"Border hopping"

In regards to the original topic new regulations seem to be:

If you do not exit Costa Rica for a full 24 hrs, you will be given either 30, 45 or 60 days visa, depending on your attitude and the official.
Since you are now asked for a return airplane ticket when you enter ANY CR entrances, they will give you a visa according to your Departure Date, including both San José or Liberia airports.

kohlerias wrote:

In regards to the original topic new regulations seem to be:

If you do not exit Costa Rica for a full 24 hrs, you will be given either 30, 45 or 60 days visa, depending on your attitude and the official.
Since you are now asked for a return airplane ticket when you enter ANY CR entrances, they will give you a visa according to your Departure Date, including both San José or Liberia airports.


Where did you hear this?
So you are saying that even if we are applying for residency we would still have to show a return flight when we come into Costa Rica? That makes NO sense! And after we APPLY for residence and our paper work is being processed, and we then have to border hop to renew our driver's license, that even then we would still have to show a flight out of the country in order to get back in??

If this is true, it would seem somewhat insane.

This is what expats are reporting when trying to update their tourist visas. You need to search the forums.

After you have received your comprabante saying your application has been accepted, you do not need to leave to update your tourist  visa, but must continue to do so for driving purposes, until you have an cedua in hand.
Border officials are now requiring one to stay out 24 hours before they will issue you a further 90 days. If you decide not to 'overnight', you will be given less time. Of course, the timeline mentioned above this may vary, depending on the border personnel
On the Panamanian side they want to see your ticket 'home' plus $500... until you show them your cedula.
And yes, when you enter CR via airplane, even with your comprobante you are required to have a return ticket.

* Return ticket info

I just got back from a visa run to Panama. Entry into Panama needed a bank statement and a ticket to the U.S. Went shopping for a couple hours, then exited Panama. Entry into Costa Rica need only a ticket to the U.S.. Got 90 days. No Tax, no problem I have done this for a long time. Always get a 90 day visa. Reports of problems are from people that either don't have the paperwork or are typical ugly americans at the border. Most of the internet negative accounts are from people selling something, maybe residency. Scare tactics.

Rendrag, glad it worked so smoothly for you, but...I'm not selling anything or trying to scare anybody & I'm always polite & respectful to officials at the border...yet, yes, I received 30 days recently. After receiving 90 days routinely in the past. I hear this kind of story anecdotally from other people as well.

It's possible, though we have no way of knowing for sure, that the CR officials now have some kind of quota to fill. Maybe if they give everybody the 90 day-stamp as before, they get negative feedback from above. Perhaps it's kind of like a game of musical chairs, in which somebody will lose their chair each round! This is all merely speculation on my part, of course, but I have a hunch that something like this is going on.

LaMariposa, I have been doing this for more than 8 years. My passport is jam packed with stamps. Costa Rica could care less about perpetual tourist. If you get less than 90 days, the problem is with the tourist, not the immigration person. Lots of people are trying to sell residency via the internet. Once a negative story gets started online, it is never the same after being told 50 times. One person gets 60 days because he has a flight out in 2 months and the last time the story is told he was feed to the crocs! So, the internet is a wonderful tool, but, just cause it's on the net don't make it true.

So, rendrag, I would guess that if you are denied 90 days, or are required to stay out of CR for 24 hrs., we will know, for sure,  that these reports are indeed true?

These reports are not true. I just did my visa run 2 days ago.

kohlerias wrote:

This is what expats are reporting when trying to update their tourist visas. You need to search the forums.

After you have received your comprabante saying your application has been accepted, you do not need to leave to update your tourist  visa, but must continue to do so for driving purposes, until you have an cedua in hand.
Border officials are now requiring one to stay out 24 hours before they will issue you a further 90 days. If you decide not to 'overnight', you will be given less time. Of course, the timeline mentioned above this may vary, depending on the border personnel

On the Panamanian side they want to see your ticket 'home' plus $500... until you show them your cedula.
And yes, when you enter CR via airplane, even with your comprobante you are required to have a return ticket.

* Return ticket info


First let me say I can hardly believe what a quagmire it is becoming to border hop, especially if you are legally becoming a resident!

The article linked above says:
"As a general rule only legal residents and citizens can travel with one way tickets to Costa Rica. Even those with residency in process may have a problem. Ultimately, the decision is up to the gate agent in the United States. Be sure to carry your cedula along with your passport on the date of the flight."

So it is clear to me that Panama is not the best choice for border hopping these days. On the other hand I find Nicaragua somewhat scary (having never been there but having heard "stories").

