Border Crossing Costa Rica to Panama

I try to find information that can make border crossings easier on my trip and found Life Remotely. Here was plenty of useful information but I reproduces only the short version in respect for the great job they had done. So those who need more information should visit Life Remotely.

Costa Rica to Panama Border Crossing

Border Name: Paso Canoas
Closest Major Cities: Ciudad Neily, Costa Rica and David, Panama
Cost for Visas: $1 per person for Panama entry
Cost for Vehicle: $15 for insurance, $1.60 for copies
Total Time: 1.25 hours

The Steps

  1. Park next to the Costa Rican immigration office (it’s on the left side of the road when driving towards Panama).
  2. Go to the Salida window, fill out your exit card and hand over the exit form with your passport. The official will stamp and return your passport.
  3. Go around the back of the immigration building to the Aduana office.
  4. Explain that you want to cancel your temporary permit and you will be given a simple form to fill out.
  5. Fill out the form and hand it with the original permit papers and the driver’s passport to the official. He or she will want to go to your car to verify the VIN number.
  6. Back at the office, the official will cancel the permit, keep the original, and return to you the form you filled out with a stamp on it. This is your proof of cancellation.
  7. Get back in your car and drive to the Panama side. Note: If you need to change money, do it at the BCR bank in no-mans-land before you get to Panama. No other banks around will change colones.
  8. Drive under the right side of the dirty white covered building. You can park next to the curb on the left.
  9. Go to the furthest end of the building and you will see the windows for immigration entrada. If the line is short, go here first.
  10. Someone will approach you and ask for you passports, he or she will put a small sticker on a page in your passport. Cost is $1 per sticker. You can pay in colones but the exchange rate is not good.
  11. Give the official behind the window your passports. She/he will type in some stuff, take your photo, stamp and return your passport.
  12. Next, walk across the street to the insurance office. Hand over the vehicle title and drivers passport, a copy of both and $15. You’ll be issued two identical pieces of paper. One will be kept by aduana, the other is for you.
  13. Go back across the street and up the stairs to the Transito office. Hand over your insurance paperwork and the drivers passport. They will stamp the insurance papers and return them.
  14. Go back down stairs to the aduana window. The sign on the window actually reads “Captura y Manifesto”. You should see a piece of paper taped to the window that says “Turismo”, that’s the right line.
  15. The official will need your title, driver’s passport, a copy of both, and the two insurance papers. The official will enter a bunch of stuff in the computer and will return originals and one copy of the insurance. Also they will give you a vehicle import permit.
    NOTE: If you plan to ship your car to Columbia, triple check that EVERYTHING on your permit is correct. Especially that your VIN number is listed for both your chassis and engine number, and that your vehicle type is correct.
  16. Take your new permit to the random official guy with a clipboard who loiters outside the aduana window. (Don’t worry, he’ll probably find you.) He’ll inspect your car and verify the VIN number. He will also stamp your permit.
  17. Head out of the border area, make sure to drive through the fumigation area.
  18. In about 1 km you will be stopped at a military post and will have to show your permit, insurance and passports for everyone in the car.
  19. That’s all. Enjoy the four-lane highway and cheap beer.

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