Pre-trip Timeline Assignment
This is the "Pre-departure and travel" page of the "Nicaragua: Microtrade Development Clinic " guide.
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Nicaragua: Microtrade Development Clinic  

This guide was developed to assist the students who will travel with Professor Steve Virgil and Professor Barbara Lentz to take the Microtrade Development Clinic in Nicaragua course.
Last Updated: Dec 7, 2016 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Pre-departure and travel Print Page

Table of Contents

I. Predeparture and Travel 

A. Entry and Exit Requirements

B. What to Pack - Health and Safety

C. Traveling Safely

II. Language Learning Resources

A. The Official Language: Spanish. Video: Greetings and Introductions

B. Spanish-English Legal and non-Legal Dictionaries available at the PCL.

C. Apps for learning and translating Spanish

III. Course Materials and Links

      A. U.S. Legal Resources 

      B. Course Handouts and Other Materials

      C. Required Readings

IV. Contact Information

V. Learning About Nicaragua

VI. Tips from a Librarian

A. Smart Traveler Apps


Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)/Embassy Location

If you are planning to visit or tour Nicaragua on your own, you may wish to register with the U.S. Embassy. Enrolling may help to keep you up-to-date on important safety and security developments. It will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency. Here’s the link to the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.

U.S. Embassy Managua
Km 5 ½ Carretera Sur, Managua - Nicaragua
Telephone: (505) 2252-7100
Emergency after-hours telephone: (505) 8886-1495
Facsimile: (505) 2252-7250


Go here for daily updates on Volcano Activity and sign up for E-Mail notifications for earthquakes and volcanos. 

Preceding the 2014 trip there was an outbreak of Dengue Fever in the countryside of Nicaragua; for 2015 we are hearing about killer bees (10 people attacked in Esteli - a city we do not visit). Link:



Entry/Exit Requirements

You must have a valid U.S. passport to enter Nicaragua, although there is a bilateral agreement which waives the six-month passport validity requirement, U.S. citizens should ensure that their passports are valid for the entire length of their projected stay in the country before traveling. U.S. citizen visitors must have an onward or return ticket and evidence of sufficient funds to support themselves during their stay. U.S. citizens do not need a visa; however, a tourist card must be purchased for $10 upon arrival. Note: You will not receive change, so bring exact change for US $10.  While the entry stamp for standard tourist visits is typically valid for 30 to 90 days, illegal presence only begins to accumulate after 90 days. Visitors remaining more than the authorized period must obtain an extension from Nicaraguan Immigration. Failure to do so may delay your departure until a fine of approximately US$2 per day is paid.

You must have a valid entry stamp in your passport in order to exit Nicaragua. There is also a $32 departure tax. Many airlines include this tax in the price of the ticket. If the tax is not included in the ticket, payment can be made at the airline counter upon departure.

Nicaraguan law requires visitors to exit Nicaragua using the same passport with which they entered the country. Dual national minors who have a claim to Nicaraguan citizenship are subject to departure requirements specific to Nicaraguan children under the age of 18, even though they may also be citizens of other countries. More information on these requirements can be found on the U.S. Embassy web site.  Dual national adults are required to enter Nicaragua using a Nicaraguan passport, except for visits of less than 90 days.

According to Nicaragua’s Law for Foreigners, foreigners must be in possession of a valid identity document at all times while in Nicaragua and may be required to show it to Nicaraguan authorities upon request. Acceptable identity documents are: (1) a permanent residency card, (2) temporary residency card, or (3) valid passport or travel document accompanied by an entry stamp. Police may detain travelers not in possession of an identity document.

Nicaragua is a member of the “Central America-4 (CA-4) Border Control Agreement” with Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. Under the terms of this agreement, citizens of the four countries may travel freely across land borders between these countries without completing entry and exit formalities at Immigration checkpoints. U.S. citizens and other eligible foreign nationals, who legally enter any of the four countries, may similarly travel among the four without obtaining additional visas or tourist entry permits for the other three CA-4 countries. Immigration officials at the first port of entry determine the length of stay, up to a maximum period of 90 days. Foreign tourists who wish to remain in the four-country region beyond the period initially granted for their visit are required to request a one-time extension of stay from local Immigration authorities in the country where the traveler is physically present, or travel outside the CA-4 countries and reapply for admission to the region. Foreigners “expelled” from any of the four countries are excluded from the entire CA-4 region. In isolated cases, the lack of clarity in implementing the details of the CA-4 Border Control Agreement has caused temporary inconvenience to some travelers and has resulted in others being fined more than one hundred dollars or detained in custody for 72 hours or longer.

