I (Vicki Skinner - aka "THE Sarong Goddess") created this blog in 2007 to share DETAILED Finds•Lists•Info•Events•Experiences to help bring more EASE to people living in, visiting or thinking of moving to Costa Rica since DETAILS are NOT easy to find!
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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

TOURIST VISA STAMP - Why are some people getting LESS than a 90 Day Stamp in their Passport when Entering Costa Rica • The "72 Hour Rule" • the New LAWS•Fines for Overstaying your Visa+



The MAIN things they say you need now is:

•  PROOF that you are DEPARTING from Costa Rica within 90 DAYS

(or 30 days depending on where your passport is from.  More on that below but NOTE - 

an "Open Ended Ticket" is proof you are leaving Costa Rica in 365 days isn't it??  
It is NOT proof that you are leaving Costa Rica in 90 DAYS correct????  
If YOU act cocky that you think you can beat their system, guess who might just show you who REALLY is boss???  And who is REALLY to blame??  YOU!!!!  So do NOT play "victim" as MANY are doing and/or getting nasty with the migracion officer at the border (a STUPID thing to do people!!!  RESPECT and FOLLOW THEIR LAWS!!!  They're giving YOU a BIG GIFT by allowing you to stay in their country for longer than the law is.  Do THEY get that same respect/EASE when they're visiting YOUR country???  NO!!!!) 

•  How long you MUST be OUT OF Costa Rica for
I was told October 27, 2013 by the Migracion Officer that we must now be out of the country for at LEAST 12 Hours.  Now, when I went through in January - I was told by THAT immigration officer that there was NO amount of time.  And others have said THEY were told by immigration officers entering Costa Rica that they HAD to be out anywhere from 2-4 hours - so go figure!!!

•  Passport in GOOD CONDITION 

Your passport can NOT be mutilated in ANY way which means NO frayed ends (which can happen from simple humidity) as that could be a sign that it was tampered with and there IS a GOOD chance Costa Rica will NOT let you in!!  I've had that happen to friends - sadly on a Friday and the closest place he could go was Panama and their U.S. Embassy was CLOSED on Fridays - so he had to wait till Monday to get a new passport - to say nothing of all that expense and their group tour was altered!!

•  Passport valid for at LEAST 6 MONTHS!  

Chances are slim to none of Costa Rica letting you enter if your passport is expiring in less than 6 months!!
(note - if it's going to be due while you're visiting/living in Costa Rica - it's REALLY EASY to do so chill on it and read my blurb:

•  Some people WITH Costa Rican RESIDENCY•a cedula have been asked for PROOF their CAJA is paid up/current
so make sure it is and you have the ORIGINAL PROOF of that - otherwise you'll be hanging out in the airport TILL it's PAID UP!!! (and hope that's not on a weekend or after hours!!)

•  Proof of at least $100 for each month you plan on being in Costa Rica ($300)
 (I have NOT encountered this nor have I SPOKEN with any people that have had this happen. 
I have ONLY HEARD of a few people being asked that so far and ONLY at the 

Costa Rica - Panama Border which is THE HARDEST BORDER and Panama is now DEMANDING you have either $500 CASH or a copy of your bank statement or atm balance within 24 hours!!   PLUS a AIRLINE TICKET PROVING you are RETURNING to your country of LEGAL residence (cedula or passport going back to your country of your passport!!! 


TYPICALLY - depending on what country you're from, you are given a 30 or 90 day Tourist Visa stamp in your passport (more on that below) - BUT - NOW Costa Rica is
EVERYONE entering Costa Rica have some sort of PROOF that they are LEAVING Costa Rica within 90 days!!

What that means is BEFORE you ENTER/Re-Enter Costa Rica (either before you get on an airplane [then they put you in the International system so they shouldn't need to ask you when you get to Immigrations in CR] or at the border if you're arriving via bus or car), you MUST show PROVE to CR that you are departing CR within 90 days.  Don't have that - almost EVERY TIME I hear from people in the past 2 months they will NOT let you in OR SOMETIMES they'll give you a less than 90 days stamp.

What does that mean if you're flying just on a one-way ticket or staying longer?  You either get to buy a one-way airline ticket showing this proof (BE CAREFUL as traditionally, a Fully-Refundable one-way ticket at least used to be around $800-$1200 US$.  Those are usually the case these days - BUT - an airline MAY say they have a cheaper "Fully Refundable" - BUT - when you go to cash that ticket in that night (you can do it over the phone usually), they withhold some $$$ (hello, they're saving YOUR tush and you're using THEIR people to do that).


