Immigration Requirements Proof of Onward Travel

Old May 2nd, 2020, 06:32 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2020
Posts: 5
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Immigration Requirements Proof of Onward Travel

I am planning a trip through Mexico, Belize, Honduras, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama and Colombia in a few months time.

Does anyone have any experience of these countries' requirements as regards proof of onward travel. I have the usual backpacker's issue of wanting to move on from country to country as and when I feel like it rather than commit to travel dates and buying tickets in advance.

I do not mind paying for a cross border bus ticket or two for a future date to leave the country and risk not using it but buying plane tickets you do not use becomes expensive.

Will these countries tend to accept demonstration of plenty of adequate finance or will they really insist on seeing a ticket out of the country at a later date?

Any issue with flying into say Cabo on the West coast of Mexico and showing a bus ticket from Cancun on the East coast to Belize three weeks later (if I can find a way to buy one) but no tickets across Mexico in between.

It seems to be very difficult to buy bus tickets on line outside the countries . Anyone know where I can do so?

Many Thanks

John
JGSTM is offline  
Old May 2nd, 2020, 09:30 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 9,622
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I've never been asked to show proof of onward or return travel when entering Mexico. When you travel & whether the borders are open in the next months will likely be the primary concern.
MmePerdu is online now  
Old May 2nd, 2020, 09:34 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 1,031
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Search the trip reports for one by Daniel_Williams. He posted an excellent report on a number of those countries. Hopefully, he'll see this thread and chime in.
I've been to about half of the countries on your itinerary and none have required proof of onward travel. 2 bus lines in México, ADO and ETN, allow you to buy tickets online in advance, although unless it's a holiday period you shouldn't need to.
If you're not already aware, there is no land crossing from Panama to Colombia.
The ferry from Baja Sur is a long trip.
baldone is online now  
Old May 2nd, 2020, 09:57 AM
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2020
Posts: 5
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Thank you both very much. That is very helpful.

Of course, the other problem may be the airline. American Airlines info desk told me last June they would not let me on the plane even from the Caribbean to Miami to change onto a flight to Cartagena Colombia without proof of travel out of Colombia. In reality, nobody asked me in the Caribbean when I boarded or in Miami boarding the second flight down to Cartagena. Still less, Immigration in Cartagena. Caused me to waste $100 on a dummy flight to Lima I know I would not use. Very annoying.

Thanks again for the info.
JGSTM is offline  
Old May 2nd, 2020, 10:23 AM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2020
Posts: 5
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
MmePerdu

Thank you.

May I ask, when you were not asked for proof of onward, did you enter by land or air and did you already have a return ticket? Sometimes countries effectively "sub-contract" this issue to the airlines so that the airlines stop anyone with a single ticket only. I have experienced this on more than one occasion.

Airlines often have a vested interest because they force the passenger to buy a ticket back from them. Happened to me in Hanoi trying to fly to the Philippines on Vietnam Air. Bought a refundable ticket back and got most of the money back after some inconvenience.

Many Thanks

John
JGSTM is offline  
Old May 2nd, 2020, 11:17 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 9,622
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by JGSTM View Post
. . . May I ask, when you were not asked for proof of onward, did you enter by land or air and did you already have a return ticket? Sometimes countries effectively "sub-contract" this issue to the airlines so that the airlines stop anyone with a single ticket only. . .
Lately I've entered by air &, yes, it occurred to me that the airline may have been doing the vetting. Considering the relatively long time allowed in Mexico for a tourist I suspect many travelers make a decision & buy return or onward travel some time after arrival. Consider asking the airline.

In Asia I've entered a number of countries on one-way tickets with plans to travel onward by train or boat on tickets bought after arrival and was never asked about return or onward travel. I traveled to China by air, left by train to Vietnam, ticket bought in China, among many examples as I prefer overland county to country. In your case I'll be surprised if you'll run into difficulties but I'd start by asking an airline that flies into Mexico. Maybe more than 1 so you don't get a bum steer from a clueless agent.

Looking online just now & knowing there are likely no definitive answers, I found these interesting sites:
https://expertvagabond.com/proof-of-onward-travel/#05
And this one apparently for "renting" a ticket to get through check-in and/or immigration (linked in the above article):
https://onewayfly.com/?ref=7
MmePerdu is online now  
Old May 3rd, 2020, 03:52 AM
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2020
Posts: 5
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Mme Perdu

Thank You.

