Unemployed, retired, and living off savings while enjoying fun in Costa Rica? Unfortunately, Costa Rica only allows tourists from the United States to visit for ninety days. The logical question is how to prolong the vacation in Costa Rica. Starting in 2010, the country came under diplomatic pressure from the United States to tighten its immigration procedures. Although the supposed goal is to reduce human trafficking, the new policies have affected United States citziens who try to stay in Costa Rica, perpetually with a tourist visa.
In the past such a tourist might just stay for as long as they like, let their visa expire and continue cruising and boozing until the money ran out. Chances of being stopped and asked for a passport in San José used to be pretty slim. When it did occur, it could often be resolved with a small tip to the police.
Those days are for the most part a dim, Guaro infused memory. If you are coming to Costa Rica, then plan to either get out in 90 days, or make a border run to renew your visa. Just grab your passport, hop on the bus to Nicaragua, and get off at the Peñas Blancas border crossing. Go through the formalities to leave Costa Rica, and then do the same thing to enter on the Nicaraugan side. Go have lunch, and then repeat the process in reverse. Hopefully, you now have another ninety days to party in Costa Rica.
Occasionally border officials attempt to put the brakes on border runs. You might end up with 30 days instead of 90. They may also demand to see a plane ticket out of Costa Rica. At the larger border crossings, if you do not like the answer then just come back later.
Ultimately, however if you run afoul of immigration, then it’s better to move on. As the song goes, “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here”. Just hop onto a plane to Colombia or the Dominican Republic.