UPDATE (6:02 pm) Following up on the penalties and any moratorium. Our email(s) to Migración have gone unanswered and nothing posted on their website, it was pointed by a reader to the Facebook post of April 17 by the DGME explaining the penalties.
The note says that the collection of the fine for overstay is postponed, an executive decree will be published soon. Once it is published, we will provide an update.
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It’s April 21, 2020, and without a moratorium, the penalties for overstaying in Costa Rica goes into effect. The fine is US$100 per each month they overstay in Costa Rica, based on the Ley General de Migración y Extranjería 8764, article 33.
Tourists with expired extry stamps, temporary residents or special category visa holders with an expired DIMEX and foreign nationals who have been notified of a rejected immigration status but have not yet filed an appeal, among others, will now face penalties.
The immigration law established the fine was issued in 2012. The fine became effective that year, however, each year up the last year (2019) issued a moratorium on the enforcement of the fine.
The national emergency
The national emergency due to the new coronavirus complicates things somewhat. Tourists who entered Costa Rica after December 17, 2019, are automatically allowed to remain until May 17, 2020, and thus the fines do not apply to them.
The notice on the immigration website:
AUTHORIZED LEGAL PERMANENCE UNDER THE TOURISM SUBCATGEGORY: The period of legal permanence authorized for foreign persons under the migratory subcategory of Tourism who enter the country after December 17 (2019), is extended until May 17, 2020. It applies from March 17, 2020. The extension is carried out automatically, it is not necessary to appear to request it.
(PERMANENCIA LEGAL AUTORIZADA BAJO SUBCATGEGORÍA TURISMO: El plazo de permanencia legal autorizado a las personas extranjeras bajo la subcategoría migratoria de Turismo que ingresaran al país después del 17 de diciembre, se prorroga hasta el día 17 de mayo 2020. Rige a partir del 17 de marzo 2020. La prorroga se realiza de forma automática, no requiere presentarse a solicitarla.)
On Monday, April 20, the Minister of Health announced that the partial border closure would be extended to May 15, 2020. The border closure prohibits foreigners not legal residents, that is only Costa Rican citizens and legal residents (who have not left the country after March 23) will be permitted entry.
The immigration website has not been updated for any extension or moratorium and our email has yet to be answered.
From the above notice, it would be expected that tourists entering the country after December 17, 2019, would have the fine waived due to the covid-19. However, tourists who remained in the country post-March 18 – the border closing – may have to pay.
As to temporary residents whose DIMEX (immigration document) has expired and not renewed, leaving the country after March 24 would lose their ability to re-enter could have a case for having any fine waived.
Past the national emergency
Past the national emergency and in the clear absence of any moratorium, the fine will be applied.
The immigration website page on fines is found at https://www.migracion.go.cr/Paginas/Multas.aspx
Not paying the fine, either not being able to or unwilling, the immigration service can ban reentry for a period of time three times as long as the overstayed period.
For example, if a tourist or temporary resident whose DIMEX has expired and not renewed overstays three months, the fine would be US$300 or they are not allowed into the country for nine months.
When entering the country, you must pay attention to the entry stamp. Most importantly the legal stay for tourists is up to a maximum of 90 days, or less, depending on the country or origin and the immigration official at the time of entry.
Ojo (important), 90 days is not three months. You need to count the days, allowing for months that 31 days and February. For example, entering the country on June 15 means the 90-day stay would expire on September 13.
If you are a tourist, be prepared to pay the fine if you overstay (or be prohibited from reentering). You can avoid the fine by contacting immigration and requesting an extension to your stay.
Another option (during post-covid-19) is doing what is referred to as a visa or border run, leaving the country typically through the northern (Nicaragua) or southern (Panama) borders and re-entering There is no immigration requirement to stay out of the country for a min of 72 hours, you can literally cross the border to the other side and come right back in.
If you are a resident, avoid any possible issues by renewing on time.
To know the amount you should pay when leaving the country, as a fine for your irregular stay in the country, you can enter the following link. http://184.108.40.206/multas/default.aspx