How To Cross Costa Rica & Nicaragua Borders: Peñas Blancas

Peñas Blancas Hours and Fees

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

There are several fees to cross the land borders as both border checkpoints charge their fees. You will spend on average $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 al and as for the Nicaragua border and Colones for the Costa Rica border.

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 up 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 get stamped a 90 days VISA.

Your Nicaraguan or Costa Rica residency.


If you are resident in 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.


Health pass to enter Costa Rica (online). 

You have to fill out a form online 48 hours upon arrival to get the health pass required to enter Costa Rica. You will have to enter your passport and other information on the following website:

Health insurance to enter Costa Rica if you’re not vaccinated (online).


People vaccinated against Covid 19 do not need health insurance to enter Costa Rica.

People who are not fully vaccinated against Covid 19 do need health insurance covering their stay in Costa Rica.

Here are a few insurance options approved by the Costa Rican authorities: INS, Sagicor, and BlueCross BlueShield. (LINKS)

Exit ticket or proof that you are leaving within 90 days to enter Costa Rica

All travelers – who are not residents in 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.

A negative PCR COVID-19 test negative result to enter Nicaragua

You need a negative PCR Covid test to enter Nicaragua, taken a maximum of 72 hours before arrival to the Nicaragua border. PCR test costs on average $75-150 in Costa Rica.

You can get tested in San Jose at the following locations:

  • Hospital Metropolitano +506 2521 9595
  • Clinica Bíblica +506 2522 1000
  • Hospital Cima +506 2208 1000
  • Lab Echandi +506 2568 4334
  • Laboratoria San Jose +506 6063 6363

And in Liberia at the following locations:

  • Lab Echandi +506 6223 2290
  • Liberia Airport

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 need to 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 in 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. This is where you have to show your negative covid test results, and get a receipt.

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, your health receipt, 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 check your bags on 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-days) 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 shuttles 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 be happy to 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 shuttles companies.

Taxis from Liberia costs 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 different people 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 in 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.

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

3- Don’t pay for custom forms!

If someone asks you to pay in order to get a custom form, don’t. 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. Even though pickpockets are not common when crossing the Nicaragua Costa Rica border, it still happens, and better be prepared than sorry.