Entry/Exit Requirements for U.S. Citizens
You must have a valid U.S. passport to enter Nicaragua, although there is a bilateral agreement which waives the six-month passport validity requirement applicable to many countries, U.S. citizens should ensure that their passports are valid for the entire length of their projected stay in the country before traveling. U.S. citizen visitors must have an onward or return ticket and evidence of sufficient funds to support themselves during their stay. U.S. citizens do not need a visa; however, a tourist card must be purchased for $10 upon arrival. While the entry stamp for standard tourist visits is typically valid for 90 days and illegal presence begins to accumulate after 90 days. Visitors remaining more than the authorized period must obtain an extension from Nicaraguan Immigration before the 90-day period ends. Failure to do so will likely delay your departure until a fine is paid of approximately US$2 per day for each day you were considered illegally present. U.S. citizens who violate their immigration status should be aware that the U.S. Embassy cannot seek to influence the Government of Nicaragua to waive or reduce the fine.
If you enter without a visa issued by a Nicaraguan Embassy or Consulate, you must have a valid entry stamp less than 90 days old in the passport you are using to exit Nicaragua. There is also a $42 departure tax. Many airlines include this tax in the price of the ticket. If the tax is not included in the ticket, payment can be made at the airline counter upon departure.
Nicaraguan law requires visitors to exit Nicaragua using the same passport with which they entered the country. Dual national minors who have a claim to Nicaraguan citizenship are subject to departure requirements specific to Nicaraguan children under the age of 18, even though they may also be citizens of other countries. More information on these requirements can be found on the U.S. Embassy web site. Dual national adults are required to enter Nicaragua using a Nicaraguan passport, except for visits of less than 90 days.
According to Nicaragua’s Law for Foreigners, foreigners must be in possession of a valid identity document at all times while in Nicaragua and may be required to show it to Nicaraguan authorities upon request. Acceptable identity documents are: (1) a permanent residency card, (2) a temporary residency card, or (3) a valid passport or travel document accompanied by an entry stamp. Police may detain travelers not in possession of an identity document.
Nicaragua is a member of the “Central America-4 (CA-4) Border Control Agreement” with Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. Under the terms of this agreement, citizens of the four countries may travel freely across land borders between these countries without completing entry and exit formalities at immigration checkpoints. U.S. citizens and other eligible foreign nationals who legally enter any of the four countries may similarly travel among the four without obtaining additional visas or tourist entry permits for the other three CA-4 countries. Immigration officials at the first port of entry determine the length of stay, up to a maximum period of 90 days. Foreign tourists who wish to remain in the four-country region beyond the period initially granted for their visit are required to request a one-time extension of stay from local immigration authorities in the country where the traveler is physically present, or travel outside the CA-4 countries and reapply for admission to the region. Foreigners “expelled” from any of the four countries are excluded from the entire CA-4 region. In isolated cases, the lack of clarity in implementing the details of the CA-4 Border Control Agreement has caused temporary inconvenience to some travelers and has resulted in others being fined more than one hundred dollars or detained in custody for 72 hours or longer.