Visit the Embassy of Nicaragua website for the most current visa information.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS-related entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Nicaragua. Please verify this information with the Embassy of Nicaragua before you travel.

Information on dual nationality and the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.


Health and Safety Information

Medicines to Take with You

Ask your doctor or other health care practitioner for advice based on your specific needs and concerns. You should take sufficient prescription medications to last the length of the trip and perhaps a few extra days to cover changes in itinerary, and if at all possible, travel with these medicines in their original labeled containers. 

Make sure your vaccinations are up-to-date. The Center for DIsease Control (CDC) website has a listing of recommended vaccines and other health and safety information:

In the past, students and faculty have found it helpful to bring:

Hand Sanitizer

Mosquito repellant containing 20% DEET to prevent mosquito bites; you might also consider wearing permethrin treated clothing (and can purchase permethrin to treat your clothes) in order to reduce bites and possible exposure to malaria and dengue. Review the CDC website under the heading "Preventing Insect Bites"

Treatment for Diarrhea - Loperamide (Imodium or other name brand or generic) otc and Ciprofloxacin (prescription needed in US) for diarrhea. The best "treatment" is to use care selecting your meals and to carry and use hand sanitizer and soap when available. Please review the CDC website:

Aspirin, Tylenol, Advil or other medicines for pain and inflammation relief

Cold medicines such as sudafed, guafenisen or benadryl

Sunscreen and a hat

If you forget something or develop sympoms while traveling, there is a full service grocery store within walking distance of our hotel in Managua; it stocks convenience items and some medicines (but you will not feel like walking to the store if you suddenly develop symptoms of travelers diarrhea or other illness). You may pay with credit cards or in US dollars and receive change in Nicaraguan Cordobas. There is also an ATM. 


Clothing: What to Pack

What to Pack

The average temperature in Managua in January is between 90 and 93 degrees Farenheit. Pack casual clothes and shoes for warm weather. Note that we probably do not have access to laundry services at the hotels.

We will have three to four events when we will be meeting with clients (or potential clients), attending a function at the WFU Casa Dingledine, and we will also visit the Nicaragua Supreme Court. For these occassions, please dress appropriately in Nicaragua business casual:

Men: suggested attire includes pants (not shorts) and a shirt with a collar (polo, short sleve sport shirt, dress shirt). You do not need to bring a tie or jacket.

Women: Dress, skirt or pants and a top or short-sleeve sweater, jacket or a scarf to cover your shoulders. Heels are not necessary; we will be walking on some days and sidewalks (when available) can be uneven so low heeled shoes or sandals are preferred. 

What else? A swim suit, clothes and shoes for optional activities (hiking around the cloud forest volcano near Granada, surfing a volcano near Leon, kayaking Las Isletas, fishing in San Juan del Sur...). You may wish to have a light jacket or sweatshirt if heading to the cloud forest; the early fog is chilly.

Bring a hat


You do not need a computer (a tablet or iPad would be handy) but may wish to have one per group - in general, avoid bringing expensive items you cannot keep with you. 

Bring a  COMPOSITION Notebook or journal with you to record notes and impressions of your meetings and travels. 

You may wish to have a daypack or small totebag for daytrips. Please plan to take only a small bag to San Juan del Sur and leave your other items in locked storage as provided.  Please, no designer bags

A refillable water bottle may not be very helpful in Nicaragua since you should generally avoid drinking or using tap water (use bottled water to brush your teeth). 

How much money to bring?

You are responsible for paying for your meals (breakfast is included in the price of the hotel in Managua and Granada) and drinks plus any optional excursions you wish to take (volcano surfing, kayaking, the zip-line, the casino, etc.). While many restaurants take credit cards, it is quicker and easier to pay in cash. In 2013, lunch or dinner cost between 5-10 US dollars each. You can use US dollars to pay for food and purchases in many locations. At the open air markets, you may wish to bring dollar bills for payments. 

You may also wish to purchase coffee, rum (note the limits on bringing alcohol back into the US), cigars, souveniers or other items. Consider applying for a credit card that does not charge foreign exchange or transaction fees if you plan to use your credit card for many purchases.


A Safe Trip Abroad

What to take:

Safety begins when you pack. To help avoid becoming a target, do not dress in a way that could mark you as an affluent tourist. Expensive-looking jewelry, for instance, can draw the wrong attention.

