MOVING TO HONDURAS
Obtaining residency in Honduras can be a long drawn-out process, where the services of a good lawyer (Abogado) is essential and required. Depending on your lawyer, it can be expensive. We paid around $2500 to have our lawyer prepare and file all the documentation needed for the two of us. It took us approximately 10 months from start to finish. We used the services of a lawyer friend who had previously been in the government, so she knew who to contact when problems were encountered – and they will be encountered.
As part of the application process, you will need to provide notarized versions of the following to your lawyer, who needs to translate them and prepare the application in Spanish. You also need to have an Apostilla stamp from your state or country applied to each Notarized document, attesting that the Notary is licensed to perform that service.
- Citizenship papers-passport,etc.-ALL pages are required even if they’re empty
- Birth Certificates
- Marriage License
- Divorce Degrees
- Proof of Income – in 2015, this was $1500 U.S.monthly if applying as a retired person, or $2500 if a renter
- Criminal background check from every country in which you have ever resided
- Health certificate from a hospital or clinic recognized by the Honduran government
- What real property you own
- A recent photograph 6cm high by 5cm wide, taken from the front, with your name on the back of each copy.
Once you receive your certificate of residency, you then need to go to a local Immigration office (we used the one in La Ceiba) in order to apply for your residency card, which can take up to a month to receive. (and will depend on whether they have the plastic on hand to laminate the card!) To apply for the card, you will need to provide:
- Original of government approved Residency document
- Two more photographs 6cm high by 5cm wide (for the residency card)
- Proof of income again i.e. bank statement showing deposit of income equal to $1500 or $2500 per month, depending on residency type
- Proof you have a Honduran bank account,which letter you obtain from your bank
This must repeated annually, showing proof of income deposited into a Honduran bank. After 5 years you can apply for permanent residency.
All said, it’s an extremely frustrating process, where patience is essential. Hire a good lawyer who can work on your behalf. I can make some recommendations if you want.
When renewing your card, we found out that a spouse can pick up the card when it arrives, if only one of you wants to go all the way into the office. However, for the application itself, you must be there in person to sign and be photographed.
Here’s a link to the U.S. Embassy website which outlines the requirements
B. IMPORTING YOUR PERSONAL EFFECTS
If you want to bring in your household goods and a vehicle (no older than 10 years as of 2015), you will need to get a Dispensa, or tax exemption. Again, a lawyer or para-legal is needed. The lawyer who handled our residency also prepared this for us, which will cost $1500 and up. And it can take some time to be approved!
Not only do you need to provide a copy of your residency document, you must also have a National Tax Registry number called a RTN, which you obtain from a DEI office; plus a detailed list of what will be coming into the country, translated into Spanish. Once the Dispensa has been approved, it’s safe to have your items shipped to Honduras.
C. CUSTOMS INSPECTION
Think you’re done? Hah! We made the mistake of using the inventory our mover had prepared for the preparation of the Dispensa. However, it turned out to be not detailed enough. And shipping food and medicines may cause you problems during inspection. A couple of our boxes were confiscated and (supposedly) incinerated as they were apparently expired.
We also had an issue with a portable air conditioner as it contained a restricted gas – R22 (which while a prohibited substance can be purchased almost anywhere here in Honduras).
Some photos and prints also caused us problems as they weren’t identified as ‘Artwork’ on the inventory and Dispensa.
Make sure you are using the services of a good Customs Broker at your point of entry; we weren’t.
The movement from our container into a van for delivery to us was the easiest part of the entire move, despite multiple warnings from friends that we would likely lose items in the transfer. We used a company called Gamundi in San Pedro Sula who performed an excellent job. We only have good things to say about the work they did and the care they took with our goods. Not only were they delivered safely without any mysterious loss, but they moved everything into the house, unpacked and assembled the furniture as required, and were very pleasant and efficient during the entire move
We do have a security detail as part of the development we’re in, with a guard checking everyone who wants to come into our area, and at night walking or driving by the house every hour or so to see if everything looks OK.
We installed an alarm system (from http://www.fortresssecuritystore.com/ ) which was easy to do, plus added an outside alarm. We’ve had a couple of false alarms to which the guards have responded quickly, so it appears to be working well.
We also brought a CCTV system so will be installing that as well. A dog or goose (yes, they’re great at warning of anyone coming by) is something else you could consider.
