People's experiences vary depending on crowds at the border, corrupt or honest border officials, and rules can also change. For general information on borders and roads in Guatemala, read the Guatemala-Borders and Driving article. Read about individual experiences at specific borders here.
Cuidad Cuaugtemoc, Mexico to La Mesialla, Guatemala
November 8, 2008
We crossed the Mexican/Guatemalan border at Ciudad Cuauhtemoc/La Mesilla. After completing the necessary paperwork in Mexico, we then drove about a mile before hitting the somewhat chaotic street market at the beginning of La Mesilla. We first came to the fumigation point.
It was wise of us to change Mexican pesos to Guatemalan quetzales before we got there, as people were offering to sell us quetzales for a terrible exchange rate. After paying Q18 to have the car sprayed (count the change they give you carefully, they ´accidentally´ forgot to give us Q50 at first), we proceeded next door to the ´migracion´ station with the proof of fumigation document.
Our passports were scanned and stamped, but we were not asked to pay for a ´permisso 131 rp,´or tourist permit, as we had expected based on information we found online. Hopefully this won´t be a problem down the road. We then proceeded one building over to the 'aduana´ for the vehicle entry permit. The officer needed our car title, passports, and the mexican receipt showing we had canceled our Mexican vehicle import permit. He never asked for a drivers license or an international drivers permit, but we´ve heard procedures at the borders are somewhat fluid, so it´s probably a good idea to have these in hand. He kept our documents after giving us a receipt to bring to the Banrural nextdoor for payment.
After paying Q40, we returned to the aduana with proof of payment, and the officer gave us our vehicle import sticker for the window. This whole process took about 30 minutes. We then drove through Mesilla (after taking a crazy detour to avoid the market which had taken over the street) and were on our way on CA-1 to Xela. It took us about 3.5 hours to get there after the immigration.
--Posted by Kristin
Belize to Guatemala
November 20, 2012
1) I had to park next to the Belize immigration building. The obvious parking lot was for taxis only and the security guards won't let you park there.
2) Inside the immigration building, I paid BZ37.50 in exit fees. As always in Belize, US dollars are accepted here. I then went to the second desk and had my passport stamped.
3) To cancel my vehicle permit, I walked back outside and into the other half of the building, to customs. The desk in the middle handles vehicle permit cancellation.
4) Just before getting in my car and driving across, I changed $60 US to cover immigration & sandwich costs in Guatemala. I had a full tank of gas so I wasn't worried about needing money to fuel up right away. I exchanged $1USD for Q7.3, which wasn't a great rate but the guy wouldn't budge.
5) I then drove through the Belize guard shack and into the fumigation building. It looks like a giant car wash and is impossible to miss. I paid Q18 for my Land Cruiser at the window in the building to the right, immediately after the fumigation building. Despite it's size I wasn't asked to pay the Q40 fee for a large vehicle.
6) I then walked into the Guatemalan open-air immigration building and got in the Entrada line. I was asked to pay Q20. If this is a scam payment, they have the system down as several agents were involved and they had an envelope full of change. I didn't argue.
7) I then went around to the left side of the desk and handed the Aduana officer my title, US driver's license and passport along with one photocopy of each. We walked out to the car where he checked my title against my VIN and license plate.
8) He then sent me back to the right side of the desk (the Entrada line) to have my passport photocopy stamped
9) Next he sent me to the cashier to pay the Q160 vehicle import fee. The security guard followed me to the cashier with his shotgun but got bored after a few minutes and went back outside to watch the guys lighting firecrackers.
10) The Aduana guy took my receipt and issued me a window sticker, which he applied to the window of my truck. I checked all the paperwork and there were no mistakes.
11) I then got in the truck and drove to the Guatemala guard post where they checked my passport and import papers against a log book. I asked the guard how much it costs to enter Melchor and he said it should be Q5. I'd heard some people were asked to pay up to Q50.
12) I then proceeded to the tollbooth at the end of the bridge. I'd heard some people were asked to pay up to Q50 but armed with the info from the guard, I had a Q5 bill in my pocket. I handed it to the guard without a word and he gave me a receipt and waved me through.
Similar to the Mexico->Belize crossing, this went quite well. I spent less than Q200 to get through so I had plenty of cash to get me to the first ATM I found (at a gas station in Santa Ana).
Belize to Guatemala
December 1, 2010
1) When you pay the fumigation fee, they will ask for Q40 if you drive a bigger vehicle. It is Q18 otherwise. The officer actually gave me a receipt for Q40 so I think it's legit.
2) Don't change money on the Belizean side as it is a rip off, even more so than on the Guatemala side where there seems to be more competition. The rate as of our crossing was 1 Belice Dollar = 3.7 Quetzales, and 100 Mexican Pesos = 55 Quetzales.
3) Everything is in one open air building now, complete with flat screen TV. First you go to Entrada Guatemala for Immigracion, they will stamp your passport, and say that you must pay Q20 each. Later I found out that this fee is actually a back pocket fee and you should not and do not need to pay it to enter the country. I asked for a receipt and they refused to give me one- that is how you know it is not a real fee. If you are persistent enough you can avoid paying it.
4) Then you go to Aduana which is right next to Immigracion, they ask for Passport, Vehicle Title and sometimes Driver's License, you need one copy of each one as well. The guy will check your VIN and then give you a sticker for the car.
5) Please note that you have to go to the Bank window which is in the same area, some guy with a gun who is apparently security may take your papers and money from you to the window but I have a feeling he just wanted a tip and you can insist to do it yourself. It costs Q40.
6) The Aduana guy didn't even look in our car. So no worries there!
7) When you leave Immigracion, you cross a concrete bridge and someone in uniform of sorts will approach you for Q50 that is for the Melchor municipality, we argued with them but apparently you have to pay it. Couldn't figure out a way to get out of it. It only applies to foreign vehicles which is a load but they almost called the cops on us!
Not a difficult crossing, weren't any touts that we could see and everyone generally did as they were supposed to.
Esquipulas, Guatemala to Agua Caliente, Honduras
December 14, 2008
We crossed the Guatemala-Honduras border at Esquipula-Agua Calienete. It was a fairly simple process of showing them our passports and vehicle import permit documents. They did stamp our passports, and there is some debate as to whether or not they should have done so. The countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua are part of the CA-4, and for a period of 90 days tourists should be able to travel between the 4 countries without paying any fees (vehicle import permits are a separate issue). The border personal at Honduras didn't mention this, but the border personal at El Salvador pointed out that the Guatemalan authorities should not have stamped our passports. However, they said that was Guatemala's problem, and I shouldn't have any trouble with my travels. The border guards asked if we were planning on returning to Guatemala, as the permit was valid for 90 days. Since we were not returning, we surrendered the sticker-permit we had placed on our windshield. The process was fast, efficient, and free.
--Posted by Kristin
Guatemala/ Honduras Crossing at El Florido
January 4, 2011
On the Guatemalan side, we changed some money (1 Quetzale = 2.3 Lempira approx.). We then went to Migracion where they tried to charge us Q10 each to exit. I basically told the guy that there is no exit tax, and he insisted so Niel asked for a recibo, which got this response in Spanish: "Shut up! Shut up! You are not in South Africa now, there are no blacks for you to be the boss of. We will kill you in Guatemala" and ran his hand across his throat in a slitting action. Yeah, friendly. I demanded he give back our passports and we went on our way.
It was then time for the Aduana. If you get to the border around 11 am you will hit changeover time, which means they sit around doing nothing until 11:45. You need three copies of the original permit. The cancellation of the permit itself is no problem, they check your VIN number, remove the sticker and give you two original copies of the cancelled permit.