So let me get this straight: first of all how long does it generally take to get the "comprobante" once you apply for residency?

And if you go to Nicaragua by BUS, do you still have to show a plane ticket back to the USA or is it good enough just to have a bus ticket back to Costa Rica?

And if you take your residency papers or copies thereof with you and show them to the border officials is that not good enough to get the 90 days when arriving back by bus from Nicaragua? I find it hard to accept that you would have to show a plane ticket to the USA when arriving back from a border hop to Nicaragua, when you have no intention of flying back to  the USA because you are legally applying for residency in Costa Rica!

While I think the person in this thread, above, was over-generalizing when talking about it depending on the expat at the border and how they present themselves, as to whether they get a short or long visa or whether they get refused entry, I do think this plays a part in it sometimes.

It is also obvious that some people are being given 30 days willy-nilly depending on the whim of the border official or some quota or something probably NOT related to how the person presents himself.

The idea of having to leave  Costa Rica at all while you are legally processing your residency seems crazy, but yeah I know things in  Costa Rica sometimes don't make sense and that's just the way it is. I guess they are starting you out right by showing you the frustrations of living in Costa Rica! LOL. In the U.S.A. when processing permanent residency it's the opposite: they do NOT want you to leave the US at all.

KOHLERIAS, Please read my post #45. Never 24 hours, never less than 90 days after having done this more than 30 times. Perhaps you will read this and stop spreading lies on this forum. What is it that you have to sell?

You may get your comprobante in a month or it may take 3 months...but because of the problem of renewing your home drivers license, you still have to leave if you want to drive so actually it make no difference if your have an application for residency in the system.
It is at this time, easier to update your tourist visa at a Nicaraguan border, where a return bus ticket will suffice. Although, if it becomes an actual new requirement that 24/overnight stay is required for a 90 day visa, this may change.

rendrag, I have nothing to sell, no houses to rent, no 'tours' to offer and am not affiliated in any way with any of the websites I post a link to, for additional information. Just because you have not been affected with the recent changes this does not mean it isn't so.

Suggest you search the internet for recent reports.
Why would La Mariposa say she had only been given 30 days?
Has anyone else been given less than 90 days when entering recently, either at a border crossing or at an airport?

Kohlerias, In my opinion, the best information is personal experience. Just because someone gets less than a 90 day visa does not make it a new law or regulation. I know many expats in my area that never have problems. 
I think one of the problems is a lack of communication. Much better to be fluent in Spanish and much less frustrating at the migration window. Stories always change on the interweb. Firsthand knowledge is by far the best.
So, unless you have firsthand knowledge, you have no knowledge at all.

rendrag unlike you, I am a legal and Permanent Resident, in abidance with the laws of this country.

Kohlerias,
I also am here legally with the same rights you have, except I don't pay a buttload of money to the CAJA. If you think I am illegal, you have been sold a bill of goods.BTW I pay $24 a month for CAJA>

You obviously were permitted to affiliate with CAJA when residency was not a legal requirement ... but it could change, couldn't it,  when you go to renew your carnet and are required to produce your cedula...?

Thanks for the reply.
Do you know what the penalty is for driving without a renewed license? Maybe our resident forum attorney could answer this and reply to this post (as well as anyone else who chooses, of course!).

While I do not generally advocate breaking laws, we all know that there are some laws in the USA that one can get away with breaking and just pay a fine and sometimes taking that risk in the USA is worth it. So I'm just asking. Seems to me that going over the border every 90 days and risking not getting back in or getting only a 30 day visa has numerous problems associated with it:
a) it's inconvenient to leave one's home and thus leave it open to burglary while being gone for 3 days. At the very lease one might want to arrange for someone to look after it, feed the dog, cat, etc.
b) it costs money to take a trip to Panama or Nicaragua
c) one may not get back in at all or one may only get a 30 day visa and then have to deal with the major hassle of either getting back in (somehow? is there even a way if they decide not to let you in?), or getting the visa extended.

These are no small problems and so if the penalty for driving without a proper license is just a fine, or if one can usually talk one's way out of it or pay a mordida, perhaps it's better to take the risk of driving without a license rather than leave the country and risk not getting back in.

I hope everyone understands my point here. I am never advocating breaking the law, I am just asking what the penalty is for driving without a renewed license.

I am glad to know someone like Outlier Legal is looking into some of these issues that immigrants face and I hope this ridiculous necessity to border hop while applying for legal residency is legally challenged and won.

