In an article with no “post date” or author, the website, JacoHotels.com tells us about the “New Costa Rica Law for Perpetual Tourists”, sweeping changes in immigration rules to go into effect on March 1 (no year).

costarica2According to this website, tourists that travel out of Cost Rica in order to renew their visa every 90 days, have new rules to follow.

Don’t be misinformed! There is no such new law.

The law referred to in the JacoHotels article  is the law from 2009 and the regulations from 2012.

To make it crystal clear in contrast to the reference in the article, Mario Zamora has not been the director general de Migración y Extranjería since he was elevated from that post in 2010, when he was appointed Ministro de Seguridad Publica (Minister of Security) by Presidenta Laura Chinchilla. The current director of immigration is Kathya Rodríguez Abarca.

That alone should raise alarm bells in the back of  one’s head.

So, it is unlikely that Zamora, as the article indicates, would have said on Thursday “tourist will not be able to go to the same country twice and that after two trips to renew a visa a tourist will have to stay out of Costa Rica for a minimum of 15 days“. or, “Regulations soon will be published in the La Gaceta official newspaper“.

The facts are this:

  • some nationals from certain countries are allowed to arrive to Costa Rica without previously obtaining an entry visa at a Costa Rican Consulate, ie. U.S., Canada, Italy, England, Germany, Australia, etc.
  • nationals from these countries are allowed to remain in Costa Rica for 90 days for tourism purpose, shorter from other countries
  • the 90 days is a tourist visa
  • tourists are not allowed to work in Costa Rica

The reality is that in Costa Rica there are literally thousands of foreign nationals living under the tourist visa category and the government has been discussing ways to stopping the practice referred to as “perpetual tourism”. Agree to it or not, the reality is that is getting a lot harder to remain in Costa Rica as perpetual tourist.

Some tourists have already seen their stay reduced from the usual 90 days to only a few days.

Also, airlines are now stricter in ensuring that a visitor has a ticket out of Costa Rica before allowed to board a flight to the country. Operative word is “allowed to board”. Airlines will sell you a ticket to Costa Rica, but may not actually allow you to board the flight unless you have a way out. This occurs when a perpetual tourist leaves the country on a return to ticket to Costa Rica, but no travel plans out again.

Immigration is a legal procedure. Costa Rica, as any other country, has the right to control its borders and does so by way of law, asking anyone who wants to stay and work in the country to obtain legal residency. Those who want to play, they can do so, anytime, as many times, in short stays at a time. For anything else the country’s immigration law and regulations provides options and the mechanism for residency. Citizenship is not an immigration matter.

In closing, if you are planning to travel to Costa Rica as a tourist there is no concern. However, if you plan to stay beyond the tourist visa period, such as to live and/or to work in the country, best is to consult an immigration specialist.