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Latest travel advice for Nicaragua including safety and security, entry requirements, travel warnings and health

2017-03-23T14:42:58.872+00:00: Latest update: Summary - removal of information and advice in the aftermath of Hurricane Otto

UK health authorities have classified Nicaragua as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For more information and advice, visit the website of the National Travel Health Network and Centre.

There’s no British Embassy in Nicaragua. If you need emergency consular assistance, you should contact the British Honorary Consul in Managua by calling via the British Embassy, Costa Rica, tel +506 2258 2025.

There has been an increase in seismic activity in recent years. See the Natural disasters section for advice about what to do before, during and after an earthquake. In 2015, there has also been significant volcanic activity, particularly at the Telica Volcano. You should seek reliable local advice before and during any tourist activity around the area of the Telica Volcano.

The rainy season normally runs from May to November. Hurricanes can affect Nicaragua during this period. See Natural disasters

Around 15,600 British tourists visited Nicaragua in 2014. Most visits are trouble free.

Dengue fever is endemic to Latin America and the Caribbean and there has been a recent significant increase in the number of reported cases. Cases of Chikungunya virus have been confirmed in Nicaragua. See Health

There is a low threat from terrorism. See Terrorism

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.

Safety and security

Crime

In recent years there has been a significant rise in thefts, break-ins and muggings. Street crime is common in Managua but also occurs in other large towns. Pickpockets and thieves operate on public transport and around bus terminals. Many criminals have weapons, and most injuries and deaths have resulted when victims have resisted. If you are robbed, inform the police and get a signed and sealed copy of their report.

Express kidnappings have occurred involving passengers using unauthorised taxis, where cash is demanded for release a short while later.

If possible use radio-dispatched taxis. If you get a taxi on the street, use an authorised taxi, which has red plates, and the driver’s identification number, name and photograph clearly visible on the dashboard. Take note of the colour and number of the vehicle before you get in.

It’s a common local practice to share taxis with strangers. If you prefer to avoid this, agree a fare with the driver for a solo journey. Always agree the fare before you set off. Many assaults and robberies have occurred when using unlicensed taxis and when a stranger offers to call a taxi for you. Don’t take a taxi if it’s been called for you by someone you do not know well.

There have been reports of cars being stopped and passengers assaulted at traffic lights in Managua. Keep the windows of your car closed and the doors locked.

Don’t travel on buses after dark.

Take care when walking around, particularly in markets, bus stations, the area around the old cathedral in Managua and poorer areas of towns. Don’t walk alone after dark.

There have been violent attacks against foreigners in hotels and houses. Use hotels that are staffed at the front desk 24 hours a day and have adequate security measures.

Avoid wearing jewellery. Don’t carry large amounts of cash, credit cards or other valuables.

Local travel

The North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN) is very remote. You should plan any travel to this area carefully.

Don’t hike on volcanoes or in other remote areas without an experienced guide.

Although extensive de-mining operations have been carried out in rural areas of northern Nicaragua, some landmines may remain. Take care if you venture off the main roads.

There have been occasional incidents of violent crime in Bonanza, La Rosita, Siuna and Little Corn Island.

Avoid road travel after dark due to the presence of armed bandits.

Road travel

Road conditions are generally poor and large potholes can appear overnight. There’s no street lighting on the main highways between major cities and only minimal street lighting in towns. Driving standards are low and the condition of vehicles, particularly taxis and buses is poor. Ignoring traffic lights is common practice. Drink driving is a severe problem.

Drivers of vehicles involved in serious injury or fatal road traffic accidents are often arrested and detained.

Air travel

During the wet season (April to October), it is usually better to fly to and from the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua on early morning flights because of the risk of severe storms later in the day.

Sea travel

Safety regulations and standards vary greatly. Although local law requires operators of public water-transport to have insurance, some operators still don’t carry recognised insurance. You should check the operator’s insurance cover before beginning your journey. In January 2016, a passenger boat travelling between islands off the Atlantic coast sank with the loss of 13 lives.

Swimming and water sports

 
Take care if you are swimming or taking part in water activities. Strong currents off sections of Nicaragua’s Pacific coast have resulted in drownings. Warning signs are not posted and lifeguards and rescue equipment are not readily available.  

Political situation

Political demonstrations can happen at any time and at short notice. You should avoid all large public gatherings and monitor local media reports. Previous demonstrations have been violent and affected access to and from the airport.

Terrorism

There is a low threat from terrorism, but you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be in public areas, including those frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

There is considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.

Local laws and customs

Don’t become involved with drugs of any kind. Possession of even very small quantities can lead to imprisonment.

Entry requirements

The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.

The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Visas

British nationals can visit Nicaragua for up to 3 months without a visa. You may be refused entry if you don’t have an onward ticket out of Nicaragua.

