travel to Costa RicaGetting into Costa Rica (Visa?)

Who needs a Visa to travel to Costa Rica?

As a European tourist, you will get to Costa Rica through the Juan Santamaría Airport, which belongs to the capital San José. The airport is located about 20 km northwest of San José, in the small town of Alajuela.
From Germany, Costa Rica may only be reached directly with Condor. The other available airline is Iberia, but if you are flying with them, you will have to change the plane in Madrid. All other airlines have a layover the United States, for which you will need to apply for an ESTA visa that cost you extra money and time. That is why we would recommend to book one of the flight previously mentioned..

The airport is located near the city of Alajuela. San José can be reached after 15 to 40 minutes of driving (depending on traffic). Taxis are available outside the airport terminal; you can also arrange a pick up after arriving. You may also take the bus without any problems. These pass by the north side of the airport (at the Pista). It is a bus line that connects San Jose via Alajuela.

Aeropuerto Juan Santamaria, Costa Rica

The custom and passport control is usually easy; you just have to note a few things. On the plane you will get a tourist card that you should complete before landing. On the card, you must specify the intended stay; the maximum is 90 days for European visitors. Furthermore, you will be asked to state your address in Costa Rica; here you will have to specify the name of the hotel where you booked the first night. We are happy to take care of the hotel-booking.


When entering the country, you are required to have a valid yellow fever vaccination for all travelers older than 9 months (required by almost all the countries in South and Central America) that must be proven by an International Vaccination Certificate (yellow). The vaccination must be at least 10 days old. If you cannot provide a vaccination certificate, you may not enter. This is usually already checked at the departure airport, so you will not be able to check it in the aircraft.

Since 2009, outbound visitors will be charged with a departure tax, with the amount of U.S. $ 28. Concurrent with this action, the government has eliminated the constantly payable tourist tax of 3%. Therefore, the country is now a little cheaper.

in San Jose, Costa Rica

Extended Stay

A Visa is required for anyone planning to stay long-term in Costa Rica and if you are not traveling as a tourist (e.g. Au- Pair, internship, volunteer work).

Therefore, you will need a police clearance issued by your home country(must also be also legalized by the Costa Rican consulate in your country). This costs about 32 €. You can find information on visa requirements at the immigration office. But most of the organizations support their participants in this process.

Another legal trick (but may not apply to you forever) is a departure after the 90 days of the tourist visa. Many "long-term tourists" do that. You can for example visit Panama or Nicaragua for at least 3 days and afterwards you can stay Costa Rica for another 90 days.

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