Border crossings in Central and South America

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Because most of the European countries are in Schengen Zone, we forgot what border controls mean. For Europeans valid ID in the pocket is enough for travelling across the continent. When you travel by car, you might realise that you are in another country when road signs language changes - in practice there are no borders at all. In next paragraphs we will describe how it works in South and Central America.

Border #1 Europe – Mexico

Flying from Europe to the land of tabasco and tequila you must have a valid passport and ticket for onward travel. Without that employees of airline might deny boarding. If Mexican immigration officer will ask you for that and you don’t provide it, they have right to deport you, of course at the expense of an airline. And airlines want to avoid that so they make sure that your papers are in order.

Before landing, cabin crew will provide you with immigration forms and you have to fill them out. In the form you’ll find questions about your details like: name and surname, address where you’ll stay, for example name, of the hostel and directions. Next form which you’ll receive is for customs. If you have just personal items and no more than $10000 in cash, then there’s nothing to worry about.

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As a Europeans you can receive a tourist visa up to 180 days without any formalities. Remember everything depends from the officer and he can just give you a 90 days stamp with visa.

Border #2 Mexico – Cuba

Before air crew will let you board in, it is obligatory to buy, tarjeta de turista which is nothing more or less than a tourist visa. Some airlines will add it’s cost to the ticket and will provide it before landing. Some other airlines, flying directly from Europe, requires this card before check in, which means you will have to visit Cuban embassy. It’s relatively cheap, just 30$ and is valid for 30 days. Before landing, just like in Mexico, you will be asked to fill in immigration form in order to receive arrival stamp. Right before leaving the airport in Havana, your luggage will be x-rayed. It’s important to keep your tourist card inside the passport, because when you lose it this might cause legal consequences. Unfortunately, communist bureaucracy is still alive over there.

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Border #3 Mexico - Belize

Here, the biggest surprise for us was the exit tax from Mexico which is 30$, normally airlines add it to final ticket price. When you cross their border by land, you have to pay it directly to immigration officer. Supposedly there’s a law which says, that you can leave the country without paying this tax, when your stay was less than 7 days. This time we have been there just 4 days, but no one explained that to us before. Some sources says, if you want to grant this law, you must enter and leave the country through the same border crossing. This would explain validity in our case. Anyway, we didn’t receive any receipt. Hopefully Mr. officer bought something nice for his kids.

Entering Belize is easy-peasy. Your visa will be granted according to the period you asked for on the immigration form. We asked for 14 days and got them. The longest you can ask and receive is 30 days.

Border #4 Belize – Guatemala

Here everything is clear: You must pay 20$ as an exit tax for leaving the country, receipt goes to your hand and leaving stamp lands into passport. To enter Guatemala, you just need a valid passport and there’s no need to fill in any papers. European passport holders will get up to 90 days tourist visa on the spot. You don’t have to pay anything while entering.

Border #5 Guatemala – Costa-Rica
At the airport without any issues you receive an exit stamp and you can board the plane. Costa-Rica like Mexico, requires a ticket for onward travel or return ticket to the country of your residency. Here everything depends on the immigration officer - one never knows if he’s going to check that or not. Unfortunately, we didn’t know that so we came unprepared. Monika and our friend passed easily through, but they stopped Daniel. He couldn’t answer all of the questions asked by the lady from immigration: “Where exactly are you going next?”, “How long you will stay in Costa-Rica?” and final one “Please show me your reservation for next travel”. Daniel fell into pieces. She took his passport, put it aside and asked him to buy any ticket right now. Unfortunately on that particular day the cheapest bus company had issues with processing card payments and each attempt to pay was denied. So he had to figure out something. As always Google found a way. The website to generate fake ticket reservation from Expedia was a blessing. After entering all the details, lady officer accepted it and gave him 90 days visa.

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Example fake reservation

Border #6 Costa-Rica – Panama

Before leaving “sloth country” by land you have to pay 7$ in cash as an exit tax. Panama, like Costa-Rica and Mexico, require a ticket for onward travel and filling in the immigration form. This time we were prepared and without any issues we got into Panama.

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Border 7# Panama – Colombia

And again, before they let you leave Panama, employees of an airline can ask you for onward ticket or at least reservation confirming your leaving date from Colombia. As always, they have right to deny your boarding If you don’t provide it. In Colombia nobody checks that. Like usual, fill in immigration form and 3 months visa goes to you.

One more reminder, like we mention in our previous post you can get free yellow fever vaccination, at El Dorado airport in Bogota. Without this certificate you might be deny to enter planes flying to, for ex. Costa-Rica, Mexico etc. from most of the South American countries. Vaccination is for lifetime, so it would be a shame not get it when it’s completely free.

Border #8 Colombia – Ecuador

In Colombia there’s no exit tax when you go by land, but you can spend hours waiting in line with Venezuelans trying to get into Colombia from Ecuador. Because of the economic crisis in their country, millions of people have emigrated looking for better life in Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Panama and other countries including Europe.
To get in to Ecuador you need only passport and some patience. The whole procedure took us 10 minutes, but with waiting it was 5h 10 min.

