In Nicaragua it is very common for suppliers of goods and services to display their prices in foreign currency, specifically in dollars, and may even demand payment in that currency or consider exchange rates higher than those established by the Central Bank of Nicaragua; this practice is prohibited by the Law for the Protection of the Rights of Consumers and Users, approved on June 13, 2013, published in La Gaceta, Official Gazette No. 129 of July 11, 2013, its amendments and Regulations.
From the definitions section of the Law, article 5 defines the price to the consumer or user as: Final price of the good or service expressed in national currency, which includes the corresponding taxes, if applicable.
Specifically, article 10 regarding the prohibitions for providers includes in its subparagraph 4: Charging consumers or users a sale price higher than that displayed, informed or published; These prices must include the value of the good or service and the corresponding taxes expressed in national currency. Suppliers with special regulations may display their prices in dollars.
Additionally, article 23 on the duty of minimum information, provides that providers of goods and services must inform in legible writing, among other aspects, the price of goods and services in national currency in view of the public, which will include the value and taxes that are applicable.
Regarding the applicable infractions for not complying with the aforementioned, article 116 subsection 10 classifies as minor infraction: Not expressing prices in national currency; and article 117 paragraph 11 classifies as Serious infraction: Charging prices in foreign currency or currencies.
When minor infractions occur for the first time prior to the fine, the competent authority will resolve in writing with the corresponding reprimand to the offending provider, and may order the cessation of actions or omissions that violate the rights of consumers or users, or that in the future they could violate them. Minor infractions are penalized with a fine of one to one hundred units of measure. Serious infractions are penalized with a fine of one hundred one to two hundred and fifty units of measure.
The fines are expressed in a unit of measure, equivalent to the amount of the average national minimum wage for the period, so as of today we could consider that each unit is approximately equivalent to: C$ 7,096.82.
The Regulations clearly establishes that only restaurants that provide services to the tourism industry established by the tourism law that have tourism quality certification and are duly registered in the National Tourism Registry of the Nicaraguan Tourism Institute (INTUR), in their menu they may indicatively display prices in dollars for the services they provide, which must be
paid in córdobas at the official exchange rate of the day published by the Central Bank of Nicaragua.