Tuesday 27 September 2022

Court: Travellers Must Check If They Have “Impedimentos” (Ban On Leaving The Costa Rica)

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Departure gate at the Juan Santamaria (San Jose) airport.
Departure gate at the Juan Santamaria (San Jose) airport.

(QCOSTARICA) Here it the scenario: you’ve made it through the line at the airline counter (unless you are flying first class), even made it through the longer line through the security check point, sat around waiting for boarding, get comfortable in your airplane seat and the news comes, you cannot leave. Say what? Yes, you have an “impedimento de salida” against you, a ban against your leaving Costa Rica.

The impedimento de salida also applies at all land and sea immigration posts.

Unless you are facing criminal charges (or criminal investigation) in Costa Rica, about the only other reason you would be barred from leaving the country is for child support and/or alimony.

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Or a mistake. A simple mistake of entering the wrong information in the Judiciary (Poder Judicial) database. A mistake that could apply equally to a tourist visiting the country.

At the airports, prior to any flight taking off, behind the scenes, in an office away from the airlines counter, the immigration service is checking the names on the passenger list. A flag on your name means you will not be travelling today.

At the land crossing, the ban occurs face-to-face with an immigration official as he/she checks the database.

To prevent inconveniencies at the time of departure, the Judiciary has set up a system where a check  can be made by telephone, online and even an ‘app’.

The responsibility is yours and yours alone to ensure there are no mistakes in the system, according to the Judiciary.
The telephone number to consult impedimentos is 2295 3648 or 2295 3649, with phones answered between 7:30am and 4:30pm, Mondays to Fridays (holidays expected).

The webpage is www.poder-judicial.go.cr (direct link https://pjenlinea3.poder-judicial.go.cr/Internet_SOAP/).

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You can also download the Poder Judicial mobile app at the Android or Apple store.

If there is a ban on your leaving the country, important to note that, even though a simple phone call may clear up the problem, it may not be as simple as that. One, the Judiciary does not work weekends and holidays. Also, unless there is a clear mistake of identity, that is to say, it is clear a clerical error occurred, the correction may be complicated.

The online consult will indicate if there is an impedimento, but will not provide details.

Roger Retana, head of the Office of the Presidency recommends a check the system at least three days prior to leaving the country and that in most cases a simple telephone call can resolve the problem, and no need to visit the court or office where the mistake was made.

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Retana explains that while mistakes do occur, no system is 100%, and that there are steps being taken to prevent errors and disciplinary actions are being taken against the officials responsible, but did not give specifics.

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