Leon Nicaragua Photo by Hermes Rivera

Nicaragua Driving Guide

Nicaragua is a unique beautiful country. Explore all of it by driving when you get your International Driving Permit

2021-07-27 · 9 mins

Nicaragua is a sovereign state sitting in the continent of Central America. It is famously known as the largest country among the states resting in the said region. Nicaragua’s name origin is from the chief of the indigenous tribe that inhabited Lake Nicaragua back in the late 15th century and early period of the 16th century, widely known as Nicarao. This nation is sharing borders with Honduras and Costa Rica.

This Latin American nation is a popular spot for lakes and volcanoes. Exploring those marvelous places is spectacular by driving a car in Nicaragua. Hassles won’t be a hindrance to the fun and thrill. But, to make it come to life, securing an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) is a must. For a comfortable and manageable application, go to your web browser and encode the International Driver’s Association site.

How Can This Guide Help You?

Choosing to have a highway-bound voyage in this nation, possessing a special permit is mandatory. However, travelers need to learn how to get, request, and study essential things when driving in Nicaragua, whether ir's a car hire or your own car. Through reading this guide, explorers will have information about the whole process.

General Information

For wanderers who are in deep search of mesmerizing paradises like intriguing architecture, tempting beaches, breathtaking volcanoes, and secluded islands, Nicaragua is the answer to it. To learn more about its attractive offers, read further to figure out its unique geography, enthralling language, trivia on its tourism, and reasons why explorers should go on a road trip voyage in the country. This guide will give you sound travel tips so you enjoy your trip to Nicaragua.

Geographical Location

The Atlantic coast of Nicaragua rests on the marvelous land of Central America. The surrounding borders of the state add up to the fascinating features of the country. From Honduras on the north, Costa Rica on the South, and two majestic oceans, including the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Since Nicaragua is a hotspot of lakes and volcanoes, it is not a fact that volcanic activities are quite often in this nation. Other natural disasters include earthquakes and hurricanes.

Language Spoken

In Nicaragua, Spanish is the official mother tongue of the state. The kind of Spanish in this country is quite different from the one in Spain. Pronunciation is the primary factor you can observe if you compare the Spanish dialect in Nicaragua to Spain. However, any form of Spanish terms is okay with the locals. If you wonder if Nicaraguans can speak English, they can also do so, but most prefer to use the native.

Travelers can allot time to learn the basic phrases in Nicaragua. It will be a plus point and a good impression mark to the locals if they hear a foreigner speaking their language. They will think that tourists love their state because they exert effort to adjust, only to communicate with them.

Land Area

Nicaragua is the Latin nation that covers the 130,070 kilometers squared of Central America. Observing its physical size, it is relatively more prominent than the sophisticated country of Europe, the United Kingdom, and the empire community, New York. This state has plentiful terrains and different varieties of climate. From stellar panoramic sights, captivating coastal plains, and phenomenal mountains, taking a visit here will take tourists to heaven they never thought of in existence.


Nicaragua is the only nation where the colonization of Spanish and British happened in one period. The Spaniards' domination is the worst ruling that Nicaragua experienced in history. Half of its indigenous inhabitants died from an Old World disease, and some of them serve as a sacrifice for the New World Spanish colonies.

With all the inevitable struggles that Nicaragua faced, the country snatched its victory against the Spanish rulings in 1821. The year is now the state’s official Independence. After the disastrous battle against the Spaniards, Nicaragua has the chance to get back on track again. Though the aftermath of chaotic conflict resulted in civil wars, it doesn’t affect or change the fact that the country can rule on its own.


Nicaragua is a democratic republic state. The President acts as the head and leader of the national government. It has a 5-year term to oversee the country’s situation and implement policies following the public needs. Along with the head are the cabinet ministers that also have the same length of the term. Its legislative sector comprises 93 members. Its Supreme Court has 16 magistrates with a longer service term of seven years for the judiciary body.


This Latin American sovereign community is a gorgeous territorial paradise for housing numerous spectacular paradises. From its famous remark as the “Land of Lakes and Volcanoes” to magnificent beaches and fascinating lakes, no one can dare resist any of those tempting havens.

Back in 2018, the country has accommodated over 1.8 million travelers from different parts of the globe. Compared to the past years of its tourism history, 2018 is the peak of Nicaragua. This blooming nation’s famous trademark is the two most immense freshwater bodies in entire Central America, which are Lake Managua and Lake Nicaragua. Of course, reserving a rental car is perfect for traversing the wonders of this country.

International Driver’s Permit FAQs

Non-residents of a foreign country usually require an exclusive permit to rent a car to drive. It is a legal process to undergo and avoid unnecessary troubles along the highway. For a whole convenient application journey, get an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) from the International Driver’s Association website. Nicaragua highly recommends non-citizens of the country to obtain an IDP.

Do note that an IDP is only a translation of the native driver’s license. It is not a suitable replacement for it. Bring along the IDP together with the domestic driver’s card at all times. Do not lose it.

Is a Local Driver’s License Valid in Nicaragua?

Having an original local driver’s license alone in Nicaragua is not enough to drive legally. If a driver is a non-resident, it is highly essential to possess an IDP. Once a foreign driver is caught by local police on the highway without an IDP, appropriate charges will apply. That would be a nightmare to remember in a lifetime. There are instances of police officers checking for your documents including your IDP.

Do not be stubborn enough to skip this procedure. A higher chance of encountering problems will do if thinking of violating the golden rule. Securing an IDP is not that hard as others think. With only a few clicks and upload, one can quickly get an IDP. Visit the International Driver’s Association online page to enjoy express service. There is a lot of precise information about acquiring an IDP in Nicaragua.

