Costa Rica’s Extended Tourist Visa: What you Need to Know

Costa Rica, known for its breathtaking landscapes and welcoming culture, has long been a popular destination for tourists and expats alike. Recently, there’s been a significant change that has everyone talking: Costa Rica has extended its tourist visa from 90 days to a whopping 180 days. In this blog post, we’ll break down the most important points you need to know about this visa change.

  1. Eligibility for 180-Day Visa:

If you plan to visit Costa Rica from September 8, 2023, onwards, you’ll be eligible for a 180-day tourist visa. However, it’s crucial to remember that you must provide a return ticket showing your departure within those 180 days. Failing to do so might result in a shorter visa duration.

  1. Not Guaranteed:

While the new 180-day visa is exciting news, it’s essential to understand that it’s not guaranteed. Your visa’s duration may depend on the return ticket you present at the immigration checkpoint. So, even if you show a return ticket for 100 days, you might receive a 100-day visa, not the full 180 days.

  1. Extension Possibilities:

Let’s say you entered Costa Rica with a return ticket for only 45 days, and you were granted a 45-day visa. Don’t worry; you can request an extension from immigration. However, the maximum extension you can get is 90 days, not the full 180 days.

4. Driver’s Licenses Quirk:

Costa Rica’s traffic and immigration laws operate independently. Although you might now have a 180-day visa, your driver’s license remains valid for only 90 days. This means that if you plan to stay longer and want to continue driving legally, you’ll need to exit the country and re-enter to renew your license.

    The confusion between immigration and traffic laws can be frustrating, but it’s essential to comply with both regulations until they align.

    1. Residency Considerations:

    With the extended tourist visa, being a perpetual tourist in Costa Rica becomes more manageable. However, if you’re thinking about putting down roots and creating a life in this beautiful country, it’s advisable to explore the option of filing for residency. Residency offers stability and peace of mind, as tourist visas are never guaranteed and subject to change.

    Sarah Elena, an expert in helping people relocate to Costa Rica, recommends considering residency if you qualify and intend to stay long-term. It provides security and opens up opportunities for a more integrated life in the country.


    Costa Rica’s decision to extend its tourist visa from 90 days to 180 days is fantastic news for travelers and expats looking to explore the country’s natural beauty and culture. However, it’s crucial to understand the nuances of this change, such as the potential differences between your return ticket and visa duration and the quirky driver’s license regulations.

    If you’re contemplating a move to Costa Rica or an extended stay, it’s worth considering residency options for long-term stability and peace of mind. Sarah Elena’s expert advice can guide you through the process and help you make the best decision for your unique situation. Enjoy your time in Costa Rica, whether it’s a vacation or the start of a new chapter in your life!

    What’s the best way to stay up-to-date on the latest changes in Costa Rica?

    Watching the news could be one way, reading news articles translated into English is another… But I often find inconsistencies and misinformation there too. 

    We gather our information straight from legal professionals or an expert in a particular field before delivering any information to the public or members in our programs. Our DIY Move to Costa Rica E-Course and those in our RelocateNow Signature Program often hear about these updates before they even hit the mainstream news for Costa Rica.

    If you want to work with direct sources, we have excellent programs for you!

    Author’s Bio:

    Hi! I'm Sarah Elena

    Sarah Elena, CEO of RelocateNow and a seasoned Relocation Expert with over 8.5 years of experience living in Costa Rica, brings a wealth of knowledge in helping individuals move to this tropical paradise. Her personal journey and professional background have shaped the company into a trusted resource for comprehensive relocation services, emphasizing cultural integration and community connection.

    Sarah's approach extends beyond logistical support; she has built a robust network of legal experts, real estate agents, and cultural advisors dedicated to ensuring clients not only relocate but thrive in Costa Rica. Recognized in international living circles, her leadership has positioned RelocateNow as the premier choice for those seeking a transformative relocation experience.


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