What is the change? Costa Rica has published new visa guidelines.

What does the change mean? The changes provide for 90-day stays upon arrival for Colombian and Nicaraguan nationals, exempt a greater number of U.S. visa holders from entry visa requirements, allow legal residents of the U.S., the European Union and Canada to provide some required documents in English and require travelers to hold machine-readable passports.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Entry visas, stay upon arrival, passports.
  • Who is affected: Colombia and Nicaraguan nationals; visa-required nationals holding U.S. or Canadian visas; U.S., EU and Canadian legal residents; individuals holding non-machine-readable passports.

Additional information: The Immigration Directorate (Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería) published new visa guidelines on Sept. 14. Among key changes:

  • Colombian and Nicaraguan nationals will now be granted a 90-day stay upon arrival. Previously, they were granted a 30-day stay with a possible extension.
  • Visa-required nationals who hold a U.S. B-1, B-2, C-1, C-2 or C-3 visa will be exempt from visa requirements when traveling to Costa Rica. Costa Rica had already waived visa requirements for visa-required nationals who held a U.S. B-1/B-2, D, C-1/D visa or multiple-entry Canadian visa. The visit to Costa Rica cannot exceed the remaining validity of their U.S./Canadian visa and cannot be longer than 30 days (except for nationals of Colombia or Nicaragua, who will be afforded stays of up to 90 days).
  • Document requirements for U.S., Canadian and EU permanent nationals who are using their residency in place of an entry visa have been softened. Under a new rule, immigration officers can use their discretion to accept supporting documents that are partially or fully in English, without a Spanish apostillization or legalization.
  • All foreign nationals must now possess a valid machine-readable biometric passport when traveling to Costa Rica.

Analysis & Comments: Travelers should note that immigration officers have ultimate discretion over foreign nationals being granted stays upon arrival, but the changes will generally benefit Colombian and Nicaraguan nationals and a greater number of U.S. visa holders. The possibility of providing legal documents in English will ease entry procedures for U.S., EU and Canadian legal residents who have to show documents establishing their immigration status upon entry. Travelers who do not currently have a machine-readable passport will be required to obtain one before traveling to Costa Rica.

Source: Deloitte LLP. Deloitte LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC303675 and its registered office at 1 New Street Square, London EC4A 3HQ, United Kingdom.