One of the most asked questions by our long-term Spanish students is how long they have to stay out of the country to renew their tourist visas.
When traveling with a passport, citizens of the United States, Canada, and most Latin American and European countries are entitled to stay in Costa Rica for 90 days. They must enter the country with a departure ticket and a valid passport that does not expire within 6 months of their arrival in Costa Rica. If you don’t have a ticket out of the country, you might be prevented from boarding the plane to Costa Rica.
If you want to stay more than 90 days because you book a Spanish program for more than three months or participate in our volunteer program we explain to you in the following article how to do a so-called visa or border run.
A popular way for students and tourists has always been a short trip to Nicaragua or Panama for two nights.
It’s like a getaway from the getaway.
Covid travel requirements
Prior to leaving Costa Rica, please review the requirements for insurance, quarantine, and COVID-19 tests for Nicaragua or Panama.
Entry requirements for Nicaragua
The Government of Nicaragua has announced a change to its travel protocols. From Thursday, June 16th, 2022, fully-vaccinated travelers to Nicaragua will no longer have to take a COVID-19 test to enter the country. But all travelers of all ages and nationalities should provide their vaccination card for two doses or more.
Unvaccinated travelers – both children and adults – will require a negative test that should be made within 72 hours prior to arrival to be able to enter Nicaragua.
Entry requirements for Panama
All restrictions or requirements around COVID-19 have been lifted. There is no need to present negative test results, vaccination scheme, or declaration form.
What you should need to know for your border run is summarized below.
It’s always important to do the “visa run” before you complete 90 days in the country in order to avoid paying a fee.
There is no time requirement for being outside of the country. That only applies if you are importing goods.
People will probably tell you that you need to leave Costa Rica for 72 hours (three days) in order to renew your visa. The reason this myth hangs around is that it’s almost true. You can turn around after only 10 minutes in Nicaragua or elsewhere for visa renewal purposes at the immigration desk. However, customs require 72 hours to reset your duty-free exemption.
However, by law, it’s not required to leave the country for a determined period of time. That is to say, you can go and come back on the same day.
Not even all of the officials at the border understand the rule. More likely they will pretend to not understand in order to request a bribe from tourists for “doing you a favor”. Ignore this request!
What you need for your border run:
- A valid passport
- A current Costa Rica tourist visa stamp in your passport. If your visa is expired you may or may not be allowed to leave or reenter.
- Onward travel tickets – It´s important that you always carry a copy of your onward travel ticket with you (e.g. return airline ticket or any ticket stating that you are eventually leaving Costa Rica. A bus ticket is also accepted.) This requirement is in place to guarantee that you don’t intend to stay more than 90 days anywhere. You can also reserve an itinerary with any airline, print it out with your name and flight information visible, and this is sufficient.
- About $US 100 – The total cost should be significantly less ($20 to $50 without “expediting fees” or other unexpected costs) and you may be able to pay with a credit card or local currency (you may need two local currencies e.g. Costa Rican and Nicaraguan) but it’s easier if you’ve got U.S. bills.
- You will be paying Costa Rican departure/exit tax ($29 by air, $7 to $12 by land or sea) as well as entry and/or exit taxes for the other country and various fees.
- A backup plan – There’s no guarantee that either country will grant you a tourist visa for the time frame you expected. That is to say, you might be given 60 days instead of 90, in which case you will need to renew sooner.
- A list of your neighbors and friends who are in sync with you (nearly the same 90-day expiration) can be helpful for sharing transportation, lodging, and other expenses as well as making it a fun mini vacation instead of a chore.
Do you have more specific questions regarding the topic?
Feel free to contact us here.
*Please note that Intercultura cannot be held liable for the accuracy or completeness of the contents.