Dave Bolger


Costa Rica, a gem in Central America, has always been a favored destination for tourists and business visitors alike. Recognizing the importance of these visitors, the Costa Rican government has taken a significant step to further enhance its appeal. The recent resolution to extend the period of stay for Group One visitors is a testament to this commitment.

The Costa Rican government has recently announced a pivotal change for visa-exempt tourists and business visitors from Group One countries. The maximum period of stay has been increased to 180 days for each visit. This is a substantial increase from the previous limit of 90 days.


Group One Countries: The first group included visa-exempt nationals who can travel to Costa Rica with just their passport. This consists of the United States, Canada, and most European countries. A list of eligible countries can be found here.

Applicability: The extension applies to nationals from countries in Group One as classified by the General Immigration Directorate. This list is dynamic and includes countries like the United States and Canada.

Stay Duration: The new maximum stay duration for visa-exempt tourists and business visitors from Group One is 180 days per visit. However, the actual duration granted will be at the discretion of immigration officials upon entry. The previous limit was 90 days.

Extensions: If granted a shorter stay upon entry, foreign nationals (from any group) can apply for an extension of up to 90 days.

Other Groups: The stay duration for tourists and business visitors from Groups Two, Three, and Four remains unchanged at 30 days, which can be extended up to 90 days.

Entry Requirements: All visitors must show proof of financial means (min USD 100/mth) and a return or onward travel ticket. Those from high-risk countries must also present a Yellow Fever Vaccination certificate, issued at least ten days before arrival.

This move is a part of the government’s strategy to boost the tourism sector, a significant revenue source for Costa Rica. Data from the General Immigration Directorate indicates that Group One countries contribute more to the country’s revenue than other groups, aiding in the national economy’s revival.

Despite the updated regulation, the laws for driving in Costa Rica with an international driver’s license remain the same. However, this regulation is in the process of being updated to correspond with the new 180 day visa extension.

Foreign licenses remain valid for three months due to the law’s specific three-month provision. Should you be halted by law enforcement, they’ll request both your international driver’s license and passport, verifying the date of your most recent entry visa. Driving beyond the 90-day mark is deemed illegal. In such cases, the police have the authority to confiscate your vehicle’s license plates. To reclaim them, a trip to the border for a new visa is mandatory, coupled with the possibility of substantial fines.

The recent law might diminish the allure of the “digital nomad” visa. This visa, tailored for remote workers, permits a year-long stay in Costa Rica without the need for quarterly border trips. However, with the option now to make a single border trip every half-year, the motivation to secure this specialized visa, which demands evidence of a minimum monthly income of $3,000, might wane. While the extended stay is beneficial, the digital nomad visa might lose its appeal. Why apply for it when a six-month stay is possible with just a single border trip?

The decision by Costa Rica to extend the stay period to 180 days for Group One visitors reflects its forward-thinking approach. This initiative not only promotes tourism but also strengthens business relations, ensuring Costa Rica remains a top choice for extended visits and collaborations in the global arena. As the world becomes more interconnected, such initiatives ensure that Costa Rica remains a top choice for many. Whether you’re planning a vacation or a business trip, Costa Rica’s doors are open wider than ever before.