MOST people I know are getting a BUS TICKET - BUT - you MUST get one that has an ACTUAL DATE on it showing you're DEPARTING•leaving in 90 days (I get one for 89 days to be safe as once when a group of us were going, the Sixiola Bridge into Panama was shut down because of flooding).  Does an "Open Ended Ticket" PROVE you are departing Costa Rica within 90 days??  NOT!!!!  Soon I'll have more on that when I update my http://CRNIBorderCrossing.info site as there MIGHT be some new things/tricks to extend it, etc. if you're flying out or going a different way.


An "Open-Ended Ticket" does not have a date on it - meaning you buy a ticket "voucher" BUT it does NOT have a Travel Date on it and you can use it/cash it in sometime within 365 DAYS.  So, does that prove to Costa Rica that you're DEPARTING Costa Rica within 90 DAYS????  NOT!!!

From what I've found so far, you can ONLY get a PRINTED bus ticket with a SPECIFIC DATE on it - say to Nicaragua - AT the bus stations IN San Jose (I'm hearing that SOME of TicaBus' stations print up a dated ticket now).  The sub-stations in other parts of the country and at the border will ONLY sell you one of those "Open-Ended Tickets" (so if someone SAYS they did everything properly but you KNOW they did NOT go INTO San Jose to get this other ticket - did they REALLY do it properly????)

SOME (NOT ALL) people that have had "Open-Ended Tickets" have had no problem, while others were given a less than 90 day stamp in their passport (what I've seen is this is OFTEN the people getting just 30 days stamps) - or worse - refused entry (often because the passport holder was an ASS - or sometimes the Immigration employee wasn't having a good day (or a combo of both).


What sucks is the last few times I've gone to Nicaragua I have NOT seen a notification that people MUST have this proof they're leaving Costa Rica - so no warning.

What I've seen/heard is either they are being REFUSED ENTRY into Costa Rica - or they are given a

 What that basically is saying is "You can stay overnight in San Jose but the next day you better get the hell out of Costa Rica!" (this is how MANY tourists have shared they are feeling this about!!   MAN is this going to ADD fuel to the fire of Costa Rica not being so welcoming of tourist I'm hearing more and more from all the tourists I'm meeting (I just spent 6 weeks checking out living part-time in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua [MEGA cheaper than in Costa Rica and MANY of the tourists I met said they were NOT planning on visiting Costa Rica #1 because of how EXPENSIVE Costa Rica is, #2 because they've known people or heard of too many people having security/safety problems in Costa Rica and they don't want to put themselves at risk and #3 - they're hearing what hassles many tourists are getting entering Costa Rica!!  I fear for the people of Costa Rica that WILL be SERIOUSLY hurt by the drop in tourism!  The week of April 10 I've spoken with a few people in BIG tourist destinations [Jaco, Tamarindo and Puerto Viejo] and they're saying their streets are practically bare!)


So some people are on various Message Boards sharing stories of people they know that were NOT given a 90-Day Visa Stamp in their passport.  To them I say, PLEASE people, when you're sharing this type of FEAR Information, it's CRUCIAL to give COMPLETE information/answers (meaning YOU NEED to ASK these questions of people telling you that they did NOT get a 90 day stamp!!).

I'm MEGA out there (this blog gets OVER 20,000 "Views" a month plus I have WELL over 1,500 people in Costa Rica on my Facebook) and SO FAR, when asked/drilled PROPERLY THIS is what I have found was going on - EVERY TIME!!!  This is NOT to say other truths aren't happening out there - I just haven't heard DIRECTLY from anyone with PROOF of their story.

#1 - Did the people that claimed they only got a 30 day stamp have some sort of PROOF (bus/airline ticket) that they were LEAVING CR within 90 days??  An open-ended ticket is NOT NOT NOT proof of that (so far, THIS was the case for EVERYONE I know that did not get a 90 day stamp).

If you had NO PROOF that you are LEAVING CR within 90 days, CR Immigrations COULD REFUSE you entry/re-entry, given a "2 Day Transit Stamp" - OR - if they're lucky - given a 30 day ticket (fyi - if you don't have that ticket at the Nicaraguan border and they send you out to buy a ticket, those tickets do NOT have a date - so you STILL may be given only a 30 day ticket).

Did they have a plane ticket or something that they were mid-trip traveling on that showed they were leaving sooner - EVEN if had the 90 day bus ticket?  This happened to a couple people I know (even though they ONLY showed their 90 day bus ticket - at the airport - the computer showed their ticket they were traveling [these were people going back and forth every few weeks/month]).

