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Managua, Nicaragua

Rank#931 Managua, Nicaragua

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Travel Infomation Description

Road Conditions and Safety:  Main roads between major cities are paved and in good condition. Other roads have potholes, and are poorly lit, narrow, and, or, lack shoulders, and further damage occurs during the rainy season. Oxcarts, livestock, and pedestrians crossing roads in front of oncoming traffic are common, even on major roads.  Most roads on the Caribbean Coast are unpaved. Road signs throughout the country are poor to non-existent. Road travel after dark is hazardous in all areas. Carry a cellular phone in case of emergency, and do not drive outside urban areas after dark.

Traffic Laws: If you are involved in a traffic accident, you are supposed to wait for police and insurance company representatives to arrive and follow their instructions. However,  police and insurance companies sometimes do not respond, especially during overnight hours, because of increased criminal activity and civil unrest. Do not move your vehicle, unless a police officer tells you to do so, or you will be legally liable for the accident, whether or not you caused it.

Nicaraguan law requires that police take a driver into custody for:

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol (the legal limit is 0.05% blood alcohol content) or drugs and/or
  • Being involved in an accident that causes serious injury or death.

The minimum detention period is 48 hours.  In fatal accidents, drivers are held until they reach an agreement with the victim?s family.

To avoid liability, consider hiring a professional driver through a reputable hotel.

All drivers must carry (including in rental vehicles):

  • driver?s license,
  • proof of insurance,
  • vehicle registration,
  • emergency triangle,
  • fire extinguisher, and
  • inspection and registration stickers 

Penalties for not having the above include fines and, or, towing. For more information, check with the Nicaraguan National Police or the Embassy of Nicaragua.

Traffic Stops:  Transit police often stop those in rental cars and with foreign license plates.

  • If transit police demand a bribe in lieu of a fine, request a receipt and the officer?s name and badge number.
  • To report mistreatment by police, file a complaint with Nicaragua?s National Police and forward your complaint to the U.S. Consular Section in Managua.
  • If you receive a traffic violation, police will confiscate your driver?s license until you pay the fine at a bank. Foreigners are rarely able to recover their licenses in a timely manner. Consult the Nicaraguan National Police (in Spanish) for more information.

Public Transportation:  Buses, moto-taxis (caponeras), and ferries often lack proper safety equipment.

  • U.S. government personnel are not permitted to use public buses and moto-taxis due to safety and crime concerns.
  • Use only licensed taxis recommended by airport authorities, major hotels, restaurants, or other trusted sources.
  • Exercise caution in the face of possibly overloaded or otherwise unsafe ferries and boats, and check with local naval or police authorities about the safety of being on the water in local weather conditions. Life vests and other safety equipment are often insufficient.

Airports in remote locales often have short airstrips, minimal safety equipment, and little boarding security.

See our Road Safety page for more information and the Nicaraguan Institute of Tourism and National Transit Authority.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) assessed the government of Nicaragua?s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Nicaragua?s air carrier operations.  Further information may be found on the FAA?s safety assessment page.

Maritime Travel:  Mariners planning travel to Nicaragua should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts on the Maritime Administration website. Information may also be posted to the websites of the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (select ?broadcast warnings?). 

Managua, Nicaragua
Managua, Nicaragua
Managua, Nicaragua
Managua, Nicaragua

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