Always try to travel light. You can move more quickly and will be more likely to have a free hand. You will also be less tired and less likely to set your luggage down, leaving it unattended. Avoid handbags, fanny packs and outside pockets that are easy targets for thieves. Inside pockets and a sturdy shoulder bag with the strap worn across your chest are somewhat safer.

To avoid problems when passing through customs, keep medicines in their original, labeled containers. Bring copies of your prescriptions and the generic names for the drugs. Bring travelers’ checks and one or two major credit cards instead of cash.

Pack an extra set of passport photos along with a photocopy of your passport’s information page to make replacement of your passport easier in the event it is lost or stolen.

What to leave behind:

Don't bring anything you would hate to lose. Leave at home:

  • Valuable or expensive-looking jewelry
  • Irreplaceable family objects
  • All unnecessary credit cards
  • Your Social Security card, library card, and similar items you may routinely carry in your wallet.

What to learn about before you go:

When you leave the United States, you are subject to the laws of the country you are visiting. Therefore, before you go, learn as much as you can about the local laws and customs of the places you plan to visit. Good resources are your library, your travel agent, and the embassies, consulates or tourist bureaus of the countries you will visit. In addition, keep track of what is being reported in the media about recent developments in those countries.

From the U.S. Department of State - Travel.State.Gov


Note: Dengue

As of November 20, 2013, the CDC has not posted any Travel Notices on its website for travel to Nicaragua.

There have been reports of Dengue in Nicaragua. Dengue is an illness caused by a virus spread by mosquito bites. The best precaution is to avoid bug bites through use of insect spray, treated clothing, and common sense practices (using screens when inside, avoiding standing water, etc.). 

Please read and be aware of precautions to avoid insect bites. One source of information is the CDC:


Precautions to Take While Traveling

Safety on the Street

Use the same common sense traveling overseas that you would at home. Be especially cautious in (or avoid) areas where you may be more easily victimized. These include crowded subways, train stations, elevators, tourist sites, market places, festivals and crime-ridden neighborhoods.

  • Don't use short cuts, narrow alleys or poorly lit streets.
  • Try not to travel alone at night.
  • Avoid public demonstrations and other civil disturbances.
  • Keep a low profile and avoid loud conversations or arguments.
  • Do not discuss travel plans or other personal matters with strangers.
  • Avoid scam artists by being wary of strangers who approach you and offer to be your guide or sell you something at bargain prices.
  • Beware of pickpockets. They often have an accomplice who will:
    • jostle you,
    • ask you for directions or the time,
    • point to something spilled on your clothing,
    • or distract you by creating a disturbance.
  • Beware of groups of vagrant children who could create a distraction to pick your pocket.
  • Wear the shoulder strap of your bag across your chest and walk with the bag away from the curb to avoid drive-by purse-snatchers.
  • Try to seem purposeful when you move about. Even if you are lost, act as if you know where you are going. Try to ask for directions only from individuals in authority.
  • Know how to use a pay telephone and have the proper change or token on hand.
  • Learn a few phrases in the local language or have them handy in written form so that you can signal your need for police or medical help.
  • Make a note of emergency telephone numbers you may need: police, fire, your hotel, and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
  • If you are confronted, don't fight back -- give up your valuables.

Safety in Your Hotel

  • Keep your hotel door locked at all times. Meet visitors in the lobby.
  • Do not leave money and other valuables in your hotel room while you are out. Use the hotel safe.
  • If you are out late at night, let someone know when you expect to return.
  • If you are alone, do not get on an elevator if there is a suspicious-looking person inside.
  • Read the fire safety instructions in your hotel room. Know how to report a fire, and be sure you know where the nearest fire exits and alternate exits are located. (Count the doors between your room and the nearest exit; this could be a lifesaver if you have to crawl through a smoke-filled corridor.)

How to Handle Money Safely

  • To avoid carrying large amounts of cash, change your travelers’ checks only as you need currency. Countersign travelers’ checks only in front of the person who will cash them.
  • Do not flash large amounts of money when paying a bill. Make sure your credit card is returned to you after each transaction.
  • Deal only with authorized agents when you exchange money, buy airline tickets or purchase souvenirs. Do not change money on the black market.

If your possessions are lost or stolen, report the loss immediately to the local police. Keep a copy of the police report for insurance claims and as an explanation of what happened.

After reporting missing items to the police, report the loss or theft of:

  • Travelers' checks to the nearest agent of the issuing company
  • Credit cards to the issuing company
  • Airline tickets to the airline or travel agent
  • Passport to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate

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