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Travel Visas, Customs, Work Permit, and Getting a Residency Permit

 

Travel Visas

In order to visit Honduras you will need to have a valid passport.  The passport must be valid for six months past the date of arriving. When you arrive in Honduras you will be given a 30 or 90 day Tourist Visa.  This can be renewed for 30 days at the Immigration Office. However if you have been in the country for 90 days, you are required to leave the country for at least 3 days.  You can not go to Guatemala, El Salvador or Nicaragua to qualify for this 3 day leave.  If you have applied for a Residency permit you can extend a visa past the 90 days period. 

Customs

When entering Honduras you are entitled to bring personal items with you worth up to $1,000 USD duty free.

Getting your work permit

Getting a work permit, or visa, without being a Resident of Hondurans is impossible.  You can not work while in Honduras on a tourist Visa.  To legally work in Honduras you must first get "Resident Status" and then you can apply for a work permit. You must apply for a work permit through a Honduran lawyer, who will apply on your behalf to the Ministry of Labor..  Warning: as with most third world countries, there are corrupt lawyers and lawyers who claim they can assist you, but do not know what they are doing.  Please choose very carefully who you use. See how to get a Residency permit below.
If you can not qualify for one of the Residency categories listed below, there is the option of working for yourself via a Honduran company as an employee, officer or director.  A Honduran lawyer can incorporate for you and then qualify under the Special Permanency category, if the company is an 'active' corporation, carrying on business in Honduras.   There are other requirements to comply with Honduran labor laws and this can be one of the more expensive ways of obtaining permanency once you have paid for the incorporation, immigration and government taxes.  

Getting A Residency Permit

Immigration is always a complicated matter, and Honduras is no different.  Legal assistance can help avoid huge delays, doing incorrect paperwork, taking improper steps or in the wrong order, and wasting your money.  Add in the Latin American creed of mañana, meaning "tomorrow" or "later", which may actually mean the next week or even the next month, and you will understand that in general everything takes a frustratingly long time.  The concept applies to the government, the plumber, the bank employee... everything. Getting mad may help in North America because of the adage "the customer is always right", but it most certainly does not help with mañana in Latin America in any fashion.  In fact, it may make it worse.  You need to remain patient, keep on top of matters and continue to always be nice to Hondurans assisting you.
So how does one become a Resident? You can not apply for Residency yourself.  You must use a registered Honduran lawyer.  Warning: as with most third world countries, there are corrupt lawyers and lawyers who claim they can assist you, but do not know what they are doing.  Please choose very carefully who you use. 

Categories for Residency

Briefly there are several categories:
1. Rentista category - This status is available for individuals who have a permanent monthly income of $2,500 or more. You can derive your qualifying income can be from investments, rental income, interest, or any other income that does not stem from your employment.
2. Pensionado category - This status is available for individuals who have a income of $1,500 a month or more.  The pension income usually derives from traditional government or employment pensions.
3. Investor category - This status is available for individuals who are investing $50,000 USD or more in Honduras.  This is not a simple category as it is not sufficient to solely invest $50K in real estate. You must also have a formal business investment plan, feasibility study and 5 years of financial projections for a business enterprise registered with the Secretary of Industry and Commerce, as well as deposit $5,000 to the Central Bank.  You must retain Honduran professionals to assist you in the preparation of such studies and filing of same.
4. Special Permanency Permit - category, this has multiple listed occupations or statuses that has most of the same benefits of regular Residency. This is one of the most difficult and expensive permits to obtain. Examples are:
 
1. Students
2. Refugees
3. People requesting asylum
4. Migrant workers staying longer than three months
5. Foreigners working in social service
6. Religious workers
7. Foreigners providing voluntary humanitarian services in benefit of Honduras
8. Foreigners in commercial activities or entertainers
9. Foreigners hired as temporary workers
10. Scientists, professionals, athletes and specialized technical workers.
11. Owners and directors of corporations (national or foreign corporation with authorization to operate in Honduras).
12. Spouse, dependents, parents and grandparents of the individuals in the preceding clauses.
13. Members of churches who have an agreement with the Secretary of Government regarding migratory facilitation.
14. Foreigners hired by projects or programs financed by the Honduran Government, foreign governments, international organizations, or government institutions.
15. Others as established by the Immigration Administration, when convenient for reasons of national interest, humanitarian interest, or reciprocity with other countries.
 
5.  Kinship category -  This status is available for individuals who are directly related to a Honduran (parent or child) and to people who have married a Honduran. 
6. Immigrant category - This status is available for individuals who have been a resident in Honduras for five years or more and have a good record with the Department of Immigration. With Immigrant status you no longer have to renew your Residency each year.

Steps

Briefly, the steps involved to gain Residency are:
 
1.  Gather the necessary paperwork (requirements depend on which country you are from), translation and certification, as instructed by your Honduran lawyer, or agent.  It is recommended you gather these documents well before your planned move;
3.  6/t the documents authenticated in your home country (method of authentication depends on which country you are from); 
4.  Provide to your Honduran lawyer who will then apply to the Honduran Ministry of Foreign Affairs for approval;
5. Wait;
6.  See #3.  This can take up to a year;   Once approved you will be issued a certificate;
7.  Obtain a residency card from Honduran Immigration, which can take up to another 6 months.
8.  Renew your Residency each year. 

Costs

Costs to obtain your Residency are dependent upon which category you are applying for.  Prices would generally not be below $2,500 USD.