In 2016/17 I went backpacking overland from Mexico to Panama. I often found it difficult to find information online about the exit fees / departure tax for each country. So I decided I would make note of each fee I paid and put it into a blog to help others who are having the same problem.
It is important to note-
-I left each country by land (not flight) execept Panama. Exit fees can vary if you are flying or going overland.
-I also believe that exit fees could vary depending on the particular border crossing (just to make it more confusing!).
-Sometimes there are scams at the borders so have an idea of what the exit fee should be before you arrive. Sometimes this fee is not really official and simply a money making scam (I think this may be the case for the Panama entry fee). Sometimes it is easier just to pay the $3 than argue with them. (If they are charging you what seems to be a ridiculous amount then obviously do not pay)
-You can also check if the exit fee is included with your flight ticket or package holiday (check the travel companies website or contact your travel agent).
-I have tried to include as much information as possible based on my experience but I do not want to add any information to the blog if I am unsure.
-All the prices listed below are what I paid from November 2016 to February 2017. It is possible that prices can change.
Mexico- 390 Mexican Pesos (by land). 900 Mexican Pesos (by flight)
My experience: I departed Mexico by land at the Belizean border, Chetumal. The coach stopped for us to pay the 390 peso fee. It was very simple. I paid cash. It did not look like they would accept card as it was only a small room that we paid in. They did have some change but its best to have as close to 390 pesos as possible.
Belize– $40 Belizean Dollars or $20 US Dollars (by land)
My experience: I took a chicken bus to the Belize-Guatemala border town of Benque and paid the exit fee in the immigration building. There was one queue for the exit fee and another for the passport exit stamp. You could pay in Belize Dollars or US Dollars- the exchange rate in Belize is a fixed 2-1. I’m not sure if you can pay by card- I would definitley bring cash just in case. Sorry, I do not have accurate information on the cost if you fly out of Belize.
Guatemala- 10 Guatemalan Quetzales (by land)
My experience: I left Guatemala at the border with Honduras on route to Copan. The offices are small and almost definitley do not take card payment. Also try not to pay with a large note. Sorry, I do not have accurate information on the cost if you fly out of Guatemala. I also want to note that I did not pay an entrance fee to Guatemala.
Honduras- $3 US Dollars (by land- Entrance and Exit fee)
My experience: I had to pay upon entrance and exit to Honduras. The border offices are small and are unlikely to have card machines to pay so have cash. I entered and exited at the same border with Guatemala. Sorry, I do not have accurate information on the cost if you fly out of Honduras.
El Salvador- Free (by land)
My experience: We drove to the town of La Union and crossed into Nicaragua by boat. I know it is also possible to cross into Nicaragua via Honduras. I was on a group tour at the time so I do not know exact boat prices. I also do not know what the exit fees are when you exit by flight, sorry!
Nicaragua- $3 US Dollars (by land) $35 (by flight)
My experience: I exited at the Nicaragua-Costa Rica border heading towards Monteverde. I am not sure that you can pay by card. You then have to walk a little way to the Costa Rica offices. I beleive that the flight exit fee I’ve listed above is accurate but you may want to double check.
Costa Rica- $8 US Dollars (by land) $29 US Dollars (by flight)
My experience: I took a local bus from Puerto Viejo to the Costa Rica-Panama border town of Sixaola. When you get off the bus it’s not initially clear where the immigration offices are but just ask someone and they will point you in the right direction as its only round the corner from the bus station. From here there was a woman who told us we need to pay the exit fee first at this small office that looked like a little shop. We thought it looked a bit dodgy but this is infact legitimate. At the shop/office you pay $8 US Dollars in cash. If you need to pay by card the fee is $7 and there is a card machine in the same office that they stamp your passport. Obviously, if you pay by card you could be charged a bank or transaction fee so I think its best to pay cash. After paying the fee you get a little reciept which you need to take with you when you get your passport stamped at the immigration office which is just up a hill nearby. You then cross a bridge by foot into Panama.
*Costa Rica are likely to ask you for proof of onward travel when you enter.
Panama- Free (by flight and boat) $3 Entrance Fee (by land)
My experience: Panama is the only country where I am not sure if there is an exit fee by land. The only way you can exit by land is if you are heading to Costa Rica. You can not get to Colombia by land you have to take a flight or the boat. I had a flight from Panama City to Miami and I was not charged any exit fee at the airport. I had to pay a $3 entance fee when I entered Panama from Sixoala in Costa Rica.
*Panama are likely to ask you for proof of onward travel when you enter.
Has this blog helped you at all? Have I made any mistakes? If so, let me know in the comments.