Costa Rica land borders closed to tourists until April 2021.

President Carlos Alvarado signed a decree formalizing the rule in a press release. Below is the text of the press release:

As part of our ongoing review, the Executive Branch has again made the respective assessment within the process of progressive reopening of borders, and it extends the closure of Costa Rica’s land borders due to the COVID-19 pandemic until April 1.

Therefore, only nationals or foreigners who have an authorized legal stay under the migratory categories of permanent residence, temporary, special or non-resident subcategory estancia, can enter the country by land.

This extension is due to the importance of having a measure to address the state of national emergency by COVID-19 in relation to the management of migratory movements and ensure the well-being of the population in the country.

Tourist Visa Update

This specific issue has been debated and discussed for months. The immigration department has been changing the date for approximately a year now. This decision will have a significant impact on the thousands of tourists have had their tourist visa extended for over a year. Previously, DGME (the immigration department of Costa Rica) had allowed any tourist who entered Costa Rica prior to December 1, 2020, to stay in Costa Rica by delaying the mandatory exit date. Now, however, the date will not be extended. Therefore, all tourists who entered Costa Rica prior to December 1, 2020, and have not left, must now leave no later than March 2, 2021.

This will generate a lot of demand for flights out of Costa Rica as those tourists who had hoped for another extension will need to leave now. Historically, “perpetual tourists” would simply go to the Panama border to the south or the Nicaraguan border to the north, walk across the border to ‘re-set’ their passport and ‘earn’ another 90 days in Costa Rica. At least through April 1, 2021, this will no longer be an option.

In addition, all tourists must purchase COVID insurance upon every entry into Costa Rica.

Traditional Tourist Visa

Historically, all tourist visas were 90 days from date of entry into Costa Rica. This was true for travelers from the United States of America and Canada, which comprise a significant percentage of all tourists in Costa Rica.

Authorities have stated that the Immigration Administration will not enforce a monetary fine if a tourist overstays their visa, authorities have the right to impose other penalties. Some penalties that have been rumored to be imposed include forbidding re-entry by tourists violating the order for three times as long as the overstayed period by the traveler.

COVID Tourist Visa Adjustment

In order to control the movement of people in and out of Costa Rica, the government closed its borders in late March 2020, and kept them closed until November 1, 2020.

With the land borders closed to tourists, all tourists entering Costa Rica must use air or water routes to enter.