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A Simple Solution to the 90 Day Visa Run – Perpetual Tourism

Costa Rica News – One of the biggest pains in Costa Rica is the requirement to leave every 90 days for 72 hours in order to renew your tourist VISA.  This is an absolute necessity as you risk being deported and it makes getting any business transactions done very difficult, including opening a bank account.  Most people who live in Costa Rica do the quick trip to either Nicaragua or Panama for 72 hours and then come back with a renewed VISA.  They jump on Ticabus, drive to the border, or fly to take their VISA renewal trip.

visa renewal costa ricaThis law to me is actually quite silly.  First this requires people that are living here to take a take a long weekend, which on most cases includes a day off work to get this done.    Second, upon arrival in one of Costa Rica’s neighboring countries they spend on the low end for 3 nights in the hotels, meals each day, transportation and drinks $150 to $200.  This money goes into the Panamanian or Nicaraguan economies.  Finally, this law has actually made people pack up and leave the country because getting residency is such a difficult task.  Getting residency takes 6 months to a year an in most cases they change one of the paperwork requirements during the process and you have to start all over again.

What if there was a simple solution where the money stays in Costa Rica and the inconvenient task of travelling outside of Costa Rica was made minimal?

Here is the solution proposed by The Costa Rican Times.

At the current time you are required to leave every 90 days on a VISA renewal run. What if you still had to renew your VISA every 90 days but only had to leave the country 1 time a year?

It is easy. Set up an office for VISA Renewals in San Jose and Liberia.  Every 90 days a tourist needs to go to one of these offices to pay a fee of $150 to renew their tourist VISA.  They can do this 3 out of the 4 times a year.

Let’s run the numbers.

I am going to throw a low ball estimate of 10,000 perpetual tourists that are living in  Costa Rica.

Instead of them having to spend $150 or $200 in Panama or Nicaragua 4 times a year, these people 3 times a year give $150 to the Costa Rican government VISA renewal department.

10,000 people at $150 is $1,500,000.  This multiplied by 3 times a year is $4,500,000 that goes directly to the Costa Rican government and stays in Costa Rica. I am pretty sure this will cover the overhead for the 2 offices.

If you want to include the Nicaraguans, who have to leave every 30 days, and have them pay $50 every month that number will skyrocket.

This is a simple solution where both sides win. Too bad it makes sense, all things that make sense are rejected by the Costa Rican government.


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  1. gordon said:

    Dan, You are having a logical attack! Costaricense, Diputados, ministers, President do not think ahead .Nothing here is logical. IF they did this they would have 5million bucks to put in to their collective pockets and personal bank accounts. This makes sense however we live in lala land, of Pura Veeeda! I do not think Costa Rica really wants outside business here and any thing that competes with their monopoly.

  2. Paul said:

    We go to the border crossing close to San Vito. The Rio Serano crossing requires an hour in Panama to qualify for another 90 day visa. We have been told it is only customs that requires 72 hours and if we do not make purchases in Panama then we only need to go to imigration.

    We have been doing this for the past two years. The gentleman at the Costa Rican border has gotten so used to our going and coming back in the hour required that he stamps our passport both ways the first time we walk into his office.

    • gordon said:

      There is a guy in Quepos with a van. I met him at Wacky Wanda’s He takes a group to the Panama border and back for 50 bucks. He waits about 3-4 hours and everyone gets another 90 days stamped. Such a deal. This is much safer and legal rather giving your passport to someone who takes it there for you.

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