Costa Rica Entry Requirements: Better Safe than Sorry!
When planning your upcoming trip, you just cannot be without an entry requirements checklist! When it comes to Costa Rica's Entry Requirements, the law has changed several times since it went into effect in March, 2010 (Ley de Migración y Extranjería No. 8764), so not having the most updated information in regards to the documentation needed to guarantee your trouble-free entry into the country may become a REAL HASSLE! We've put together this easy-to-follow checklist with some of the key documents and requirements needed to enter Costa Rica. For the most accurate information you can always contact the Costa Rican consulate or embassy closest to you (http://www.embassypages.com/costarica).
- VISA! First and foremost, you must check your visa requirements. Some travelers, depending on their country of origin, are allowed to enter and stay in Costa Rica from 30 to 90 days without a visa, while others will need to request a visa prior to their trip. You can see our previous post for some general information. For a detailed list of the different country groups, you can visit http://www.visitcostarica.com/ict/paginas/informacionturistica.asp. If you're traveling on a cruise ship that has a port of call in Costa Rica, you're not required to hold a visa (no visa requirement if staying less than 24hrs). Yet if Costa Rica is your final destination, meaning you're on a base ship stopping in Costa Rica, and staying for more than 24hrs you must check your visa requirements.
- VALID PASSPORT! You must hold a valid passport that does not expire within the following 6 months of your date of entry to Costa Rica.
- ONWARD/EXIT TICKET! You must have a round-trip ticket or an onward (exit) ticket, whether from an airline or a bus ticket (or valid sea passage if cruise ship travel), showing that you will be exiting the country within the timeframe of your valid stay (whether you require a visa or not). A "one-way" ticket into the country ALSO INCLUDES a ticket into Costa Rica with departure from another country AND with a departure date AFTER your visa/legal stay expires.
We can't emphasize enough the importance of holding a valid proof of exit. Otherwise you might find yourself in the need of purchasing a last-minute ticket for your return (EXPENSIVE!!), or even be denied travel by your airline and forego your Costa Rica traveling plans altogether.
- PROOF OF ECONOMIC SOLVENCY! You must show proof that you have at least $100 USD for every month you will be staying in Costa Rica.
- DEPARTURE TAX! You will be required to pay a tax before leaving the country. If exiting Costa Rica by plane, you will pay $29 USD. Originally December 3rd 2014 they were going to start including it in the price of the flights, but as of yet it is not in effect. Be sure to check with your airline prior to paying a separate tax so you do not double pay. If departing by land through Costa Rica's border with Panama, the departure tax is $5 USD. If departing by land through Costa Rica's border with Nicaragua, the departure tax is $13 USD (a combination of a multiple taxes).
- VACCINES! Costa Rica does not have a general requirement for the Yellow Fever vaccine as other South American countries do (yellow fever is not a disease risk in Costa Rica), yet Costa Rica's Immigration authorities do require the yellow fever vaccination if arriving from or transiting through a country with risk of yellow fever transmission (http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2012/chapter-3-infectious-diseases-related-to-travel/yellow-fever.htm#1948).
Also, if you're traveling to the province of Limon, you might want to get anti-malaria drugs (the province, but not the port, of Limon is considered an area with risk of Malaria). For more information, you can visit the CDC webpage at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/costa-rica.htm.
- RE-ENTRY! You can exit and re-enter the country as long as you continue to comply with all entry requirements (the valid passport, the visa if needed, your onward ticket, etc). You will be required to remain out of the country for at least 72 hours before re-entering.
- OVERSTAY! If you stay in Costa Rica for longer than your visa allowance, you may have to pay $100 and have entry denied for three times as many days of your overstay (so if you find yourself in the risk, check with immigration authorities if any chance of applying for an extension before failing to leave on time).
Both the airline and Costa Rica's Immigration officials will hold you responsible for complying with ALL entry requirements to board your flight and to enter the country. Do not take this subject lightly as you can be denied travel altogether! Better safe than sorry...