Costa Rica Passport Visa Requirement
Steaming rainforest, iridescent hummingbirds, smouldering volcanoes, tumbling rivers, and miles of palm-fringed sandy beaches: if Mother Nature can ever be accused of showing off, it is in Costa Rica. Sat just north of the equator, this verdant chunk of the Central American isthmus is one of the most bio-diverse spots on the planet. Added to which, as the only country in the region with no standing army, it’s a beacon of peace and democracy.
A world pioneer in eco-tourism, Costa Rica has set aside more than a quarter of its territory as a protected natural area, more than any other country on Earth. Its national parks are its greatest glory, comprising a stunning variety of landscapes, microclimates, flora and fauna. The cloud forests of Monteverde are the haunt of the resplendent quetzal, sacred national bird. Corcovado’s coastal rainforest is home to all four native monkey species. The northwestern Nicoya Peninsula is teeming with birds, wild cats, whales and dolphins. The canals, beaches and mangroves of Tortuguero are alive with wildlife, including nesting green and leatherback turtles.
Alternatively, if you are looking for an adrenalin kick, whitewater rafting, tree-top zip wires, surfing and quad biking are just a few of the extreme activities on offer. You can hike around the many volcanoes studded along the country’s spine; tread carefully on grumpy Arenal Volcano, or wallow in the hot lagoons and mud baths of the more placid Poas and Irazú.
Costa Rica’s cities may not win many architectural awards but they’re worth a visit, if only for an insight into the urban lives of Ticos, as the citizens call themselves. Downtown San Jose has superb museums and excellent cafés. Or head to sleepy Puerto Limón on the Caribbean coast; a popular stop-off with surfers en route to the big waves off Isla Uvita. For anyone in search of an ethical adventure, Costa Rica’s charms will have you under their spell all too quickly.
Pleas Note: Our visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing, We strongly recommend that you verify critical information unique to your trip with the relevant embassy before travel. See also: List of countries with Visa Application form
Costa Rica Visa and Passport Requirements
|Passport required||Return ticket required||Visa Required|
US and British passports must be valid for one day from the day you enter Costa Rica.
Costa Rican immigration may require tourists demonstrate financial capacity of at least $100 per month while in Costa Rica.
Visas are not required by nationals referred to in the chart above for stays of up to 90 days, although under the tourist visa waiver scheme the exact period is at the discretion of the immigration officer on arrival.
Business visas are not really issued for Costa Rica. If intending to do business, the normal procedure is to enter on a tourist visa and conduct your business within that time. If you wish to stay longer, to renew your visa you can apply for a Business Temporary Residence Permit once you are there.
Nationals not referred to in the chart are advised to contact the embassy to check visa requirements for Costa Rica.
Types and Cost
The cost of tourist visas varies according to nationality; check with the consulate.
Visas issued by consulates of Costa Rica are valid for stays of up to 30 days.
Consulate (or consular section at embassy).
A temporary residence permit is usually a working visa, which you need to apply for with numerous pieces of documentation once you are in Costa Rica. It is issued for six months and can then be extended up to a year.
Applications usually take up to six working days.
If you are arriving from certain South American countries or sub-Saharan Africa, you may need a yellow fever vaccination certificate; check with the embassy for a list of countries.
Extension of stay
The most expedient way to extend your stay in Costa Rica has traditionally been to leave the country and then get stamped back in to renew your new visa. The easiest way to do this is overland to either Nicaragua or Panama, but bear in mind that you are supposed to leave the country for at least 72 hours and the Costa Rican authorities are trying to stamp out the practice. Also, Panama has started to get very strict about onward journeys, and will be unimpressed by a declaration that someone is only coming into the country to do a visa run.
Entry with children
If travelling alone with a minor, ensure you have a notarised letter of consent from the absentee parent(s) which gives permission for such travel. It is not obligatory to carry a notarised letter of consent from the absentee parent(s), but you still might be required to show this document at the border.
Entry with pets
You may bring pets into Costa Rica, but it is a frustrating process. Cats and dogs need a certificate of good health to prove they have no communicable diseases, and they must have had a rabies vaccination within the last year. You don’t, however, need to quarantine them. The procedure costs several hundred pounds, depending on how you wish to transport your pet.
Embassies and tourist offices
Pura Vida University (PV)
c/o Costa Rica Tourism Board
Telephone: +506 2299-5800
Address: , , , ,
British Embassy in Costa Rica
Telephone: +506 2258 2025.
Address: Apartado 815 – 1007, Edificio Centro Colón, Paseo Colón and Streets 38 and 40, San José, ,
Opening times:Mon-Thurs 0800-1200 & 1230-1600; Fri 0800-1300.
Embassy of the Republic of Costa Rica in the USA
Telephone: +1 202 499 2991.