I am not keen to rely on the airline since American Airlines info desk insisted to me last June they would not let me on the plane even on the first flight in the Caribbean to Miami to change onto a flight to Cartagena, Colombia without proof of travel out of Colombia. In reality, nobody asked me in the Caribbean when I boarded the first flight or in Miami when I checked in next morning to take the second flight to Cartagena. No questions asked by Colombia Immigration.Caused me to waste over $100 on a dummy ticket Colombia to Lima which I never used.

However, if the Rent a Ticket site you sent me the link to works, that is probably the most helpful and useful piece of travel advice I have ever had from a travel web site.

For others' benefit, you may not realise this can be an issue because everywhere you go is usually on a return ticket out again.

The US is a big issue. Have had a couple of problems where I could not immediately demonstrate my ticket out. In one I was returning on a different airline even though a code share with the outward flight and booked through the outward flight airline. Check in said their system was down and they could not see the return on the other airline's system.

On the other occasion, I was travelling from the British Virgin Islands to UK by taking the ferry British Virgin Islands to the US Virgin Islands, return ticket to UK, then planning on buying a ticket for 30 minute ferry from USVI back to BVI.

On the way back, I was stopped at the queue entry point in Heathrow by Delta asking me for proof of my onward travel out of America (i.e. USVI). Luckily, I found an unused USVI-BVI ferry ticket in my wallet.

Moral of the story to me: Always have paper copies of tickets showing your ticket out of the US or you may not even get in.

Many Thanks

JGSTM
JGSTM is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2020, 01:37 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 3,925
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by MmePerdu View Post
yes, it occurred to me that the airline may have been doing the vetting.
There. That's what happens. That's where the enforcement takes place. Most foreigners flying to, say, Mexico have a roundtrip ticket, and the person checking them in at the airline counter can see that. By the time those passengers get to Mexico, immigration there assumes the airline has done due diligence, so they don't bother asking to see a return ticket. I have flown roundtrip from Costa Rica to other Central American countries many times through the years. When I check in in the other country for my flight back to CR, the agent always, always, always asks how I plan to leave CR. I carry a copy of my e-ticket itinerary to show that, yes, I have future transportation out of CR to another country. Without that, I wouldn't be allowed to board that plane. Once I get to CR, immigration doesn't ask to see it.

What will this mean checking in with a one-way plane ticket to Mexico? You'll definitely get questions at airline check-in about your plans. Will you be prevented from boarding if your answer doesn't meet their satisfaction? I don't know.

Once you're on the ground in Central America, you should be able to buy "reverse" bus tickets. I notice you skipped over Costa Rica in your list. Maybe you forgot to mention it. Anyway, you're in Nicaragua and you know your next destination will be CR. You should be able to buy a future bus ticket in Nicaragua from Liberia (N Costa Rica) to Granada (S Nicaragua). You will have to have something to show immigration when you enter CR by land. They won't let you in without a ticket out. (I think Costa Rica is the most strict of any of these countries about the onward-ticket requirement.) You'll end up throwing that ticket away because you're really going to Panama, but you're out only a few dollars.

TicaBus is the workhorse of international bus travel in Central America, with travel between every country's capital except Belize. TicaBus also travels to Tapachula in far southern Mexico.

www.ticabus.com

TransNica travels between Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Honduras.

www.transnica.com

Hedman Alas travels between Guatemala and Honduras.

www.hedmanalas.com

Several good bus lines travel between Guatemala City and San Salvador. It's a short, five-hour trip. A lot of business travel goes on between those two countries, and the bus is a lot cheaper than flying.

These are all nice buses. No pigs and chickens in the next seat. Of course, none of them are operating right now because all the borders are closed.
Jeff_Costa_Rica is offline  
Old May 4th, 2020, 07:53 AM
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2020
Posts: 5
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Jeff

Many thanks indeed. That is all very helpful to me and I suspect to some others reading it.

Thanks for taking the time and trouble.

Best Regards

John
JGSTM is offline  
Old May 4th, 2020, 10:25 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,109
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Hi,

In this day and age of CoVid, I think things may be very different for a trip planned anywhere, so my experience from previous years may be no longer relevant.

I've done all bus trips from the USA and crossing Mexico into Central America three separate years:: 2016, 2018 and 2019. None of the countries I went to required proof of ongoing travel and that included Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras (although I was ready just in case). I remember seeing the rules are a bit different for Costa Rica and Panama, if I remember the required documentation listed on the TicaBus pamphlets: Costa Rica required ongoing travel (a return ticket on Tica Bus from Managua I was told is sufficient) and I seem to remember Panama was stricter yet, but since I wasn't going to either of those, I didn't look too closely at the regulations.