Is Driving With A US License Valid in Nicaragua?

US Citizens who want to drive along the roads of this state need to have an International Driver’s Permit (IDP). Having a US driver’s license alone is not sufficient to pass over the borders resting around the Latin American nation. Driving to Nicaragua from the US, American residents must present an IDP beforehand

Is Driving with a Japanese Driver’s License Valid in Nicaragua?

Residents from Japan who opt to have a driving journey in Nicaragua using their local Japanese driver’s card must have an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) along with it. They need to present a valid translation of their domestic license in the country. Get an IDP through the International Driver’s Association. It’s hassle-free to apply from there

Do I Need an IDP to Drive in Cities and Districts of Nicaragua?

Taking the city highways, an IDP is an essential item to possess. There is a higher possibility of encountering checkpoints. So, bringing a special permit is mandatory, especially for foreigners. Even if tourists will head to districts having an international driving permit is a must.

All foreign nationals must obtain an IDP to operate a four-wheel vehicle in Nicaragua. An IDP is a primary requirement of the rental car companies in the country. It is one of the most significant proofs that the domestic driver’s license is legitimate. Without the official translation document, an international citizen cannot hold a rental car in Nicaragua.

Does an IDP Replace a Native Driver’s License?

Going on a road trip to a foreign land, an IDP is essential. Without it, patrol officers will consider it as driving without a license in Nicaragua. Hitting the roadway without a valid permit is illegal. Take note that an International Driver’s Permit is only a translation of a native driver’s license. It is not a replacement or a valid alternative for it, even if you have acquired your IDP from government agencies. Do not attempt to exempt yourself from obtaining an IDP.

Renting a Car in Nicaragua

Spotting this Latin American state’s hidden treasures is fantastic when you pick the compelling manner of hunting. Driving through a rental car in Nicaragua gives you complete safety and security from any possible danger you might encounter in the places you will visit. Exciting perks and benefits are waving to explorers who will take the enticing adventure of driving on Nicaragua’s highways.

When making a reservation for a rental vehicle in this country, an IDP is mandatory. Another vital requirement is the legal rental age. In Nicaragua, a renter should be at least 25 years old to avail. Presenting proof of legitimacy through a valid driver’s license is enough. For more definite procedures on how to grab one, check out the International Driver’s Association.

Car Rental Companies

In this modern era, there are numerous technological ways to book any services or place orders without exerting effort to head outside the house. Just like in reserving rental cars abroad, you can do it right away through your smartphone. In Nicaragua, making online reservations is a trend. It is one way to reduce paper basis transactions. To keep renters guided about the different rental car agencies in the country, below are the major international car hire companies.

  • Avis
  • Budget
  • Dollar
  • Thrifty
  • National
  • Kayak
  • Sunnycars
  • Easy

When doing an online transaction, renters must ensure that they are visiting a secured website. It is a validation thing to know the legitimacy of the site. When personally encoding the information, do not input what is not essential. Upon accomplishing the reservation, do check if the email confirmation address on your email is valid. Do not click if you find it suspicious.

Documents Required

Collecting the complete hard copy documents is a must when you are renting a car abroad. Though you have made an online booking, presenting the hard copies of the documents you uploaded is still essential. Rental car agents will double-check it upon meeting them at the airport. For a complete list of general requirements you have to possess, below are the details. Changes will depend on your chosen rental car company.

  • Original Driver’s License
  • Foreign Passport
  • International Driver’s Permit
  • Itinerary Documents
  • Paying Card (Credit or Debit)

Before wrapping up the agreement between your provider, kindly ask for their contact details. It will be useful in case of a road emergency

Vehicle Types

There are many car types that travelers can rent out in Nicaragua. But, before choosing the vehicle, know first the passenger count of the group. It can help the renter pick what type will suit the number of occupants. A 4-wheel drive car is best if you'll be exploring outside the cities. To give explorers an idea of what to choose, below are the typical vehicle types tourists reserve.

  • Economy (two adults) -3,330 NIO/week
  • Compact (four adults) - 4,210 NIO/week
  • Intermediate (five adults) - 5,435 NIO/week

Another essential factor to mind is possessing an IDP. Ticking the application button on the International Driver’s Association page, a direct link to the application form will guide the applicants. By filling up the information, like name, address, contact number, and zip code, the driving in Nicaragua’s exclusive driver’s permit will be on the go.

Car Rental Cost

The rental car agency’s owner typically sets up basic coverage of rental fees through package deals. Their marketing team crafts an ideal offer to their customers to engage them to reserve a car from their company. The most practical inclusions of a rental fee are gas mileage allowance, driving kits, equipment, services at the airport, and third liability insurance. As for rental cost, companies mostly rely on the demand of a specific car type.

Age Requirements

According to the driving law in Nicaragua, the appropriate age mark to drive is 18 years old. Individuals must reach the minimum age level to enroll in a driving school. Upon completion, getting a driver’s license is the next step. But, for availing of a rental car, a renter should be at least 25 years of age.

Car Insurance Cost

Car insurance abroad is quite essential. It can help tourist drivers to have protection in case of traffic accidents and emergencies. However, signing insurance directly from the car rental agency can cost them higher than usual. Agents may add up things that are not that necessary. To save from cashing out large bucks, contact first your credit bank provider. If you are a private car owner in your country, inquire to your car agent about foreign car insurances.

Car Insurance Policy

Insurance policies for the vehicles vary from its coverage. The usual car insurance that rental car companies offer is the Third-Liability policy. It’s a great deal to take already. However, its scope is not that appealing and engaging. It can only answer medical expenses and basic damages. Though it’s an ideal offer, many prefer to have broader coverage. Getting a Collision or Comprehensive Car Insurance is what travelers look for the most.

