QCOSTARICA – The fine for foreigners who overstay their visa in the country remains suspended, confirmed the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería (DGME) – Costa Rica’s immigration service.
The fine established at US$100 for each month of irregular (illegal) stay, is frozen since April 2020 in consideration of travel disorders caused by the health emergency.
This sanction applied both to tourists who have expired their period to stay in the country, as well as to those with temporary residence or special categories with the expired document.
The fine was introduced in March 2010. However, even before the pandemic, the sanction kept being postponed due to technical problems of the law itself.
Early 2020 Immigration announced it would start applying the law in April and determined that it would be charged retroactively.
The rule indicates that if the person cannot or does not want to pay the fine when leaving the country, the Immigration officer would place an entry ban for three times the time the period that the person remained irregularly (illegally).
For example, a person who overstayed for three months would be banned for nine months if they refused to or could not pay the US$300 fine.
Tourists, already in the country, can request an extension prior to the expiration of the term of their stay. Said extension can be requested only once.
However, the process is cumbersome.
Prior to the pandemic, many a tourist would make a “border run” – a quick out and back – to renew their visitor status.
Entry and exit by land
For February, the DGME confirmed that entry into Costa Rica by land (ie Nicaragua or Panama) continues only for Costa Rican nationals and permanent or temporary residents of Costa Rica.
All must complete the Health Pass.
Permanent or temporary residents must present the following documentation: passport, valid DIMEX (residency card), and evidence Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS) payments are up to date for each person entering.
Permanent or temporary residents who are not up to date with Caja payments will still be allowed to enter but will be required to become up to date with all payments within 22 days. Persons in this category must also purchase health insurance to cover the cost of any COVID-19 treatment or lodging for the 22-day grace period.
Temporary or permanent residency who enter Costa Rica via a designated land border crossing will receive a sanitary order requiring a 14-day quarantine at home.
Leaving by land to Nicaragua requires a covid-19 test with a negative result, carried out 72 hours prior to leaving the country. Costa Rica requires the test because it is mandatory to enter Nicaragua and testing in the “no man’s land” between borders is not possible.
“This requirement will be required of both Costa Rican and foreigners who intend to travel to Nicaragua. People who do not comply with this requirement will not be authorized to leave the country by the Costa Rican immigration authorities,” the immigration service emphasizes.
DIMEX to expire
Another of the changes announced by Immigration is that the validity of the DIMEX of permanent and temporary residents and special categories that expired after December 17, 2019, were automatically extended until January 11, 2021, and those that expired after March 17, 2020, were extended until February 12 of this year.
In this way, those temporary residents or special categories whose DIMEX expired before December 18, 2019, no longer have an immigration category. If it expired after December 18, you can renew it until March 11 of this year.
Meanwhile, in the case of stays, if the DIMEX expired before March 18, 2020, the person no longer holds immigration status, therefore the provisions corresponding to the tourism category apply. If it expired after March 18, 2020, the validity was extended until January 11, 2021, with the possibility of renewing until February 12, 2021.