I don't know what the initial fine would be, but your insurance will be invalid and your vehicle will likely be impounded. Remember, you are an exstranjero...

kohlerias wrote:

I don't know what the initial fine would be, but your insurance will be invalid and your vehicle will likely be impounded. Remember, you are an exstranjero...


Well that would not be good!

Sam Ramon

Regarding Drivers Licenses
The law says that anyone can apply for a DL, regardless of whether they are legal or not. Valid immigration status is not a requirement for obtaining a new license. It cannot be any more simple.
Validation of a foreign drivers license is only available for people who have some valid immigration status other than tourist.
Indeed, our goal is for the Government to respect the laws and to protect our clients rights.

Regarding Banking
I am not saying that it should be legal, I am saying that it is already legal for people to open a bank account regardless of their immigration status. I do not want to get into the discussion of whether Costa Rica has agreements with other governments to monitor bank accounts.

Regarding your comments about ARCR
I just transfer what some of my clients have and other people I know have shared about their experiences with ARCR. To be fair, I also know a few people how have been happy with their services. Unfortunately, I hear bad stories more often than not.
As far as advocating, I am not aware of any projects they have to assist and protect the interest of expats in Costa Rica. I would like to learn more about that.
As far as answering questions, I reserve the right to answer the questions I want. I am not obligated to answer any particular questions in this forum.
TO TerrynViv, I apologize if I offended you in any way shape or form. If you have any particular questions you want me to answer, I will be glad to respond if you send me a message to my email: rvalverde@outlierlegal.com

Regarding your comments about perpetual tourists and applications pending
People need to keep in mind that Costa Rica is still a third world country with third world politicians and laws. The fact that there are beautiful beaches, a new soccer stadium, or an HP call center does not make the country or its laws more developed. Immigration laws in Costa Rica are very primitive compared to the US, Chile or Panama. The result is that there is a lot of people unprotected by deficient laws in Costa Rica.

Regards,

Outlier Legal Services wrote:

Sam Ramon

Regarding Drivers Licenses
The law says that anyone can apply for a DL, regardless of whether they are legal or not. Valid immigration status is not a requirement for obtaining a new license. It cannot be any more simple.
Validation of a foreign drivers license is only available for people who have some valid immigration status other than tourist.
Indeed, our goal is for the Government to respect the laws and to protect our clients rights.

Regarding Banking
I am not saying that it should be legal, I am saying that it is already legal for people to open a bank account regardless of their immigration status. I do not want to get into the discussion of whether Costa Rica has agreements with other governments to monitor bank accounts.

Regarding your comments about ARCR
I just transfer what some of my clients have and other people I know have shared about their experiences with ARCR. To be fair, I also know a few people how have been happy with their services. Unfortunately, I hear bad stories more often than not.
As far as advocating, I am not aware of any projects they have to assist and protect the interest of expats in Costa Rica. I would like to learn more about that.
As far as answering questions, I reserve the right to answer the questions I want. I am not obligated to answer any particular questions in this forum.
TO TerrynViv, I apologize if I offended you in any way shape or form. If you have any particular questions you want me to answer, I will be glad to respond if you send me a message to my email: rvalverde@outlierlegal.com

Regarding your comments about perpetual tourists and applications pending
People need to keep in mind that Costa Rica is still a third world country with third world politicians and laws. The fact that there are beautiful beaches, a new soccer stadium, or an HP call center does not make the country or its laws more developed. Immigration laws in Costa Rica are very primitive compared to the US, Chile or Panama. The result is that there is a lot of people unprotected by deficient laws in Costa Rica.

Regards,


Outlier Legal Services, Thanks for your reply re driver's license. It seems that a lot of people are under the impression they have to leave every 3 months to keep their foreign license good instead of just getting a  Costa Rica driver's license as you say foreigners can do.

When I move down next year I will certainly test this for myself and reply back here with the results.

As to banking, like you say,  Costa Rica is still a 3rd world country in many ways, and so what is the law and what is do-able in practice, may not always coincide.

I can tell you from my own first hand experience last year, it is nearly impossible to open a bank account without being a resident. I spoke with several people at several banks - at one I even previously had a bank account and the only problem was it was frozen due to the necessity for me to be there in person to sign papers and give info which I could not do at that time.

So they would not allow me to re-open that account nor open a new one. I tried 2 other banks - same answer: "You cannot open an account unless you are a legal resident". I furthermore spoke with 3 attorneys I know - all of whom told me the same thing. Note they did not necessarily say it was the LAW, they simply said that in practice I could not do it.

