Is There a Trend in Nicaragua to Enforce Laws?

I am specifically talking about laws that may affect "us" more than the average Nicaraguan. We have recently seen:

  1. Enforcement of customs regulations, e.g., confiscation of seeds being imported without permits.
  2. Elimination of the $500 each six months allowance on imports duty-free.
  3. The requirement to be physically present in Immigration when submitting applications for residency.
  4. Not being able to register your car if you don't have a cédula.

I am sure there are more items for the list. All of these items really amount to no more than deciding to enforce existing laws rather than inventing new ones such as what Homeland Security seems to be doing in the US. But it a disturbing trend, particularly for those who came to Nicaragua years ago and got used to the exceptions.

We have had some bad Gringos so enforcement of the need for a valid visa or residency certainly can have a plus side. Good or bad? What do you think?

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I think they're right to crack down

When I got my residency, I thought at the time that nobody should be allowed to get residency by proxy, that going through the process taught me a lot about my own patience and about Nicaraguans and how their bureaucracy works. If that experience is too much for someone to deal with, then they really won't find Nicaragua a comfortable place to be. My impression is that neither Intur nor Migracion really appreciates applicants who deal with them at lawyer's length (they hung up on a lawyer while I was in Intur office and I heard that he wasn't the only one to be hung up on from friends who were in Intur office later).

Too many people coming here who think their ways of doing things are the only ways that matter, and their wishes and desires should trump any laws in Nicaragua.

Rebecca Brown


my next cedula..will be my 4th..i dont want to see them they really dont want to see me..i would rather pay a lawyer to do it..if going thru this garbage makes u understand nicas. better good for u,,for most people it just gets them p$ssed off


Have you had anyone from Migracion visit you yet? They are doing that here in San Juan del Sur. We now have an Immigration (Migracion) Officer responsible for checking and verifying people and information. Just wandering what they are doing up in Sleepy Hollow.

i live near tica bus..

i see them walking into the hotels everyonce in awhile..they have never ?? me on the street

I either got my cedula before the rule change

Or a interview in DC with a Consular official plus talking to the folks at Intur seems to have sufficed. I got my cedula in December 2010 after initiating the process in August (my application was granted maybe a month or two before all the paperwork was complete). Everyone else since maybe 2011 has had the interviews in Jinotega or Matagalpa (for those living here), complete with interviews of neighbors.

I hadn't thought that I was being officially interviewed in DC, but it might have been more official than I realized at the time. The person who gave me my paperwork back said that the woman who stamped it wanted to meet me. She came out and we talked about where I planned to look for housing (her recommendation was Matagalpa of the three places I was considering), and about the climate in the mountains.

The standard procedure now for applicants seems to be a car full of folks, one or two for the interview with the applicant or applicants, and two or so to talk to neighbors. I haven't heard of anyone getting interviewed after getting their application for residency approved.

I'd be curious as to whether the Migracion officer was checking to see who was a perpetual tourist there. We've still got some, but most have normalized their relationship with Nicaragua in the last year. You have so many more expatriates there.

Rebecca Brown

Um, ...

Correct me if I am wrong but as far as I know, there is no law that says a lawyer with a valid Power of Attorney cannot submit immigration paperwork. There is a big difference between Immigration wanting to interview an applicant and saying the applicant must be there at the time the paperwork is submitted.

I personally have been a victim of this when "just one more thing" was added to the requirements (something that does not exist and I told them so but that didn't matter). Thus, I was there, they talked to me but they do not accept anything less than "a complete package". Having a lawyer with a PoA who is 10 minutes from the office return with the complete package rather than requiring the applicant to travel for eight hours to do the same thing doesn't make a lot of sense -- for anyone.

The logical alternative, of course, would be the ability to submit paperwork, in person, at any Immigration office but that is also not permitted. It is this type of inconvenience, for no logical reason, which results is people opting for trips to Costa Rica every 90 days. Enforcing laws is one issue, just being unnecessarily irritating is another.

I don't think there are Migracion offices outside Managua

You're dealing with Gobernacion to get extensions of visas if you're outside Managua, but those send passports to Managua for the extensions.

