Subscribe via E-Mail

Get all of our news delivered fresh to your inbox every morning! Just tell us your name and where to send it using the form below.

PS – We hate spam too. We don’t sell or share our list with anyone, and we never send commercial email.

* = required field

New law comes into effect for those who overstay their visa

Editor’s note: This article, specifically the third paragraph, was updated on August 5th for clarity.  

August 4th, 2014 (InsideCostaRica.com) After a one-year extension on their implementation, new laws regarding those who overstay their visa in Costa Rica came into effect last Friday, August 1st.

 

Effective as of last Friday, August 1st, those who overstay any type of visa, including tourist visas, must pay a fine of $100 for each month they remained in the country after the expiration of their visa.

 

Those who are unable or unwilling to pay the fines will be barred from reentering the country for a period equal to three times the length of time they overstayed.  For instance, a person who overstays a tourist visa by three months can be barred from reentering the country for a period of nine months.

 

Fines must be paid 48 hours in advance of departing the country at any Banco de Costa Rica (BCR) branch.



However, those who are already in the country past the expiration of their visa will apparently not have to pay the $100 per month fine for months before the law came into effect – thus, the first fines come into place starting September 1st.  As such, immigration authorities are urging those who are over their allowed stay to renew their visas or change their immigration status by the end of the month to avoid having to pay the fines.

 

Other immigration laws came into effect on August 1st as well, including a fine of two to twelve times the base salary for hiring a foreign worker who does not have a work visa, as well as fines for people or businesses that provide accommodations for foreign nationals who are in the country without a valid visa.

 

costa rica news

ATTENTION: If you are seeing this message,


Advertisement


Get our news delivered fresh to your inbox every morning.

Click here to subscribe to our email list. We hate spam too and never send commercial email.

Like us on Facebook and receive our news in your timeline

  • Upset with goverment of CR

    Costa Rican goverment is now showing they do not want anybody to visit long term anymore. I know people in CR that have waited 2 years to get legal in CR that means they have to leave every three month. I am telling everyone i know to stop coming to CR and travel to Panama now because new goverment in Costa Rica hates North Americans. New PREZ of CR is not pro business at all and really hates US and Canada and Israel. Good luck CR your going to need it because you headed down a black hole.

    • Markus Komossa

      The new government hates North Americans (and Canada and Israel)? What the hell are you talking about? What happens to people who overstay their visas in your country? Yeah, go to Panama. One idiot less over here.

      • Upset with goverment of CR

        I live in CR and am married to a Costa Rican. Everyday i speak with US citzens and Canadian in CR that say they feel very unwelcome by new goverment. Canadians and US Citizens can visit Panama for 6 months. The other day New Prez of CR said Israel should be tried for War crimes but not Syria. New Prez has a heart on for North America and Israel. CR is losing very badly in tourism and small business area everyday i know i have a small business in CR that has 40 staff and most of my staff say they see the Gas prices and food prices going up daily. Costa Rican´s tell me they do not understand the current goverment they say it starting to feel like luke warm water unable to ever get hot or cold. Also i was born in Spain and have lived in Costa Rica for 18 years. In Spain if you over stay on a visa you go and get an extension it costs around 30 euro. I know CR i have invested in CR and love Costa Rica and love the people of Costa Rica. I hope thing get better but i think it could get worse before it get better.

      • Tony Lafayette.

        Totally agree, all these people do is moan and groan and threaten to leave, most never do, but you are right, one idiot less. Also, unless I’m mistaken if your in tramite or have an expediente number you don’t have to leave.

      • Justin Hilbert

        His point maybe overstated a bit …and obviously angry … but I have been here 6 years(am married to a tica and have a Costa Rican son) and he does have a point. The government is constantly changing their immigration laws to try to bleed money from “tourist residents” and people seeking residency.

        First off, the CR constitution states that all people, when in CR have equal rights. CR immigration also law states that residency applications MUST be proccessed within a 3 month period … but of the 23,000 applied last year, not 1 took less than a year. Mean while denying foreigners access to drivers licenses (CR transit law states that all persons have the right to obtain a license). But they specifically deny North Americans. This creates issues, because you are not supposed to leave while residency is in tramite … but now you can’t drive after 90 days or you risk getting huge fines … this is against the law, unconstitutional and specifically designed to rape new residency applicants.

        Laura Chinchilla made an executive order for finding “perpetual tourist” (people who come and go every three months) and changing their visa stamp to 7 days at the agent’s discretion. CR has been consistently breaking their own constitutional laws to suck us. Now it is even extended towards TICOS with many new unconstitutional acts.