The Collision Auto Insurance will help you cover any kind of damages regardless of who is accountable. It may be due to sudden colliding with trees, buildings, or any tangible things. Renters can also enjoy the “replacement provision” benefit. When a tourist driver gets his vehicle “totaled,” the renter can replace the same vehicle type with the exact cost. For the Comprehensive, tourists can easily replace their rental car if it gets stolen or damaged by natural phenomena.

Road Rules-in-Nicaragua-Samuel-Regan-Asante

The Road Rules in Nicaragua

In having a highway-bound journey in Nicaragua, observing the road rules is compulsory. A driver must follow the implemented regulations on the road. It is part of their obligation to ensure that they do not violate any laws of the country. There are instances that a foreign driver encounters different signage, so it is vital to research and get its meaning ahead of time. Drivers should have noted any unfamiliar signs and markings to read its definition online.

Driving through a rental car in Nicaragua, a tourist driver should not attempt to disobey the road traffic laws. Road enforcers are patrolling the highways to catch those reckless drivers.

Important Regulations

Aside from the endless beautiful lakes and volcanoes in Nicaragua, pristine beaches and fascinating historic landmarks are quite popular. Discovering those precious gems is best if explorers pick the safest and the most innovative traveling style, driving in Nicaragua. Of course, dealing with different road laws is a must to learn. Read further below about the vital driving regulations that a foreign driver should know

Beware of the BAC Limit

Intoxicated drivers should not attempt to operate a steering wheel. Daring to coast a vehicle with a drunk condition will settle hefty fines and severe punishment. Take note that it is not safe when you go on driving in Nicaragua under the influence of alcohol. The BAC limit in the state is only 50 mg. Exceeding the limit will bring danger and hazardous impact on the road. Getting an IDP and a local driver’s license is compulsory in case of any vehicular accident

Do not wait for an actual road accident to happen because of an immature decision. If you think that driving in Nicaragua is safe without legal permits, try hitting the road without those. High charges are waving.

Be in a perfect state.

Set your senses in good condition. Make sure you take your breakfast meal, so you have enough energy to exert when driving on the road. Do some morning exercise to lift your body’s state. It will be helpful to stabilize your attention when you go.

Do also a thorough check on your car’s condition. Ensure that you have complete driving kits and equipment once you’re finished, ready for set off.

Refrain using a handheld device

Focus is on the road only. Do not allow any unnecessary movements to disrupt your attention. It will be big trouble if you don’t avoid it. Suppose you make use of a handheld device while driving, prepare to face a penalty. Ask your car rental provider to get you a car with a hands-free system if you need to make urgent calls.

Parking Demeanor

As soon as you find your destination, kindly spot a secured parking lot. There will be proper signage for it. You can also park in parking garages. Do not risk coasting your car on the street. Once you safely rest the vehicle, bring all your valuable things. Never leave them behind. Lock all the car doors before walking away from the car. Although there is little enforcement of parking regulations, it's still best to observe proper parking etiquette in parking bays for other drivers.

General Standards

After a few quick reminders, competent drivers should now begin settling themselves for a Nicaraguan journey. Having a refresher can help one review the basic driving rules. It is crucial to remember all those, especially for newbies. But, confidence will lead the way as long as everything is complete

Before anything else, drivers must double-check their bags. See if they already slide in their native driving license, IDP, rental documents, and passport. Read below about the primary notes to mind before hopping, while on the road, and parking manners.

Speed Limits

Speed limit marks on the road signify how much a driver can accelerate the vehicle. It is to regulate the flow of traffic on the highway. Road enforcers are observing the movements of road users. It is better to comply with the law than to get hailed because of a violation. Kindly read below to keep tourist drivers informed about the recent speed sign update on driving in Nicaragua

  • Urban areas - 45 kph
  • Highways - 60 kph
  • Freeways - 100 kph

For additional security, inquire to your car rental agent about installing a black box feature on the rearview mirror. It can capture video while driving in Nicaragua. So, in case of an emergency, it can serve as a reference by the authorities about what happened. Also, observe speed limits even in small towns to ensure everyone's safety.

Seatbelt Laws

Occupants of a moving vehicle should wear seat belts at all times while on the road. A child booster seat is highly advisable for travelers with toddlers. It is better to ask for it at the chosen car rental agency than to regret it in the end. No one wants to risk any person’s life. Fastening of a seatbelt is mandatory. It can lessen the impact of a road accident. Not wearing seat belts is an added risk of drivers.

Driving Directions

Hunting the mesmerizing gems of this Latin American nation by operating a vehicle is a genius idea. It’s an extraordinary style of tracing the hidden treasures of a country. Hunters can finally keep their magnifying glasses in their pocket and lend their focus to the highways. Another exciting perk of driving through Nicaragua is the freedom to choose places to visit.

Reaching the city proper, Managua, tourist drivers can go on a driving voyage across Nicaragua from Costa Rica, Honduras, and Canada. Make sure to allow extra hours of a drive as it will be a long journey to take. Since drivers are bound to pass through state borders, an IDP is compulsory.

Traffic Road Signs

The traffic signages in Nicaragua are adequate. Though there are a few missing road marks in some areas, navigating the directions in this country is easy. The majority of the signs in this state follow the standard symbols in the International Road Signs. However, some marks can be different from other nations

Among the unique roadway signs in Nicaragua is the animal creature mark. While going through the highways of this country, put extra caution for a few wild animals. Let them pass safely before moving forward. Do not dare to go ahead, as trouble will come along the way.

