity.
- All travel by U.S. government personnel to the Northern and Southern Caribbean Coast Autonomous Regions must be pre-approved due to crime and transportation safety concerns.
Victims of Crime:
Report crimes, including sexual assault, to the local police at 118 (Nicaraguan equivalent of “911,” in Spanish) or 101 (Tourist Emergency Hotline, English-speaking operators but only reachable from Claro cell phones) and contact the U.S. Embassy at 2252-7100.
Local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
- help you find appropriate medical care
- assist you in reporting a crime to the police
- contact relatives or friends with your written consent
- explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
- provide a list of local attorneys
- provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
- provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical
- support in cases of destitution
- help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
- replace a stolen or lost passport
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.
Coastal Disputes: Be aware of the following border disputes:
- Nicaragua and Colombia have an ongoing dispute over waters surrounding the San Andres Islands. The Nicaraguan Navy has challenged vessels passing through its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
- Nicaragua and Costa Rica have stationed security forces at Harbor Head (also called Isla Calero) at the eastern end of the San Juan River due to a border dispute.
- Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador have maritime and land disputes over islands and access to fishing rights in the Gulf of Fonseca on the Pacific Coast, a closed sea under international law.
For further information:
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Call us in Washington at 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
- See the State Department's travel website for Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, and Travel Alerts.
- Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
- See traveling safely abroad for useful travel tips.
Local Laws & Special Circumstances
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. We are limited in what we can do to assist detainees, and your U.S. passport will not help you avoid arrest or imprisonment.
- Nicaraguan authorities have denied entry to, detained, or expelled foreigners, including U.S. government officials, academics, NGO workers, and journalists, for discussing, writing about, photographing, videoing, or reporting on the proposed interoceanic canal project, elections, criticism of the Government of Nicaragua, and other topics deemed sensitive.
- Nicaragua’s Sovereign Security Law allows for broad interpretation of unlawful activities that threaten the peace and economic stability of Nicaraguans, at the discretion of government authorities.
- Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Nicaragua are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
- Marijuana is illegal in Nicaragua, even with a prescription.
- There are severe penalties for domestic violence, psychological abuse, and non-payment of child support.
Arrest Notification: Nicaraguan authorities frequently do not notify the Embassy when a U.S. citizen has been detained, especially if the arrestee has dual nationality. The Government of Nicaragua does not consider U.S. citizens born in Puerto Rico to be U.S. citizens, which can further delay notification and access. If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials and friends or family to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. Even after we learn of an arrest, it may be several days or weeks before we can visit. See our webpage for further information.
- The legal system operates arbitrarily, which can result in prolonged detentions of U.S. citizens without charges or due process.
- In many instances, police and prison authorities have ignored or significantly delayed implementing judicial orders to release, deport, expel or transfer prisoners.
Purchasing Property: Exercise extreme caution before investing in property. Several U.S. citizens have been arrested or threatened with violence as a result of property disputes. See our website for more information.
Beach Safety: Exercise caution at the beach; several U.S. citizens have drowned off Nicaragua's Pacific Coast. Warning signs are not posted, and lifeguards and rescue equipment are not readily available.
Hiking in volcanic or remote areas is dangerous. Wear appropriate clothing and footwear and carry sufficient food, water, and communication equipment. If you travel to remote areas, hire a reputable local guide familiar with the terrain and area. According to Nicaraguan law, tourists require a local guide for several of Nicaragua’s volcanoes, including Volcan Maderas and Volcan Concepcion on Ometepe Island.
Disaster Preparedness: Nicaragua is prone to earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and volcanic eruptions. If you are at a beach area when an earthquake occurs, move swiftly to higher ground (when safe to do so) to avoid any possible tsunami.
- Nicaragua has many very active volcanoes. Frequent seismic activity and/or eruptions can occur at the six most active, which are Volcan Telica, Volcan Concepcion, Volcan Momotombo, Cerro Negro, San Cristobal, and Volcan Masaya.
- In the event of an earthquake, volcanic eruption, or other potential natural disaster, U.S. citizens should pay close attention to local media reports, follow the guidance of local authorities, and monitor the websites of the Nicaraguan Institute for Territorial Studies (INETER) and the Nicaraguan Emergency Alert System (SINAPRED).
- See the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for information about disaster preparedness.
Customs Regulations: U.S. citizens should contract well in advance of their visit with a recognized local customs broker for assistance; the Embassy is unable to assist with the customs or import process.
- Nicaraguan customs officials routinely delay or block import of goods, including medicines and other items intended for donation.
- In order to import medicine, even for donation to charity, approval from the Ministry of Health’s Pharmacy Department is required.
- If you are planning to bring vehicles or household goods, consult Nicaraguan customs officials prior to shipment.
