Most tourists from native English speaking countries do not need a visa for a stay of less than 90 days. However, you must possess a passport in good condition, with a minimum validity of one day beyond the date of exit from Costa Rica. Note, however, that some countries through which travelers may transit require a passport validity of at least 6 months after the scheduled return date.

Transit through the U.S.A. and the ESTA Form

If you are not a U.S. citizen, please check if you require an ESTA. (Electronic System for Travel Authorization). 

You must take into account that some flights to Costa Rica transit through the United States of America.  Even if you are only changing planes in the United States, you must complete the formalities necessary to obtain an ESTA.   Please complete the form for obtaining an ESTA.

If you have not obtained an ESTA and you have a transit stop in the USA, you risk being treated as an illegal immigrant. This offense is subject to a fine as a criminal sanction, with possible imprisonment for up to six months.

You will find additional information on the ESTA official website. 

Mandatory Exit Ticket

In order to enter Costa Rica, you must already have in your possession an exit ticket, no matter how or where you plan to travel next (to another Central American country anywhere else). Airlines will deny you boarding a flight to Costa Rica unless you purchase an exit ticket or prove you already have one.

One simple, convenient, and inexpensive solution: whether you intend to use it or not, you can reserve ahead of time a place on a bus that leaves the country through its physical borders with Nicaragua or Panama and keep with you a document certifying the purchase of this ticket at all times.

You can always cancel this exit from Costa Rica provided that you do not exceed the 90 days of stay authorized in the country by your tourist Visa.

You will find an article on this subject on the Visit Costa Rica website. 

Traveling with your pet

For arrivals / departures in the company of animals please contact SENASA :

(+506) 2587 1714 or (+506) 2587 1710 

Please note that conditions may vary from one airline to another.

You will find an article on this subject on the Pet Travel website.

Yellow Fever Vaccinations

Mandatory only if you are coming from or going to a country at risk. See the list in our “Health” section.



Costa Rica is bordered by Nicaragua to the North and Panama to the South.

The physical borders with Nicaragua are located at Peñas Blancas, Papaturro and San Pancho. Tourists who plan to cross the border often do so at Peñas Blancas.

The physical borders with Panama are located at Sixaola (Caribbean coast) and Paso Canoas (Pacific coast).

Travelers arriving by land must make sure that their entry stamp is properly stamped on their passport. In the absence of this stamp, the traveler is deemed to have entered the territory illegally and may be imprisoned and/or expelled from the country.


Your can land in Costa Rica at one of the two International Airports, Juan Santamaria International Airport or Daniel-Oduber-Quirós International Airport. 

Domestic flights are operated by small aircraft on regular routes. The aircraft benefit from proper maintenance, do not present any particular risks.

Weather conditions can deteriorate significantly and very quickly.


Juan Santamaria International Airport

Juan Santamaria International Airport is located in Alajuela, 10 km (6 miles) from the capital San José. Arrivals are on the lower floor while departures are on the upper floor.

International Destinations
U.S.A. : Atlanta, Baltimore, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Miami, New York, Orlando, Phoenix, and Washington, D.C. 
Canada : Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver.
Latin America: Bocas del Toro, Bogota, Cancun, Caracas, David, Guatemala City, Lima,  Managua, Mexico City, Nassau, Panama City, Santo Domingo, Tegucigalpa.
Europe : Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London, Madrid, Paris, Zurich.

National Destinations
Coto 47, Daniel-Oduber-Quirós International Airport, Drake Bay, Golfito, La Fortuna, Nosara, Palmar Sur, Puerto Jimenez, Puerto Limon, Quépos, San Isidro, Tamarindo, Tambor, Tortuguero.

Tourist Information : (+506) 2222 1090
Airport Contact : (+506) 2437 2400

Daniel-Oduber-Quirós International Airport

Daniel-Oduber-Quirós International Airport is located 12km (7 miles) from the city of Liberia.
In this small airport, arrivals and departures are on the same floor.

International Destinations
U.S.A. : Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles,  Minneapolis, New York. 
Canada : Calgary, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver.
Latin America :Panama City, Rivas.
Europe : Amsterdam.

National Destinations
Juan Santamaria International Airport, La Fortuna, Nosara, Quépos, Tamarindo, Tambor.

Tourist Information : (+506) 2668 0095 
Airport Contact :   (+506) 2666 9600  
Information Service for Tourists offered by the Instituto Costaricense del Turismo


In International Airports you will meet the same formalities as elsewhere and once you’ve gathered your luggage you will find in the hall a number of services for exchanging money, withdrawing money, buying a local SIM card. At the airport exit you can take a taxi or a bus or hire a car.


Costa Rican Exit Tax

You will be required to pay an exit tax before leaving Costa Rica. You must check in advance if your plane ticket already includes the tax. If it does not, you must go to the exit tax collection counter and pay. The amount of this tax is approximately 29 U.S. Dollars (about 15,000 colones). 

The following airlines may include the tax on the purchase of the ticket: Aeroméxico, Air Canada, Air France, Air Panama, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, British Airways, Condor, Copa Airlines, Delta Airlines, Edelweiss, Grupo Avianca, Iberia, Interjet, JetBlue Airways, KLM, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, United Airlines, Volaris Costa Rica et Volaris México. 

Traveling with children

Children born in Costa Rica or officially living in the country, even if they travel with a foreign passport, must apply for an authorization to leave the territory.  This authorization is issued in San José by the “Dirección General de Migración y Extranjeria” or elsewhere by the PANI “Patronato Nacional de la Infancia”. The consent of each parent is required.