Right of Way

As non-Nicaraguans enjoy driving trips in the country, it is essential to know that there is a right to approach a specific road section. In city junctions, the vehicle that is larger than yours has the privilege to go first. There is also an appropriate mark that will alert the driver about giving leeway to another car. Compliance with this rule is a must. Do not tolerate negligent drivers. Be a better example of a responsible traveler abroad.

Following the basic road laws, the legal driving age in the country is 18 years old. When a traveler is renting a car from Costa Rica and driving it to Nicaragua, the driver must be at least 25 years old. Additional charges will apply if the case is similar to that.

Laws on Overtaking

Based on the Central American Agreement on Road Traffic between Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica No. 6540, moving ahead from another vehicle should be on the left side. However, drivers must consider overtaking when there is enough space to do it. There should be a signal alerting the driver of the plan on getting ahead. Do not rush when there is no valid reason for it.

The overtaking rule is among the basic road rules in driving through Nicaragua. Everyone should follow the regulation unless one desires to spend hours in detention

Driving Side

All drivers must use the right side of the road to drive in Nicaragua. Switch only to the left when there is a need to overtake. Avoid getting impatient when a driver does not let the overtaking attempt. Wait for the right time to do so. Take also a breathing exercise to relax when one seems to be reckless. Let the rude driver violate, be sure that your vehicle is in the proper lane.

For tourists who will pick Nicaragua as the final destination to travel to, obtaining an International Driver’s Permit is mandatory. Get an IDP through the International Driver’s Association. It’s way more manageable to secure one from there.

Driving Etiquette in Nicaragua

Acting as a professional is an advantageous trait on all occasions. An individual knows how to handle and ethically manage things. It is vital to have a basic idea of dealing with such situations, especially on the road. Living the values in everyday life can help one exercise organizing cases in an educated way. It is way better to learn the right behavior than to let emotions carry a person’s decision-making.

Establishing finesse in every action only signifies how a person can adapt to a scenario. Practicing this kind of attitude makes a person look mature enough to stabilize the tension. It is also among the ideal ways on how to be an accountable visitor in other countries.

Car Breakdown

Going outside the home country, one wants to gear up with lots of wanderlust journeys. However, as the excitement electrifies the body, some essential elements tend to forget to include in the planning. It’s one of the most common mistakes of a traveler with a plan of driving abroad. The next time explorers make travel itineraries, consider emergency actions along the road trip.

Here are the tips on what to do in a road emergency for a useful guide in driving to Nicaragua. Keep in mind that this information is only applicable to travelers who go on the highway.

  1. Figure Out A Secured Spot to Maneuver The Vehicle

There’s no assurance that a car will go on smoothly on the road if a traveler has a long route to drive. Generally, in the middle of a particular highway, the vehicle starts to produce strange sounds, like there’s a loosened screw or parts underneath. There are also instances that tires get flat. If any of the aforementioned happens, do not hesitate to look for a safe area to pull over. Switch on the hazards lights to signal other drivers.

  1. Kindly Get the Warning Triangles and Reflective Jackets

After successfully spotting a safe zone, kindly use the emergency driving kits available in the rental car. It is vital to ensure that there are complete kits and equipment for driving. The warning triangles should be over 100 meters away from the vehicle. It is to give a heads up to upcoming drivers that there is a current road problem ahead. A driver should properly wear a reflective jacket. It’s for the safety measures on the highway.

  1. Letting Any of the Passengers to Hop Out Is Dangerous

International drivers should bear in mind that they are in a foreign land. The security is not that high in some areas. There are still possible threats around. Permitting any of the occupants inside a moving car will only lead to a higher risk of danger. Do not be stubborn enough. Toddlers and older adults should remain in the vehicle at all times. Only one accompanying adult can join the driver in checking the problem.

  1. Dial The Car Rental Provider’s Number For Road Assistance

Once the designated driver figures out the car’s main problem and seems to need a professional’s hand, call now the car rental provider. Do not spend long hours figuring out how to fix the matter. It would be better to ask for an expert’s help immediately. Tourist drivers should also ensure that they have the emergency contact details upon settling an agreement in renting a car. It’s a useful tip to use.

  1. Speak in Spanish When Reaching for a Resident’s Hand

When making calls with a rental car agent, it usually takes hours before they arrive, depending on their client’s location. While waiting for them, try to ask the local for immediate help. Nicaraguans are friendly and nice. There’s no reason to get scared. Also, try to learn the basic phrases when seeking help. It will be an advantageous move to grasp by locals to know what you need.

Police Stops

Non-citizens of Nicaragua will often encounter police stops at some particular highways. The purpose of this is to check the road user’s legality to drive. Police authorities are mostly patrolling nearby the state borders. So, if one is violating a road rule, expect to have the attention called out. Other reasons for getting hailed by a police officer typically depend on the driving performance of a driver. If they find one a bit strange, they will halt it right away.

If a foreign driver experiences this, give the full cooperation they need. Refusing won’t do anything right as they might put one in detention. Let them explain their side. After, provide honest responses to their questions. Upon their signal, show them the travel documents, including IDP, passport, identification card, local driving license, and rental car papers. If they request a driver to the prison, they may reject it unless the driver has a violation

Asking Directions

The official mother tongue in this Latin American country is Spanish. So, non-Spanish speakers should at least try learning basic terminologies used in the state. Exerting such efforts will leave a great impression on locals. They will think that their culture is impressive and admirable. When driving in Nicaragua, using the native language is a fantastic idea, especially when asking for directions. There are a lot of Nicaraguans who are willing to help especially if you're in a business district.

