Q: How do I get myself and my motorcycle into Honduras?
Crossing the border from El Salvador to Honduras with a vehicle has to be one of the most complicated and frustrating experiences… if you don't speak Spanish. I've read countless ride reports of lengthy delays, costly missteps, crooked helpers and opportunistic money changers, all recounted with distaste and loathing. And almost all of them had poor or no Spanish skills.
We've crossed this border twice with our motorcycles in the last 7 months, and thanks to Neda's fluency in Spanish, we were able to do so without any major hiccups. She just followed all the instructions, ran around making countless photocopies, got some forms stamped and waited patiently.
So on our last border crossing, we've decided to document all the steps involved, in as much detail as possible, in case someone wants to attempt to do this themselves without a helper.
Each time we've made this crossing, the buildings and offices where forms got processed changed a bit, depending on what was open and available. However, the steps involved are always the same at the border:
1) Cancel your vehicle permit
2) Get yourself stamped out of the country
3) Get yourself stamped in at the next country
4) Get your vehicle permit.
This article covers the El Amatillo crossing between El Salvador to Honduras on October 4th, 2013. There are other places to cross, but this one is right on the Pan American highway and is probably the most popular one for overland travelers.
PREPLANNING: Before you cross the border, make sure you have the following:
- At least 5 photocopies each of your passport, driver's license, vehicle ownership/registration. They don't have to be printed on separate sheets, each copy can have all your documents on the same page.
- 1 photocopy of your vehicle permit you got when you entered El Salvador. It's the “Autorizacion Para El Regimen de Importacion de Vehiculo Usados” and it looks like this:
- Lots of water and snacks. Honduras can get pretty hot. There are food stalls everywhere, but if you're in line or in a rush, this just takes time away from the process, when instead, you can grab a bar out of your pocket and munch away while waiting. Arrive at the border with a full stomach so you're more focused.
- Time. Give yourself at least 2 hours to cross the border. Don't show up at lunch, you'll have to wait for all the officials to come back.
- Around $40 USD to complete the crossing with a vehicle, maybe a couple of dollars more if you are missing some photocopies. Small denominations are better in case they don't have change at the photocopy place. You can pay using US collars, you don't have to change to local Honduras Lempira. Not sure if you can use credit card (Neda thinks no).
STEP 1: Get your vehicle permit cancelled
As you approach the border, you will see trucks stopped and lined up for processing. You don't have to wait, just ride all the way up past them. There is a booth on the right-hand side of the road about a km away from the actual border. The GPS co-ordinates are:
13.585283, -87.798267 (N13° 35.117, W087°47.896)
The booth will have the sign “Direccion General de Aduanas” and will look like this:
Give the guy at the booth a copy of your vehicle permit (“Autorizacion Para El Regimen de Importacion de Vehiculo Usados”) that you made beforehand. The picture of the form is above in the Preplanning section.
If you forgot to make a copy, there is a place about 50m up the road that you can make a copy for about $0.15 USD.
The guy at the booth will stamp your vehicle permit, and you will have to go to the aforementioned copy booth and now make 3 copies of the *STAMPED* permit (should cost about $0.50 USD).
STEP 2: Get yourself stamped out of El Salvador
As you continue riding to the border, there will be a fork in the road. Trucks will be lined up on the right hand of the fork under some kind of large curved awning. Take the left hand fork instead:
You will approach the Immigration building. The GPS co-ordinates are
13.597827,-87.767673 (N13°35.860, W087°46.059)
It looks like this:
Enter under the building on the right hand side and park your bike. Secure all your belongings and walk to the booth at the end of the covered building where you'll see lots of people lining up. Bring your passport with you; you will get stamped out of the country. They will also give you a small slip of paper. I have no idea what this is for, since we were never asked for it again. It looks like this:
And we still have one from the first time we did the border crossing…
Ride to the bridge checkpoint. Before you cross the bridge, someone will check the exit stamp in your passport. You will also need to hand in 1 of the copies of the *STAMPED* Vehicle Permit that you made back in STEP 1.
Now you're out of El Salvador!
STEP 3: Stamp yourself into Honduras
You can find a shady spot and park the bike, secure all your belongings. Walk to the Immigration booth, the GPS co-ordinates are:
13.596345, -87.764977 (N13°35.7807, W087°45.8986)
it looks like this:
Fill out the form titled, “Registro Migratorio, Tarjeta de Ingreso /Egreso” . Then you will get three different stamps, your passport entry stamp, a yellow copy of the “Registro Migratorio,” and stapled to it, the white receipt. All of this should cost you $3 USD.
Walk to the Aduana building. The GPS co-ordinates are:
13.596650, -87.765150 (N13°35.799, W087°45.909)
It looks like this:
Line up at the booth inside:
It will cost you $35 USD, and you need to hand in the final 2 copies of the stamped vehicle permit that you made in STEP 1. You will also need to hand in 2 copies of your driver's license, passport and vehicle ownership and registration. If you previously didn't make copies (BE MORE PREPARED NEXT TIME! :), there are a few places around the corner that will charge you around $0.15 USD per copy.
The guy at the booth will come out and visually inspect the bike, he may ask where the VIN is and also ask you how much they cost. You'll walk back to the booth where he'll give you a stamped yellow slip titled, “Permiso de Entrada y Salida Temporal de Vehiculo”. This is your Honduran vehicle permit. It looks like this:
You will then have to make 4 additional copies of this vehicle permit at the aforementioned copy place. Walk back to the Aduana booth and give 3 of these copies to the guy and then ride to the checkpoint further down the road. The checkpoint police will ask for that 1 remaining copy of the vehicle permit that you made and also to see your entry stamp in your passport.
Total cost $35 (vehicle importation) + $3 (immigration) + $1 (photocopies) = less than $40USD!
WELCOME TO HONDURAS!