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See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Nicaragua for information on U.S. - Nicaraguan relations.
Please visit the Embassy's COVID-19 page for more information on entry/exit requirements related to COVID-19 in Nicaragua.
Since the 2018 civil unrest, Nicaraguan authorities have denied entry to or expelled foreigners, including NGO workers, academics, and journalists, for political reasons, including perceived support of pro-democracy or human rights movements. Travelers have also been arrested at the airport for political reasons while attempting to leave the country.
Advanced Coordination Required for Volunteer Groups: You should email both the Embassy of Nicaragua in the United States (firstname.lastname@example.org) and the Nicaraguan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (email@example.com) to inform them of your trip if you are leading one of the following types of trips, even if your group has worked in Nicaragua previously or has a local office:
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors or foreign residents in Nicaragua.
Crime: Vehicle burglaries, pick-pocketing, and occasional armed robberies occur in store parking lots, on public transportation, and in open-air markets like the Oriental and Huembes Markets in Managua. Petty street crime is common in Managua, Puerto Cabezas, Bluefields, San Juan del Sur, Popoyo, El Transito, and the Corn Islands. Police presence is extremely limited outside of major urban areas. The Caribbean Coast’s geographical isolation further limits the Embassy’s ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens living or visiting the area.
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). Report serious crime to the U.S. Embassy at 2252-7100 immediately and minor crimes during business hours.
Local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
The Embassy can:
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence are encouraged to contact the Embassy for assistance.
Coastal Disputes: Be aware of the following border disputes:
Tourism: The tourism industry is unevenly regulated, and safety inspections for equipment and facilities are uncommon. Hazardous areas/activities are not always identified with appropriate signage, and staff may not be trained or certified. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is typically available only in major cities. In the event of a diving injury, the only hyperbaric chamber is in Puerto Cabezas, over 100 miles from Corn Island where most tourists dive. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.
There are severe penalties, including imprisonment, for domestic violence, psychological abuse, and non-payment of child support.
Arrest Notification: Nicaraguan authorities may not notify the Embassy when a U.S. citizen has been detained, especially if the arrestee has dual nationality. If you are detained, ask police or prison officials and friends or family to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. After the Embassy learns of an arrest, it may be several days or weeks before the Government of Nicaragua permits a consular official to visit. See our webpage for further information.
Purchasing Property: Exercise extreme caution before investing in property. Armed individuals have taken over privately owned land. U.S. citizens have been arrested or threatened over property disputes. See our website for more information.
Beach Safety: Exercise caution at the beach. U.S. citizens have drowned at Nicaraguan beaches, lagoons, and lakes. Warning signs are not posted. Lifeguards and rescue equipment are not readily available.
Hiking in volcanic or remote areas is dangerous. Wear appropriate clothing and footwear. Carry sufficient food, water, and communication equipment. If you travel to remote areas, hire a reputable local guide. Nicaraguan law requires tourists hire a local guide for several volcanoes, including the two volcanoes on Ometepe Island (Maderas and Concepcion).
Disaster Preparedness: Nicaragua is prone to earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and volcanic eruptions. If you are at a coastal area when an earthquake occurs, move swiftly to higher ground (when safe to do so) to avoid possible tsunamis.
Customs Regulations: U.S. citizens planning to import items should contract a recognized local customs broker for assistance well in advance of their visit. The Embassy is unable to assist with the customs or import process.
Faith-Based Travelers: See the following webpages for details:
LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Nicaragua. While violence against LGBTI travelers is uncommon, widespread discrimination exists. See our LGBTI Travel Information page and the Department of State's Human Rights report for further details.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: There is limited or no accessibility assistance for public transportation and in many public areas. There are few sidewalks and pedestrian road crossings.
While Nicaraguan law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical and mental disabilities, in practice such discrimination is widespread in employment, education, access to health care, and the provision of state services.
Students: See our Students Abroad page.
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Please visit the Embassy's COVID-19 page for the most up-to-date information on COVID-19 in Nicaragua.
Government hospitals are understaffed and some hospitals throughout the country may not be able to assist in emergencies. Only basic, limited emergency medical services are available outside Managua.
The following diseases are prevalent:
We do not pay your medical bills. Please be aware that neither the Embassy nor U.S. Medicare or Medicaid can pay for medical care overseas.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Even with health insurance, most care providers overseas require cash payments prior to providing service. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage. We strongly recommend supplemental insurance 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 labeled with your doctor’s prescribing information.
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
Road Conditions and Safety: Main roads between major cities are paved and in good condition. Other roads may have potholes, be poorly lit, be narrow, and lack shoulders. During the rainy season, roads may become flooded or have additional damage. Horse carts, livestock, and pedestrians crossing roads in front of oncoming traffic are common, even on major roads in the main cities. Most roads on the Caribbean Coast are unpaved. Road signs throughout the country are limited or non-existent. Road travel after dark is hazardous in all areas. Carry a cellphone in case of emergency. Do not drive outside urban areas after dark.
Traffic Laws: If you are involved in a traffic accident, you must wait for the police and insurance company representatives to arrive. However, especially during overnight hours, police and insurance companies may not respond. Do not move your vehicle, unless a police officer tells you to do so, or you will be legally liable for the accident.
Nicaraguan law requires that police take a driver into custody for:
The minimum detention period is 48 hours. In fatal accidents, drivers are held until they reach a legal settlement with the victim’s family.
To avoid liability, consider hiring a professional driver through a reputable hotel.
All drivers must carry:
These regulations also apply to drivers in rental vehicles. Penalties for not having any of the above include fines and towing. For more information, check with the Nicaraguan National Police or the Embassy of Nicaragua.
Traffic Stops: Transit police often stop those in rental cars and with foreign license plates.
Public Transportation: Buses, moto-taxis, and ferries often lack proper safety equipment.
Airports in remote locales often have short airstrips, minimal safety equipment, and little boarding security.
Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) 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.
Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Nicaragua should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts on the Maritime Administration website. Information may also be posted to the websites of the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (select “broadcast warnings”).