You do no need a visa to enter Nicaragua if you are a US citizen, or a citizen of most other Western countries. You must have six months validity on your passport, and an onward or return travel ticket. On arrival you will be given a ‘tourist card’ for a small fee, around US$5. It is very important to keep hold of this card and not lose it, since you will need to return it to the authorities on departure. The tourist card is valid for three months from arrival. If you wish to extend your stay you can request a 30-day tourist extension for around US$10 at the immigration office in Managua.
Health and Safety
A yellow fever certificate is required for all visitors entering Nicaragua. If you do not hold one, you should seek the vaccination eight weeks prior to arrival. Also recommended, but not mandatory, are routine vaccinations of tetanus, MMR, diphtheria, polio, and hepatitis A and B. If your vaccines are not up to date you should renew six to eight weeks before your intended travel date. Most of Nicaragua has a variable risk of malaria, except in the highland region surrounding Lake Nicaragua where the risk is lower. Seek preventative medicine if intending on travelling throughout Nicaragua north of this area.
Nicaragua is considered one of the safest countries in Latin America, but tourist oriented crime is still prevalent. Consideration should be taken against opportunistic theft, so take care to conceal valuables, and beware of pickpockets. Some scams have also recently become apparent, such as locals posing as police officers then demanding money be withdrawn from an ATM to pay for a fictitious fine. Extra care should be taken if traveling independently on the Tipitapa-Masaya highway, where there are reports of this occurrence. Otherwise, be careful not to stumble into poor neighborhoods in big cities, where tourists are a prime target for petty theft.