Marine Safety and Oversight: The areas off both coasts of Honduras are the subject of maritime border disputes between Honduras and its neighbors. The Honduran Navy patrols these areas and all private vessels transiting Honduran territorial waters should be prepared to be hailed and possibly boarded by Honduran military personnel to verify documentation. While the Honduran Navy previously used private vessels as patrol vessels, this is no longer the case. In the event that any vessel is hailed in Honduran waters in the Caribbean by a non-military vessel or any suspicious vessel and directed to prepare for boarding, the vessel should immediately contact the U.S. Coast Guard Operations Center by radio or INMARSAT at (305) 415-6800. Anyone needing more information can also contact the U.S. Embassy during working hours and request to speak with the U.S. Military Group office. There have been incidents of armed assaults against private sailing vessels by criminals posing as fishermen off the northeast coast of Honduras, particularly in the numerous small islands northeast of the Department of Gracias a Dios. Sailors should contact the U.S. Coast Guard and yacht facility managers in their areas of travel for current information.
Real Estate Investment: U.S. citizens should exercise extreme caution before entering into any form of commitment to invest in real estate, particularly in coastal areas and the Bay Islands. Honduran laws and practices regarding real estate differ substantially from those in the United States, and fraudulent deeds and titles are common. U.S. citizens considering investing or buying real estate in Honduras should be aware that rights to such property do not enjoy the same level of protection as in the United States. Approximately 80 percent of privately held land is either untitled or improperly titled. Inadequate land title procedures have led to numerous investment disputes involving U.S. citizens who are landowners. Historically, title insurance has not been available in Honduras. Recently, some U.S. insurance companies have begun offering title insurance in cooperation with Honduran attorneys. In addition, there are complaints that the Honduran judicial system often prolongs disputed cases for many years before resolution. U.S. citizens have spent thousands of dollars in legal fees and experienced years of frustration trying to resolve property disputes, even in cases where local attorneys and Honduran and U.S. real estate agents had given assurances to the investor. Violence has been used against U.S. citizens involved in disputed property cases. Potential investors should engage competent local legal representation before making any commitments. Investors should also thoroughly check the references of attorneys and real estate agents.
Honduran law places certain restrictions on land ownership by foreigners in coastal and border areas. Squatters have claimed a number of properties owned by U.S. citizens. U.S. government officials may not act as agents, attorneys, or in a fiduciary capacity, and the Embassy staff is prohibited from providing legal advice. U.S. citizens who own property abroad and who have assumed responsibilities concurrent with ownership of property in a foreign country should take steps on their own initiative to safeguard their interests and to employ private legal counsel when the need arises. For further information on investing in property in Honduras, please review the State Department’s Investment Climate Statement, part of the Country Commercial Guide. For information on contracting Honduran legal representation, please check with other investors. You may also refer to the list of attorneys available on the U.S. Embassy’s home page.
Financial Market Investment: Due to poor regulation and lack of guarantees, investment in the Honduran ”Bolsa de Valores,” or securities market, as well as banking institution bonds, “fideicomisos” (trusts), and certificates of deposit from uninsured financial institutions pose high risks to investors. Extreme caution should be exercised before and while undertaking such activities, as U.S. citizens have lost large sums of money through investments in such markets. For further information on investing in Honduras, please review the State Department’s Investment Climate Statement, part of the Country Commercial Guide.
Corruption: Many U.S. firms and citizens operating in Honduras have found corruption to be a serious problem and a constraint to successful investment. While some U.S. firms have satisfactorily resolved cases through the courts, many have difficulty navigating the legal system. There are complaints that the Honduran judicial system exhibits favoritism and vulnerability to external pressure and bribes. Corruption appears to be most pervasive in government procurement, government permits, and in the buying and selling of real estate (land titling).
Customs Regulations: U.S. citizens who intend to stay in Honduras for an extended period of time and who bring vehicles or household goods into the country should consult Honduran customs officials prior to shipment. With the exception of “antique” cars, all cars imported into Honduras by foreigners must be less than ten (10) years old. Buses, pickup trucks, and dump trucks must be less than 13 years old. For specific information regarding customs requirements, please contact the Embassy of Honduras in Washington, DC. Honduran customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary import and export of items such as antiquities, medications, and business equipment. For example, Honduran law prohibits the export of antiques and artifacts from pre-colonial civilizations. To protect the country’s biodiversity, it is illegal to export certain birds, feathers, and other flora and fauna. For specific information regarding exportation requirements, please contact the Embassy of Honduras in Washington, DC and see our Customs Information page.
Firearms: No one may bring firearms into Honduras, except for diplomats or individuals participating in shooting or hunting sport events who have obtained a temporary firearm importation permit from the Honduran Ministry of Security prior to their travel to Honduras.
Firearms for personal safety or for purposes other than those mentioned above must be purchased locally through a store named “La Armería.” These stores are regulated by the Honduran Armed Forces and are located throughout Honduras.
Diplomats or individuals participating in shooting or hunting sport events seeking a permit for the importation of firearms can contact the Ministry of Security at the following address:
Secretario de Estado en el Despacho de Seguridad Pública
Cuartel General de Casamata
Tegucigalpa, M.D.C., Honduras, C.A.
Fax: (504) 2220-4352
Firearms that arrive without the requisite Honduran permit will be confiscated and the bearer could be prosecuted to the full extent of Honduran law.
Adventure Sports: Honduras’ growing tourism industry attracts a number of people interested in adventure sports such as whitewater kayaking and rafting, scuba diving, and canopy tours. Travelers should be warned that in addition to the inherent risk of injury and death in these activities, there is little or no oversight of safety standards for adventure sports operators in Honduras. At least eight U.S. citizens have died in these sports in Honduras since 2009. While many operators use good practices and attempt to meet internationally accepted safety standards, travelers should be diligent in researching potential adventure sports providers to make sure they are using internationally-acceptable or certified equipment, guides, safety measures, and instruction. Please see the section titled “Medical Facilities and Health Information” for more information on access to medical care when injured.