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EXPAT FOCUS – Tourists who arrived in Costa Rica last year, but due to the pandemic resulting in canceled flights and restricted borders in some countries, they remained in Costa Rica beyond their authorized stay.

The northern border with Nicaragua

For this, the immigration service – Dirección General de Migración y Extranjera (DGME) –  for foreigners who arrived in Costa Rica as tourists after December 17, 2019, extended their stay several times throughout 2020 and 2021.

The last of the automatic extensions expire in a few days, on June 1, 2021.

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There are no more automatic extensions.

Tourists under this provision must leave the country on or by June 1, 2021, or risk being illegal in the country.

Among the options is leaving by air, land or sea and returning, re-starting the “immigration” clock.

The most common is a land “border run”, either to Nicaragua (northern border) or Panama (southern border). Pre pandemic, visitors from the United States, Canada and Europe, for example, were given an automatic 90-day stay.

That is not the case any longer. The length of stay is now tied to the mandatory travel insurance. For example, for tourists who purchase, either from an international or national carrier, a 15-day policy, their passport will be stamped 15 days. A 30-day policy gets 30 days and so on.

This applies to all entries by land, air and sea.

Requirements to enter Costa Rica

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Tourists can check whether they can enter without a visa at the following link: https://migracion.go.cr/Paginas/Visas.aspx.

The following additional requirements have been established due to the pandemic:

  • All must complete the HEALTH PASS online form available at https://salud.go.cr. The Health Pass can only be completed within 72 hours prior to departure. It must be accessed on up-to-date browsers, with the exception of Internet Explorer. One form must be completed per person, including minors, without exception.
  • Tourists must acquire mandatory travel insurance that covers lodging in the event of quarantine as well as medical expenses due to contracting COVID-19. If the tourist has already been vaccinated, this does not exempt them from this requirement, and they must acquire an insurance policy as described.

    International Policies: The insurance policy may be obtained from any international insurance company that meets the following requirements:
    – Valid for the entire stay in Costa Rica (coverage dates).
    – US$50,000 for medical expenses, including those from COVID-19.
    – US$2,000 for lodging expenses in the event of COVID-19 quarantine.

    Costa Rican Policies
    Tourists can also opt for any of the following Costa Rican insurance companies, which sell products that are registered and authorized by the Office of the Superintendent General of Insurance of Costa Rica.

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    – INS: https://micrositios.ins-cr.com/seguroviajero/
    – Sagicor: https://tiendasagicor.com/en/
    – BlueCross BlueShield: https://www.bluecrossblueshieldcr.com/rod

    Foreigners with temporary or permanent residence or with temporary status who are returning to Costa Rica and who are not up-to-date with their payments to the Costa Rican Social Security Agency must acquire a temporary local insurance policy for 22 days or an international insurance policy that complies with the same requirements as the mandatory policies for foreign tourists.

    Foreigners with permanent or temporary residence or those under a special category, with the exception of those who fall under the subcategory of students, must demonstrate that they are covered by Costa Rican social security and that their coverage is currently in effect, which can be verified at the following address: https://sfa.ccss.sa.cr/servMedicos/validarDerechos.do

    Tourists who are passing through the country in transit must acquire an insurance policy with a minimum coverage of five days.

    Costa Rican citizens do not require medical insurance.

For a comprehensive outline of entry (including re-entry ) and, exit requirements, visit the official government website Visitcostarica.com.

Remember that:

  • Proof of their intent to exit the country is needed when entering Costa Rica. The immigration officer may ask for it upon your arrival.

    According to visitcostarica.com, all non-resident travelers must possess a return ticket or a ticket as proof of when they intend to exit the country, commonly referred to as an outbound exit or onward ticket.

  • Your country of origin determines the number of days available to stay in Costa Rica as a tourist.
  • In some cases, the Immigration official may request you show economic solvency for your stay in the country.
  • Visitors to Costa Rica must have a valid passport.

Land border runs

Tourists – non-resident travelers – leaving the country on a border run should  keep the following in mind, in addition to the above re-entry requirements, there are the current entry requirements to Nicaragua and Panama.

  • Nicaragua requires a medical certificate with a negative Coronavirus (COVID-29) – PCR test – result at most 72 hours before arrival and are subject to contact tracing by the Health Authorities for 14 days and must not have respiratory symptoms.
  • Panama – All travelers entering Panama by land, including Panamanian citizens and residents, must present a negative COVID test, taken within 48 hours of reaching the border. That test can be either a PCR or rapid antigen.



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"Rico" is the crazy mind behind the Q media websites, a series of online magazines where everything is Q! In these times of new normal, stay at home. Stay safe. Stay healthy.

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