- Before excavating archaeological materials or buying historical artifacts, you should consult with the National Patrimony Directorate of the Nicaraguan Institute of Culture. Otherwise, severe criminal penalties may apply.
- Please see our Customs Information for additional information.
Faith-Based Travelers: See our website for details
LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Nicaragua. While violence against LGBTI travelers is not common, widespread societal discrimination exists. See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of the Department of State's Human Rights report for further details.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: There is limited to no accessibility on public transportation, including few sidewalks and road crossings.
Nicaraguan law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical and mental disabilities, but in practice, such discrimination is widespread in employment, education, access to health care, and the provision of state services.
Retired Residents Law: Nicaragua promotes residency for retirees. Retirees can apply for residency through the Nicaraguan Institute of Tourism, INTUR.
Students: See our Students Abroad page.
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Only basic, limited emergency medical services are available in smaller towns and villages.
- Ambulance services, where available, provide transportation and basic first aid only.
- Physicians and hospital personnel frequently do not speak English.
- Tap water is not reliably potable -- drink only purified bottled water.
Zika Virus: Zika virus is a mosquito-borne illness, typically transmitted by the day biting Aedes aegypti mosquito that can be spread from a pregnant woman to her unborn baby as well as through sexual contact and blood transfusion. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has concluded that the Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly and other neurological conditions. For general information and the latest updates about Zika and steps to prevent mosquito bites and sexual exposure to the virus, please visit the CDC website.
In addition, the following diseases are prevalent:
- Mosquito-borne diseases (i.e., Dengue fever and Chikungunya)
- Upper respiratory viruses (i.e., Influenza)
- Infectious bacterial diseases (i.e., Typhoid fever and Leptospirosis)
- Intestinal illnesses (i.e., Giardia)
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance (our webpage) to cover medical evacuation.
If traveling with prescription medication, check with the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health's Pharmacy Department to ensure the medication is legal. Always, carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription.
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
Travel & Transportation
Road Conditions and Safety: Highways connecting major cities are generally in good condition, but secondary roads are potholed, poorly lit, frequently narrow, and lack shoulders. Most roads on the Caribbean Coast are unpaved. Road signs throughout the country are poor-to-non-existent. Road travel after dark is hazardous in all areas. Carry a cellular phone in case of emergency, and do not drive outside urban areas after dark.
- Damaged roads during the rainy season;
- Bicycles, oxcarts, animals, and vehicles without lights, even on main roads;
- Motorcycles darting between traffic with little or no warning;
- Pedestrians on busy roads;
- Other vehicles in poor condition;
- Drivers passing or parking on blind corners;
- Drivers signaling a turn by sticking their hand out the window.
Traffic Laws: If you are involved in a traffic accident, wait for police to arrive and follow their instructions. Do not move your vehicle, unless a police officer tells you to do so, or you will be legally liable for the accident, whether or not you caused it.
Nicaraguan law requires that police take a driver into custody for:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol (the legal limit is 0.05% blood alcohol content) or drugs and/or
- Being involved in an accident that causes serious injury or death.
The minimum detention period is 48 hours. In fatal accidents, drivers are held until they reach an agreement with the victim’s family.
To avoid liability, consider hiring a professional driver through a reputable hotel.
All drivers (in rented or owned vehicles) must carry:
- driver’s license,
- proof of insurance,
- vehicle registration,
- emergency triangle,
- fire extinguisher, and
- inspection and registration stickers
Traffic Stops: Transit police conduct most traffic stops on foot at locations marked by traffic cones. The transit police are more likely to stop those in rental cars and with foreign license plates.
- Transit police often demand bribes in lieu of fines. If this happens, request a receipt and the officer's name and badge number.
- To report mistreatment by police, file a complaint with Nicaragua’s National Police and forward your complaint to the U.S. Consular Section in Managua. Advise your rental car agency if police say the vehicle does not meet regulations.
- If you receive a traffic violation, police will confiscate your driver's license until you pay the fine at a bank. Foreigners are rarely able to recover their licenses in a timely manner. Please consult the Nicaraguan National Police (in Spanish) for more information about how to pay for or appeal traffic infractions and recover confiscated licenses.
Public Transportation: Buses, mototaxis (caponeras), and ferries often lack proper safety equipment.
- Avoid public buses due to safety and crime concerns.
- Use only mototaxis (caponeras) recommended by trusted sources and only for short trips.
- Use only licensed taxis recommended by airport authorities, major hotels, restaurants, or other trusted sources.
- Have small bills because many drivers will not make change.
- Exercise caution in the face of possibly overloaded or otherwise unsafe ferries and boats, and check with local naval or police authorities about the safety of being on the water in local weather conditions. Life vests and other safety equipment are often insufficient.
- Be aware that airports in remote locales are likely to have short airstrips, minimal safety equipment, and little boarding security.
Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Nicaragua’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Nicaragua’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.