Though Nicaraguans can speak English, they still prefer their national dialect. It’s not that quite hard to learn the basics. Below are the general phrases that explorers can use in Nicaragua.

  • Hello!
  • (Hola/Ola)
  • Excuse me
  • (Perdón)
  • We have a breakdown.
  • (Contamos con un desglose)
  • Where is the police station?
  • (Dónde está el puesto de policía ?)
  • Where can I park my car?
  • (¿Dónde puedo dejar el coche ?)
  • Where is the hotel?
  • (Dónde está el hotel?)
  • Around the corner
  • (A la vuelta)
  • To the left/to the right
  • (A la izquierda/A la derecha)
  • Thank you!
  • (Gracias)


Encountering checkpoints is possible when driving into Nicaragua from Costa Rica. Foreigners usually need to comply with the country’s protocol before passing through the state borders. The establishment of security checkpoints is for strengthening the nation’s safety against hazardous engagements. Every foreign national needs to have complete requirements upon approaching checkpoints. Otherwise, they will receive a denial of entry into the country.

For the latest update on driving in Nicaragua, all non-residents of the country must present an IDP, domestic driver’s license, car rental documents, passport, and national identification card upon entry to the checkpoints.

Driving Conditions in Nicaragua

In discovering Nicaragua’s enthralling jewels, foreign drivers must be wary of the country’s frequent changes in road situations and conditions. There are plenty of bump roadways without any mark. An eagle eye of a driver should watch the sudden crossing of stray animals and surprise potholes along the road. However, those unpleasant routes are usually existing in remote areas and the Pacific beaches. Major highways are in excellent condition.

Though the sovereign state has shown improvements and developments on the road, some road users still do not follow the road signs. Tolerating those individuals will only add up to the count of violators in the nation. With this, the government strives hard to enforce the rules in driving to Nicaragua vigorously.

Accident Statistics

Speaking of road traffic accidents in Nicaragua, though there are several violators, as per the 2018 death records, the state only has around 3.39% of fatality. The statistical crime rate is relatively low. However, many unreported crime cases are left unknown. Most of the crime cases happen at night until early in the morning. It is the reason why driving in the dark is hazardous. Lack of road safety is also addressed by the Nicaraguan government.

Despite the unpleasant safety situation, Nicaragua’s government is making efforts to monitor, observe, and watch individuals roaming around the road. They aim to stabilize the nation’s security measures, so that driving in Nicaragua will be safe.

Common Vehicles

Delving about road trip adventure in Nicaragua is best if travelers choose to drive by a rental car. The epic freedom that explorers can get is endless. From picking whatever places to visit without worries, pulling over to rest stops anytime, and complete safety from getting stranded with crowds, operating a moving vehicle is a smart idea. Tourists and even the locals mostly pick Compact and Economy cars as their buddy in a highway-bound journey.

You'll also find chicken buses in the country. If it's your first time visiting the country, you'll be fascinated with these chicken buses. Try also to consider selecting a car with a black box video feature when driving in Nicaragua. It can help at times of sudden road incidents. Foreign drivers can have it as proof of what happened. If you're out for an adventure, a four-wheel drive vehicle is the best option for you.

Toll Roads

The creation of toll roads means making an alternate route for drivers to prevent getting stranded in a traffic jam. It’s like an express highway for road users to avoid stress in congestion. Generally, toll roads have fees. For those tourist drivers who want a faster passageway when driving into Nicaragua from Costa Rica, toll roads are the answer.

Going beyond borders is fun to do in the country, thanks to Nicaragua's great road network. Hardcore road trippers who are fond of spending days of driving may want to attempt the extreme driving journey from Canada to Nicaragua. For a perfect pathway to take, have the I-59-S road. Driving across Nicaragua from Canada can lead drivers to pass through several country borders.

Road Situation

Extra caution and vigilance are compulsory, especially when driving in Nicaragua from the province area. Most of the roadways in town sections are bumpy and likely prone to danger. There are also missing traffic road signs when reaching remote places. Bringing all kinds of maps and navigation gadgets is a must. However, as tourist drivers pass through the undeveloped routes, they may let go of their city roads’ worries. But, they should still be careful at all times

All foreign car renters should never forget to have the IDP when driving in Managua, Nicaragua. Most of the checkpoints are around the vibrant capital city and other major cities and major towns. Road enforcers usually do random patrolling on a particular portion of an area.

Driving Culture

Generally, the Nicaraguans are good drivers. Despite the few aggressive ones, locals still strive to lift their trustworthy image, especially to their nation’s foreign visitors. All non-citizens of this Latin American sovereign state can let go of the dilemma about safe driving. Be sure to comply with the road laws strictly, and everything will go smoothly.

For explorers driving from Canada to Nicaragua should watch out for sudden change in the road environment. Take extra caution when entering the state’s borders. Be wary about the resident’s behavior and action. Do not show any unnecessary demeanor that locals will misinterpret.

Other Tips

Driving through Nicaragua is a wise and fantastic idea to come to life. Besides the perks, tourists can ensure their safety from any harm. Learning other essential matters relative to driving in Nicaragua is an excellent addition to travel history.

Are They Using Kph or Mph?

While traversing the country’s highways, tourist drivers will mostly encounter a speed measurement unit in Kph. Speed limit marks are visible on main roads. Sustaining the designated limit is mandatory. Keep the driving slow when approaching rural areas

Is Driving at Night Safe?

International citizens often wonder if driving at night is safe in Nicaragua. The Nicaraguan authorities highly advise not to do it. It’s quite hazardous to risk the safety of passengers in the dark. Bear in mind that road assistance is limited in the evening. Though police officers patrol at night, it is still better to avoid hitting the road in the dark.

