Do I need a passport to enter Costa Rica? Yes - The law requires everyone who comes to Costa Rica to have a valid passport. Before you leave home make sure your passport is up to date and doesn’t expire within six months of your arrival date; holders of passports that expire within that time frame may be denied entry into the country.
Do I need a Visa?Yes-(What is a Visa? A Visa is the formal permission to enter a country which is granted by the country.) In Costa Rica every non-citizen or non-resident entering the country is considered a Tourist, and those persons will be given a Tourist Visa by immigration when they arrive. The Visa is in the form of a stamp placed in the visitor’s passport, and the amount of time for which it is valid is hand written into a blank in the visa stamp. US and Canadian citizens do not need to apply for a Visa in advance, but some other nationalities do. Check the requirements for your country before traveling.
Do I need a return ticket? Yes - Costa Rica laws state that Tourists must have a paid, reserved way to leave the country before entering. This can be a paid ticket to exit the country by plane, bus, or other means. For those flying to Costa Rica, most airlines will not allow boarding a flight if the traveler does not have a return ticket or other proof of onward travel in their possession at the time of departure.
How long will my Visa be valid? - Tourists visiting Costa Rica, even those who intend to stay, are given a Tourist Visa for the declared time of their stay at the time of entry. The length can be up to 90 days, which is determined by the Immigration Officer at the time of arrival. DO NOT overstay the amount of time designated in the visa stamp in your passport. If you overstay and then leave, you might not be allowed to re-enter the country.
Note: Keep your passport, or a legible copy of your passport AND a copy of the Visa (entry stamp), in your possession at all times.
What else will I need? - Bring enough money to survive for a while. If you bring cash, declare it; up to $10,000 USD is allowed without question or penalty, but be sure to declare the amount or it can be confiscated. Most major credit and debit cards are widely accepted throughout the country, but make sure your card issuer knows in advance you will be using the card in Costa Rica. ATM machines are common. Be sure to inform your bank that you will be using your card outside of your home country.
Note: Travelers checks are NOT a good idea. Due to fraudulent activities in the past, most businesses will not accept them and banks may put a weeks-long hold on them before allowing the bearer to receive the cash.
A valid passport and entry stamp (Visa) are all that are required. Visas for up to 90 days are issued at the time of entry and the holder must leave the country within the time frame proscribed by the Visa. A simple departure and re-entry will be cause for issuance of a new Visa.
Note: Some persons residing permanently in Costa Rica regularly leave and return to the country every 90 days to obtain a new Visa. These are known as “perpetual tourists” and the practice is frowned upon by the Costa Rican government. At the time of re-entry, multiple Visas can be cause for denial of re-entry or can result in being assigned a new Visa expiration of less than 90 days. It is highly recommended that those persons who desire to make Costa Rica their home apply for legal residency as soon as possible.
ARCR has English speaking associate attorneys who can assist MEMBERS in completing all the steps needed for obtaining residency.
Also read FAQ #13. WHY SHOULD I APPLY FOR COSTA RICAN RESIDENCY?
Yes - Under Costa Rica law, a valid driver license from a person’s home country can be used to legally operate a vehicle in Costa Rica during the period their entry Visa is valid. Renewal of driver license validity can ONLY be achieved by leaving the country, re-entering, and receiving a new Visa.
Yes - All the major rental car companies (Hertz, Budget, Dollar, etc.) have a presence in Costa Rica, plus there are other, smaller companies which can also provide rental vehicles. Most have four-wheel drive vehicles available.
Tourists can drive in Costa Rica using a valid foreign driver license for the period of their visa. Vehicle renters will need to present a valid passport when they rent a vehicle. (Review FAQ #3 for more information about driving in Costa Rica.) Tourists should also carry their passport with them at all times. (A copy of your passport along with a copy of the Visa page will generally suffice for most day-to-day transaction.)
Different rental companies have differing age restrictions applying to renting and driving their vehicles. Rental rates can be very expensive and vary widely among different companies, so shop around. Some rental agencies may have disadvantageous rules regarding damages and some have exorbitant add-on charges not obvious at a glance, so be sure to read the fine print on the contract and beware of hidden clauses before signing.
Costa Rica is a semi-tropical country which is always warm, and the beach areas are usually hot. Therefore, light clothing such as shorts and T-shirts that wick away moisture and dry quickly are appropriate. If you plan a visit to the cooler mountain areas, long pants and a light jacket may be in order. Bring some comfortable walking shoes for trips into the jungle areas. During the rainy season (April – October) a jacket that repels light rain may be helpful.
Costa Rica does not have a strict dress code and casual is best for pretty much the entire country. At the beach, your wardrobe will consist mostly of shorts, tank tops, and flip flops. The cultural norms of wearing long pants and closed toe shoes in the cities are being eroded, but still respected by many Ticos.