When planning a trip out of the country, whether for pleasure, tourism or business, certain actions must be considered, such as confirming hotel reservations, and looking for the best destinations and times when it may be more economical to travel. However, people usually do not tend to check (or leave it to the end) if they have valid passports or investigate if any previous document is required at the time of entering their destination country. It is for this reason that we would like to share a series of tips and recommendations for traveling to any Central American country.
The main recommendation, although it may seem a bit obvious, is to always check the expiration date of your passport prior to making any travel arrangements. As a rule, most countries require a passport to be valid for at least 6 months prior to the date of entry into the destination country. Although there are passports or nationalities that require less time (3 months and some allow travel even 30 days before expiration), it is advisable to keep this term in mind in order to begin passport renewals with the necessary time in advance.
In the case of travel between citizens of the countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua, to travel by land within the same region, the only document that will be required to enter is your identification document in force and in good condition thanks to the agreement known as CA-4.
Another important and recommended action in this modern era of access to information and internet, is to consult web pages or official migration sites to check which are the entry requirements for tourism or business. In the case of Central America, the following sites are available:
- Guatemala: https://igm.gob.gt/clasificacion-de-paises/ and https://igm.gob.gt/requisitos-de-ingreso-a-territorio-guatemalteco/
- El Salvador: https://rree.gob.sv/servicios/visas-para-extranjeros/
- Honduras: In the case of Honduras, you should consult with the consulate of your country of origin located in Tegucigalpa; or consult with our advisors to confirm the requirements.
- Nicaragua: Although there is a list on its official website, the last update was in 2017. In the specific case, it is recommended to check with your lawyers or travel agency about the entry requirements.
- Costa Rica: There is a Visa Guideline that indicates the requirements for all nationalities. It can be consulted at: https://migracion.go.cr/Paginas/Visas.aspx
Entry Visa (Tourist or Business)
In case of requiring an entry/tourism visa, we share the list of requirements, which applies to most Central American countries:
- Complete the form or prepare a visa application letter.
- Copy of passport with more than 6 months of validity.
- Proof of economic capacity through an international credit card, traveler’s checks or return ticket. It can even be a bank proof of salary income.
- Letter of invitation if it is for business purposes.
- Most countries require 2 passport size color photographs (per person).
- Proof of vaccination or health certificate (when applicable for that country).
- Copy or reservation of the flight itinerary, which must be Round-trip.
- It is usually required to request an appointment at the consulate.
- Depending on the category of the country of origin, some consulates require to provide a Crime Record (Police Record) from the country of residence, as well as a copy of the Birth Certificate of the person concerned. **Some countries require the document to be apostilled, others only a simple copy. **
About vaccination or medical proofs
As part of the changes in travel regulations due to the pandemic, many countries require proof of vaccination against Covid-19. Among the Central American countries that currently require such proof are Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
Additionally, other countries require the presentation of Yellow Fever Vaccine, which is mandatory for all travelers coming from a country where there is a risk of contact (endemic). Countries that require such proof are El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
Legal period of stay
It is very important to check the maximum period of stay authorized by the immigration authorities. This can be confirmed by checking the entry stamp in the passport, which has the name of the country and indicates the number of days authorized.
In Central America there is a standard maximum term of 90 days, both for tourism and business. Only in the case of El Salvador, there is a maximum term of up to 180 days.
At the moment of entry, always check if the term stamped in your passport coincides with your travel needs. In cases where a lesser number of days have been stamped, the immigration authorities have internal procedures that allow extending the period granted until completing the total of 90 days. If you enter a Central American country and only 30 days are stamped, the interested person could request an extension to be granted the additional 60 days.
In case you require more information or have any doubts about this process in any of the countries of the region, please contact the regional Immigration Law specialists at firstname.lastname@example.org.