On October 1st, the Congress of the United States of America, through political inaction and disagreement, might end up “shutting down the government.” What this means is that a number of non-essential services will not be provided until Congress agrees on a budget resolution for the next fiscal year. For Costa Rica, the U.S. government shutting down would cause a couple of issues.

wwwppsppw1Should the partial shutdown of the U.S. government take place, some of its effects may reach Costa Rica. The first one is that some tourists from the U.S. will have to wait to come to Costa Rica due to the unavailability of passport services. According to the U.S. Department of State, the processing time for passport issuance is actually longer than it is in Costa Rica. It currently takes between four and six weeks to get a passport in the U.S., although expedited two-week service is available for an extra $60.

According to a recent report by National Public Radio in the U.S.:

“Passports and visas will not be issued if a shutdown comes to fruition. […] some 200,000 passport applications did not get processed, according to the Congressional Research Service. Richard Moose, who was undersecretary of state for management during the Clinton administration’s shutdown, said the bar was extremely high for getting a passport processed while the government was closed. “It would have to have been somebody who had to travel for medical purposes or someone who could persuade us that they were going abroad on defense business or with one of the intelligence agencies.”  

It can be assumed that U.S. citizens without a passport who dreamed of visiting Costa Rica would have to wait until things get back to normal. The same can be said for citizens of Costa Rica who wish to travel to the U.S. and do not have a visa. During the long 28 days of the last U.S. government shutdown in the administration of former President Bill Clinton, the Department of State and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (then known as Immigration and Naturalization Services) reported backlogs of unprocessed visas, up to 30,000 per day. A total of 200,000 passport applications were delayed by that shutdown.

The U.S. federal government shut down on more than a dozen times in the 20th century. Should a shutdown occur beginning October 1st of 2013, it would be the first time it happens in the 21st century. One of the main reasons for the looming shutdown this time around is centered on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, which is the closest the U.S. has ever come to universal health care. The law, which is being implemented now, is not very popular among members of the Republican Party –also known as the Grand Ole Party (GOP).

Article by Costa Rica Star