        • mhogan

          My husband and I have had enough with being treated like second-class citizens (expats with rights promised us with our residency but failed to deliver). After being in Costa Rica nearly 20 years, our new home is Panama as of August 1st. Probable comments will follow: like good riddance, one less expat to contend with. All well and good, but our Tico employees (5) and many friends cried at our leaving, so I guess we must have been doing something right.

          • Upset with goverment of CR

            More people are leaving daily and Airlines are starting to wonder is Costa Rica a good investment. I understand that 3 airlines are cutting 50% of the routes to Costa Rica. Taca airline just layed off 90 more staff.

          • mhogan

            All you have to do is take a look at the “visitors” line at immigration entering Costa Rica. There is none. Not like it was years ago when you had to wait up to an hour to get processed. Now, they can pretty well do with removing the twisty-turny walk and go in one single line. Guess they figure by doing that it would be an embarrassment. Costa Rica is an embarrassment.

  • Guest

    Are you positive with your interpretation of the statement above as the way I read it before was if you can NOT PAY the $100/month for being over, you MUST stay OUT of CR for 3 months for each month you’re over. NOT that they were denying people that paid it entrance.
    You might want to check to see which is correct (they could have changed what I thought but . . . ) as it’s not cool to spread more untrue fear.

    <>

  • Guest

    Are you positive with your interpretation of the statement below as the
    way I read it before was if you can NOT PAY the $100 for each month you were
    over, you MUST stay OUT of CR for 3 months for each month you’re over.
    NOT that they were denying people that paid it entrance.
    You might
    want to check to see which is correct (they could have changed what I
    thought but . . . ) as it’s not cool to spread more untrue fear.

    In addition, those who overstay their visas can be barred from
    reentering the country for a period equal to three times the length of
    time they overstayed. For instance, a person who overstays a tourist
    visa by three months can be barred from reentering the country for a
    period of nine months, and must pay a fine of $300.

  • SarongGoddess

    Are you positive with your interpretation of the statement below as the way I read it before was if you can NOT PAY the $100 for each month you were over, you MUST stay OUT of CR for 3 months for each month you’re over.

    NOT that they were denying people that paid their $100 for each month they were over.

    You might want to check to see which is correct (they could have changed what I thought but . . . ) as it’s not cool to spread more untrue fear.

    In addition, those who overstay their visas can be barred from
    reentering the country for a period equal to three times the length of time they overstayed. For instance, a person who overstays a tourist visa by three months can be barred from reentering the country for a period of nine months, and must pay a fine of $300.

    • http://insidecostarica.com/ Timothy Williams

      We’re pretty certain on the way the story was written. The 3x “time out” can also apply to those who paid the fine, but the keyword here seems to be “can” – sort of left up to Migra authorities.

      However, I would suggest a sure way to have that re-entry restriction applied to you is to show up at a point of exit with an expired visa, without having paid the fine at BCR ahead of time.

      As you may or not be aware, ICR is very particular about accuracy and not “fear mongering” for the sake of page views. We actually called out another publication last year for doing just that, over the same issue (perpetual tourists.)

      http://insidecostarica.com/2014/01/13/erroneous-report-causes-confusion-amongst-perpetual-tourists/

      • http://insidecostarica.com/ Timothy Williams

        Looks like I was wrong in my comment above – just confirmed the point with immigration this morning. The barring of re-entry is for those who can’t or are unwilling to pay the fine. We’ve clarified the story and added an editor’s note.

        • Andrew

          Tim:
          Iv’e been a perptourist for more than eight years. when I returned from the states after a 2 month visit, I was surprised to receive only 65 days from the immigration lady agent. This, despite the fact, i had a return ticket for roughly 90 days later. I went to Panama after 64 days and spent three days in Bocos. On my return to CR I was “given” 30 days.
          I’ve went back to panama 30 days later and upon my return was again “given” 30 days. The days of the 90 day rule are long gone……

          • http://insidecostarica.com/ Timothy Williams

            I’ve heard of this from many readers as well. All I can suggest is when/if asked “how long do you plan on staying?” that you be very clear in your response: “I will be staying here three months/90 days.”

            I see tourists get stamped with 30, 60 days etc but usually when they are not very clear that they plan on staying here 90 days. Some folks will just say “oh, I have a house here,” or “a couple of months.”

            I’m not saying that you, specifically, weren’t clear in your intent, I’m just offering the only suggestion I can think of. If they still won’t give you 90 days, I would ask to see a supervisor and see if you can’t get them to cave in.

    • turbooperator

      From Ley Migracion 8764, ARTÍCULO 33: “Toda estancia irregular en territorio costarricense hará que las personas extranjeras deban cancelar una multa
      migratoria equivalente a cien dólares moneda de los Estados Unidos de América (US$100,00), por cada mes de estancia irregular en el país o, en su defecto, se les prohibirá el ingreso por un plazo equivalente al triple del tiempo de su permanencia irregular.”

