If you are considering moving to Costa Rica, buying land or property, or retiring to Costa Rica you will want to familiarize yourself with Costa Rica’s law regarding immigration and residency. Even if you are only planning on visiting Costa Rica for a short time, or want to live part of the year in Costa Rica and part of the year in your home country, you should know about the different immigration laws and policies in Costa Rica. By learning about Costa Rica immigration, you will ensure that you trip goes smoothly and is more enjoyable. Some basics concerning Costa Rican immigration policies relate to the requirements to legally enter the country, the length of time you may stay in the country as a visitor, and the ways in which to apply for residency.
Most visitors to Costa Rica are granted a three month tourist visa upon arrival to the country, whether through one of the two international airports, or from border crossings with either Panama or Nicaragua. In order to receive your three month tourist visa, you must prove that you will be leaving the country at the end of your three months. Costa Rica is very strict with this immigration law, so if you are planning on staying for an undetermined about of time, know in advance that when you land in Costa Rica and go through the immigration process you must produce a plane ticket or bus ticket with an exit date. You can always change your exit date if your plans change, but keep in mind that without proof of exit, Costa Rica Immigration Officers will not allow you to enter the country. Once you are in the country, you can travel freely anywhere you like. Costa Rica is a safe country and there are no regions that are off limits or too dangerous to visit. With your passport and a current driver’s license from your home country, you can legally drive in Costa Rica so renting a car is easy.
Again, your tourist visa is good for three months, but at the end of those three months, you must leave the country for a period of time no less than 72 hours before you can re-enter and receive a new three month tourist visa. This is an important immigration law to remember because if you overstay your tourist visa, you may be penalized upon leaving the country with hefty fines, or you may not be permitted to re-enter the country for a prolong period of time.
If you have visited Costa Rica before and are planning on immigrating to Costa Rica, you must look into obtaining legal residency which would allow you to stay in the country for more than three months at a time. Applying for legal residency can be a lengthy process and it’s best to find a Costa Rican lawyer who can help you with the immigration and residency paperwork and procedures to make sure everything goes smoothly. Costa Rica immigration laws are not difficult to understand, but they are strictly enforced so make sure and educate yourself a little before visiting the country and your trip will be that much more enjoyable. Please contact us with any questions about finding a condo or home in paradise.