Perpetual tourists are facing more constraints as Costa Rica and adjacent countries tighten up their entry requirements.
Like most entry situations, requirements frequently are different or absent from what the rules require. The latest flap among U.S. perpetual tourists in Costa Rica, is the enforcement of a requirement for a return ticket for those traveling overland into Panamá. That country, for years, has required proof of forward travel for tourists arriving by air. Costa Rica requires the same proof.
But some immigration officers in Panamá are requiring proof of forward or return travel to those entering the country by land from Costa Rica. This is a problem for perpetual tourists who live in Costa Rica and have to leave the country every 90 days to renew their tourist visa. Some said they have been required to purchase expensive air tickets before being allowed to enter Panamá. Costa Rica requires proof that a tourist will leave the country when their tourist visa expires. Those arriving by air sometimes meet this requirement with an open bus ticket to an adjacent country. That is the cheapest legal way. Others simply forge bus tickets or provide airline information downloaded from a Web site.
Offshore recommends buying a one-way, full fare,
refundable ticket showing that you are leaving
Costa Rica. Present this to the airline
agent either when you are departing for Costa Rica
or to the Migración agent when you arrive in
Then simply CANCEL the ticket when you arrive and your credit card charge will be reversed. In the event they doubt the validity of the the ticket, upon checking with the airlines they will see that everything is in order. It is foolproof!
WHAT'S THIS WITH THE DRIVER'S LICENSE?
Even those who apply for residency are facing additional problems. Costa Rican motor vehicle officials now follow the three-year-old traffic law and require a residency cédula in order to issue a Costa Rican driver's license. Even those who have filed residency papers and have received their folio numbers, must continue to make the 90-day trek out of the country if they wish to remain legal with their foreign driving license here.
IMPORTANT NOTE: What is unclear is the circumstance surrounding license renewal and no cédula. Some expats claim they have been denied a renewal while others say they have received a renewal. All I can say is try and let me know.
A few expats in Costa Rica might be able to take advantage of the new Global Pass program in Panamá. That program was the subject of a January decree. It follows the U.S. Global Entry that allows low-risk frequent visitors to skip some of the immigration procedures. The program must be applied for and costs $100. Although both the Panamá and the U.S. programs are mainly for business travelers, some expats might be able to enter this category.
Bienvenidos a Costa Rica where everything is consistently inconsistent!