US Embassy cautions citizens on renting cars, driving in Nicaragua

The following is a US Embassy security message for U.S. citizens in Nicaragua.

embassy(posted April 8, 3:00 pm) — The U.S. Embassy in Managua, Nicaragua encourages U.S. citizens to exercise caution when renting and driving vehicles in Nicaragua. The Embassy has encountered a significant increase in reports of U.S. citizens in rental cars having their belongings stolen from their vehicles while pulled over to change a flat tire.

In some cases, U.S. citizens report that apparent “Good Samaritans” will pull over to assist them to change the tire, and while distracted, another party will enter the vehicle and steal valuable items.

The Embassy encourages U.S. citizens to travel in groups when possible, keep belongings out of sight and locked away while driving, and be extremely cautious of any offers to provide assistance.

The Embassy also continues to receive reports of transit police authorities stopping U.S. citizens and demanding bribes in order to avoid fines. Motorists in rental cars and those with foreign license plates are more likely to be stopped by transit police. Transit police have seized driver licenses and car registration documents from motorists who refuse or are unable to pay. Subsequently, these drivers have reported difficulties in recovering the seized documents.

U.S. citizens are urged to ensure that their vehicles comply fully with Nicaraguan regulations, including being in possession of an emergency triangle and fire extinguisher, and that the vehicle is properly registered and insured. To report any mistreatment by police, you can file a complaint directly with the National Police.  Feel free to forward your complaint to the U.S. Consular Section in Managua as well.

The Embassy also continues to receive reports of items stolen from cars while the passengers are in restaurants or at gas station convenience stores. We advise U.S. citizens not to leave any valuables or passports in an unattended vehicle. We also advise ensuring any items of perceived value, such as bags or backpacks, are out of plain view in unattended vehicles.

To report a crime in Nicaragua, visitors should contact the local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Nicaragua, which is 118 in Spanish and 101 in English.

In the event of a life or death emergency involving a U.S. citizen please call 8882-3140 or 2252-7634. For all other matters related to American citizen services, please send an email to


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