Costa Rica: New Visa Rules to Consolidate Visa Categories and Change Certain Visa Exemptions

Effective December 14, new government rules will reduce nationality groups from four to two. Notably, visa nationals will no longer be able to use a valid multiple-entry visa from Japan, the European Union and/or the Schengen countries as an exemption to the visa requirement. New visa exemptions will apply for nationals of Brunei, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Peru, Qatar, Taiwan, Ukraine and the United Arab Emirates.

Go to the profile of Fragomen
Dec 05, 2016

The Costa Rican government has issued new visa rules for Non-Residents that will amend the visa requirements and the allowed periods of stay for certain nationalities in Costa Rica on or after December 14, 2016. The official bulletin is available here (in Spanish).

The most notable changes will include the following:

  • Instead of the current four visa groups, nationalities will be divided into two main groups: visa-exempt nationals; and nationalities that require a consular or restricted entry visa, unless they possess one of following visas or statuses:
    • Valid multiple-entry U.S. visa, including B1/B2 visa, D visa or C1/D visa for multiple entries;
    • Canadian multiple-entry visa; or
    • U.S., EU or Canadian legal residence (e.g. temporary or permanent residence, student visa, work permit), with a visa that has a minimum remaining validity of six months from entry into Costa Rica. Such foreign nationals will have to demonstrate their status at the port of entry in Costa Rica and their documents will have to meet certain legalization and translation requirements.
  • Currently, visa nationals can enter Costa Rica without a visa if they hold one of the following visas, but will no longer be able to use the following visas for the exemption:
    • Multiple-entry visa from the European Union and/or Schengen countries; and
    • Multiple-entry visa from Japan.
  • Nationals of the following countries will no longer be required to apply for an entry visa: Brunei, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Peru, Qatar, Taiwan, Ukraine and the United Arab Emirates.

Visitors to Costa Rica will still have to comply with general requirements for entry: valid passport (minimum remaining validity of one day, three or six months, depending on nationality); proof of funds of at least USD 100 per month of stay in Costa Rica; exit ticket; no bars on entry; and a Yellow Fever Vaccination certificate for travelers from endemic countries.


Foreign nationals who have already obtained Permanent or Temporary Resident status in Costa Rica will not be required to obtain an entry visa but will be required to hold a valid identification card (cédula). As such, these rules apply only to visitors entering for business or tourism.

What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals

Employers and foreign nationals should contact their immigration professional prior to travel, especially to discuss the details of the proof required for entry as a legal permanent resident of eligible countries, and especially because Costa Rica's treaties and reciprocal agreements with other nations may change with little to no notice.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to

© 2016 Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP, Fragomen Global LLP and affiliates. All Rights Reserved.

Go to the profile of Fragomen


Immigration Alerts, Fragomen

Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP, Fragomen Global LLP and affiliates, (collectively known as “Fragomen Worldwide”) is the world’s largest firm dedicated to corporate immigration, and is recognized as the leading global immigration services provider.

No comments yet.