Border Crossing #7: Costa Rica to Panama via Paso Canoas

Donde Esta Seguro? And what is the point of Fumigation anyway??

8:30am: Left Pavones, Costa Rica
10am: Arrived @ Border
12:35pm: Finished Crossing & Hola Panama!
Total Time to Cross: 2 hours and 35 minutes
Total Fees: $34 USD

Exiting Costa Rica

Entering the border area, the customs offices will be pretty obvious but check iOverlander if you need the exact location.

1.     Costa Rican Exit Tax: although you’ll see the customs buildings on the left, you’ll likely be directed to a small booth on the right side of the street to pay an exit fee of $7/pp. We handed the woman a $20 and were given $2 back (we didn't realize what had happened until later).

2.     Go back across the street to the Salida window on the left side of the building. Fill out your exit card and the official will check the form and stamp your passport.

3.     Behind the building you’ll find the Aduana office.

4.     You’ll be given a simple form to fill out after explaining that you want to cancel your TIP. We recommend bypassing the line to ask for the form because you may end up waiting in line after you fill it out anyway (and everyone cut in front of us so apparently it’s no big deal). This process took forever for us because locals were helped first.

5.     You’re supposed to give them your form, permit papers and passport then follow them out to your vehicle where they will verify the VIN. Luckily for us this never happened (I guess the guy finally felt bad for letting everyone cut in front of us). So we skipped step 5 and went straight to step 6.

6.     The official will stamp the form you filled out (cancelling your permit). He’ll keep the original TIP and return the stamped form.

Entering Panama

7.     Drive to the Panama side. SO many cars were going right; traffic was crazy!! If that happens to you, stay left toward the big white building, good luck.

8.     Drive under the right side but park next to the curb on the left (so you’re out of the way of the two fumigation lines).

9.     We thought we’d have to pay the $1pp passport sticker entry fee but no one ever approached us…

10. Walk through the breezeway to the other side of the white building (where people are entering Costa Rica from Panama). Cross the street and walk down the street that’s off to the left. Less than 100 feet on your right is a restaurant with a Seguro office out front. We were instructed to buy insurance here BEFORE immigration. Hand them your Title & Passport, copies of both, along with $15.

11. Back to the right side of the building where you parked, at the end of the building closest to fumigation are the Immigration/Entrada windows. Answer the questions, smile for your photo, give your fingerprints, receive passport stamp.

12. Still on the same side of the building, turn around and walk to the set of windows on the other side of the circular staircase for the Aduana Window. Give them the new insurance, your passport, the title, and copies of both. They will enter your info into the system and hand you a vehicle import permit (TIP). TRIPLE CHECK EVERYTHING if you plan to ship your car to Colombia (VIN, chassis, engine # etc.).

13. Hand your permit to the guy standing around waiting with a clipboard. If he’s holding a burrito, comment on how yummy it looks and he’ll smirk and sign your permit without even checking your car ;) I think this is the ONLY time “lunch time” at the border has worked in our favor.

14. Hop in your car and drive through the fumigation area. Once on the highway you’ll be stopped at the military checkpoint where you’ll show all of your paperwork.

*At some point in the above steps, we were told to walk over to the fumigation booth (small white building up PAST the two fumigation lines, off to the right of the building & road). I handed $1 to an incredibly rude woman who gave me nothing in return, no proof of payment, wouldn’t even look at me, and blatantly ignored my question about a receipt. Driving our car through fumigation at the end, we weren’t stopped or sprayed and I still had no proof we’d paid the $1. So once again, fumigation seems like a step they’ve added to increase confusion and waste more of your time. I guess the good news is they seem to have stopped spraying you and your car with all those nasty chemicals ;)

Welcome to Panama everyone!

We made it all the way to Bocas on the same day but hurry, the last boat taxi leaves at sunset and I wouldn’t personally care to stay in Almirante...

See you down the road!
Meg (+ Tyler)

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