Costa Rica: New visa rules to take effect Dec. 14

What is the change? Costa Rica has made changes to its visa requirements for foreign visitors.

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What does the change mean? Beginning Dec. 14, foreign nationals will be split into two groups for visa purposes: (1) those who are visa-exempt and (2) those who will require a visa to enter Costa Rica unless they hold a multiple-entry U.S. visa, multiple-entry Canadian visa or legal residence in the U.S. ,Canada or a European Union member state. For those in the second category, a Japanese or EU visa alone will no longer be an acceptable basis for entering the country.

  • Implementation time frame: Dec. 14.
  • Visas/permits affected: Consular and restricted-entry visas.
  • Who is affected: Foreign nationals planning travel to Costa Rica on or after Dec. 14
  • Impact on processing times: No impact.

Background: The changes simplify Costa Rica’s visa scheme by reducing the number of visa groups from four to two. Those entering on the basis of U.S., Canadian or EU residence must have at least six months of residence remaining from the time they enter Costa Rica and must be prepared to show appropriate documents meeting Costa Rica’s legalization and translation requirements at the port of entry. Nationals of some countries will benefit from the changes: Brunei, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Peru, Qatar, Taiwan, Ukraine and the United Arab Emirates will all be added to the list of countries whose nationals may enter Costa Rica without a visa. The new regulations, including lists of visa-waived and visa-required countries, may be viewed here.

BAL Analysis: Travelers should take note of the changes and assess whether they will need to obtain a visa before traveling to Costa Rica.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Costa Rica. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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