Peñas Blancas Hours and Fees

You can cross the Costa Rica-Nicaragua border every day of the year from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. (the border closes at 8 p.m. on Sundays).

There are several fees to cross the land borders as both border checkpoints charge their fees. You will spend an average of $5-10 to exit Costa Rica or Nicaragua and $10-15 to enter Costa Rica or Nicaragua. Both sides of the border accept American dollars, but cordóbas for the Nicaragua border and Colones for the Costa Rica border.

Coming Soon: A New Highway to Ease Travel

“La Costanera,” a new 4-lane highway, is set to make traveling between Nicaragua and Costa Rica much simpler in the near future. Currently under construction, it promises a more efficient border-crossing process. This much-anticipated route is expected to be completed by 2025. Until then, continue reading for ways to easily cross Costa Rica into Nicaragua.

Required Documents for Crossing Borders

When border crossing in Central America, and more specifically between Costa Rica and Nicaragua at Peñas Blancas, you will need to bring the following documents:

Your passport.

You need your passport valid for at least six months to travel around Central America, including Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

Every time you enter or leave the country, you must fill out an immigration form called “Formulario Nacional de Migraciones.” This document is provided automatically at the border checkpoints if you are entering or exiting Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

When entering Costa Rica or Nicaragua by the Peñas Blancas land border, you will receive a stamped 90-day visa.

Your Nicaraguan or Costa Rica residency.

If you are a resident of Nicaragua or Costa Rica, you must bring your residency to leave or enter the country. Note that Nicaraguan residents pay a $10 fee when they exit the country instead of entering the country – like tourists do.

Exit ticket or proof that you are leaving within 90 days to enter Costa Rica
All travelers—who are not residents of Costa Rica—need to show proof of their next destination or onward ticket when entering Costa Rica.

You can provide this information through your flight reservation, bus ticket (Tica Bus, Caribe Shuttles), hotel accommodations, etc. You have to present a printed copy of this document.

Penas Blancas Border Crossing: From Costa Rica to Nicaragua

Here are the steps to cross the Peñas Blanca border from Costa Rica to Nicaragua. Remember that you have exactly 90 days from the entry date stamped on your passport to leave Costa Rica.

1- Border Crossing: Exit Costa Rica
First, you must pay your departure tax ($8 or the equivalent in Colones) to the small shack on the right-hand side before the border immigration checkpoint.

Then walk to the immigration building, go inside and present your passport and the exit tax receipt when it’s your turn.

2- Border Crossing: Walk the no man’s land
You can now walk between Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Follow the only street a few hundred meters to the Nicaraguan border.

3- Border Crossing: Enter Nicaragua
After approximately a hundred meters you will have a first officer checking your passport. He will then direct you to the health shack located right at the entrance of the Nicaraguan customs and immigration building.

Then walk inside the building and wait your turn to stamp your passport in Nicaragua. Someone will come to you and charge $1 municipality tax. Once it’s your turn, the immigration officer will ask for your passport, and check your Costa Rica exit stamp. You will have to pay another $12 entrance fee to the immigration officer.

Once your passport is stamped, you will pass your bags through an x-ray and cross the Nicaraguan customs. The customs office is inside the immigration office.

Welcome to Nicaragua!

Border Crossings with a Vehicle
Entering with your vehicle can be lengthy but usually not too difficult. Note that you cannot cross the border with a rental car.

To cross the border with your vehicle, you will have to present:

  • your title (Titulo de la Propiedad)
  • your driver’s license
  • your passport

You will have to pay an entry fee of $20-30 and then get proper stamps from Hacienda/Aduana (Timbres de Hacienda), and a property certificate from Hacienda/Aduana. Make sure you have a current tag and purchase Nicaragua insurance. Around $24 USD.

You will be given a temporary (30-day) permit to drive in Nicaragua and (90-days) in Costa Rica.

How to Get to the Costa Rica–Nicaragua Border?

Once at the Costa Rica – Nicaragua border, you can buy your bus ticket directly at the bus station at the border. But first, how do you get to the border?

Nicaragua Border

You can travel by public bus, called the chicken bus, from Rivas, San Juan del Sur, and Managua. You can also contact direct buses and shuttle companies such as Tica Bus, Caribe Shuttle, and more. (EXTERNAL LINKS)

Another option is to take a taxi to the border, which costs an average of $20-30 from San Juan del Sur and $80-120 from Managua. La Santa Maria staff would happily help you coordinate your transportation to/from the border!

Costa Rica Border

You can also travel by public bus from Liberia, Monteverde, and San José in Costa Rica. You can also contact the direct buses and shuttle companies.

Taxis from Liberia cost on average $75-120 and $200-250 from San Jose.

Peñas Blancas Border Crossing: 4 Helpful Tips

1- Bring small USD bills
Most of the time the immigration offices and the authorities collecting taxes along border crossings do not have much change. Bring bills of $1, $5, and $10 if possible to pay all taxes.

2- Get help moving your luggage across the borders
There are a few people who will offer you help to carry your luggage between the borders. It might only be 5-10 minutes, but it is also typically 30 Celsius-84/Fahrenheit! If you would like some help walking with your luggage, pick one of the men who has a trailer, but make sure to negotiate the price ($1-5) before handling your suitcases.

Important: Do not give anybody except immigration and customs officers your passport.

3- Don’t pay for custom forms!
If someone asks you to pay to get a custom form, don’t accept. Those forms are free directly with immigration officers and are now mainly filled up online.

4- Do not leave your passport or valuable belongings unattended
Make sure to always hold on tight your passport and other valuable items such as phones, laptops, etc. Even though pickpockets are not common when crossing the Nicaragua-Costa Rica border, it still happens, and it is better to be prepared than sorry.