If it is inevitable, be cautious when encountering animals on the highway. Drive slow as you can to prevent road accidents. Flash the headlights and switch on hazards if necessary. Do not dare to overtake. It’s more dangerous to do so at night. Always keep your IDP and driving license at all times. Random checkpoints are often in the dark.

Things To Do In Nicaragua

After fulfilling the hunting adventures in Nicaragua, stepping to another exploration insight level is a brilliant plan to craft next. Seeking employment in Nicaragua is not that easy as one thinks, but the experience is incredible. For a foreign national able to score a professional work in the country, a Nicaraguan company must show the job screening process documents indicating why a local does not qualify for the role.

International citizens should have a work permit to render service in the country. Though countries under the E.U community no longer need to have a tourist visa, they have to get legal consent when searching for a job in Nicaragua. Aside from it, there are other qualifications to meet. Same with obtaining a residence permit.

Drive as a Tourist

Explorers from different parts of the globe planning to have a historical driving in Nicaragua must possess an International Driver’s Permit (IDP). It is a translation of a native driver’s license abroad. Without it, the police officers will consider it illegal driving. Getting an IDP is more effortless and lighter than the majority thought. Visiting the International Driver’s Association page, applicants will have a straightforward guideline on how to apply.

Other foreign renters driving from Costa Rica to Nicaragua must ready their essential travel documents upon approaching country border checkpoints. They should make sure that they have complete itinerary details to avoid suspicion about the visit’s purpose. Also, make sure you have all necessary equipment if you're driving your own car in Nicaragua.

Work as a Driver

Any non-resident of Nicaragua can freely look for a professional job in the country. But, getting a particular work must have an exceptional skill included in the job description. It should be a regular position for a higher chance of receiving reasonable payment. If one finds driving in Managua, Nicaragua, a work vacancy, try to look online as there are hiring sites with job posts about maneuvering a four-wheel vehicle.

An applicant should be at the legal age to drive and a legit holder of a valid driver’s license from the country of origin. A conversion of a foreign driver’s card to a Nicaraguan driving license will be possible upon residing for a minimum required duration of stay.

Work as a Travel Guide

In dealing with Nicaragua’s work-related matters, a foreigner must have a legit sponsor company to support its financial living. Another essential thing is an employment contract under a local agency in the country. It is vital to prove that hiring an international citizen is necessary. In acquiring a work permit in this Latin American sovereign state, meet specific criteria and own significant documents

Read further below about the general knowledge and primary documents that an applicant must present when applying for a work permit in Nicaragua.

  • Fully Accomplished Work Permit Form
  • Valid Foreign Passport
  • Copy of stamp pages on the passport
  • Employment Letter from the Employer to Directorate General of Immigration
  • Notarized Articles of Incorporation of the Company and Accreditation of the Attorney
  • Work Contract
  • Proof that the Employer follows the Labor Code 14
  • Associate Fees

Apply for Residency

Foreign workers in Nicaragua have to secure first a temporary resident permit before they can proceed with processing their work documents. Professional job status won’t matter as long as a non-Nicaraguan decides to reside in the country. Be sure to present complete mandatory documents when applying for a resident permit.

Here are the general requirements that mostly need for obtaining residency consent in the country. Tourist drivers that still have the international permit for driving in Nicaragua up to now may even add it as a supporting document when acquiring a residence permit.

  • Application Form
  • Original and Valid Passport
  • Colored Photocopies of Passport Pages
  • Passport size Photo
  • Original and Copy of Birth Certificate
  • Marriage Certificate (for married woman only)
  • Criminal Record Check
  • Health Certificate

Other Things to Do

Rendering tourism services is indeed an exciting path to venture. However, some still look for other options to level up their visit. One example is obtaining a Nicaraguan Driver’s License. For aspiring tourist drivers, it is one of their primary goals. Another is searching for other professional work roles to apply in the country.

Whether a traveler aims to have a driving experience from Nicaragua to Costa Rica, or vice versa, scoring a local driver’s card is a brilliant goal to achieve. To know more about what an ex-pat can do in Nicaragua, read further below.

How to Convert a Local Driver’s License to a Nicaraguan Driver’s License?

Once the hiring process pushes through, getting a temporary resident permit will come along with it. Upon receiving one, the driver may now acquire a Nicaraguan Driver’s License. Only a foreigner holding a residency paper can qualify. Otherwise, securing it first is a must. For novices, mastering the language used in driving in Nicaragua is compulsory.

To have a general knowledge about the requirements needed to possess, below are the primary documents to own before heading to Nicaragua’s local police station

  • Valid Passport
  • Nicaraguan Resident Card/Permit
  • Copy of Passport Biodata page
  • Domestic Driver’s License
  • Certificate from the home country’s Embassy indicating the driver’s license and vehicle property
  • Copy of Nicaraguan Resident Card/Permit
  • Examination Certificates from Nicaraguan Red Cross
  • Copy of Life Insurance Policy
  • Certificate of Theoretical and Practical Exam from the Transit Station Office
  • BANPRO Deposit Slip ($120) to National Police Account

How to Get a Passing Mark on Driving Test in Nicaragua?

If an applicant is a newbie or a rookie in operating a steering wheel, undergoing a mandatory series of examinations is compulsory. Driving tests typically hold at any police station within the jurisdiction of Nicaragua. This type of test comprises twenty multiple-choice questions, and an applicant must score at least 80% to receive a passing mark. For physical examinations, heading to the Nicaraguan Red Cross will fulfill it.