F. DRIVER’S LICENSE
You will need to obtain a Honduran Driver’s license once you obtain residency as they will no longer accept your foreign one – since as a resident you must comply with all local requirements.
Here’s the process we followed. We did all our stuff in Tocoa, which has the nearest Transit Police office to Trujillo.
- Tests – outside the Tocoa police office we were approached by someone to do the tests needed. After confirming with police that yes, those were needed, for lps. 450 each (about $20 USD) we had the eye, medical & psychological tests that were required, plus had our photos taken. There were a couple of offices offering the service, obviously private companies. You will be asked for how long – tell them you want a 1 year license and that you have had a foreign driver’s license (cost varies by length of time, but for your 1st license n Honduras you can only get for 1 year). The psychological test was in Spanish and a bit funny; “do you like to travel fast around corners?”, “if in a tight parking space, do you bump the other vehicle?”. We passed.
- Fee – in addition to the testing fee, we had to go to Banco Atlantida to pay the license fee of lps. 150 (around $5 USD). The bank then gave us a receipt to take back to police.
- Police office – we went back to the police station but found that the bank had booked us an appointment for a week later. No amount of argument with the (somewhat surly) officer would make him change, so we had to arrange to return a week later
- The license – the following week on our appointed date & time, we were finally given our licenses. The woman there asked us a few questions about our residency, blood type, etc., took our pictures again and printed our licenses. We were finished in about 30 minutes. The license is good for 1 year. After 2 years you can apply for longer one.
Here’s is some possibly redundant information (as of Sept 2014) from the Facebook page of Roatan Lawyers):
RESIDENCY AND IMMIGRATION
90 day Tourist Visa + 30 day extension = 120 days, costs $125 plus your passport with a valid Immigration Slip. Takes about 5-7 days
o Permanent Monthly Income of at least $2500 or more a month (Rentista)
o Permanent Monthly Pension of at least $1500 or more a month (Pensionado) o Married to a Honduran Citizen
o Grandparents, parents or brother of a Honduran Citizen
o Work Permit
o Business Owners
o More than 5 years living as a Legal Resident in Honduras (Inmigrado)
o Economical Dependents
Residency Costs & Time Frame
Minimum expense of $1800. Prices vary according to residency type.
Can take anywhere from 3-6 months. Depends on receiving the complete and required documentation.
Provide a copy or scan of the passport page containing picture and personal information.
Sign a Power of Attorney
Provide a Honduran address and phone number
4 Passport Size Photos
Apostilled or Authenticated* Criminal Records from place of birth AND if different, last place of residency
Honduran Medical Certificate
Requirements by Category
Permanent Monthly Income of at least $2500 or more a month (Rentista) Duly Authenticated or Apostilled* letter evidencing the income
Honduran Bank Account
Deposit every month the income in your Honduran Bank Account
Permanent Monthly Pension of at least $1500 or more a month (Pensionado) Duly Authenticated or Apostilled* letter evidencing the pension
Honduran Bank Account
Deposit every month the pension in your Honduran Bank Account
Note: Not allowed to work in Honduras with Rentista or Pensionado types of Residency
Married to a Honduran Citizen / Honduran Marriage Certificate
Spouse’s Honduran Birth Certificate Copy of Spouse’s Honduran Id Card
Grandparents, parents or brother of a Honduran Citizen Honduran Birth Certificate’s that proves the relationship
A legally established Honduran Business must: Sponsor your work permit
Provide the required corporate documents Comply with Honduran Labor Laws
Obtain Id Card from the Ministry of Labor
Be the owner of a fully functioning Honduran Corporation. Director and shareholder.
Provide corporate documents. Or incorporate a Honduran entity.
This service is provided separately. Request cost detail for incorporation and licensing of an eligible corporation.
Initial financial statement
Permanent Resident: More than 5 years living as a Legal Resident in Honduras (Immigrate) Copy of your Residency Resolution
Copy of your Residency Registration
Copy of your Residency ID card
Applicable to all categories for Economical Dependents. (Spouse and children) Apostilled or duly authenticated* Marriage Certificate and Spouse’s Police Record. Apostilled or duly authenticated* Birth Certificate, children under 21.
Bank Statement that reflects you can support the economical dependent(s).