- Entering Costa Rica is mostly free of hassle, with the exception of some long queues at the airport.
- The vast majority of travelers enter the country by plane, and most international flights arrive at Aeropuerto Internacional Juan Santamaría, outside San José.
- Liberia is a growing destination for international flights; it is in the Guanacaste province and serves travelers heading to the Península de Nicoya.
- Overland border crossings are straightforward and travelers can move freely between Panama to the south and Nicaragua to the north.
- Some foreign nationals will require a visa. Be aware that you cannot get a visa at the border.
- All travelers over the age of 18 are allowed to enter the country with 5L of wine or spirits and 500g of processed tobacco (roughly 400 cigarettes or 50 cigars).
- Camera gear, binoculars, and camping, snorkeling and other sporting equipment are readily allowed into the country.
- Dogs and cats are permitted entry providing they have obtained both general-health and rabies-vaccination certificates.
- Pornography and illicit drugs are prohibited.
- Citizens of all nations are required to have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the dates of their trip.
- The law requires that you carry your passport at all times; if you’re driving, you must have your passport handy, but otherwise the law is seldom enforced.
- Officially, travelers are required to have a ticket out of Costa Rica before they are allowed to enter. This is rarely and erratically enforced.
- Those arriving overland with no onward ticket can purchase one from international bus companies in Managua (Nicaragua) and Panama City (Panama).
Most nationalities do not need a visa for stays of up to 90 days. Check the visa requirements for your country at www.costarica-embassy.org.
Passport-carrying nationals of the following countries are allowed 90 days’ stay with no visa: Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Panama, South Africa, the US and most Western European countries.
Most other visitors require a visa from a Costa Rican embassy or consulate.
For the latest info on visas, check the websites of the ICT (www.ict.go.cr/en) or the Costa Rican Embassy (www.costarica-embassy.org).
- Extending your stay beyond the authorized 30 or 90 days is time-consuming; it’s easier to leave the country for 72 hours and then re-enter.
- Extensions can be handled by migración offices.
- Requirements for extensions change, so allow several working days.