Foreigners require a valid passport with or without visa depending on your nationality. Passports must have a validity of at least six months beyond your entry date into the country. For nationals of most countries a visa is not needed, only a Tourist Card ($10) purchased on arrival. The Tourist Card is valid for 90 days and extensions may be given. You should keep your passport or a copy of your passport on your person at all times. Always have several copies of your passport somewhere in your luggage. Replacing a passport is difficult but at least a copy shows that you had one and makes replacement easier.
Citizens of the U.K., U.S., Canada, Scandinavia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, and the European Union do not need visas and are issued a tourist card (US$10) valid for 90 days on arrival. Citizens of countries that do not have reciprocal agreements with Nicaragua will require either a visa or a tourist card allowing a 30-day stay. Those who require visas must also obtain an exit permit; however, if you are in Nicaragua on business, you are usually exempt from the requirement.
At the port of entry, Nicaraguan immigration officials determine how long foreign tourists may stay in Nicaragua. Those entering without a visa generally can stay up to ninety (90) days. Foreign tourists requesting an extension of stay should apply at the main offices of Nicaraguan Immigration. Tourists from North America and many countries in Europe may now remain legally in the country for three months (90 days) without having to apply for permanent residency. There are many expatriates here that do not bother getting their residency permit (cedula) and just simply leave the country for three days each 90 days. This starts your 90 days over again. Take a few days and visit Costa Rica or another nearby country.
Nicaraguan Immigration imposes a fine on foreigners who exceed their length of stay without the proper authorization. They have increased the fines and I believe it now is 80 cordobas but increases the longer you are overdue and the foreigner may not leave the country until the fine is paid. This fine is often waived if the U.S. citizen is a dual national and has a Nicaraguan passport. You can get extensions on your tourist visa through the immigration office, or you must leave the country every three months to renew your visa again upon reentry.
Here is a pretty accurate list of countries needing or not needing a visa to enter Nicaragua:
Generally speaking, the following is required for an extension of stay:
- Form requesting an extension of stay (available at the Immigration office)
- Your Passport (valid for at least an additional six months)
- Your Nicaraguan entry/exit Stamp given to you by Immigration when you entered Nicaragua
Nicaraguan Immigration Office (Spanish only)
There is an exit fee of $35 and an exit form necessary though you can usually get it at the airport. If you are a foreign tourist, your Nicaraguan entry/exit stamp or form authorizing an extension-of-stay must be presented to Nicaraguan Immigration prior to departing Nicaragua. If you cannot present either of these documents, you may need to go to a Nicaraguan immigration office to seek a replacement. Airlines now normally just add the $35 exit fee to your ticket price.
If you cannot present your entry/exit stamp because it was stolen or lost along with your U.S. passport, then the U.S. Embassy can provide you with a letter for Nicaraguan Immigration. This letter will explain the circumstances surrounding the issuance of the new passport and request the issuance of a replacement entry/stamp stamp. You will need to present this letter, your new passport, and request form (available in their offices). Unless you have overstayed the time allotted to you upon entry into Nicaragua, you will not have to pay a fee. Citizens of our countries will need to check with their respective embassies on their procedures.
Non-Nicaraguan children are not subject to Nicaragua's entry and exit regulations for children. U.S. citizen children can travel to and from the United States and Nicaragua without requiring permission from a non-accompanying parent. Nicaragua's exit regulations for Nicaragua children, including dual national Nicaragua-Americans, are very strict. For more information check with the Nicaragua government.
If you have become a resident of Nicaragua with a cédula then you must have a exit visa from the Nicaraguan Immigration office. You will need to purchase the exit visa (visa de salida) form and have copies of your cédula (front and back) and first page and last page of your passport. Be sure to bring your passport and cédula. If you have their passports and cédulas you can also do the rest of your family at the same time. They will then stamp your passport which you will show when you leave the country. If leaving by air, you can do all of this at the airport.
Permanent tourists are those people that reside in a country but are not citizens or residents. Recently, Central American countries began pressuring these people that continuously renew their tourist status by applying for extensions or leaving the country and then returning. While not being strictly enforced it has caused inconvenience for many people in this category.
People applying for the 90 day extension being refused which means they must leave the country then return.
Non-residents living in Nicaragua visiting other countries being told by their airline upon their return to Nicaragua they must have a departure ticket good for within 90 days.
Non-residents crossing into Costa Rica to renew their tourist visa being told they cannot return to Nicaragua for several months.
You can argue whether this is good or bad but the point is that anyone can come into Nicaragua as a tourist but it requires extensive background checks to be a resident. Not enforcing these rules previously is what allowed many criminals or people on the run to just come to Nicaragua and hide out.