I have asked some of these people that have CLAIMED that they had a problem coming back in to provide me PROOF of this and so far NO ONE has responded!!!  So what do YOU make of that????  (these mainly were people on a certain popular Message Board.

Were they entering from Panama borders?  MOST people I know that have had problems had them at the Panama border (and MOST were able to "work around it" with a little "GIFT"!!!  wink-wink!)

Did they have some sort of criminal act they had done elsewhere or within CR - had a DENUNCIO against them (if you do, you can NOT LEAVE Costa Rica till it's taken care of)?

Was their passport in ANY way mutilated (frayed/separated at the edges, ripped, water damaged)?  These are signs of a passport that has been tampered with and they're MEGA TIGHT with that!!  I had a FRIEND (NOT aquatence) that was refused entry in the airport in Costa Rica/SJO and they had to stay IN the airport for TWO days till they could get a plane to Panama (praying Panama would let them in] till the US embassy in Panama was open to re-issue him a new temporary passport)

Were they snippy schmucks (NICE way of putting what I REALLY mean)?   That was the case with a handful of people I've known that didn't get a 90 day stamp or were refused entry.

Were they a strong negative/victim/fear-based personality that believed in the worse (hence they manifested EXACTLY what they feared - this is worse when they combine that with being a schmuck!!!)????

I'm NOT saying it doesn't SOMETIMES happen to others but you KNOW I'm out there and MANY MANY MANY people are sharing their stories/experiences with me and so far, those people that did not get a 90-day stamp ALL fell into one of those categories!!


There is NOTHING in the law that states one must be out of Costa Rica for at least 72 hours!!  NOR has ANYONE been able to produce PROOF to me (or anyone else I know/trust) that you "MUST" be out of Costa Rica for 72 hours or ANY amount of time (with that said, Nicaragua now requires you MUST be IN Nicaragua for at LEAST 2 hours [though recently I've heard it's now 3 hours]) - just that you HAVE to have 4 stamps on your passport:
#1 - one showing you LEFT Costa Rica.
#2 - one showing you ENTERED ANOTHER country.
#3 - one showing you LEFT that country and
#4 - one showing you ENTERED Costa Rica.

When I asked an Immigration cop friend of mine (you know, the one that would be the one arresting you) about this 72 hour statement - he laughed at me and said something like "We do not know where you all got this information. AND I also asked at the Immigration Jail (my former home used to be a Donation Drop-Off place for many charity things and we donated the SweatSuits there) and they said they NEVER had anyone in the jail that was there for being out of Costa Rica for less than 72 hours and they knew nothing about any 72 hour rule - so do what YOU feel comfortable with with this information.

The ONLY LEGAL place where 72 hours is mentioned is on the
Aduana/CUSTOMS form!!!"

I have asked NUMEROUS people/groups that SHOULD have access to prove otherwise who have NEVER responded or found anything to prove otherwise.

NOTE:  As of February 1, 2013 - ARCR.net/residency/criteria.html (a corporation that specializes in getting people residency [hmmmmm!])  is STILL reporting:
"2) North Americans can stay in Costa Rica legally for up to 3 months. They must then leave for a period of 72 hours

And they have NOT responded to a few people's request for clarification on this!

Also, when I and a few others have called TicaBus and asked them, they have said the same thing BUT they IMMEDIATELY start trying to sell you a 3 day package with hotel!!  Another hmmmmm - ya think???


In October 2012 - Freddy Montero Mora, deputy director general of Immigration said

A "Perpetual Tourist" is someone that leaves and returns, leaves and returns . . . . and does not have residency (MANY haven't gotten it yet because they don't qualify for residency - either they're not retired or on disability
You are retired or on disability BUT you do not make at least $1,000/month from that.

You don't have $60,000 to put in a bank account
U.S. $ to be withdrawn each month and converted into colones) 
some that have it are not foolish enough TO PUT US $s in a bank right now and have it locked in. 

IF I did, I would buy something SOLID like GOLD that's not going to MEGA depreciate or disappear!!).

As of this date (December 3, 2012) there is NO mention of "Perpetual Tourist" in the law.   

SOME people I know that have spread these fears of people having other experiences, have usually been people (NOT ALL) that have either taken a valuable seminar on Costa Rica and/or are their "friends"/supporters and are on various message boards (one big one in particular) - OR - they have "something to gain" by you getting out of the "perpetual tourists" category (SURPRISE?!?!?!  NOT!!!).

I've been hearing this fear-fear-fear-fear for 10+ years and SO FAR I have not heard of ANYONE that's has been kicked out of Costa Rica (via Immigration Jail in Hatilla) - that was doing EVERYTHING CORRECTLY and there wasn't MORE to their story!!!  

