The Costa Rica Immigration and Aduana office are here. Didn’t use restroom. The exit tax paying machine out of order. Electricity worked fine. We were in and out in under 40 minutes
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We crossed from Costa Rica to Panama at Sixaola with two motorcycles on 23 Feb 24. Here's how we did it.
1. Head toward Sixaola on Hwy 36. At 9.506051, -82.615865, exit the highway to the left, immediately turning right to continue in the same direction on the side road that runs parallel to the highway. Ride to the absolute very end, right where the pedestrian ramp takes people up onto the bridge. Ignore the people waving for you to park where they want you to (if you're not riding a motorcycle, you may want to park where you can find space). Park on the right; there is a cop stationed on the left, so someone has eyes on your bike. Be prepared for fixers. As you'll see, you won't need one!
2. Across the street and back one building is migracion - look for the big blue sign and the windows. Go to the windows there. They will ask for, scan and stamp your passport. If you've already paid your US$8 exit tax online they will know (you would have entered your passport number; link is https://www.bancobcr.com/wps/portal/bcr/bancobcr/personas/solicitudes_en_linea/pago_impuesto_salida_terrestre/). Otherwise, it's US$9. Time: <5 min.
3. The set of windows at the next building (just turn left if your back is to the street, or turn around if the street is to your right) is aduana, where you will suspend your TIP. Yes, consider suspending instead of cancelling. No cost, just as quick, and it keeps your options open. You will provide them your Costa Rican insurance paperwork and the small slip of paper with a handwritten 5 digit code that you received at Costa Rican aduana to access your TIP electronically. It will all be stapled together, stamped and returned to you. Time: <5 min.
4. Hop back on your bike, ride back to where you left the highway (9.506051, -82.615865), turn left back on the highway. Ride across the bridge; Panamanian officials will stop you on the far end. One will want to briefly see your passport. A second will want to see your passport and the documents demonstrating you cancelled/suspended your TIP. He will walk away with them, and return about 5 min later, and return the paperwork to you. Then he will record your licence plate and bike description in a paper logbook. Time: 10 min.
5. Roll forward 20m into the fumigation booth, get off your bike and watch it get sprayed. We took our luggage etc off the bike first, because the spray goes everywhere, not just underneath. Time: 1 min (plus time to remove and reattach luggage).
6. Ride to the end of the bridge. Your goal will be to turn left and return along the road that parallels the bridge. You can do this by either continuing to the proper turnaround point, or by cutting across to the left at the earliest opportunity. Coming back parallel to the bridge, ride until you see the gravel incline (9.498238, -82.613115), then ride up that and park. (If you're not on a motorcycle, there may still be room here, otherwise park where you find space.) This puts you central to everything you need. Be prepared for fixers, kids who will volunteer to watch your bike for money, and for kids begging. No fixers or guards required.
7. First step is migracion. It is to the southeast if you've parked at the top of the gravel incline (at 9.498265, -82.612771). There is a sign, and it's hard to miss. If you parked at the top of the gravel incline, it's on the far side of the two small side-by-side containers serving as offices (one is darker grey, the other is off-white). At migracion you will get your passport stamped; they will also take your picture and your fingerprints. The passport stamp won't say how long your visa is for, so know what Panama allows for your citizenship. Time: <5 min.
8. Return to the dark grey office container. Here you will pay US$4 tourist tax and receive a very small square piece of paper. No one ever asked to see this paper. Time: 1 min.
9. Next to the dark grey office container is an off-white office container. This is where you get your insurance. They are open 8am-5pm seven days a week. Except, they tend to close early Sundays if it's a quiet day, and as there's only one employee there they also close for 45 min for lunch. Here you will show your passport and vehicle registration paperwork. Insurance cost us US$25 for 30 days. I believe you can purchase up to 90 days; read the rest of these instructions before buying more than 30 days' worth. You will get two copies of your Panamanian insurance. At this point, ask nicely for a photocopy of the cancelled/suspended TIP paperwork you received exiting Costa Rica (you only need a copy of the small slip with the stamp on it), your passport photo page, and your vehicle registration (unless you're prepared and already have these!). Time: 10 min.
10. Once you exit the off-white office container, with your back to the door there will be a building between you and the road at about your 10 o'clock. Go to the road side of this building. Here, you will pay the guy in the window US$3 for your fumigation certificate, and the guy sitting at the desk outside the window US$10 for some tax related to bringing your vehicle into the country; he will give you a handwritten receipt. The fumigation guy types stuff into a computer; although no one ever asked to see either of these two pieces of paper, the fumigation info may be tracked somewhere. Time: 5 min.
