Entering Costa Rica:
When you enter into Costa Rica, you will enter in on a tourist visa through either one of the two international airports.
To access the South Pacific, you may use Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) which is located in Alajuela right outside of Costa Rica’s capitol city of San Jose. Another international airport in the country is the Liberia airport, located in Guanacaste’s North Pacific Zone.
About your tourist visa:
- The maximum length of a tourist visa is 90 days in Costa Rica
- With your valid tourist visa you are able to travel all over the country
- You may drive with your license from your home country
- You may NOT legally work with your tourist visa
- You MAY purchase property
- You MAY own a business
- Immigration can give you UP TO 90 days on your visa, however means that they can give you less if they decide.
At the airport or border, the immigration officer may ask you the following:
1. Why are you in Costa Rica
– Tourism is an acceptable answer to this
2. Where are you going to stay
– Name the hotel, airbnb, or specific place you are going
3. What day are you leaving the country
– Tell them the departure date. This date must be before 90 days and show that you will leave the country. Have your return ticket on hand printed or accessible on your phone through a screenshot or email.
Each time through immigration may be different for you! The questions you are asked at immigration may depend on your immigration officer. We recommend to always come into the country completely prepared each time.
Tips & more info!
- You may be asked for your return ticket before departing from your home country on the way to Costa Rica.
- Bus tickets DO NOT count as a “ticket” out of Costa Rica to show your proof of leaving the country
- Your passport must NOT be within six months of expiring
Due to Covid-19, Costa Rica is requiring additional documentation for entry into the country and some countries are restricted from entry at this time. Please check the Costa Rica Embassy website to see the latest information on entry.
Leaving Costa Rica via the Juan Santamaria Airport (SJO)
Leaving Costa Rica is a simple process through the airport. You simply go to the ticket counter, collect your ticket, enter through security, and you are off to your gate.
The $29 Costa Rica Airport Departure Tax
There is a $29 airport departure tax to leave Costa Rica. Depending on the airline, normally this tax is already included in your ticket. However, if it is not, you will need to pay for it at a separate counter with cash/credit/debit and then go collect your flight ticket before security.
Busiest times to be at the airport
The business of the airport can depend on the times of the years and times of the day. During our low season April – November, you can expect it to be less busy. During December – March, you can expect the highest volume of other travelers.
The business of the airport may depend on what time you are arriving or departing. For instance, many flights leave in the mornings, so you can expect the airport to be busy then and you will want to arrive 2-3 hours early for international travel. When you land in Costa Rica, you can expect there to be lines at immigration in the afternoons, especially when multiple flights land together.
When it comes to Costa Rica and immigration into the country, we always recommend to come 100% prepared!
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