Costa Rica is renowned for its amazing national parks, where visitors may engage in exhilarating pursuits like zip line, canyoning, river rafting, and cave tubing. It’s also one of the greatest locations for nature enthusiasts to see some fascinating animals, like cute sloths, macaws, and sea turtles.
Costa Rica is the place for you if you enjoy relaxing on a gorgeous protected beach away from the busy streets and tall buildings, observing wildlife up close, and experiencing lush, green surroundings.
However, visiting Costa Rica might not be as straightforward as purchasing a plane ticket depending on where you are from. Before being able to enter Costa Rica, citizens of several countries must apply for a visa.
This page explains the Costa Rica Visa requirements and application process and other frequently asked questions.
When Do You Need a Visa to Costa Rica?
The Costa Rica visa policy is divided into four groups:
- Visa-exempt nationals are allowed to travel to Costa Rica with just their passport which must be valid for at least one more day from the date of entry. This category included nationals of the United States and European Union member states. They are allowed to stay in Costa Rica for a maximum of 90 days.
- Visa-exempt nationals are allowed to travel to Costa Rica with just their passport which must be valid for at least three months from the date of arrival. They are allowed to stay in Costa Rica for a maximum of 30 days.
- Foreign nationals need a Costa Rica Consular Visa, which must be applied for at a Costa Rica consulate in their country of residence. The Costa Rica visa allows them to stay in the country for up to 30 days.
- Foreign nationals who need a Costa Rica Restricted Visa. This visa type must be approved by the Commission of Restricted Visas. If approved, it allows the holder to stay in the country for up to 30 days.
Costa Rica Visa Requirements
You must provide the following documents with your visa application for Costa Rica:
- An application letter, directed to the Costa Rica consulate, containing:
- The purpose of your travel
- Your personal information (name, age, date, and place of birth)
- Passport number
- Place of residence
- Intended date of arrival and departure from Costa Rica
- Where you will stay while you are in Costa Rica
- The date
- Contact information
- Your signature
- A complete photocopy of all the pages on your passport. Your passport must be valid for an additional six months.
- Return flight ticket reservation. You’re advised not to pay for your ticket until your visa application has been approved.
- Two pictures of yourself with the following specifications:
- 2 inches x 2 inches
- White background
- Neutral facial expression, staring straight ahead
- Glasses are allowed as long as they do not hide your eyes or face (no thick rims, no reflection, no tinted glass)
- Headgear is not allowed unless it is for religious purposes. Even so, it must not obstruct the face.
- Proof of sufficient financial means, such as through bank statements from the last three months, a letter from the employer, or proof of property.
- Certificate of police clearance from your country.
- Proof of Yellow Fever Vaccination if you are coming from a place that’s at risk of Yellow Fever.
- If you are a visa-holder or Permanent Resident in another country: Proof of the visa/Residence Permit should be submitted.
You must have the documents you provide both translated and legalized into Spanish.
Note that this is not an exhaustive list of criteria because, depending on your situation, the Costa Rican embassy may ask for additional documents.
How to Apply for Costa Rica Visa
Depending on the type of visa you require—a Costa Rica restricted visa or a Costa Rica consular visa—the application process varies.
Costa Rica Consular Visa Application
You must apply for a Costa Rican consular visa on your own at the Costa Rican consulate that serves your country if you are from one that does.
The Costa Rica visa application process is as follows:
- Contact the Costa Rica consulate to make a Costa Rica visa application appointment.
- Submit the required documents (see “Requirements” below).
- Complete the Costa Rica application form, available on the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería website, the Immigration Department of Costa Rica.
- The Costa Rica consulate may contact you to ask you to obtain additional documents that they think are necessary. They may also request an interview. The visa will begin processing only after all the documents are submitted.
- Wait for the visa to be processed. You will be notified about the decision duly.
- If your Costa Rica visa application is approved, you have 60 days to use the visa to enter the country.
Foreign nationals who need visas can apply for Costa Rican visas online at some consulates. If your nation has enabled the digital visa application process, the relevant consulate is in charge of guiding you through the process.