Everything I've heard is that neither Intur staff or the people at Migracion like lawyers in the mix, however legal it might be to use one.

Rebecca Brown

Servicios de Trámites Migratorios (SERTRAMI)

Click on the little office icon for an address.

You have one in Jinotega


While there is likely no connection, I have noticed the same thing in Honduras. This is across the board, governmentally, not just tied to gringo government needs. Even though, post-coup, they have even less money, training, and manpower. This means they end up less competent, and the push to be taken more seriously results in the opposite outcome as this backfires, mostly. Here -and in this regard it is likely different here than in Nicaragua- it results in a bigger bureaucratic mess, not something that actually works. It can be avoided, for a cost. The cost is now outside the reach of many so-called middle class people. So, more and more people (most of them are not gringos) remember the good old days. Imagine remembering as "good", days past when getting your license plates only took the bulk of 3 days, instead of 5.5, etc (I don't own a car here, it is just an example). Assuming they are published and employees understand them, then If the laws are actually enforced that is likely a good thing. Problem is, in many locales is that local-level legal knowledge is iffy, enforcement is very selective, and the lack of any sort of civil service training/standards means every 2-4 years entire departments learn on the job (or don't), all over again. The other problem is that blind enforcement focus often stems from a new found statistical focus (record keeping of legal successes; good for promotion, etc.). It is usually easier to enforce petty paper requirements than major transgressions, so without guidance you can end up with a manpower focus on the least important "crimes".

Could Also Be

an opportunity for additional personal revenue enhancement. Gringos might be reluctant to offer money to overcome a roadblock; Nicaraguans may understand that this is simply the normal and accepted way to do business. I don't know this, it's just speculation based on living in Mexico some years back.

I agree that uniform enforcement of the laws is a good thing.

As much as Ortega has his people in the right positions

all the way down the line from Minister to the front counter, he has also demonstrated that he will remove those people if they abuse that privilege (well, not all of them!). Part of what we are seeing could be employees at all levels realizing that.

Magistrates being caught making false cedulas for narcos, the head of DGI (Tax Dept.) getting fired, Lenin Cerna's very public loss of favor and Nelson Artola 'leaving' (after he did the dirty work of going around the country hand picking candidates for the next Municipal Election) because of discrepancies in the New FISE accounts, have all perhaps helped smarten the system up.

Ortega & Nicaragua-Same Bank Account...

Is about the Money. Ortega put a new man in charge to get more money out of Customs.Who knows why-Chavez may be sick or it was a pacto with the military to run the Customs department. Nicaragua and other small poor counties always get a sizable amount of their revenue from Customs duties. Before CAFTA this was about 40%! Before CAFTA was passed that was big question as to how will they make that up. They never did and Chavez sent oil. Back in the 1920's America lent Nicaragua some 2 million dollars and part of agreement was to install an retired US military man to see the loan was paid (which it was in less than 3 years). Venezuela has done something similar with China recently.

I don't mail anything much and have no reason to get residency so I don't care. There is always someone I know going so if I need anything to be sent (and the FDC on the return) I just get it to the traveler who puts it in carry-on luggage. I have brought down sophisticated electronics , brake pads, hearing aid batteries, Volt meters, etc. for many years with never a problem. I hope this does not change! I always bring down used stuff like laptops, cell phones. etc. that are dirt cheap in USA.

One of the reasons I like Nic so much is I don't want these regulations. I am thinking of the unintended consequences as there certainly will be less stuff mailed to Nicaragua as time goes on with some smaller percentage electing to mule stuff over commercial airlines. Lots of Americans send care packages to Nicaragua of all sorts of items-if they confiscate these they just won't send anymore.

The next big one is the new Tax Law

Combat tax evasion...

....The re-elected president of COSEP (the business side), Joseph Adan Aguerri, expressed support for tax reform that promotes employability and economic growth and combats tax evasion at all levels.

Bayardo Arce, Presidential Adviser, insists that "the first wall we have to jump is the tax evasions and obviously there are employers who evade, COSEP (The Business Groups) have to help combat tax evasion," said Arce, who recognizes that public institutions are weak against this.