Which begs the question:
Has your law firm been able to help non-residents open bank accounts in Costa Rica?

Re your response: Not sure if that part was directed at me, but I don't recall my saying you were required to answer any particular question; I may have asked that you do so. I'm too busy to go see if I did in fact say something to that effect but if I did I apologize, and agree you can answer what you want and ignore the rest. I for one find your posts interesting.

Link to 'getting a drivers license'

kohlerias wrote:

Link to 'getting a drivers license'


This doesn't look like an "official" government site. However it says (in part):
"If you have a valid (not expired) foreign drivers license you may apply for a Costa Rican Drivers License if you have residency in Costa Rica. 

If you are in Costa Rica as a tourist with no legal residency then you may drive in Costa Rica with your foreign drivers license up to the maximum time frame allowed for a tourist visa which is 90 days."

If I am understanding correctly, what Outlier is saying is that legally we CAN get a Costa Rica driver's license without being a legal resident. The question remains (for me anyway), do the people at the "license bureau" know and obey this law? Like I said, I will find out when I try it next year!

For a Costa Rican national, they are now required to take classes prior to applying for adrivers license and then take a 'test'. So, applying under their rules, one would have to takes the multiple classes, write the written test, in Spanish of course. Then an actual driving test.

kohlerias wrote:

For a Costa Rican national, they are now required to take classes prior to applying for adrivers license and then take a 'test'. So, applying under their rules, one would have to takes the multiple classes, write the written test, in Spanish of course. Then an actual driving test.


Sounds like a challenge but to me it would be better than having to leave the country every 90 days for year or more. Do they have any booklets to study the rules of the road?

The way Ticos drive, the test cannot be that hard! ;-D
I am lucky in that I can write in Spanish better than I can speak it or understand it when spoken!

I think the problem is, is that the 'classes' are not held in every town....so could be quite a distance from where you live.

kohlerias wrote:

I think the problem is, is that the 'classes' are not held in every town....so could be quite a distance from where you live.


Yeah, that could definitely be a problem! Guess I'll just have to check it all out...

If I remember correctly, there is one in San Ramon though... :/

kohlerias wrote:

If I remember correctly, there is one in San Ramon though... :/


Wow, I hope so! That woud be great! I am curious now as to how many classes for how many hours... If an extrañero can really get a CR license that would be so much easier than crossing the border 4 times a year!

However, I found this on a  Costa Rica real estate web site which says that it is NOT legal to get a license. I would put more stock in what our resident attorney says, but nevertheless it shows that there is controversy on this subject:
http://american-european.net/article-ca … w-388.html

Furthermore there is this link ( http://godutchrealty.com/Costa-Rica-Rea … e-your-car  ) which says in part:

[edit]"...the Costa Rican transit authority says that your visa stamp on your passport validates your driver's license, which in turn also keeps your Costa Rican automobile insurance valid. ...Therefore, you'll need to exit every 90 days so that you can return through immigration, get your visa renewed and continue to drive and be insured here legally...."

[edit] "In theory, holding a valid international driver's license, procured though a U.S. or Canadian automobile club office, would exempt you from having to leave Costa Rica in order to renew your visa, which in turn re-validates your right to drive using your country's or state's driver's license, which in turn continues to validate your Costa Rican automobile insurance. However, the state-owned INS insurance agency will not recognize the International Driver's License...."

[edit]..."So, currently there's no way to game the system when it comes to driving legally in Costa Rica. You're going to have to exit the country and re-enter every 90 days for that reason alone."

I heard you couldn't get in the door at the SJ licensing office, without showing a cedula, so who knows...

Article regarding new drivers

Here is an update on "border hopping", in this case via Nicaragua. Readers may recall my previous quandary of receiving a 30-day visa in early Feb., despite having a return air ticket to the US a bit less than 90 days in the future. (April 24th) The 30-day stamp was affixed at Juan Santa Maria airport immigration, where 90 days had been my usual stamp in the past! So, anyway, rather than spend 100$-130$ & time at the CR Immigration Office...I rolled the dice & spent about 250$ & 3 nights & 4 days on a jaunt to Granada, Nicaragua.

Upon returning to Costa Rica at CR immigration at Penas Blancas on March 6th, I displayed a printed itinerary to the official. The page showed my self-same Spirit flight, date of April 24th. This nice young man glanced at it briefly, stamped my passport with 90 days, then proceeded the next customer. Bless his heart!

