Residency and Visas
Obtaining Honduran residency is a relatively simple process. That said, individuals cannot represent themselves during the residency proceedings. All applicants must be represented by an attorney registered with the national bar association. The attorney you retain will see to it that all paperwork is submitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
There are two residency options to consider. Neither option requires that American citizens denounce their citizenship to the US (or any other country), yet both alternatives allow for a path towards becoming a permanent resident of Honduras.
RETIREE OR pensioner RESIDENCY
One option is for individuals to apply for a residency as a pensioner or a retiree. And under this option, there are two sub-alternatives. If you are a retiree with proof of income (approx. $1,500/month) from a verifiable source (i.e., Social Security benefits) you can apply for your residency. Alternatively, individuals can also apply for Honduran residency under what is known as a "Rentista" which requires proof of income (at least $2,500) from a return on investment, such as a rental property. Neither of these two options has an age limit associated with them. These applications can take between six and nine months to be finalized. If an individual obtains his or her Honduran residency as a retiree, he or she may also qualify for additional benefits. Two common tax dispensations ("dispensas") or benefits are related to vehicle importation and the importation of household items. Fees related to these two types of benefits are above and beyond the cost of obtaining a Honduran residency.
Residency through Employment
The second path to obtaining a Honduran residency is through employment. Individuals can apply for this type of residency as an employee of a company ("key-employee") or as an entrepreneur or owner of a business. Entrepreneurs looking to become Honduran residents must first incorporate a business in Honduras and then use that business to obtain their residency. Key-Employees can apply for their residency through their employer and but show proof of their unique professional qualifications. Certification, licenses, and or diplomas can all be used to satisfy the claim of a Key-Employee.
All applicants for a Honduran residency are required to keep in good standing with their Visas. That includes abiding by the limitation or restrictions of a tourists visa. For this reason, and while individuals wait for their residency to be finalized, they must leave Honduras within 90 of their arrival, and they must remain outside of Honduras for at least 72 hours. Most applicants find that they have to leave the country at least two or three times during their adjustment of status and while local authorities are finalizing the residency application.
An Apostilled police report and other paperwork are required by all applicants for a Honduran residency. Retiree applicants must also provide an Apostilled or an authenticated proof of income. The Apostille process is a more simplified process, and often it is less expensive than authentication because Apostille can be done at the Secretary of State office, for US residents. Canadians and or residents from any other country which hasn't adopted the Hague Convention can obtain this type of document at the Honduran Consulate in their respective countries. This must be done before arriving in Honduras.
Local Laws to Consider
Photo ID at all Times
Honduran Law mandates and requires that all individuals carry a photo ID at all times. Acceptable forms of ID include: Passports, driver licenses, or general government issues ID card. If an individual is stopped by the local authority and asked for an ID, he or she is subject to an arrest if they cannot provide a valid photo ID.
Drugs & Sex
It is illegal to possess narcotics in Honduras. Drugs like marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy are all illegal. Prostitution and having sex with minors is illegal in Honduras.
Visitors to Roatan should understand fishing laws and restrictions around fishing the waters around Roatan. There are specific seasons in place for the protection of marine species. It is always a good idea to be familiar with these restrictions and fishing seasons. At a minimum, understanding fishing restrictions and fishing seasons allow travelers to Roatan to become better consumers at local restaurants and eateries.
- The Shrimp season begins on August 1st, and it goes on until the last day in February.
- The lobster season begins on July 1st, and it goes on until the last day in February.
There is no legal or defined season for fishing conch. That said, conch sales are regulated by Hybur, a national distributor in Roatan. It is illegal to sell or fish for any of these species outside of their seasons.
DRINKING AND DRIVING
Police roadblocks are common in Roatan. For this reason, drivers should always carry a valid driver's license and should also make sure that the vehicle registration (or "Matricula"). Be sure not to run roadblocks and be sure to treat all law respectfully.
Drinking and driving are against the law in Roatan. Drivers and passengers alike must make sure not to drive or be driven by anyone under the influence. Keep in mind that it is illegal in Roatan to drive without a seatbelt and it is also illegal to use your mobile device while driving. In the event of an accident, motorist should not move their vehicles until local police have authorized the move.
FIREARMS IN ROATAN
It is not legal to carry a firearm without a permit. The law allows for individuals to own a firearm and to keep it in their homes as home protection. But transporting and carrying a firearm without a permit is not legal and would likely result .in your arrest, a fine, or both.
Travelers to Roatan must travel with a valid passport with more than six months of eligibility. Travelers with passports expiring inside of six months will not be allowed to travel to Roatan.
Travelers will receive an automatic 90-day tourist visa when arriving at a Honduran international airport. The expectation is that travelers who visit Roatan as tourists will leave the country before the 90-day mark. Travelers can put in a request for an extension of 30 additional days. The extension can be obtained at the immigration office in Coxen Hole. This extension can be requested once unless you are applying for a Honduran residency, at which point you can make an extension request as needed during the adjustment of status.
Vaccination Guidelines for Roatan
Travelers to Honduras are not required to get vaccinated ahead of their arrival. That said, there are a few vaccines which are recommended by the U.S Center for Disease Control (CDC):
- Measles | Mumps | Rubella (MMR)
- Diphtheria | Tetanus | Pertussis
- Varicella (chickenpox)
- Annual Flu Shot
- Hepatitis A & B