Could all this change tomorrow?  SURE!!  ANYTHING is possible (though I think I have a WAYYYY better chance of getting knocked off by a motorcycle crossing the street [CANCEL CLEAR!!!]) so YOU have to do what YOU feel comfortable with (you don't want to manifest what you fear as you WILL do that!!  That's just the way the Universe/world works!!).


Where they ENTERING CR with a visa from the following countries:
European Union countries
Nicaragua (NEW!!!)
United States
(not China???  That surprises me)

I'm pretty positive these are still the ONLY countries that are issued a 90-day visa

EVERYONE else ONLY get a 30 days stamp max!!

Double check at  -  http://CostaRica.com/visa



f you're caught while IN Costa Rica - you COULD be thrown into Immigration Jail (hey - it's not AS bad as the regular jails in Costa Rica!  I've been there MANY times visiting people as well as when my former home was a Donation Drop-Off Point for many charities - I used to save the Sweat Suits and donate them to the Immigration Jail) and that rule is you can NOT come back to Costa Rica for 5 years.  I'm not sure if the new Law would be added to that or not.

You could be FINED $100 for EACH MONTH you're Over.  If you can not come up with all that $$, you would HAVE to stay OUT of Costa Rica for 3 months for every 1 month you're over. 
(I need to double check to see if they TRULY have activated this yet as they've had NUMEROUS stalls!!!)
See more details on that at:

The "OFFICIAL" Document (in Español) is:


NOTE:  Because you don't want to get your passport stolen (though at least the U.S. ones are QUITE EASY to replace - it IS costly, you'll get a temporary one and then have to come back 2 weeks later for the new one and they only allow you a certain amount of replacement passports before they can refuse to give you another one [otherwise it seems like perhaps you're selling them and they have a big ticket price on them] so BE CAREFUL with it!!) and you ALWAYS MUST have some form of ID on you at ALL times - a copy is usually acceptable - BUT - you NEED not only a photocopy of the picture page BUT you NEED a copy of your LAST ENTRY STAMP as THIS is what they're usually looking for when they're checking - to make sure you're not here illegally.


Check out my Info•Photo Sites to help you with your Visa Runs:
(all being updated soon)


This is NOT NOT NOT an official document/statement - 
I'm just sharing information based on what MANY MANY MANY people have shared and what information we have been able to gather!!!

I am NOT "recommending" you to do ANYTHING other than
NEVER NEVER NEVER even dream of getting your passport stamped illegally and do NOT NOT NOT overstay the amount of time you are given!!!!!!
You're a GUEST in Costa Rica so SHOW YOUR RESPECT to them!!!

With that said - YOU need to do what YOU feel comfortable with and handle it accordingly!!!!


"Moralists" out there getting all high and mighty that those that don't have residency should not be allowed to live here (funny - a few of them were living here ILLEGALLY years ago - meaning they do their visa runs - but that was ok!!) - get over yourself!!  Not everyone chose to work at the same job for ages - often VERY unhappy and RARELY living in PASSION like many of us self-employed types do), or not all of us are over 60-something and eligible for Social Security, nor are we on Disability - yet working on the side and enjoying life (how those people live with themselves is beyond me because the ONLY way I can see that is as fraud!!), and not all of us want to "invest" in property in Costa Rica.  And there was NO WAY I was going to have a baby just to get residency (I've actually know a few people that have done that.  SAD for the baby) or get married (I've gone this far without marriage to one person!! - why break my record for peace!!) and IF I had $60,000 in U.S. cash I sure as hell wouldn't be putting it into no bank!!  I'd run out and buy gold - especially as we see the US$/economy tanking!!). 

Costa Rica has started various Amnesty type of programs and before I came I thought THAT would be how I'd get residency so here's hoping/visualizing that Costa Rica will wise to do what Panama did (I think it was around January/February '11) where they gave I believe overall an automatic Residency to anyone (that could pass the police test and such) that had lived in Panama for 2+ years - automatic residency!!!


If you know of someone that DESERVED to receive a 90-day Visa stamp in their passport but were not given one or were refused entry - PLEASE give them my questionnaire above and have them contact ME directly with PROOF that they did EVERYTHING properly (so far I have ONLY met/talked to ONE person that did EVERYTHING properly and still got a 30 Day Stamp.  If you claim it happened yet do NOT produce the proof - I'll ASSUME you're/they're minuns for one of the companies that stands to gain something if you are a "perpetual tourist"/don't have residency - hmmmm) at  LivingLifeInCostaRica@gmail.com  or  8-378-6679.


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