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Reminder: Extended Costa Rica tourist visas expire in March

February 18, 2021

Foreigners whose Costa Rica tourist visas have been extended due to the coronavirus pandemic will see that grace period end in March, in accordance with current legislation.

The Immigration Administration (DGME) explains that tourists who entered the country before December 1, 2020, have had their visas extended until March 2, 2021.

DGME says that it will no longer extend entry stamps for tourists who entered prior to December 2020. While this could theoretically change due to the new travel measures imposed by the United States, Canada and others, we have heard nothing official on the matter.

Tourists who entered Costa Rica since December 1, 2020, and whose visa was issued for fewer than 90 days, can request an extension as we detailed here. Otherwise, tourists who arrived since December 1, 2020, can legally remain in Costa Rica for the duration indicated on their passport stamp.

While the Immigration Administration will not enforce a monetary fine if a tourist overstays their visa, authorities may impose other penalties, such as forbidding the tourist from re-entering for three times as long as the overstayed period.

Tourists can leave Costa Rica via land, air or sea. However, as of this publication, tourists cannot legally enter the country via land borders.

The land borders are restricted for non-citizens and non-residents until at least March 1, 2021. This may be extended. (The measure has regularly been prolonged one month at a time since March 2020.)

This means foreigners who reside in Costa Rica as perpetual tourists may need to book a flight into Costa Rica and follow the other entry requirements for guests in order to renew their visas.

Border run options for tourists in Costa Rica

If Costa Rica does not open its land borders to tourists in March, tourists who wish to visit Costa Rica must arrive via air or sea. The easiest option is likely by flight. Here are relatively inexpensive options for tourists already in Costa Rica:

  • SJO to Fort Lauderdale, Fla.: Flights start at $160 for one-day trips in February.
  • SJO to Mexico City: Flights start under $300 for same-day trips in February.
  • SJO to Guatemala City: Flights start under $250 for one-day trips in February.
  • SJO to Panama City: Flights start under $300 for same-day trips on March 2.

Prices and availability may change after publication. The U.S., Guatemala and Panama all require negative coronavirus tests for entry. Mexico does not.

Note that even if Costa Rica opens its land borders in March, both Panama and Nicaragua require negative tests for entry. And, current legislation says non-citizens entering Costa Rica via land borders must quarantine for 14 days.

Tourists arriving in Costa Rica must have health insurance that covers Covid-19 and complete a digital epidemiological form. Click here to read Costa Rica’s official entry requirements for tourists.

Tourists who wish to receive a 90-day entry stamp to Costa Rica should purchase insurance covering 90 days.

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