Chris and I did a border run to Costa Rica and Panama recently, and we wanted to share with you how it went. It was an exciting experience, to say the least. Crossing the Costa Rica and Panama border was not as smooth as we had hoped, but we got through it!
But one sure thing is that it was an adventurous border run, even for us! Today, we will share vital information you need to cross the Costa Rica and Panama border in your car. Hopefully, our experience will be helpful for you if you are planning to do this anytime soon.
Make Sure You Have the Necessary Documents and Extra Copies
As we made our way toward the border, we took great care to ensure that we had all the required documentation. We did extensive research and made copies of everything required.
This would ensure that our entry into Panama would go off without a hitch. In addition to our reliable passports, which included vaccination cards, we prepared multiple copies of each document if officials at the border requested them.
A statement of economic stability in the form of a bank statement was also prepared in addition to the itinerary for our hotel stay during our one night in Panama, which was printed out and ready to go. In addition, we ensured that our car’s documentation was in order and registered to us before applying for a permit to allow our vehicle to leave Costa Rica and enter Panama.
In addition, we were prepared for our return to Costa Rica with our health passes, passports, and vaccination cards. We also brought a copy of our lease and the documentation for our vehicle to show that we were the legal owners of it. We spared no effort to make the border crossing between these two stunning countries as smooth as possible.
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The Drive from Uvita, Costa Rica
The journey from Uvita would take about two hours. It gave us plenty of time to ensure we were prepared to cross the border. We knew that driving across the border would be different than flying, but we did not think it would be so complex. We were confident and ready for the challenge because we had our documentation in order.
The plan was to spend the night in Panama to rest and recuperate. While there, we looked forward to shopping and relaxing at the lovely hotel we booked in Panama. In general, it was shaping up to be a fantastic trip for the weekend. Chris was definitely the more excited one.
Crossing the Border
Once we arrived at the Panama border and parked our car on the side just before crossing. We were greeted by a gentleman who offered to guide us through the process. It was probably clear that we were foreigners and not familiar with the procedures.
We relied on a helper to guide us in getting the car through. The first place he took us to was the tax office. This is where we paid the exit tax to leave Costa Rica and received a receipt. Then we had to take it to the Costa Rican immigration office to get our passports stamped.
As we drove across the border, we also had to get a vehicle permit for their car to leave Costa Rica. We showed it to the customs officials and got it stamped and verified.
The gentleman who helped us also charged an administration fee for getting the exit stamp, which was an extra $4 for both. We knew this might happen and didn’t argue with him over a few dollars.
As we crossed the border, we were glad it went smoothly. We faced a few challenges, but we were delighted they had someone to guide us through the process.
However, we did warn others who might be doing the same thing to be prepared for extra charges. And to also be ready to give some money to the people who offered to guide us through the border process.
Welcome to Panama!
Besides being a bit confused about the entire process, Chris and I could drive our vehicle across the Costa Rica and Panama border without significant problems. The procedure involved a lot of steps, but it was still manageable with adequate planning and documentation.
Once we crossed the border, we were required to register our vehicle again in Panama and pay a car insurance premium of $26. In addition to that, we were required to have their photographs and fingerprints taken.
We were not questioned regarding the length of our stay or required to provide evidence of their financial stability. We did not need to take a covid test since they were vaccinated.
Hanging Out in David, Panama
As Chris and I arrived in David, Panama, we were greeted with a smooth drive and a nice hotel, City Plaza Hotel and Suites. The room was spacious and clean, with a giant window letting in a lot of heat.
The hotel’s eco-friendly feature, where the room’s electricity, including the air conditioning, can be shut off by removing the room key card, was a surprise! We also enjoyed the bathroom amenities and the pool.
Heading Back Home
We stayed overnight in Panama, turned around, and returned to Costa Rica. Coming back to Costa Rica was a lot easier than getting into Panama. When we arrived, we had to get in line for immigration to get the exit stamp on our passports.
It was smoother than we thought it would be. This was because we were prepared with all the necessary documents and permits again. Overall, it was a successful border run, and we’re glad to be back in Costa Rica.
Check out our vlog about the trip!