Costa Rica Restricted Visa application
Applications for Costa Rica Restricted Visas must be submitted by a member of the applicant’s family who resides in Costa Rica or by an approved attorney. Visas with restrictions are given out for travel or for reuniting families. The following is the application procedure for a restricted visa:
- The person who is applying on your behalf must apply to the Commission of Restricted Visas, via a request letter that includes the following:
- Your name
- Your nationality
- Your profession
- The reason for your visit
- How long you will stay in Costa Rica, including arrival and departure date
- Where you will stay in Costa Rica (address)
- Where they must address the Costa Rica visa approval (the nearest Costa Rica consulate)
The relevant consulate will issue a visa allowing you to travel if the Commission of Restricted Visas in the Directorate of Immigration approves your Costa Rica visa.
The first step in applying for a Costa Rica visa should always be contacting a Costa Rica consulate because different consulates could have different specifications and procedures.
Requirements for a Costa Rica Visa for USA Nationals
US citizens can travel to Costa Rica for up to 90 days without a visa by using just their passports; immigration officials will stamp their passports with an entry stamp.
The passport must, however, still be valid at least one more day after arrival, and the traveler must demonstrate that they have access to $300.
They must acquire a Costa Rican resident permit for stays longer than 90 days.
Requirements for a Costa Rica Visa for Indian Nationals
Indian citizens must first apply for a consular visa in order to enter Costa Rica. They can apply by following the above-mentioned application process.
How long does it take to get a Costa Rica visa?
The Costa Rica visa processing time is about 30 calendar days.
Costa Rica Visa Fee
The cost of a visa for Costa Rica is $52.
Following the approval of your visa, you must pay the Costa Rican visa cost. Even if you are refused admission after arriving in Costa Rica, the visa fee is non-refundable.
The payment method will be disclosed to you by the consulate you are applying to. As some consulates might not accept payments, you could occasionally need to make the payment at an embassy.
However, you must present the payment proof for the Costa Rican visa fee.
Is a Visa All the Permission You Need to Enter Costa Rica?
Not at all. You will still be subject to immigration screening at the Costa Rica port of entry even after receiving a visa. If the border patrol agents decide to let you in, they will stamp your passport to reflect their decision.
You must go back to your own country if entry is refused. You won’t get your visa fee back.
Can you Extend a Costa Rica Visa?
Yes, you can. By requesting it at the Costa Rican Directorate General of Immigration, you can extend a tourist visa for an additional 60 days. You need to provide evidence for your need for the extension.
Do I Need a Passport to Enter Costa Rica?
Yes. All foreign nationals wishing to enter Costa Rica, including US residents, are required to have a current passport. Your country determines how long your passport will remain valid.
Foreign nationals in Group 1 who are not required to get visas must have a passport that is valid for at least one day following their entry.
Foreign nationals in Group 2 who are not required to get visas must have passports that are valid for at least three more months from the date of entry.
Visa-required Nationals are required to have a passport that is still valid after applying for a visa for at least another six months.
Do You Need the Costa Rica Departure Tax?
Yes. All visitors from abroad are required to pay a departure tax before they leave Costa Rica. You can pay the tax in local money, in US dollars, or with a credit card; it costs roughly $28 to $29.
However, certain airlines have a tendency to include the departure tax on your travel ticket; check with your airline agency to confirm.
How Can You Go to Costa Rica to Work or Study?
Costa Rica issues permit for people to work and study there. You must, however, obtain a provisional visa from the Costa Rican consulate that is located in or closest to you. You must then submit an application for a temporary residence permit and complete your paperwork at the Costa Rica Immigration Office after arriving there.
Can Visa Holders of the US and Europe Enter Costa Rica?
Yes. If your visa is still in effect and is for a Schengen or EU nation, the USA, Canada, or South Korea, you may use it to enter Costa Rica. You may stay for as long as your current visa is valid or as long as you are allowed to stay in Costa Rica.
I believe this page has fed you richly on how to go about applying for a Costa Rica visa. You can start right away with planning your first or next trip to Costa Rica today!
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