11. With your back to the road and still facing the fumigation receipt-giving guy, turn left, and walk around that building until you see an area behind a chain link fence/gate. Go in here and look for "Ventanilla 1", about the second or third window in on the left. Slide the window open like you own it. The person behind the window will want your passport, a copy of your passport photo page, a copy of your vehicle registration, a copy of your new Panamanian insurance and a copy of your cancelled/suspended Costa Rican TIP. (Don't ask them for a TIP - they guy we spoke to wasn't familiar with this term and thought we wanted something else; "permiso temporal de importación de vehículos" is what it is in Spanish). It'll take about 15 min, then you'll get your passport back with a big ol' stamp in it and today's date handwritten over it, and your TIP. Be aware, we were only given a 30 day TIP. We were told that's how it works. Before the 30 days expires, go to any aduana office in the country and ask for an extension, which will be for another 30 days. You can do this exactly twice, for a total of 90 days. We specifically asked whether the process would be different if we had purchased a 90 day insurance policy and were told no, we would still only get a 30 day TIP. Time: 15 min.
12. You're done (almost). Hop on your bike and take off. However, about 5-10 km down the road there will be a formal checkpoint, where one person will inspect your passport and a second will inspect your TIP. Time: 2 min.
13. That's it - now you're done! Enjoy Pamana.
Note we did not see any money changers on either side of this border crossing. We changed all our colones to USD at a bank in Costa Rica, which was easy. We paid everything at the border in cash; I don't know whether any of them would take plastic.Report Check-In
If you need to change Colones to Dollars, the only place that seemed to do this was the supermarket in town (its obvious when you're there). they change cash at the checkout. there was also a lady at the bus station who would do cambio, but she didn't have dollars so would only contemplate changing dollars to colones...Report Check-In
Update to prices:
Exit Costa Rica: 9$
Take also a copy of the paper from Aduana you get when you leave Costa Rica, together with passport and drivers license.Report Check-In
easy border crossing. took 10min
REMEMBER TO TAKE RAMP TO go below bridge about 100mts ahead of the bridge.
I needed to make a U on top of the bridge
Migration office is kind of hidden. Be sure to take a left before you drive up the ramp. They didnt ask for exit tax so we paid it online for nothing. Left Costa Rica in less than 10 minutes.Report Check-In
Attention a bien respectér l ordre en premier payer la taxe de sortie a cote de la farmacia puis faire le queue pour l imigration et revenir sur ses pas 5 m pour les douanes. Sinon il faut recommencer. Beaucoup d attente a 8 hReport Check-In
Costa Rica to Panama. Arrived at 8 a.m. on a Tuesday and finished at 10 a.m.
Going to go ahead and leave a detailed step-by-step:
Before bridge across river, take ramp down to the left. At bottom of ramp, sharp right. Go straight and find a place to park. Offices are up hill on right. First get exit stamp (pay $8 online in advance—URL is in a previous review). Show passports only. Then aduana window. Show TIP and driver passport, and fill out brief form. We always recommend suspending TIP rather than cancelling, even if you don’t have plans to return.
Now on to Panama.
Cross bridge. Stop on bridge. Show passports to first guy. Then show title and Costa Rica form to second aduana guy. Same aduana guy may inspect vehicle (we just opened back door).
Then cross the bridge and turn around on the road to go back under the bridge on the Panama side. Park in gravel lot with official trucks.
Walk down to immigration and present passports. Adults have their photo taken and give fingerprints. Present vaccination cards for adults (we only have 2 doses and had no issues).
Go like you’re walking to top of bridge, but turn to container on right. Three people take these three fees:
$5 USD for fumigation
$10 USD for entrance tax
$5 USD for inspection fee
Back to gravel lot and go to seguro container office. Present title and driver passports.
$75 for three months of insurance, or $25 for one month.
Across gravel lot to light gray compound of offices. Second window, present driver passport with photo copy (you can add a second driver) and title with photo copy.
8 am-10 am total time with both sides.
We tried to find the Chinese place to change our cash. We finally found a grocery store that would do it, but they rejected our 10,000 colones bill because evidently it’s going out of circulation.Report Check-In
super easy border crossing. there are actually signs here! and people help out and point you in the right direction when you get that confused/lost look on your face. just checking in that we paid 15 per dog plus some fees that added up to 45 dollars, not 40, and that they "promised to email" the dogs paperwork but 2 weeks later and they still haven't. turns out what they gave us was enough to get our exit paperwork to fly south, but be warned that they may never actually email whatever document they are talking about. also make sure you get your insurance paper back. I don't know if it was supposed to happen, but the lady at the tip office kept our only copy. I guess since you need that paper to get your tip that you don't actually need that paper? Alejandro at Overland Embassy can get a new copy. lots of police checkpoints in Panama, they asked for the tip and drivers license but never for the insurance.Report Check-In
Costa Rica to Panama
Migration on Costa Rica side took 3 minutes as we had paid online the $8, then suspended the TIP, they just checked the VIN.
On Panama side we were stopped on the bridge an they checked the papers before they sent us down passed the duty frees to the various offices.
Paid the 10$ community road tax, 10$ fumigation! (Big truck) - all with receipt. Then animal Check, paid 40 for 2 dogs and used our papers from Nicaragua which were copied. As it was Sunday they promised to send the paperwork via email.
Then aduana, insurance was closed, paid 30 per vehicle insurance to aduana. Received TIP.