Tica Bus tickets and Hedman Alas tickets I was able to purchase in advance. On Mexican bus lines, I only bought my onward travel tickets a day or three in advance, as there are many more buses to choose from..

To add to Jeff Costa Rica's list, I'll add that TransGalgos was another bus going from Tapachula (Chiapas, Mexico) to Guatemala City and of the number of bus lines going from Guatemala City to San Salvador, Pullmantur was also recommended to me. I took the once daily Tica Bus from Tapachula to Guatemala City/Antigua and onward to San Salvador.

Be aware that some international routes in Central America are similarly once daily. For the modern bus Hedman Alas for example from Guatemala City into Copan Ruinas, the only option was leaving Guatemala City at 5 am. For entering Belize, I took the once daily minibus Marlin Espadas from Chetumal (Quintana Roo, Mexico) into Belize City. I had no ongoing ticket and purchased the once daily ferry option from Caye Caulker (Belizean island) to Chetumal only the day before I travelled. Belizean authorities made me feel very welcome, with suggestions of things to do while in Belize City and Caye Caulker. I understand that there's also a daily ADO bus from Cancun south to Belize City. Chetumal and Tapachula are cities on ADO bus lines which have regular stops to points north and west.

Best wishes,
Daniel

Daniel_Williams is offline  
Old May 4th, 2020, 12:03 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 3,925
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Thanks, Daniel. Pullmantur! I was trying to think of that name. They are regarded as the best of the business-class lines that travel between Guatemala and El Salvador.

PULLMANTUR | Inicio

Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua form a customs and immigration union called the CA-4. It operates kind of like Europe's Schengen Area. Border formalities are minimal when traveling among those four countries. Costa Rica refuses to take part in that. To be blunt, CR has always looked down on its neighbors to the north, especially on Nicaragua. I think of all your land border crossings, the most time-consuming one will be entering Costa Rica from Nicaragua at Peñas Blancas. Bus companies are good about shepherding their passengers through, but it takes quite a bit of time, first to exit Nicaragua, then to enter Costa Rica.

Once again, there's no international travel going on at all in Central America these days. Let's look forward to better days.

Last edited by Jeff_Costa_Rica; May 4th, 2020 at 12:05 PM.
Jeff_Costa_Rica is offline  
Old May 4th, 2020, 06:09 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 1,031
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
When you enter Mexico and complete the FMM (tourist card), try to make sure that the INM agent gives you a stay of 180 days. Some assume you automatically get the maximum (180) but that's not always the case.
And fwiw, we flew from Bogotá to Mexico City and it took over an hour to get our luggage. Drug dogs checked every suitcase. Don't know if that's the practice at other airports.
baldone is online now  
Old May 5th, 2020, 04:36 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,109
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I re-read my post and realized one thing I wrote was a bit misleading. Tica Bus leaves Tapachula at 7am to Guatemala City and onward to San Salvador in one day. For Antigua however, you switch buses in Guatemala City. Tica Bus has a minibus that is timed to leave Guatemala City to bring passengers to Antigua who arrive in Guatemala City the early afternoon on the bigger buses from Tapachula and San Salvador. The minibus driver was great, dropping us all off at our hotels in Antigua.
Daniel_Williams is offline  
Old May 5th, 2020, 09:56 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 4,227
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Just chiming in to say that we usually fly open jaw flights with the same airline (ex: into Belize and out of El Salvador or Guatemala or Honduras a month or 2 later) and have never had a problem crossing between those 4. Many of the folks I know who have had issues it was at the airline desk because of a 1 way flight. As noted above, it might be several months or longer before some of the countries open up for travel - some of them are really clamped down. You might get through some and then pay to fly over others. Also note that occasionally the mood of whoever is staffing the border immigration booth is as important to your efficiency or hassle as the posted regulations. Happy trails!
hopefulist is offline  
Old May 5th, 2020, 10:42 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 3,925
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
The bus rides get longer farther south. Managua to San Jose is 9-10 hours, depending on how long the border crossing takes. San Jose to Panama City is 16 hours. That's if you travel capital to capital.
Jeff_Costa_Rica is offline  
Old May 11th, 2020, 06:44 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jan 2020
Posts: 1
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Hi John
As of today May 11 the Belize borders remain closed due to the pandemic.
When they do open, the process getting to/from Belize to Mexico is fairly easy. There are two options.
You can get a. ferry to/from Chetumal to either Caye Caulker or San Pedro or the ADO bus line run from Belize City with different stops on route.
vacationbelize is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
gq_dq
Asia
2
Apr 19th, 2018 07:55 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

FODOR'S VIDEO