Playa Dominical, Costa Rica. Photo by Alexander Jean
Playa Dominical, Costa Rica. Photo by Alexander Jean

(Updated June 1, 2017) QCOSTARICA TRAVEL – Looking to get away? Can’t decide where? Costa Rica is a must visit country for everyone.

Costa Rica visa requirements are fairly simple. Costa Rica makes it even easy for most travelers giving a visa free entry. And even if you need a visa, you can use one of your existing US, Canada, and Schengen visa.

There is so much to see and do in Costa Rica. Plan a trip for at least a week. Anything less is just too short and anything more is always good. Most passports/visas get you at least a 15 day entry.

Costa Rica Visa Requirement

Disclaimer: Below information is sourced from various Costa Rican embassy/consulate websites. For more accurate and up to date information, contact your nearest Costa Rican embassy or consulate.

No visa required passport holders
A Costa Rican tourist visa is NOT required if you have one of these passports.

For a maximum stay up to 90 days: Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hellenic Republic, Vatican, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Rumania, San Marino, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, United States of America, United Kingdom and Uruguay.

Maximum stay up to 30 days: Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Bolivia, Dominica, El Salvador, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Kiribati, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Nauru, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Philippines, Saint Christopher and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Samoa, San Vincent and the Grenadines, São Tomé and Príncipe, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Surinam, Tonga, Turkey, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Venezuela.

No visa required visa holders
A Costa Rican tourist visa is NOT required if you have one of these passports AND a visa from the below:

Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Benin, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Colombia, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, East Timor, Ecuador, Egypt, Equatorial, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Qatar, Republic of Congo, Republic of Macedonia, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Sahrawi Arab Republic, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

  • Multiple entry business/tourist/crew visa from the US or
  • Multiple entry tourist visa from Canada or
  • Multiple entry Schengen visa  or
  • Multiple entry tourist visa from any country in the EU

Visa must be stamped in the passport and must be valid for at least 1 day from the arrival date. Length of the stay may not be greater than the validity of the visa. Length of the stay may not exceed 30 days.

  • Multiple entry business/tourist/crew visa from Japan

Visa must be stamped in the passport and must be valid for at least 6 months from the arrival date. Length of the stay may not exceed 30 days.

  • Work/student visa or permanent residency in US/Canada/Any country from EU

Work/student visa must be stamped in the passport and must be valid for at least 6 months from the arrival date. Passport must be valid for at least 6 months. Permanent residents must have their residency card (or green card) and must be valid for at least 6 months from the arrival date. Length of the stay may not exceed 30 days.

Visa required passport holders
A Costa Rican consular tourist visa is REQUIRED if you have a passport from any of the countries not mentioned above in “No visa required visa holders”. You might have to apply for a tourist visa at your nearest Costa Rican embassy.

For a complete and current Costa Rica visa requirements click here to visit the Costa Rica Embassy Washington DC website.

I am traveling with my pet. What do I need to do?

Immigration and Customs

Many airlines require you to have a return ticket (airline ticket out of Costa Rica and not necessarily to your arrival country). Some airlines are pretty strict on this rule, while others are not.

If you are travelling on a one-way ticket to Costa Rica, make sure you have searched online for tickets and prices out of the country in the event the airline demands it. Recommended is a full fare refundable ticket. These are typically the most expensive, but you can cancel without a penalty and get your money back.

Some airlines do not allow online check-in if you are required a visa. If your airline does allow online check-in, head to the airline counter at the airport to verify your visa.

Immigration – arrival
On arriving at the Juan Santamaria (SJO) in San Jose or the Daniel Oduber (LIR) in Guanacaste, you will be asked some questions, mainly your intended time of stay, where you will be staying and/or where you are coming from.

The questions are pretty much routine, but, be prepared to answer more questions if the immigration official feels them warranted. Carry your return ticket and hotel reservation. If either is not in print, have it readily available on your smartphone or tablet.

If you arriving from countries like Colombia, you will be required to have a YELLOW FEVER VACCINE. 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 ten days after the shot.

Any individual traveling to Costa Rica that has been in transit, whether in airports, sea ports, or land borders, in the following countries, will require vaccination: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. For an updated list and exceptions click here.

Immigration – leaving
Costa Rica requires the payment of an airport tax, also called an “exit tax“.  The current rate is US$29 which must be paid to leave the country by air.

Edit June 1, 2017: All the major airlines now include the airport tax in the airfare. If the airline you are travelling with does not, there continues a tax counter at the Juan Santamaria (San Jose) and Daniel Oduber (Liberia) airports to pay the tax.

At the airline check int, special form is to be filled out and is used for immigration control on leaving the country. In days past (years ago) you had to physically check-out at an immigration check point on your way to the gate. Today, the immigration check is done behind the scenes. An office on the second

Today, the immigration check is done behind the scenes. There is an office on the upper level of the departures especially for that function.

The immigration check is to ensure that anyone leaving the country does not have a pending criminal action against them.  This includes child and spousal support. An “impedimento de salida” , is a court order stopping a person from leaving the country.

If you have already visited Costa Rica, when are you coming back? How did you like it? If not, what are you waiting for?

Use the comments section below to share your Costa Rica travel tips and experiences.