Granada, Nicaragua proved to be a scenic, interesting, & apparently relatively safe place to visit. I traveled via Tica Bus at a cost of $55 RT, wherein the toilet was disgusting, but all else more than satisfactory. A money changer came on board before the border & an empanada seller turned up as well--both very convenient. Before departing, I reserved a room by phone, in a charming hotel (Hotel Casa Capricho) on a street near the main plaza. It cost $165 in total, including breakfast, if I paid in cash, which I did. On arrival, I picked up some things at the supermarket as the hotel has a kitchen for guests' use. But I also dined at the Garden Café & another place called Tercero Ojo, both enjoyable, the food better & prices higher at Tercero Ojo. Rented a bike, walked around looking at the colonial architecture, Lake Nicaragua, & window shopped a lot & shopped a little. Then back to Costa Rica, where lucky for me, all worked out "todo bien"!

LaMariposa wrote:

Here is an update on "border hopping", in this case via Nicaragua. Readers may recall my previous quandary of receiving a 30-day visa in early Feb., despite having a return air ticket to the US a bit less than 90 days in the future. (April 24th) The 30-day stamp was affixed at Juan Santa Maria airport immigration, where 90 days had been my usual stamp in the past! So, anyway, rather than spend 100$-130$ & time at the CR Immigration Office...I rolled the dice & spent about 250$ & 3 nights & 4 days on a jaunt to Granada, Nicaragua.

Upon returning to Costa Rica at CR immigration at Penas Blancas on March 6th, I displayed a printed itinerary to the official. The page showed my self-same Spirit flight, date of April 24th. This nice young man glanced at it briefly, stamped my passport with 90 days, then proceeded the next customer. Bless his heart!

Granada, Nicaragua proved to be a scenic, interesting, & apparently relatively safe place to visit. I traveled via Tica Bus at a cost of $55 RT, wherein the toilet was disgusting, but all else more than satisfactory. A money changer came on board before the border & an empanada seller turned up as well--both very convenient. Before departing, I reserved a room by phone, in a charming hotel (Hotel Casa Capricho) on a street near the main plaza. It cost $165 in total, including breakfast, if I paid in cash, which I did. On arrival, I picked up some things at the supermarket as the hotel has a kitchen for guests' use. But I also dined at the Garden Café & another place called Tercero Ojo, both enjoyable, the food better & prices higher at Tercero Ojo. Rented a bike, walked around looking at the colonial architecture, Lake Nicaragua, & window shopped a lot & shopped a little. Then back to Costa Rica, where lucky for me, all worked out "todo bien"!


Glad to hear it worked out for you, and yes, the 90 day requirement does at least serve to force you to see some sights you wouldn't otherwise see... ;-D

Sounds like a great trip!

kohlerias wrote:

I heard you couldn't get in the door at the SJ licensing office, without showing a cedula, so who knows...

Article regarding new drivers


Just fyi I added some further info to the post above re the drivers license issue.
It's so typically Costa RIcan that there is controversy over what the law is regarding this, and whether or not the law is even being followed or if it's just "policy" willy-nilly that has nothing to do with the law as written...

It seems to me from what I'm reading that while Outlier may be absolutely right as to what the LAW says, in practice the law seems irrelevant because it seems most people do have to border hop every 90 days regardless of what the law says. Again this is just based on what I am reading as to what people who don't have their residency say they are having to do.

I know of some who have renewed an existing CR license, while still a 'tourist', although only in a smaller communities... but they still must leave to get their visa stamped until they have received their comprobante.

Yes, it was a great trip. Already thinking about other sights to see in Nicaragua! BTW, the name of the Granada restaurant is Tercer Ojo or El Tercer Ojo (3rd eye). I added an incorrect "o" to the name, sorry.

A man in our development did the border hopping thing last month and was only give "thirty days" when he re-entered Costa Rica.  His wife, who went to a different customs officer was give "ninety days".  It all depends what customs officer you get.  There is a crack down on perpetual tourism but not all customs officers are doing their jobs.

There is no crack down.

It's the same at the airport.  Some customs officials ask visitors to produce evidence of their return flight within 90 days, and other customs officials do not.  This inconsistancy might have something to do with the customs union members not being on the best of terms with government, or it's a simple matter of "that's the way things operate in Costa Rica".

I think it's mostly "that's the way things operate in Costa Rica". I've heard many stories from getting insurance, to opening bank accounts, to crossing borders in which one official will say/do one thing and another will say/do the opposite!