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What to Know About Central American Entry Requirements

What to Know About Central American Entry Requirements

There are different reasons you might be considering a trip to Central America. It’s a place that’s frequented by backpackers and adventure seekers. It’s also somewhere that you’ll find the cost of living is low, so that’s appealing to long-term travelers and even retirees. You might also be planning to volunteer or work there for a period of time.

Regardless of your reasons, as with anywhere else in the world if you’re traveling there from another country, there are logistical things to keep in mind. There are course the day-to-day things to think about, such as how you’ll send and receive money abroad while you’re in Central America. There are also things to think about like where you’ll stay while you’re there and how you’ll adjust to the lifestyle.

Before you can get to those points, however, you have to know about the entry requirements. The following are some highlights of what you should know if you’re going to be traveling to a country in Central America.

Passports vs. Visas


If you’re going to visit any country in Central America, you’ll need one thing for certain which is a passport valid for at least six months from your entry into a country. Also, if you’re traveling somewhere in Central America where there is a yellow fever risk, you’ll have to bring your certificate of vaccination.

You won’t need a visa for most countries unless you’re going to be staying more than 90 days.

Anyone who’s a citizen of the U.S. as well as the EU, Canada, Australia, and certain other countries can go to all Central American countries without getting a visa before traveling. However, you may be charged an entry or tourist fee when you arrive, but it’s usually only anywhere from $5 to $20.

The Central America-4 Border Control Agreement


Countries that are part of the Central America-4 (CA-4) Border Control Agreement have less stringent travel guidelines and regulations. This applies to El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. Under this program, if you’re what’s considered an eligible foreign visitor, you can go to the countries for as long as 90 days without having to go through the entry and exit requirements at border checkpoints.

Onward Tickets and Sufficient Funds


You may expect to have your passport checked when you arrive in Central America and as you travel between countries, but there are other things you may be asked about as well.

First, you may be asked about sufficient funds, or you may have to respond to a question related to this on an application. Basically, officials are asking if you have enough money to stay in a country for the amount of time you’re planning. Usually, if you have around $500 a month, it’s considered sufficient funds.

Also, there are countries in Central American that will require you to show that you have booked your way out of the country as well, which is an onward ticket.

Finally, in certain locations, you may even be asked to pay an exit fee. For example, if you’re leaving Belize, there is an exit fee, but if you’re a U.S. traveler, this may have been included in your airfare. Otherwise, you may need to have cash at the airport.

This is a contribution from one of our contributing writers.

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