For further information on entry requirements, contact the Nicaraguan Embassy in London.

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry Nicaragua.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Nicaragua. If you are using an ETD to enter Nicaragua, it should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Nicaragua.

Travelling with Children

Minors who hold single or dual Nicaraguan Nationality may require specific documentation to leave the country with one parent or a third party. Advice should be sought from the Nicaraguan migration authorities.

Arrival and departure tax

There is a US$10 arrival tax, which should be paid in cash. There is also a US$35 departure tax, which is normally included in the price of your air ticket. If in doubt, check with your airline.

Yellow fever certificate requirements

Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.

Central America Border Control Agreement

Nicaragua is party to the Central America Border Control Agreement (CA-4).  Under the terms of this agreement, British tourists can travel within any of the CA-4 countries (Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala) for a period of up to 90 days without completing entry and exit formalities at border immigration checkpoints. This period begins at the first point of entry of any of the CA-4 countries. Fines are applied for travellers who exceed this 90 day limit, although a request for an extension can be made for up to 30 days by paying a fee before the 90 days limit expires. If you’re expelled from any of the four countries you are also excluded from the entire CA-4 region.

Health

Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website and by NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website.

UK health authorities have classified Nicaragua as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For more information and advice, visit the website of the National Travel Health Network and Centre.

Cases of Chikungunya virus have been confirmed in Nicaragua. You should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

Public hospitals in Nicaragua are not well equipped and charge for some services. There are some newer and better -equipped hospitals in Managua. Each department of the country has its own public hospital. You may need a good understanding of Spanish to use the health facilities. In an emergency, patients will be taken to the nearest hospital, which is usually a public hospital unless the patient indicates they are able to pay for treatment. Payment for healthcare is usually accepted in cash and may be required before treatment.

A few private hospitals will accept major credit cards for payment. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 128 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Natural disasters

Nicaragua is prone to seismic and volcanic activity, hurricanes, severe storms and flooding.

Earthquakes

There was an increase in seismic activity during April 2014 and seismic events can happen at any time. Make sure you know what to do if a tremor or earthquake occurs. Read the hotel earthquake instructions. The US Federal Emergency Management Agency has advice about what to do before, during and after an earthquake.

Hurricanes

The hurricane season normally runs from June to November. You should monitor the local and international weather updates from the  World Meteorological Organisation and the National Hurricane Centre

See our tropical cyclones page for advice about what to do if you are caught up in a storm.

Flooding

The wet season is from April to October. During this season (especially in rural areas) landslides, flooding and bridge collapses can cause cancellation of local flights and other travel disruption.

Volcanoes

A spine of volcanoes, several of which are active stretches the length of the country, in particular San Cristobal, Cerro Negro, Telica and Concepcion on Ometepe Island. San Cristobal has been active since  December 2012. Follow media reports and keep in touch with the local authorities if you intend to visit the area.

Money

The US Dollar, either in cash or travellers’ cheques, is the only foreign currency freely exchangeable in Nicaragua. Banks don’t exchange sterling. Avoid using informal street money changers as there have been reports of assaults on people exchanging money in the streets.

Banks will often have affiliated money changers outside the branch, which avoids long queues. These recognised money changers work bank hours and display identification. You can withdraw cash in US dollars or local Cordobas from ATMs.

Travel advice help and support

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send us a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

See also

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Select a country below:

  • British Embassy San Jose

    Title:British Embassy
    Email:
    Address:

    Edificio Centro Colón,
    Paseo Colón and Streets 38 and 40
    San Jose
    Apartado 815 - 1007
    San Jose
    Costa Rica

    Contact: Telephone: (506) 2258-2025
    Fax: (506) 2233 9938
    Visiting:General enquiries
    ukin.costarica@fco.gov.uk

    Consular enquiries
    costarica.consulate@fco.gov.uk
    Services:Emergency Travel Documents service (Assistance Services)
    Notarial services (Documentary Services)
  • British Embassy Managua

    Title:British Embassy
    Email:
    Address:

    British Embassy San Jose
    Edificio Centro Colón,
    Paseo Colón and Streets 38 and 40
    Managua
    Costa Rica

    Contact: Telephone: (506) 2258-2025
    Visiting:There is no resident British diplomatic mission in Managua. The British Embassy in San Jose has overall responsibility for the relations of the British government with the country of Nicaragua.
    Services:
  • Department for International Trade Costa Rica (and Nicaragua)

    Title:Department for International Trade Costa Rica
    Email:
    Address:

    Centro Colón
    Calles 38/40
    Paseo Colón
    San Jose
    Costa Rica

    Contact: Enquiries: +506 2258 2025
    Visiting:
    Services:

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The latest news, travel advice, and information for Nicaragua, updated regularly for all British travellers by the UK Foreign Office. Including British consulate and embassy addresses in Nicaragua (Managua).

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