Electricity

Electrical current in Nicaragua is 120 volts, 60Hz. Flat blade plugs are used.

Language

The official language in Nicaragua is Spanish. Some communities on the Caribbean Coast speak indigenous languages. English is understood at some tourist destinations.

Money

The currency is the Nicaraguan córdoba (NIO). US Dollars can also be used for most common transactions. Bills must be in good condition to be accepted, but damaged bills can be exchanged at banks. All major cities have ATMs and most hotels and restaurants accept credit card payments.

Tipping

Tips are not expected in Nicaragua except with guides and at restaurants, where a tip of around 10 percent is the norm for table service.

Health

Visitors from a yellow fever infected area in the Americas or Africa require proof of their vaccination before entry; all eligible travellers should be up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines. Malaria is a threat in many regions of Nicaragua and travellers are advised to seek medical advice and take some form prophylaxis.

Insect repellent and mosquito nets should be used to avoid malaria and dengue fever, both of which are carried by mosquitos. Recommended vaccinations include ones for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and typhoid, and for rabies for those coming into contacts with animals, especially bats.

Modern medical facilities in Nicaragua are only found in major towns and cities, the best of which are in Managua. Rural communities lack modern hospitals and equipment, and medications are in short supply. If needing a hospital in Nicaragua, travellers should indicate that they desire a private hospital.

Comprehensive travel insurance is essential and travellers should take along any medication they require in its original packaging, and accompanied by a signed and dated letter from a doctor detailing what it is and why it is needed.

The most common health affliction for tourists is traveller's diarrhoea, which is preventable by safe water and food consumption. Travellers should not drink tap water, and should use common sense when eating uncooked foods.

Safety

Nicaragua is one of the safest countries to visit in the region and most trips are trouble-free. Travellers should avoid taking buses after dark, though, as road conditions are poor and highway driving during these hours is especially dangerous.

Political demonstrations and protests occur sporadically in urban areas and can become violent; tourists should avoid all street gatherings. Also, theft and violent crime are becoming more common in urban areas of the usually safe country. Travellers should be careful of muggings in taxis and only use official taxis with red license plates and the driver's ID above the dash.

Powerful waves and currents can make Nicaragua's beaches dangerous, and swimmers and surfers should exercise caution.

Local customs

A firm handshake for men and a peck on the cheek for women are customary greetings in Nicaragua. Visitors should note that while locals welcome haggling in markets and with street vendors, they don't accept it in shops. It's good manners to use the supplied shot glass to measure a drink when sharing a bottle of rum, rather than pouring freely from the bottle.

Doing business

Business customs in Nicaragua are relatively straightforward, as many Nicaraguan executives were educated in the United States and are familiar with U.S. business etiquette. Business lunches can last longer than one hour and are a good way to build a personal relationship. Indeed, small talk is an essential part of most meetings, though topics such as politics, religion and socio-economic issues are best avoided; foreigners should wait for the host to direct the conversation to business. Meetings tend to end naturally rather than at a set time, and it's considered rude to rush off without staying to chat.

Open-collar attire is acceptable for most meetings, but Nicaraguans who are accustomed to dealing with foreigners may dress more formally. Punctuality is important, though meetings typically begin late. Businesses remain open at midday, but executives may be unavailable between noon and 2pm.

Duty free

Visitors to Nicaragua may import up to 200 cigarettes or 500g of tobacco, five litres of liquor, and five bottles of perfume. Fresh foods, live animals, plants and their products are restricted. Firearms require an import license.

Communications

The international access code for Nicaragua is +505. The outgoing code is 00, followed by the relevant country code (00 44 for the United Kingdom).

Local mobile phone calls are usually cheapest with locally bought SIM cards and public wifi is widely available in all major cities and tourist centres. The country's mobile data network is always improving and works well in big cities, but can be painfully slow in rural areas.

Passport & Visa

Travellers from most western countries do not need to arrange a visa prior to entry. Tourist cards are granted on arrival for USD 10 and are good for stays up to 90 days. Extensions are possible for a fee of USD 2 per day.

All visitors must be in possession of onward or return tickets, documents for their destination outside of Nicaragua and evidence of sufficient funds to support themselves for the duration of their stay. It is recommended that tourists have six months' validity remaining on their passports upon arrival in any country.

Entry requirements

Americans require a valid passport, but a visa is not necessary for touristic stays of up to 90 days. A tourist card, costing USD 10, will need to be purchased on arrival.

UK nationals require a passport valid for six months beyond the date of arrival, but a visa is not necessary for touristic stays of up to 90 days. A tourist card, costing USD 10, will need to be purchased on arrival.

Canadians require a passport valid for six months beyond the date of arrival, but a visa is not necessary for touristic stays of up to 90 days. A tourist card, costing USD 10, will need to be purchased on arrival.

Australians require a passport valid for six months beyond the date of arrival, but a visa is not necessary for touristic stays of up to 90 days. A tourist card, costing USD 10, will need to be purchased on arrival.

South Africans require a passport valid for six months beyond date of arrival, but a visa is not necessary for touristic stays of up to 90 days. A tourist card, costing USD 10, will need to be purchased on arrival.

Irish nationals require a passport valid for six months beyond date of arrival, but a visa is not necessary for touristic stays of up to 90 days. A tourist card, costing USD 10, will need to be purchased on arrival.

New Zealand nationals require a passport valid for six months beyond arrival, but a visa is not necessary for touristic stays of up to 90 days. A tourist card, costing USD 10, will need to be purchased on arrival.

Useful contacts

Nicaraguan Institute of Tourism, Managua, Nicaragua: +505 2254 5191 or www.visitanicaragua.com/ingles

118 (Police) and 115 (Fire)

Embassies / consulates in other countries

Embassy of Nicaragua in Washington DC, United States: +1 (202) 939 6570.

Embassy of Nicaragua, London, United Kingdom (also responsible for Ireland): +44 (020) 7938 2373.

Nicaraguan Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 (613) 252 5880.

Embassies / consulates in Nicaragua

US Embassy, Managua: +505 2252 7100.

British Embassy San Jose, Costa Rica (also responsible for Nicaragua): +506 2258 2025.

Canadian Embassy, San José, Costa Rica (also responsible for Nicaragua): +506 2242 4400.

South African Honorary Consulate, Managua, Nicaragua: (+505) 2270 5634.