Do I need a passport or visa to enter?
Visit the Embassy of Costa Rica in the United States website for the most current visa information. For entry into Costa Rica, you must present both a valid passport and either a round-trip ticket or proof of onward travel to another country. Because of possible fines levied by Costa Rican Immigration, many airlines will not permit passengers without proof of return or onward travel to board flights to Costa Rica unless they have Costa Rican citizenship, residency, or a visa. Costa Rican Immigration now also requires that you be able to demonstrate financial capacity of at least $100 per month while you are in Costa Rica as a tourist. When you leave Costa Rica, you will have to pay a departure tax of $29 USD.
Passports should be in good condition; Costa Rican Immigration may deny entry if a passport is damaged in any way. Costa Rican authorities may permit U.S. citizen tourists to stay up to ninety (90) days, but shorter time periods of thirty (30) to forty-five (45) days are also common. To extend the period you are given, you must submit an application for an extension to the Office of Temporary Permits in the Costa Rican Department of Immigration. Extension requests are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Tourists who overstay the period of stay authorized by Costa Rican authorities without receiving an extension may experience a delay at the airport when departing, are subject to deportation and/or a fine of $100 for each month of overstay, and may be denied entry to Costa Rica on future visits.
Most Costa Rican educational institutions will assist individuals planning to study in Costa Rica to apply for a student visa, if a visa is necessary. Individuals with round-trip tickets who plan to study for less than three months do not need a visa and may enter for up to 90 days as a tourist. Individuals who plan to study for longer than three months and will be attending an educational institution that does not provide assistance to obtain a visa should verify documentary requirements in advance with the nearest Costa Rican Embassy/Consulate as well as with the pertinent airline.
All persons – including U.S. citizens – traveling to Costa Rica from certain countries in South America and Sub-Saharan Africa must provide evidence of a valid yellow fever vaccination prior to entry. The countries considered at risk are: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Guyana and Venezuela. You can travel to Costa Rica no sooner than 10 days after receiving the vaccination. See “SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES” for information on requirements to carry identity documentation within Costa Rica and on travel by minors who are dual nationals or legal residents.
The most authoritative and up-to-date information on Costa Rican entry and exit requirements may be obtained from the Consular Section of the Embassy of Costa Rica at 2114 “S” Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 480-2200, fax (202) 265-4795. You may visit the Embassy of Costa Rica’s website or contact the Embassy via email. You may also obtain information from the Costa Rican consulates in Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, or the honorary consulates in Minnesota and Arizona. Please also see the Costa Rican Immigration Agency website. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Costa Rica in Washington or one of Costa Rica's Consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements before shipping any items.
Visitors who plan to drive and/or rent an automobile in Costa Rica should be aware that the Costa Rican government may prevent any driver involved in a vehicular accident from departing Costa Rica until any/all injury claims have been settled. This is true regardless of whether the driver is covered by insurance and/or considered to have been negligent in the accident. Because the courts often delay imposing a settlement until any/all injured parties have fully recovered and the definitive costs are known, a prohibition on travel could be imposed for months, or even years, until a local judicial resolution is reached. Visitors should carefully consider the hardships such an extended stay in Costa Rica could impose on themselves and their families before deciding to drive in Costa Rica.