El Salvador to Honduras Border Crossing – El Amatillo

My Overland Adventure

Around the World in a Land Cruiser
Staff member
May 29, 2014
On The road

We woke early to cross from El Salvador to Honduras and then on to Nicaragua, 2 border crossings in one day!

We had read that these borders were a bit of nightmare, with lots of photocopying needed, possible RHD issues, an overlanders worst nightmare.

The reality is these borders are no different to any other (apart from the extra photocopies). With time on your hands and a relaxed attitude both borders can be accomplished with ease in a single day.

The only thing you need is patience and time!


  • El Salvador to Honduras Border Crossing 1h 30m
  • Drive to Honduras border 2h
  • Honduras to Nicaragua Border Crossing 1h 30m
  • Border crossing to Leon 2h
Total Time to expect 7 – 8 Hours

The border opens at 6am which gives you plenty of time to cross both borders and reach Leon before dark.

How long did it take us?

We arrived at El Salvador customs at 9:10am, arrived at Honduran customs at 9:40am and passed fumigation at 10:30am. The drive to the Nicaraguan border took us 2 hour 10min arriving at 12:40pm. Entering Nicaragua took us 1 hour 20 mins. We left at 2pm and the drive into Leon took us 2 hours and ten minutes.

Total time 7 hours

El Salvador Exit

  1. Temporary Import Permit (TIP) The Customs office is on the right hand side just after the speed bump here13.585211, -87.798540 . Park anywhere you can. There is a copy shop opposite the customs hut 13.585270, -87.798667. They will need your passport, registration certificate and the original Temporary Import Permit and two copies. The customs officer will come outside to check the VIN and to remove the sticker in the window. Once the customs officer has cancelled your permit you need to get 4 more copies. If you don’t already have multiple copies of your passport, registration and driving licence now is the time to do it. (There is another copy shop by the Honduran border)
  2. Drive to the main border, keeping left at the junction 13.597730, -87.767669
  3. Immigration The immigration window is on your left at the end of the building. You will also need to show them a copy of the cancelled import permit.
  4. Cross the bridge, on the way you will be stopped by a guard, he will want to check your paperwork. 13.597592, -87.767269
El Salvador Immigration Building

El Salvador Immigration window

Entering Honduras
  1. Proceed to the Honduras Border 13.596609, -87.765079, park outside of customs

  1. Immigration Head to immigration here 596313, -87.764912 and join the queue. The cost of Tourist entry is $3. The copy shop is here 13.596772, -87.765112
  2. Temporary Import Permit (TIP) Go inside the building and on your left will be the customs office. Give them the paper work below. Give them the following photocopies
    • 3 x passport main photo page,
    • 3 x passport with Honduran entry stamp
    • 3 x cancelled El Salvador vehicle import permit
    • 3 x vehicle registration
    • 3 x driver’s licence
    • 3 x tourist card
(At this point don’t stress, if you don’t have the correct paper work they will tell you!!)

They will enter the information into the computer and give you a customs declaration to fill in. Once they have entered the information, they will give you some paper work and point you in the direction of the Bank to pay the fee (total was HNL 698) and then to the copy shop to get three copies of the receipt.

Go back to the customs officer and give them the copies and pick up the import permit, then go to the copy shop and get four copies of the Honduran import permit. Go back to customs and give them two copies.

4. Vehicle Check The customs officer may or may not check your vehicle, for us they just checked the VIN.

5. Keep hold of all the documentation you have been given as you need to show this when exiting. They will also take a copy of the TIP.

6. You will come up to a fumigation area, however they did not stop us or any other vehicles.


  • Carnet is not required to enter Honduras with a foreign vehicle


New Overlander
Oct 11, 2015
Crossing: Honduras into El Salvador

Deja vu
- worst border crossing for me in CA. As I approached this station there were 3 lines about 10 deep in autos. Numerous "helpers" were combing the long lines in the approach to this station. These "helpers" were asking for passports and $2 US to get you through the lines more quickly. Not knowing, I paid one fellow $2, he disappeared for 5- 10 minutes and soon returned and toss my passport back in the window with no stamp, no documents and my money was gone. No big deal because I didn't lose my passport over the deal - but don't fall for this as did this rookie. There are also money changers walking up and down the lines offering exchange services. Now my line moved more quickly than I imagined and as I handed all the required paper work to the desk clerk, she stamped my passport and I was off (I thought).

Now as I drove past the office building and entered the bridge, halfway across the bridge there is another guard who checks your passport. Something is wrong he says and I must back up my auto and thus park on the backside of the immigration building which is facing the bridge. I returned to the same lady who cleared me before and she says nothing is wrong, you are good to go. I then tried once again and the guard standing halfway across the bridge again, no you cannot pass. This time I responded "cuanto cuesta" and he just pointed back to the office.

Now at this time I see two young men of which one speaks reasonable English and each of them are wearing a dark blue trousers and a light blue t-shirt and each have laminated badges around their necks. They come up from somewhere around the side of the bridge and come to stand on the backside of the Honduras immigration office. They yell to flag me over their way where they offered to help me with my issue, speaking in English. They say the reason the guard on the middle of the bridge will not allow me to pass is that I must pay an El Salvador import permit. (Later learn there is no El Salvador car import charge.) Now while parked back at the bridge-side of the Honduras immigration office, the boys say it will cost $40 US for this permit. They took my cash and passport (heading off a side-street instead of into the Honduras immigration office, I might add) and in about 10-15 minutes they returned with a computer printed El Salvador permit that had my name, my passport number and a computer generated El Salvador country stamp on it. The document is a yellow piece of paper, about 5" x 8" and looks very official (the fact it was printed in English should have given it away, however). I showed the yellow paper to the center-bridge guard and was finally allowed to pass.

Now when I arrived at the El Salvador immigration office on the other side of the bridge, I presented the yellow paper to them and they shrugged their shoulders saying this is a fake document and it is not necessary to enter El Salvador. The authorities asked to keep the paper and they claimed they would investigate this issue.

This may no longer be an issue, but that is the scenario I dealt with when I last crossed here so just beware and take action as you deem appropriate.
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Freedom With Bruno

New Overlander
Oct 26, 2015
On the road
Not too many additional details to add. Several other blogs have already published very fine guides of the border process, which we used with a few exceptions.

Thursday, May 7, 2015
Leaving El Salvador / Entering Honduras

Border at El Amatillo on the Pan-American Highway.

This guide by Logan and Brianna of PanAm Notes was particularly helpful and accurate for the El Salvador to Honduras crossing:

A couple of updates to the PanAm Notes post:
– Make a few copies of your active El Salvador vehicle permit before reaching the border. This could have been done ahead of time. We had to make 2 copies before it could be canceled.
– There was no fumigation to enter Honduras.
– We crossed on a Thursday, but were not sent to any bank to pay fees. We paid officials directly and received receipts for all payments.
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