Address: NW, 2112 S Street, Washington, DC, 20008,
Opening times:Mon-Fri 0900-1400 (appointment only); Mon-Fri 0900-1700 (phone queries).
Embassy and Consulate of the Republic of Costa Rica in the UK
Telephone: +44 20 7706 8844.
Address: , Flat 1, 14 Lancaster Gate, London, W2 3LH,
Opening times:Mon-Fri 1000-1500 (embassy); Mon-Fri 1000-1300 (consulate).
Costa Rica Health Care and Vaccinations
*A Yellow Fever vaccination certificate must be presented on arrival to the country if you are coming from a Yellow Fever-infected country. Such countries include Colombia, Brazil, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Cameroon, Nigeria, Benin, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Gambia and Sudan.
Standards of health and medical hygiene are among the best in Latin America, although public facilities may not come up to par with more developed countries, particularly in more rural areas. Both public and private hospitals are available but tourists may only use the publicly-run healthcare service known as Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS) in genuine emergencies. Private treatment is on the whole, of good quality and much lower cost than equivalent services in the US. Most doctors will expect payment in cash. Tourists visiting Costa Rica are recommended to take out health insurance before travelling.
Food and Drink
Mains water is normally heavily chlorinated and, whilst relatively safe to drink, may cause mild abdominal upsets. Drinking water outside main cities and towns may be contaminated and sterilisation is advisable. Bottled water is available and is advised for the duration of the stay, especially for those who are liable to sensitive stomachs. Milk is pasteurised and dairy products are safe for consumption. Local meat, poultry, seafood, fruit and vegetables are generally considered safe to eat.
Costa Rica is considered to have a high risk of Zika virus transmission. The World Health Organisation advise pregnant women and travellers planning for pregancy postpone all non-essential travel to the country. All travellers should take basic precautions to protect themselves from mosquito bites. These include use of repellents containing 20%-30% DEET or 20% Picaridin on exposed skin, wearing light coloured, long-sleeved shirts and pants, and ensuring rooms are fitted with screens to prevent mosquitoes from entering. Women who are pregnant, at risk of getting pregnant, or planning pregnancy should seek further advice from their doctor before travelling to Costa Rica.
Hepatitis B and C occur. Outbreaks of dengue fever are common in lowland areas, notably on the Caribbean coast and these have been on the rise since early 2013, so it is advised that you wear insect repellent. Most of Costa Rica is malaria-free apart from the Limon province. Tourists visiting this area should take appropriate precautions. Rabies is widespread throughout Central America; for those at high risk, vaccination before arrival should be considered. If you are bitten, seek medical advice without delay.
Costa Rica Public Holidays
New Year’s Day
Virgin of Los Angeles, Feast of Patroness of Costa Rica
Money and duty free for Costa Rica
Currency and Money
Costa Rican Colón (CRC; symbol ₡) = 100 céntimos. Notes are in denominations of ₡50,000, 20,000, 10,000, 5,000, 2,000 and 1,000. Coins are in denominations of ₡500, 100, 50, 25, 20, 10 and 5. US dollars are also widely accepted.
Diners Club, Mastercard and Visa are all accepted; American Express slightly less so. Many banks will only process MasterCard for cash credits. Cash may be the only form of payment in smaller towns and rural areas but many places will take US dollars, giving change in colónes.
ATMs are common throughout the cities and small towns. They will usually accept foreign cards but in some regions only Visa cards are accepted. Occasionally, paying with credit cards doesn’t work for technical reasons. Bringing a good supply of US dollars in cash is advised, as many things such as entrance fees to national parks or meals at restaurants, can be paid for with US dollars.
Although travellers can avoid additional exchange rate charges by taking traveller’s cheques in US dollars, fewer and fewer businesses in Costa Rica are willing to accept them, and it is better to use the ATM.
State banks Mon-Fri 0900-1500. Private banks Mon-Fri 0800-1600.
The import and export of local and foreign currency is limited to the equivalent of US$10,000. Amounts above this must be declared upon arrival.
Available at banks and bureaux de change. Some hotels may also change money. Additionally, small stores will allow visitors to pay for goods in US dollars and receive change in colónes.
Costa Rica duty free
The following goods may be imported into Costa Rica without incurring customs duty:
• 400 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 500g tobacco.
• 5L of alcoholic beverages (travellers aged over 18 only).
• Goods to the value of up to US$500.
Food items are generally not allowed to be brought into Costa Rica, in particular fruit, vegetables, dairy products, seeds and plants. Firearms are not permitted.
It is forbidden under the CITES treaty (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) to remove orchids from Costa Rica, or indeed any wild flora and fauna. Removing animals, dead or alive, is also forbidden, and be very careful when buying carvings or antiques in Costa Rica. Most probably you’ll get freshly handcrafted art, but removing Aztec, Incan or Mayan cultural artefacts from the country is thoroughly illegal, and happens far too often.
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