This section on business travel provides an overview of business customs and travel tips that may be useful during your time working in Nicaragua.
Business customs in Nicaragua, while often based on personal relationships, are relatively straightforward. Many Nicaraguan executives were educated in the United States and are familiar with U.S. business customs. Business lunches can last longer than one hour and are a good way to build a personal relationship. Open-collar attire is acceptable for most meetings, but Nicaraguans who are accustomed to dealing with foreigners may dress more formally. Nicaraguans may arrive late for scheduled appointments, but concern for punctuality is improving. Businesses remain open at midday, but executives may be unavailable between noon and 2:00 p.m. Most businesspeople rely heavily on cell phones and messaging applications such as WhatsApp. Business cards are commonly exchanged, but gifts are not.
For up-to-date information on safety and security issues related to travel to Nicaragua, visit the U.S. Department of State’s travel advisory page for Nicaragua.
Business travelers may obtain information about visa requirements for travel to Nicaragua from the Nicaraguan Ministry of Interior’s Immigration Office. The U.S. Embassy in Nicaragua also provides information about Nicaragua’s entry requirements. The Nicaraguan government introduced a pre-notification process for all non-tourist travel to Nicaragua, which will facilitate the customs process upon arrival. Travelers with pre-notification will pass through migration controls more quickly than those without it. At least seven days in advance of planned travel to Nicaragua, follow the pre-notification instructions provided in Spanish at the Ministry of Interior website.
U.S. companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States should be advised that security evaluations are handled via an interagency process. Visa applicants should go to the U.S. Department of State’s visa website.
The official currency is the córdoba. The exchange rate is established by the Central Bank of Nicaragua, with an annual devaluation of approximately 2 percent; this information is publicly available on the Central Bank website. The economy runs on a dual-currency system, with nearly all establishments accepting payments in either U.S. dollars or Nicaraguan córdobas. Credit and debit cards are widely accepted in urban areas. ATMs are readily available in urban areas.
Communication with the United States is readily available through major U.S. long-distance carriers; however, cell phones are far more common than landlines. Cell phone carriers Claro and Tigo control nearly the entire cellular market. Both companies also offer mobile internet access. Due to rates that encourage calls within the same network, it is common for Nicaraguans to prefer one carrier over the other, or even to carry two cell phones – one to call only Claro numbers, and another to call only Tigo numbers. Russian mobile broadband services provider Yota entered the high-speed internet market in 2009, followed by Chinese Telecom Company Xinwei, which operates under the brand name CooTel, in 2013. Wi-Fi access is common in major hotels. Nicaragua uses the same electrical outlets and amperage as the United States.
The political and economic crisis and COVID-19 restrictions caused many airlines to reduce, suspend, or cancel their flights offered to and from Nicaragua. U.S. carriers do not currently operate in Nicaragua. Accordingly, flight options are fewer and more expensive, and many include layovers in San Salvador, El Salvador, or Panama City, Panama. Colombian airline Avianca operates direct flights to Miami to Managua, Nicaragua and connecting flights through San Salvador, El Salvador.
Most hotels offer airport shuttle services for their guests. Visitors commonly hire a driver and vehicle or drive rental cars. A U.S. driver’s license is valid for use in Nicaragua for 60 days. Taxicab services within the perimeter of business-class hotels are reliable, though robberies involving non-hotel taxis occur. Public transit is not recommended.
Information on transportation safety is available on the U.S. Department of State’s travel advisory page for Nicaragua.
The official language of Nicaragua is Spanish, but many business contacts speak English as a second language. English is also spoken as a first language by many people on the Caribbean coast.
For up-to-date information on health concerns related to travel in Nicaragua visit the U.S. Department of State’s travel advisory page for Nicaragua.
Local time, business hours, and holidays
Nicaragua observes Central Standard Time all year. There is no Daylight Saving Time. Business hours regularly occur between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., from Monday to Friday, and Saturday between 8:00 a.m. and noon.
The following holidays are observed in Nicaragua:
- New Year’s Day: January 1
- Holy Thursday: variable (April 6, 2023)
- Good Friday: variable (April 7, 2023)
- Labor Day: May 1
- Mother’s Day: May 30
- Sandinista Revolution Day: July 19
- Festival of Santo Domingo (Managua only): August 1 and 10
- Battle of San Jacinto: September 14
- Independence Day: September 15
- Immaculate Conception Day: December 8
- Christmas Day: December 25
Temporary Entry of Materials and Personal Belongings:
The Nicaraguan Customs Authority does not apply import charges or duties to goods such as laptop computers, professional equipment, or exhibit materials brought into Nicaragua for temporary personal or professional use. Business samples ordinarily may be brought in free of duty as well. See the Temporary Entry Section of the Country Commercial Guide: Trade Regulations, Customs, and Standards for more information. Some U.S. citizens, however, have reported that electronic equipment has been confiscated by the Nicaraguan Customs Authority.