57. BORDER CROSSING – to El Salvador

This post about the border crossing isn’t the usual tech detailed info but rather our point of view and experience of getting in to El Salvador with a right hand drive vehicle.

We left early morning to head to AnguiatĂș the border crossing from Guatemala to El Salvador. We have a RHD vehicle and we knew this could be a problem but we prepared ourselves and were willing to give it a try.

As we were approaching to the border we found hundreds of commercial trucks waiting in line in the right lane. (that was it for the “quiet” border crossing town) We overtook them and headed straight to the gates.

There, after making the necessary copies of the necessary documents we were let through to the Guatemalan border gate where, first we got our exit stamps in to our passports then got our temporary import paper cancelled.

Through the bridge and we were at the El Salvadorian side.

We parked together with the Dutchies, put our sun-blind up to cover the steering wheel and off we went to sort out our passports first. Once that was done, the last thing we had to do was get the vehicle importation papers.

At Aduana (custom) we had a friendly officer first making the necessary photocopies of the handed-in passports and vehicle papers then hand-filled a form asking all the details of our vehicle. (VIN number, motor number, motor capacity, colour, wheels, year of make and so on). He handed back the original papers except the vehicle owner’s passport. Then he did the same of Panda (the Dutchies’ vehicle)

After this paperwork, he came out of the office and physically checked  every single item on his hand-written document against the vehicles’ specifications. Opened up the engine, counted the wheels, looked inside the living-box and finally, we held our breath when he asked to open the cab door to see the steering wheel. He looked inside without a word, noted down the info then moved on to the next bit. All these were done on Panda as well.

After both vehicles were checked, he got back in to the office and typed everything in to the computer. He got a colleague to help and she was doing Panda’s details while our guy did Burt’s.

When all these were done, they printed the document, stamped it, signed it, put a sticker on it, get it sign by a higher ranked officer, made a couple of copies and handed them back with the owner’s passport and we were done. He wished us good travels and off we went.

Though this was done, there was one more point to get through after leaving the office. A couple of kilometers there was a checkpoint where they checked the printed document (original) against the actual VIN number at the driving side and we were let through.

Despite the hundreds of trucks the whole border crossing process took 2.5 hours and there weren’t really many people.

We learned that from 6th January 2014 there will be a $18 custom fee crossing to El Salvador as oppose to no fee at all. We crossed on the 5th of January 2014. Perhaps that explained the many trucks.

We were relieved that we got through the border and be in El Salvador. We guessed we might’ve been lucky with a trainee or beginner officer who might’ve not known the RHD rule…

But here we are in El Salvador with an official, authorized temporary importation paper and we will make the most of it.

Next the El Salvadorian beach…

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