      The key part here being “o, en su defecto” or “or, failing that” would seem to suggest an either/or situation

  • http://www.La-Tigra.com Bob Cash

    just curious Tim, if you know, how does this new law impact the 90 tourist exit cycle to Nicaragua or Panama ? are they “legal” again on return ?

    • http://insidecostarica.com/ Timothy Williams

      As long as you leave before your 90 days are up you are fine. This shouldn’t affect “perpetual tourists” unless you are over on your 90 days. You can continue to exit/return and get another stamp as usual.

      • http://www.La-Tigra.com Bob Cash

        and the “mandatory” 72 hour myth is really just turn-a-round for lunch ?

        • http://insidecostarica.com/ Timothy Williams

          The “72 hours” are only if you are claiming import tax exemptions on products you purchased outside of CR. If you are just “renewing” your tourist visa, it is not applicable. So if you buy a new flatscreen at the duty free on the border, then yes, you need to stay out for 72 hours.

          • http://www.La-Tigra.com Bob Cash

            10-4

          • http://insidecostarica.com/ Timothy Williams

            Keep in mind this can even be a few bottles of Flor de Cana – either way, if you want to come back in before 72 hours it just means you have to pay a (hefty) import duty on the products you purchased abroad.

  • expatin paradise

    This provision penalizing individuals for overstaying visas has been part of the law for years. The immigration law last changed about five years ago. The government apparently decided that it should enforce existing laws. The enforcement of this provision should have no impact on those tourists who do not overstay their visas, including those who leave every 90 days. The requirement to leave every 90 days to drive on a foreign driver’s license, even if a residency application is pending, is not new – I learned that I needed to leave the country to drive legally while my residency application was pending several years ago. The 90-day rule also requires a 72-hour absence from CR, although that requirement is often overlooked – it depends, like so much else, on the official you get (do you feel lucky?). Similarly, the penalty for overstaying a visa suggests that it is $100 per month or three months if you can’t/don’t pay; however, I would not be surprised too see both the fine and the time applied by micracion officials.

    Costa Rica does not hate people from the US or Canada, but does see us as a source of much-needed revenue. Those who enjoy the benefits of living here and who can afford it should pay reasonable taxes to support the local economy. I suspect that rich Ticos are the worst tax evaders, but the government is addressing them, too. The fine for employing foreigners without work visas is reasonable considering that doing so takes jobs away from Ticos.

    Despite the “equal protection” provisions of the law, we foreigners will always be treated as “second-class citizens” just as they are in the US and anywhere else, Panama included.

    Tourism statistics do not show that Costa Rican tourism is in the major slump indicated by some here. If the “Visitor” lines at the Juan Santamaria airport are down consistently, perhaps it is because the majority of tourists now flies into Liberia. The last couple of times I was at Juan Santamaria, however, it seemed just as busy as ever.

    Panama does offer better incentives to expat retirees than CR does. Like the rest of Latin America, Panama is unable to promote itself as a longstanding stable democracy, so they have had to try harder. It seems to be working for them, and I can’t say that I haven’t considered the move. Costa Rica needs to make many changes to address its weak economy and crumbling infrastructure. Unfortunately, every such change leaves somebody dissatisfied.

  • Ken Morris

    Couple of points:

    First, I think CR is wise not to encourage more North American residents, especially those who don’t want or can’t qualify to become legal residents. I don’t understand the assumption of some of the posts that North American residents (and again, even illegal ones) are somehow good for CR. Some are, others aren’t. Meanwhile, it’s a sign of CR’s improving economic health that it is less inclined to welcome us than it once was simply because we buy groceries and real estate. Other countries remain more desperate, so let the North American hordes go there. I would of course oppose policies prejudiced against North Americans, but I can’t oppose policies that are merely less welcoming.

    Second, the $100 a month fine is still a bargain. Most legal residents have to pay that much or more for the mandadory healthcare tax, plus fees to become residents and to renew residencies. I’m not following the complaint that North Americans should be allowed to live illegally in CR more cheaply than legally.

  • Aspensam

    People have the right to be angry regarding the sad state-of-affairs in Costa Rica. I love those “Gringo leave” and “thank god another idiot won’t be here to weigh us down” pound your chest Tico moments. Hilarious as they high five each other trying to figure out who has enough money to pay the bill on 4 beers.

    As you sip your national beer in a glass with water downed ice, remember what I’m about to say. The government of Costa Rica has turned its back on its own people, tourist, foreign investors and reason.

    I feel for those wonderful people I leave behind, the misguided travelers who don’t know any better and the terribly miss informed investor who thinks a country without an army is money in the bank.