Includes import documentation and other requirements for both the U.S. exporter and foreign importer.
An importer must present the following documentation to the Nicaraguan Customs Authority (DGA):
- bill of lading
- packing list
- original invoice
- declaration of invoice authenticity
- permits issued by Nicaraguan authorities (if necessary, see below)
- certificate of origin (to determine applicability of CAFTA-DR and other trade agreements)
Importers must also register as a taxpayer with DGI. Once importers have a tax identification number, they must register it with DGA, which also requires importers to present proof of fiscal solvency monthly.
The process for sending donations to Nicaragua includes requesting authorization from the Ministry of Foreign Relations. The donating organization may wish to hire a local customs broker familiar with Nicaragua’s customs procedures to ensure that the donation is not lost or mishandled. Customs may seize and auction off a shipment if it is not removed from its warehouses after 20 days, but the importer can pay a fine to prevent it from being auctioned.
Food and Beverages
The Ministry of Health’s Food Inspection Office oversees import permits for food and beverages. All imports of non-processed food must be registered with the Ministry of Agriculture’s Agricultural Health and Sanitation Office. If a product is imported in bulk and then packaged in Nicaragua, the importer must present a phytosanitary or sanitary certificate from both the country of origin and the Nicaraguan Food Inspection Office. The Ministry of Development, Industry, and Trade issues import licenses for sugar.
Medicines and Cosmetics
The Ministry of Health’s Pharmaceutical Office oversees import permits for medicines, cosmetics, and hygiene products. Importers must present documentation demonstrating safety and effectiveness and pay fees to obtain a sanitary registration. Importers must also pay fees for laboratory analysis, and this fee varies if the products are made in Nicaragua. To ascertain fee amounts, please contact the Ministry of Health.
For more information on registering a product or the documents required for importing pharmaceutical products, contact:
Ministry of Health, Pharmaceutical Division
Complejo Nacional de Salud “Dra. Concepción Palacios” costado oeste, Colonia Primero de Mayo, Módulo 4, Managua
Laboratorio Nacional de Control de Calidad de Medicamentos
Donde fue la Pepsi 2 c. al Sur, 3 c. Abajo, Managua
Agriculture and Livestock
The Institute of Agricultural Protection and Health (IPSA) and the Ministry of Health (MINSA) share responsibility for developing and implementing agricultural regulations. IPSA is responsible for the inspection of agricultural products at the border and the regulation of animal feeds, agrochemicals, and seeds. MINSA regulates processed food products. Importers must obtain an import permit before importing any shipment. Processed foods and agrochemicals also require a sanitary register number from MINSA and/or IPSA. Good communication between the exporter and importer is essential for a successful commercial relationship. For more guidance on Nicaraguan food laws, technical regulations, and import requirements please see the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Country Report for Nicaragua.
The Nicaraguan Telecommunications Regulator (TELCOR) operates under the authority of the General Telecommunication and Postal Services Law. This establishes TELCOR as an autonomous entity under the guidance of the Presidency and empowers it to implement regulations and monitor compliance over telecommunications and postal services. The regulation of information technology falls under the Nicaraguan Council of Science and Technology (CONICYT), which reports to the Minister Advisor to the President and the Telecommunications Investment Fund (FITEL). TELCOR issues import permits for communications-related products such as radio communication equipment, cable television installation equipment, telephone switchboard equipment, and commercial radio broadcast equipment.
Containers for Liquefied and Compressed Gasses
The Fire Department’s Fire Prevention Office issues import permits for new and used cylinders or containers for liquefied or other compressed gases.
The National Police’s Firearms and Ammunition Office administers an import permit system for firearms, ammunition, and explosives under the Special Law for Control and Regulation of Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and Related Materials.
U.S. companies may be prohibited under U.S. law from paying any permit fees to the National Police. OFAC in 2020 sanctioned the National Police for engaging in serious human rights abuses in Nicaragua. U.S. companies should consult with an attorney before entering into any financial transaction with the National Police. U.S. companies should also be aware that any firearms entering the country are likely destined for Nicaraguan security forces or parapolice. The Embassy has received reports that the Nicaraguan government confiscated stock held by privately owned firearms stores for use by the Nicaraguan government.