When settling for the practical exercise, here are a few reminders and tips to gain plus points and score a good mark

  1. Before the practical test day, do a refresher, and make a brief essay point about driving in Nicaragua.
  2. Refrain from unnecessary movements. Have your hands on the steering wheel in the 10’o’clock direction.
  3. Observe the crosswalk passers, bikers, and motorists.
  4. When approaching a city junction point, give the right of way to the vehicle more extensive than yours.
  5. Sustain the speed limit mark per road area. Do not exceed.
  6. Always give the entire focus on the highway.
  7. Never attempt to overtake when there’s no reason to do it.
  8. Follow the road rules to have an excellent driving history and essay remark in driving in Nicaragua.

Are There Other Work Opportunities in Nicaragua?

Among the top in-demand job roles in Nicaragua is an agricultural specialist. It’s no wonder why agriculture is among the most practical work in the country as the said sector is continuously booming with excellent progress. For foreigners whose career is in line with agriculture, trying to apply for a Nicaragua position is a remarkable experience to remember in a lifetime.

Top Road Trip Destinations in Nicaragua

Nicaragua has impressive treasures that are irresistible to wanderlust. There’s no wonder why this Central American nation can boast countless paradises to all wanderers in the world. From breathtaking volcanoes, great lakes, and spectacular natural reserves, Nicaragua is heaven that explorers should not cross out when having a hideaway adventure. Every bit of dazzling gem in this state is remarkable

Travelers across the world must consider trying out the creative and trending exploration style. Planning about driving in Nicaragua should start as early as now. Of course, getting an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) through the International Driver’s Association is an essential part of the plan. It’s more convenient and hassle-free. Applicants will only have to wait within the day or in just two hours for the approval.


Masaya Volcano

Spice up the road trip by checking out the Masaya Volcano situated in Nicaragua’s shining capital city. This legendary volcano spot is stunningly resting within the state’s largest national park. A fascinating fact that makes this “tourist’s apple of the eye” is that fearless adventurers can go up close to the volcano’s crater through a vehicle. Hardcore drivers may simply take the route upward until reaching the edge. Accessing that part is a thrilling experience

Schedule a visit to Masaya Volcano at any time of the day. However, frequent travelers head over to the site early in the morning. Another incredible discovery at night time will leave the visitors speechless. Around 5 PM onwards, the magnificent show of the volcano begins. Along with the addicting rumble of the sea, cold breeze in the dark, blanket of stars, the astonishing lava lake right from the crater is unbeatable

Impact After Eruptions

Masaya Volcano already made several eruptions. With this, traces of volcanic ashes and rocks are still visible on the site. Despite countless volcanic activities in this place, the entire spot can sustain its peacefulness and natural wonder. A few unique wild creatures are roaming around the paradise. Visitors can meet adorable raccoons, iguanas, coyotes, opossums, skunks, monkeys, and deer.

Driving Directions

From Managua, choose the route via Carretera a Masaya/NIC-4:

  1. Drive to the southwest heading to Calle Bayardo Cuaresma.
  2. When approaching Paseo las Colinas, follow the signs and go straight ahead.
  3. In Carretera a Masaya/NIC-4, make a left turn.
  4. Upon arriving at Poligono Magnum, do a right turn. Head over to Camino al Sastepe and follow the marks ahead.
  5. At NN-222, turn right and proceed to the nearest parking lot at the park.

Driving in Nicaragua is safe during the daytime. Patrol officers are mostly roaming in the city. Obedience to the traffic rule is mandatory. Violators are not welcome

Things to Do

Explorers should try out these activities when taking a visit to Masaya Volcano.

  1. Hike at Masaya Volcano
    Extreme adventurers should test their adrenaline and competence in mounting the Masaya Volcano. Upon reaching the peak of the volcano, its iconic crater will welcome you. Its legendary hole continuously releases sulfur dioxide making the visual more breathtaking to see. The trail going up to the peak is manageable. Travelers can even reach it by car.
  2. Shop at Masaya Market
    To make the journey remarkable, getting some local souvenirs at Masaya Market is a brilliant idea. Take also the chance to see residents selling traditional handicraft items. Of course, you can buy some fresh vegetables and fruits. It would be great if you will have the opportunity to cook it.
  3. Explore at Catarina
    If you’re quite interested in flowering and pottery, stopping over at Catarina. It’s known for its stunning collection of flowers and ceramics. You may get to see some creative masterpieces that locals made for exhibits and selling.
  4. Tour at Masaya Visitor Center
    For an educational excursion, learning the site’s fascinating flora and fauna is a beautiful idea. You may also discover the nation’s mesmerizing geology and ecosystems. It’s a perfect venue for nature enthusiasts to get more knowledge about the environment.
  5. Eat at the Nicaraguan Restaurant
    To get yourself energized, dining over the Nicaraguan restaurant can allow you to taste the state’s traditional dishes. Do not forget to try out their iconic local foods. See if the resto has “Baho,” it’s a dried beef with vegetables like cassava, tomatoes, cabbage, and plantain. It’s the famous dish for lunch in Nicaragua.

Cerro Negro

Extreme and arduous adrenaline exercises will work onboard in Cerro Negro. The said site is famously known as one of the youngest volcanoes on Earth. Its recent eruption only happened two decades ago. After its trembling rush of volcanic particles, a phenomenal black cone has been drawing attention to tourists. The main game in this hotspot is Volcanic Surfing. Wild thrillers will have a blast riding journey down the volcano’s black ashes.