Changed money at the chinese shop (pass under the Bridge).
All very easy, friendly and relaxed.Report Check-In
Easiest border crossing ever. Leaving Panama took about 5mins.
Re-entering Costa Rica I asked if I could get more time on my visa and tip (stupidly I only asked for 30 days my first entry), and both gave me a fresh 90 days hassle-freeReport Check-In
Beware - as of 28/01/22 you need to be triple vaccinated or have a antigen test.
We paid our exit fee online before so exit took about 20 minutes for us and the car. Changed our colonies at the copy shop. bridge officials checked passports and wanted go see onside. They saw our pets and told us where do park on the other side. Fumigation paperwork first, $3. Then pets. $15 per pet for inspection + $10 for papers. $40 total for two cats. We used our Costa Rican IPSA health certificate from entering (valid for 3 months) and vaccine cards. They told us they would email us the paperwork and gave us a receipt. Immigration, insurance ($25 per month) and TIP all easy to do but slow. 4hrs total.
immigration is now on the other side of road down embankment next to Aduanas. before Aduanas there's a bank agent to pay $9 exit tax ($1 extra). you need to park up on the new bridge. this is the dodgiest border I've been to in central america. so many annoying helpers/criminals that follow you around and lots of people smuggling duty free from Panama.Report Check-In
You can pay your exit fee in advance online with BCR, Banco Costa Rica, and avoid waiting in line.
Exit from CR, fats and organised. Hardly anyone at this border so no queuing.
As described below, parked, paid $9 for exit at the little Movistar / tourist shop, up to Immigration 5 minutes get stamped out, Aduana no more than 20’ (we had 1 copy of TIP with us)… very friendly very easy!
Let’s see what Panama has on offer…
For everyone who said it was easy, there seems to be an utter lack of detail in what’s required. I got stuck here overnight, so here’s what you need:
Park at the gate before the bridge and park.
Walk down the embankment to the exit tax office.
While there, pay $9 for exit.
Also, buy your panama insurance from the same guy.
You’ll need title and passport. Cost $30 for one month.
Walk to immigration, 50 meters further from exit tax office.
Show exit tax receipt to immigration officer and get stamped out.
Turn around, aduana office is in the same place as the immigration window. Stamp out your vehicle.
Return to your parked vehicle and proceed to Panama.
Note: Panama side of the border would not accept colones, so change your colones to USD before you cross, as there are some cash fees to enter.Report Check-In
Read southboundseahags for all info. The road to and across this border is excellent. I had no problems at all with a 25' Class C towing a car.
If you are coming from Panama .... Costa Rica only allows ONE vehicle per person for temporary import. If you have a traveling companion, the other vehicle can go under their name. And the same companion must exit with that vehicle.
This is one of the less stressful borders I have been across. I showed up late afternoon on Sunday. Unfortunately so did the 3 bus loads of people I was stuck in line behind. Was told that Panama closes at 5 pm. It was 4:30 in Costa Rica. Was able to cross the bridge but was immediately turned around and sent back. With the hour difference it was 5:30 in Panama. Spent the night on the Costa Rica side, very safe with no problems. There are grocery stores, restaurants and bars. Crossed again at 7am (Costa Rica) as Panama opens at 8 am.Report Check-In
Pets paperwork -going into CR. First go to MIDAS office in Panama side to get the exit document. We were just asked for proof of vaccinations. You get one document (just one doc even for multiple pets) and pay $5. They also check the pets and for that you pay $10. Then, take the Midas document to SENASA Costa Rica (next to aduana) and they will re-stamp the same document. Here they asked for vaccines and health certificates.Report Check-In
Easiest border so far. Park at the head of the line of trucks near the gate. Don’t block gate, traffic flows both ways. Walk down embankment and pay exit tax. Then walk towards bridge and get exit stamp. Lastly, turn around and suspend or terminate TIP. Only tricky part is when departing wait for traffic controller to open gate and prompt you to continue on through fumigation area entering bridge to Panama.Report Check-In
Arrived at 9:30am on a Wednesday and had a really easy experience. Done within 1 hour and onto the Panama side. Also easy however with the hour change we ending up being there for lunch and that was about a 2 hour break! Duty free shops are great though. First border crossings without helpers so relaxing! Also no questions about our dog.Report Check-In
Please don t forget to read the other point as we did.
All the good informations are on the other point
Now we are stock at night on the panama side without TIP and insurance
And tomorrow it s sunday...
Ps hopefully you can buy insurance for panama on Costa Rica side on sunday !Report Check-In
We crossed tuesday around 10 am and didn't have any issues (2 us vans, european owners, no pets) . Processing of tip and insurance a little bit slow, but without any problems. Took us around 3 hours all in all. Toilets clean and working by the way, 1$.Report Check-In
To be more precise - the border crossing process took 5 hours here. Add another 30 minutes on the Panama side and the total was a 5,5 hours painfully hot wait. The longest, hottest and worst crossing I ever have done RTW!
Even being stuck in nomansland between Indonesia and East Timor for hours cant compare.