Nicaragua Basics

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The Basics


Time: Local time is GMT -6.

Electricity: Electrical current in Nicaragua is 120 volts, 60Hz. Flat blade plugs are used.

Money: The currency is the Nicaraguan córdoba (NIO). US Dollars can also be used for most common transactions. Bills must be in good condition to be accepted, but damaged bills can be exchanged at banks. All major cities have ATMs and most hotels and restaurants accept credit card payments.

Note: These rates are not updated daily and should be used as a guideline only.

Language: The official language in Nicaragua is Spanish. Some communities on the Caribbean Coast speak indigenous languages. English is understood at some tourist destinations.

Entry requirements for Americans: Americans require a valid passport, but a visa is not necessary for touristic stays of up to 90 days. A tourist card, costing USD 10, will need to be purchased on arrival.

Entry requirements for UK nationals: UK nationals require a passport valid for six months beyond the date of arrival, but a visa is not necessary for touristic stays of up to 90 days. A tourist card, costing USD 10, will need to be purchased on arrival.

Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadians require a passport valid for six months beyond the date of arrival, but a visa is not necessary for touristic stays of up to 90 days. A tourist card, costing USD 10, will need to be purchased on arrival.

Entry requirements for Australians: Australians require a passport valid for six months beyond the date of arrival, but a visa is not necessary for touristic stays of up to 90 days. A tourist card, costing USD 10, will need to be purchased on arrival.

Entry requirements for South Africans: South Africans require a passport valid for six months beyond date of arrival, but a visa is not necessary for touristic stays of up to 90 days. A tourist card, costing USD 10, will need to be purchased on arrival.

Entry requirements for New Zealanders: New Zealand nationals require a passport valid for six months beyond arrival, but a visa is not necessary for touristic stays of up to 90 days. A tourist card, costing USD 10, will need to be purchased on arrival.

Entry requirements for Irish nationals: Irish nationals require a passport valid for six months beyond date of arrival, but a visa is not necessary for touristic stays of up to 90 days. A tourist card, costing USD 10, will need to be purchased on arrival.

Passport/Visa Note: Travellers from most western countries do not need to arrange a visa prior to entry. Tourist cards are granted on arrival for USD 10 and are good for stays up to 90 days. Extensions are possible for a fee of USD 2 per day. All visitors must be in possession of onward or return tickets, documents for their destination outside of Nicaragua, and at least USD 200. It is recommended that tourists have six months validity remaining on their passports upon arrival in any country.

Travel Health: Visitors from a yellow fever infected area in the Americas or Africa require proof of their vaccination before entry. Malaria is a threat in many regions of Nicaragua and travellers are advised to seek medical advice and take some form prophylaxis. Insect repellent and mosquito nets should be used to avoid malaria and dengue fever, both of which are carried by mosquitos. Recommended vaccinations include ones for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and typhoid, and for rabies for those coming into contacts with animals, especially bats. Modern medical facilities in Nicaragua are only found in major towns and cities, the best of which are in Managua. Rural communities lack modern hospitals and equipment, and medications are in short supply. If needing a hospital in Nicaragua, travellers should indicate that they desire a private hospital. Comprehensive travel insurance is essential and travellers should take along any medication they require in its original packaging, and accompanied by a signed and dated letter from a doctor detailing what it is and why it is needed. The most common health affliction for tourists is traveller's diarrhoea, which is preventable by safe water and food consumption. Travellers should not drink tap water, and should use common sense when eating uncooked foods.

Tipping: Tips of 10 to 15 percent are expected at restaurants in Nicaragua. Standard tipping is usual at hotels. Taxi drivers do not usually expect to be tipped.

Safety Information: Rural areas in Nicaragua are notably void of police and there has been a recent increase in crime in these areas. Theft and violent crime are also becoming more common in urban areas of the usually safe country. Travellers should be careful of muggings in taxis and only use official taxis with a red license plate. Buses should not be used after dark. Due to poor road conditions, highway driving is especially dangerous after dark and should be avoided. Political demonstrations and protests occur sporadically in urban areas and can become violent; tourists should avoid all street gatherings. Powerful waves and currents can make Nicaragua's beaches dangerous, and swimmers and surfers should exercise caution. Despite these risks, Nicaragua is still one of the safest countries to travel to in the region and most visits are trouble-free.

Local Customs: It is usual for adults in Nicaragua to live with their parents, and visitors should greet the oldest or most important person in a group first. When shopping, it is customary to bargain for goods.

Communications: The international access code for Nicaragua is +505. The outgoing code is 00, followed by the relevant country code (00 44 for the United Kingdom). The city area code for Managua is 2. Mobile phones operate on GSM and 3G networks. Local mobile phone calls are usually cheapest with locally bought SIM cards. Internet is widely available in all major cities, although the connection speed is sometimes slow.

Duty Free: Visitors to Nicaragua may import up to 400 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 500g of tobacco, five litres of liquor, 2kg of confectionary, and perfume for personal use. Meat, dairy, and leather products, as well as matches, are restricted. Firearms require an import license.