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Intercultura: How long do I have to stay out of Costa Rica

Published on Thursday, March 23, 2017

One of our most asked questions by our long-term students is how long do they have to stay out of the country to renew their tourist visa.


This question was answered recently in The Tico Times.  What you should need to know is summarized below. This shall help you to be well prepared for your upcoming stay in Costa Rica. 

  • People will probably tell you that you need to leave Costa Rica for 72 hours (3 days) in order to renew your visa. 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 boarder understand the rule,  or more likely,  pretend to not understand in order to request a bribe from tourist because they are "doing you a favor" to allow you through "early".  

  • It´s important that you always carry a copy of your onward travel with you (e.g. return airline ticket or any ticket stating that you are eventually leaving Costa Rica)
  • The reason people think you have to leave for 3 days is because there is a question on the immigration form specifically asking if you've been outside the country for 72 hours.  This question has to do with a law that indicates how much cash a person can bring over the boarder depending on how long they've been outside of the country.  It has nothing to do with your tourist visa renewal.  

  • It´s always important that you do the "visa run" before you complete 90 days in the country in order to avoid paying a fee.

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