For an insane yet exciting experience in Cerro Negro, set a target date of visit from December to April. It is the dry season of the year. It is also a great sign to ensure safety in doing the outrageous sports activity in the volcano. All volcanic surfers, hikers, and borders must wear appropriate hiking shoes. It is to avoid injuries like cramps and swollen feet

The Volcano Boarding

Before a die-hard fan of intense sports engage in the iconic Volcanic Boarding in Cerro Negro, mounting up for 45-minutes is a must. Trails up to the peak are not that hard to take, but getting down is what a hardcore sport thriller should prepare ahead. Though there are tour guides that will explain the details about what to do, feeling the fright of sliding down is terrific. But, for a fearless volcanic border, it’s a challenge to take

Driving Directions

If heading from Managua, hit the Carr. Nueva Leon/NIC-28 route

  1. Start by heading to the northwest towards Calle Hermanos Rugama/Calle La Fuente. Make a left turn to access the roundabout section.
  2. Upon arriving at the roundabout area, proceed to the second exit and follow signs up to Av Jerusalén.
  3. When approaching Pista Suburbana, another roundabout zone hit the second exit and headed straight to this route.
  4. Stay on the right while traversing the Carr. Panamericana/Carr. Sur Via Panamericana/CA-1/CA-3/NIC-1/NIC-2.
  5. Follow the signs along the Carr. Panamericana/Carr. Sur Via Panamericana/CA-1/CA-3/NIC-1/NIC-2.
  6. Arriving at the roundabout, drive through the second exit and keep on Carr. Panamericana/CA-1/CA-2/CA-3/NIC-1/NIC-2.
  7. Head straight to Carr. Nueva Leon/NIC-28 before making a right turn leading to Route 12/CA-3.
  8. At 6ta Calle NE, turn right until Camino al Volcano Cerro Negro. Turn left upon reaching the Camino de retorno

Foreign rental car drivers should consider taking extra hours when driving in Nicaragua from a province. Though traffic congestions rarely happen in specific hours, it is still best to allow an extended period.

Things to Do

Here are the thrilling activities you can try out for an extreme and joyous adventure in Cerro Negro.

  1. Boarding at the Cerro Negro
    Before a die-hard fan of intense sports engage in the iconic Volcanic Boarding in Cerro Negro, mounting up for 45-minutes is a must. Trails up to the peak are not that hard to take, but getting down is what a hardcore sport thriller should prepare ahead. Though there are tour guides that will explain the details about what to do, feeling the fright of sliding down is terrific. But, for a fearless volcanic border, it’s a challenge to take.
  2. Explore at Natural Reserve Isla Juan Venado
    Bird-watchers should consider exploring the Natural Reserve Isla Juan Venado. If you can’t endure strenuous activities, a relaxing bird tour can be your alternative. When you are lucky enough, you may get to witness the legendary bird migration in reserve.
  3. Swim at Las Peñitas
    When you feel like dipping in waters, heading to Las Peñitas and Poneloya is the answer. It is among the hotspot for surfing adventures. Hardcore water explorers can enjoy playing with pristine water on this small beach area. Do not forget to bring sunblock or any sun protection if you have sensitive skin. It’s better to come prepared at all times.

Apoyo Lagoon Natural Reserve

Apoyo Lagoon Natural Reserve is beautifully resting in Granada. It features its great tremendous crater lake, which already existed over 20,000 years ago after its eruption. The lake on this lagoon is about 198 meters deep, and it’s enough to create incredible waves when the wind blows.

There are thermal vents that sustain the warm temperature of the lake. Exploring Apoyo Lagoon Natural Reserve is perfect all-year-around. However, visitors must go early in the morning. Avoiding crowd surge is the ideal moment to enjoy the site.

Fascinating Forested Shores

The natural reserve is a portion of a tropical dry forest ecosystem, highlighting a mesmerizing diversity in the wildlife population. It serves as a natural habitat of over 500 plant species and beyond 200 birds.

Driving Directions:

To reach Apoyo Lagoon Natural Reserve, take the Carretera a Masaya/NIC-4 route:

  1. Start driving by heading to the southwest until Calle Bayardo Cuaresma.
  2. Head straight for 200 meters in Paseo las Colinas.
  3. Upon arriving at Carretera a Masaya/NIC-4, turn left.
  4. At a roundabout, proceed to the second exit to Circunvalación a Masaya/NIC-4B.
  5. Make a left turn upon approaching Carr Granada Masaya/NIC-4.

Acquiring an IDP in this sovereign state is vital. Non-Spanish nations and non-holders of a driver’s license written in the Spanish alphabet must get an IDP. When applying for legal consent in driving in Nicaragua, the country’s zip code must include completing the International Driver’s Association application form.

Things to Do

To make an unforgettable voyage in Apoyo Lagoon Natural Reserve, below are the enticing activities to enjoy

  1. Swim At Laguna de Apoyo
    If you are curious about the feeling of dipping under the cleanest water, taking a gorgeous swim at Laguna de Apoyo can give you that. It is also the neatest crater volcano in Central America. To add more twist, you may consider a hot thermal hunt within the site. It’s a great adventure to add up to the list.
  2. Hike at the Mirador
    A reconnection with nature is an enthralling thing to do in reserve. To get you excited about the natural dry tropical nature reserve of Laguna de Apoyo, try out the trails along the Catarina or the Mirador of Laguna de Apoyo. Along the way, you may encounter adorable squirrels, howler monkeys, and marmalade plum roaming the place.
  3. Tour the Handicraft Market
    When hearing the word market, you will think that it is only for local and exciting crafts. However, the Handicraft Market is also a famous venue for the Nicaraguan folklore shows. You can catch the “La Verbena” every Thursday afternoon. It’s a performance showcase of the state’s impressive tradition and culture

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