How are your Costa Rica travel plans coming along? If you’re considering a trip to this country in South America in the near future, you’ll need to acquaint yourself with the most important entry requirements. These will depend on the country that you’re a citizen of and the bilateral relationships it has established with Costa Rica. Here are some of the biggest essentials you’ll need to account for.
International Travel Tips for US Tourists
If you’re heading to Costa Rica from the US, then following the US Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs guide may come in handy.
Individuals entering Costa Rica with a valid passport from the US can stay in Costa Rica’s hotspots for up to 90 days without requiring a Costa Rica consular visa. Keep in mind, however, that proof of owning a return ticket will be demanded.
There are currency restrictions for both entry into Costa Rica and country exit. The threshold for both is 10,000 USD.
Keep in mind you may be asked to present proof of economic sufficiency. Economic solvency means you have enough money to cover your expenses during your stay. Not everyone will be asked to establish their finances but it’s something to be prepared for just in case.
Entry Rules for International Travelers
A return flight ticket is a standard requirement for all tourists. The immigration officers will ask for such information upon entering the country. The number of days you get to stay in Costa Rica depends on your citizenship.
Most people will not require a visa to enter Costa Rica as tourists, but there are exceptions. People residing in visa-requiring countries will need to visit a consulate in order to get their visa issued prior to visiting Costa Rica.
There’s one exception from the requirement. If a person from a visa-requiring country already has a visa for the US, a country in the EU, a Schengen country, Canada, South Korea, or Japan, they will no longer need to apply for a Costa Rican visa.
Costa Rica Medical Requirements and Covid-Related Entry Rules
Are COVID-19 tests and COVID-related entry requirements in place in Costa Rica? Is there anything else you can do health-wise in order to enjoy safe and problem-free Costa Rican vacations?
As of April 2023, Costa Rica’s officials have withdrawn COVID-19 testing and other limitations pertaining to former social distancing measures (like a COVID-19 vaccination certificate or a negative COVID-19 test).
Depending on how the situation unfolds in the future, however, Costa Rica’s authorities may introduce new limitations for certain groups of travelers. Checking out the Costa Rica embassy’s COVID-19 page before moving forward with international travel plans is always a good idea.
In terms of medical requirements, you’re probably wondering about proof of vaccination and whether you’ll need to go through an immunization process.
Yellow fever vaccination became mandatory for people from certain countries back in 2007. Proof of vaccination will be requested upon entry from those who are citizens of Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Bolivia, Venezuela, Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia and the Republic of Guiana.
Previously, unvaccinated visitors had a requirement for the purchase of medical insurance. Travel insurance is no longer legally mandated but you may want to consider it in order to enjoy peace of mind during your stay and coverage for medical treatments. Research medical care options and familiarize yourself with local specifics to avoid eventual emergencies.
Onward Ticket Requirements
Generally speaking, you have to prove your intent to leave Costa Rica after the visa-free stay period is over (onward travel requirement).
Per Costa Rican law, you have an onward ticket requirement in various situations. A few of the most common ones include:
- You are a non-resident traveling on a one-way ticket.
- You have a return ticket but it’s dated a day after the end of your legally allowed stay period.
- You are flying into Costa Rica and flying out of another country.
Also known as an outbound exit, your onward ticket is the evidence immigration officers need to get a better understanding of your travel plans. Your onward travel document can be for any means of public transportation that will allow you to leave the country (airplane, bus, cruise ship).
If you can’t produce evidence of onward travel, you may potentially be denied that entry stamp and a chance to explore all of Costa Rica’s beauty.
Travel Advice for Families with Children
Immigration officials have come up with certain safeguards that revolve around the entry of minors into the country.
Just like adults, children need a valid passport in order to enter Costa Rica. A return ticket for every single member of the family will be demanded upon entry.
Minors accompanied by both parents will enter Costa Rica effortlessly. If a child is only accompanied by one parent, a notarized letter of consent from the other may be needed. It’s something to have available in the travel documents kit to avoid complications.
Extending Your Stay
As per official information, it’s impossible to extend your length of stay (past 90 days for US residents, for example) after you’ve entered Costa Rica. In order to extend your stay for 90 more days, you’ll need to leave and plan a second trip.
Technically speaking, the request for an extension from inside the country may be possible under some circumstances. The US embassy, however, warns this process may be convoluted and difficult to complete successfully.
Thus, if you’re thinking about staying longer, you’ll need to acquaint yourself with the alternatives to a visa-free entry. Entering the country as a tourist isn’t going to cut it in those instances. Luckily, you have alternatives like the digital nomad visa (introduced in 2022 for those who want to stay and work in Costa Rica) or a residency.
The amount of time required to get processed and approved for a Costa Rica visa depends on your citizenship. Generally speaking, the procedure will be completed in about 30 calendar days. If there are issues with your application or some missing documents, you’ll be asked to resubmit your application before officials can move forward with visa issuing.