We crossed at the Ciudad Pedro de Alvarado (GUA) – La Hachadura (ES) border on March 8, 2014 in the late afternoon. We used a helper, Jorge, as most of the information we had found prior to our crossing was for the more northern crossings and after driving all day with tired dogs we weren’t mentally prepared to figure everything out for ourselves. Ideally, using the following directions, you can avoid using a helper… It took us about 1 and a half hours to get out of Guatemala and into El Salvador. No one on the Guatemala side spoke English but everyone on the El Salvador side did. We made copies of our title, passports and driver’s licenses before we left Lake Atitlan, which reduced the number of copies we had to run around making.

Documents needed

  • We needed:

    • Passports

    • Drivers Licenses

    • Vehicle Title

    • Guatemala Import Permit

  • Neli needed:

    • International Health Certificate from the US

    • Spanish Language Health Certificate from Mexico

    • Valid Rabies Vaccination Certificate (not more than a year old, not less than 30 days)

    • Vaccination Record

  • Maya needed:

    • Spanish Language Health Certificate from Guatemala

Exit Guatemala

  • As you approach the border stay in the left lane. You will see a series of traffic cones next to a large blue and white brick building, this is where you will park after someone appears to move the cones for you.

  • Immigration: On the left-hand side of the street look for the Migracion sign. They will stamp your passport and Import Permit out of the country. No Charge.

  • Go across the street and make 2 copies of the driver’s Passport and Import Permit with the new stamps. 4Q for 4 copies

  • Customs: Walk around to the other side of the brick building where Immigration is (you’ll now be with the Guatemala-bound traffic) and into the door marked Ingreso to cancel your import permit. If you do not return to Guatemala within 90 days without canceling your permit they will charge you an import tax based on the value of your vehicle. If you want to come back within 24 hours of canceling your import permit, you can import the same vehicle with a different driver otherwise you need to wait 90 days. Fill out a ton of paperwork then the very serious customs man will quickly check the VIN on your vehicle. No Charge.

  • Exchange your GTQ for USD: There was only one guy hanging around so we figured he was as good an option as any. We got 1 USD for 8 GTQ.

Enter El Salvador

  • Drive over the bridge into “no-man’s land,” and then towards the next bridge into El Salvador. Show your canceled Import Permit to the SAT guy at the bridge, he will add another stamp to your growing collection. Show your passports to the Migracion guys, they will just look back and forth between your passports and your face a couple of times.

  • El Salvador Immigration: The road curves right and then take your first left to park next to big blue and white building. The wooden box near the beginning of the building is Migracion. Friendly officer will take your passports and explain how you only have 90 days in the CA-4. He will also tell you it’s easy and cheap to get another 90 days by going to San Salvador. No Stamp. No Charge.

  • Next to Immigration there is a copy shop. Make 1 copy of your canceled Guatemalan Import Permit with the new stamp from the SAT guy at the bridge. 0.10 USD for 1 copy.

  • El Salvador Customs: About halfway down the building is a courtyard area with restrooms and an air-conditioned Aduana office. The driver should go in here with his/her passport, vehicle title, canceled import permit with many stamps, drivers license, and one copy of each. You will sit for a while basking in the air-conditioning until it’s your turn to fill out paperwork. The customs agent will come out to look at your VIN and ask you questions about your vehicle. They asked us if we surfed, opened the back door of the camper to take a peak, and laughed at our Perro Peligroso sign. Everyone will now head back inside to the glorious air-conditioning to do more paperwork (yaaay!). You will be issued a new Import Permit for your vehicle which is good for 60 days. After the 60 days you must leave or pay a 700 USD fine. No Charge.

  • Dogs: At the end of the building there is a sign for Cuarentena. Here you hand over all the paperwork you have along with one copy of everything. They will look at the papers for a while and then stamp everything. They did not look at either dog. 0.40 USD for copies otherwise, No Charge.

  • Inspection Gate: Our helper stopped traffic for us to wind our way through the 18-wheelers. Show your passports and new Vehicle Import Permit to the guards, they will check your VIN and then hand everything back. We also paid a 5 USD toll here but it looked like everyone else was paying it as well. We also got a receipt so we think it was legit. 5 USD

  • Insurance: Insurance used to be mandatory in El Salvador but it is no longer. We were told that there is nowhere to buy insurance at the border anyway.

Total Cost: 16.00 US

  • Copies in Guatemala: 4 GTQ (0.50 USD)

  • Copies in El Salvador: 0.50 USD

  • Toll Road: 5.00 USD

  • Tip for our friendly Helper: 10.00 USD

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