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Costa Rica Visa Policy | Tourist and Provisional Visas

Costa Rica is the place for travelers who prefer holidaying in the midst of lush green landscapes, pristine beaches and bustling cities. 

Depending on the country of their origin, they need to fulfill various requirements to enter this beautiful country.  

While citizens of a few eligible countries can visit Costa Rica without a visa, others are not allowed to enter the country without a proper travel authorization. 

Read on to know in detail about the visa policy and requirements of Costa Rica. 

What is a Costa Rican Visa

A Costa Rican visa is a travel authorization granted to foreigners to enter and remain in the country for a pre-decided time period. 

The government of Costa Rica issues different types travel authorizations based on its visa policy. International travelers from visa-exempt foreign countries are allowed to enter Costa Rica with their passports.

Travelers from countries like the United States of America and EU states can enter Costa Rica with a passport that is valid at least one more day from the entry date and a return ticket. They can remain in the country for a maximum of 90 days. 

Travelers from a few visa-exempt countries like Dominica and Turkey can travel to Costa Rica with their passport that is valid for 90 days from the date of entry. They are allowed to stay in the country for a maximum of 30 days for tourism. 

Citizens of countries that are required to get a visa to visit Costa Rica must apply for the document in its consular mission.  The duration of the allowed stay for such travelers is 30 days.

The government of Costa Rica also issues tourist and provisional visas for citizens of visa-required foreign countries. While a tourist visa is issued for visits related to tourism, provisional visas are granted as an entry visa to foreign students, rentiers and retirees. They have to apply for a temporary residential permit upon arrival in the country. 

Foreigners from countries that need a Costa Rican restricted visa to enter the country must get prior approval from the Commission of Restricted Visa. If approved, they can remain in the country for a maximum of one month. 

Visa-Free Entry

Passport holders of over 90 foreign countries do not require a visa to enter Costa Rica. They can travel to the central American nation with their valid passports. 

International travelers from countries such as the US, Canada, Israel, Japan, Iceland, Brazil and EU nations can travel to the country with a passport that is valid for just one more day from the date of their arrival. This is only for visits related to tourism and that does not exceed three months. 

Citizens of countries like Fiji, Russia, Saint Lucia and Samoa can enter Costa Rica with their passport that is valid for 90 days. They can remain in the country for a maximum of 30 days. This is extendable for up to three months. 

Citizens of China who hold a public affairs passport too do not need a visa to enter and remain in the country for up to 30 days. 

Foreigners from countries that require a visa to enter Costa Rica can travel to the country visa free if they are in possession of a valid multiple-entry visa or permanent residency (PR) permit issued by the USA, Canada or the European Union member states. 

Note that their visas or PR permits must have a minimum validity of six months to be eligible for this special visa waiver by the Costa Rica government. 

Restricted Visas

Citizens of countries including Cuba, Sri Lanka and Syria who wish to holiday in Costa Rica need special permission from the country’s commission for restricted visas. They need to apply through a Costa Rican consular mission. 

Citizens of Cuba and Nicaragua need this permission even to transit through the country. 

The requirements for a Costa Rica restricted visa can vary based on the embassy. However, all the applicants irrespective of their country of origin are required to submit a request letter through the embassy with personal and passport details. They also need to submit the purpose of their visit. 

Tourist Visa and How to Get It  

A Costa Rica tourist visa is an authorization issued to foreign tourists from visa-required countries. It is a consular visa and applicants must apply for it at a Costa Rican embassy. They need to submit a completed application along with various documents: The required documents are as follows:

  • A valid passport
  • Passport size photographs
  • Photocopies of passport information pages
  • A return flight ticket
  • Proof of economic solvency
  • Police verification certificate
  • Yellow fever vaccination certificate

Note that a yellow fever vaccine certificate is mandatory for travelers from South American and Saharan African countries. Also, all the documents to be submitted need to be translated to Spanish and must be attested by designated authorities.

The consular mission may ask for additional documents if needed. 

The applicants must personally submit the application form and documents directly at the consulate/embassy. 

The processing time for a Costa Rica consular tourist visa is up to 30 days.   

Foreigners arriving in the country with a tourist visa can stay for up to 90 days. A Costa Rican tourist visa is extendable for an additional two months. Applicants must submit a separate application at the immigration office.

Costa Rica Provisional Visas 

Foreigners who wish to stay in Costa Rica for more than 90 days need to get a provisional visa. A provisional visa is a temporary travel authorization issued by the Costa Rican government to enter the country for purposes including education. 

There are different types of provisional visas - provisional visa for students, provisional visa retirees and provisional rentiers.

It is an interim authorization to enter and remain in the country until their application for a temporary residency permit is granted. 

Applicants must get a provisional visa first from the Costa Rican consular mission in their country. Then they have to apply for a temporary resident permit from the immigration office after reaching Costa Rica. They also need to register their arrival at the office of public security. 

Applicants must provide the purpose of their visit while applying for a provisional visa as the Costa Rican government grants different types of provisional visas based on the nature of the visit and duration of the stay. 

Read full article on Provisional Visas to Costa Rica

Does a Costa Rican Visa Guarantee Entry

No. The Costa Rican immigration officer will take the final decision on this at the port of entry. If a foreigner is denied entry, he/she will have to return to their country. The visa fee will not be refunded. 

Also note that all foreigners must pay a departure tax while leaving the country. Travelers can pay this digitally or in local currency.  

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