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Waiting for better life

Border #9 Ecuador – Peru

We crossed the border in a very little village in the Amazon and the immigration officer only asked us to fill in the immigration form. Without any questions he gave us visas for the time we requested for, which was 30 days, but you can get up to 90 days. Easy-peasy 😊

Border #10 Peru – Mexico

Airline employees asked us for the yellow fever vaccination certificate at the check in counter. It was first and only time we needed it, so you never know. Normally they ask for a reservation for ongoing travel, but because we flew next day to Costa-Rica we skipped this part. In Mexico as always immigration form and visa.

Next day we checked in Costa-Rica, where we are living currently on a farm.

Hopefully some of this advice you’ll find useful and will help you to prepare your next trip across this part of the world.

Pura Vida a todos!

M&D

Little bonus at the end:

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Monika in Forest Gump's shoes at the airport in Cancun

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Congratulations! Your high quality-travel content was selected by @travelfeed curator @rimicane and earned you a reward, in form of a 100% upvote and a resteem. Your work really stands out. Your article now has a chance to get curated and featured under the appropriate daily topic of our Travelfeed blog. Thank you for participating in #travelfeed!

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Dear @route-m-d,

Your story attracted our attention and we would like to introduce our tag #archisteem that could provide you with some extra support. For your information, we are currently running the project – 1001 Places to Remember. Your content is a fit for the project and could be qualified for the 10 Steem reward biweekly contest.

It would be great if we can have this story of yours included in the project. If you agree, please reply to us.

Do drop by and take a look :) Hope to see you around soon.

Stay tuned and Steem on!

Sincerely from,

@archisteem and team

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Hello, yes we agree! We checked tag and profile and that's something really cool! Should we change one of the tags now to get qualified or how we can get in touch? Discord maybe? Thanks! :) [edit] I added #archiesteem

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Awesome @route-m-d, appreciate that you could change the #archiesteem to #archisteem. (oops, wrongly spelled)

Definitely can reach us out from Discord: https://discord.gg/wKCaDXX (here's the invitation link)

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Yep, fixed! Thanks :)

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Hooray! Welcome @route-m-d. Hope to see you around more :) Do drop by to our Discord.

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So quiet on discord, just joined. Hauz channel is the main chat, right?

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Pretty quiet at that time as 3 of us are from Asia countries (which is midnight).

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Ahh we are in Costa-Rica , always confusing with those time zones :P now is 9pm here

@route-m-d, hey bro whats special about the forest gump's shoes ?

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Forest grump's shoes :)

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I will google

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Congratulations Moniś and Such! Your great post has been upvoted by the Sloth <3 It's useful, have a lot of information for travelers and I liked the shoes. I have to save it for the future! :) How much time did you spend on the slowest border?

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The slowest was between Colombia and Ecuador, more than 5h all together. Thank you for your comment! :)

Very useful article for anyone travelling to that part of the world. Thanks for sharing your experience and prepare people to travel over there!

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Upvoted.

DISCLAIMER: Your post is upvoted based on curation algorithm configured to find good articles e.g. stories, arts, photography, health, community, etc. This is to reward you (authors) for sharing good content using the Steem platform especially newbies.

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Keep steeming good content.
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Not certain how this fits #steemstem

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We're quite new here. I saw people use this tag for informative posts. I can delete it if not fits. Let me know please and thanks!

So bureaucratic! You are right! We are so comfortable in Europe :) These real borders are a nightmare! Thank you for sharing this useful information!

Safe travels guys!

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Thank you for stepping by! All the best :)

Many boarders means more bureaucracy. Remind me this August landing in Istanbul and travel by bus around the Balkans passing different boarders. Anyway looks a great trip! I have not been to Latin America yet.

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From balkans I remember Croatia and Bosnia, for us poles was easy to cross just with ID and it was before EU. So maybe this is your next destination?

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I have been in August to Sarajevo and close to Rjieka. I travelled from Istanbul, stop in Thessaloniki, Sofia and Beograd before. My next destination hopefully will be Canada through one year work permit if I save money enough I will travel around North and Latin America. By the way I lived in Poznan in Erasmus some years ago. I probably can't go to Steemfest in Krakow in November. That's a pity.

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Wow, Poznań is close to my town, Wrocław. We aren't coming as well to steemfest because we fly back Europe in December. Kraków is Monika's home town, that's a pity. Info about steemfest got to us after we booked return tickets.

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Yes that's a pity!!!! By the way I have been to Wroclaw and Krakow twice. Last time I have been to Poland it was in Poznan for last new year's eve.

I can imagine the stress of passport control. My biggest would be when I entered the Schengen Zone or the UK. I also heard the States is very paranoid towards certain countries. But South America must be a whole other level, especially if you don't know English.

Greetings from Cape Town

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In South America only speaking language is Spanish, which I know quite good. I wish people speak English here.

The dowside of the Schengen zone is we do not get stamps :(

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But visa room on visas pages in your passport last longer :)