Costa Rica: Immigration Authorities to Enforce Penalties and Bans on Overstayers

According to a published announcement on the immigration authority's website, effective April 20, 2018, immigration authorities will enforce the rule for many categories of foreign nationals who leave Costa Rica after their authorized period of stay to face either a fine or a travel ban.

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Mar 21, 2018


This rule was implemented in past years, but was not enforced by immigration authorities.

A closer look

  • Penalties. Government authorities will enforce the below existing rules:
    • Fines. A fine of USD 100 will be applied for each month the foreign national has stayed in Costa Rica beyond their authorized period of stay. The amount of the fine will be retroactive to March 1, 2010. The fine must be paid prior to exit.
    • Re-entry ban. If a foreign national cannot or does not want to pay the fine, the foreign national will be banned from Costa Rica for three times the number of months they were out of status. This re-entry ban will be entered into the Costa Rican electronic immigration system so all immigration posts in Costa Rica are aware of the ban.


  • Foreign nationals subject to penalties. The above penalties will apply to foreign nationals under the following immigration status:
    • Tourists with expired entry visas;
    • Short stay visa holders with an expired Documento de Identidad Migratorio para Extranjeros (local identification – DIMEX);
    • Transit visa holders with an expired entry visa; 
    • Ship crew staff and passengers with an expired entry visa; 
    • Temporary residence holders with an expired DIMEX; 
    • Special category visa holders with an expired DIMEX; and
    • Foreign nationals notified of a rejected immigration status who have not filed an appeal.


  • Exclusions. The below foreign nationals are exempt from these penalties:
    • Minors;
    • Refugees, asylees and stateless persons;
    • Persons of legal age with disabilities;
    • Persons working on the Costa Rican border;
    • Tourists with a valid entry visa;
    • Permanent residents, even if their DIMEX has expired;
    • Persons under a renewed or extended visa;
    • Persons in Costa Rica seeking to change their immigration category;
    • Persons whose visa has been denied but at the time of their departure had not been notified;
    • Persons who received notification of their visa denial but who filed an appeal; and
    • Persons in the process of Costa Rican naturalization.


How to avoid fines/bans

To avoid paying a fine or facing a ban, tourists or non-residents must:

  • Exit Costa Rica within their period of authorized stay;
  • Tourists should request an extension of stay prior to the end of their period of authorized stay, as long as their originally-authorized stay was less than 90 days; 
  • Request a change of status to another visa category prior to the expiration of their authorized stay period; or
  • Stay visa holders must renew their DIMEX as soon as posbile


Temporary residents or special category visa holders must renew their DIMEX at least three months prior to expiration.

Looking ahead

Foreign nationals who have overstayed their authorized stay period should contact their immigration professional to discuss available options.

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

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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.

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