Costa Rica requires Visa for Foreigners
By: Steven Seas, Attorney, Deloitte Costa Rica
Normally we hear that United States demands a Visa for foreigners when they want to visit the country, and in Costa Rica we have a similar structure for some nationalities.
A Visa is a permit or an approve, that the nations grants to foreigners in order for them to visit the country. In some cases the process to obtain a visa is tedious and stressful, and in other it is only a payment at the moment of arrival.
How hard it is to obtain a Visa depends on several factors, for instance the historical bilateral relationship between the country that issue the visa and the citizenship of the person that make the request or the volume of people that migrate and the economic as social conditions of the countries.
The “Passport Index” of Henley & Partners is an annual ranking, that in collaboration with the International Air Transport Association studies the different nationalities around the world in order to determine the number of countries their citizens may travel to, without any visa requirement. The first countries in the list correspond to those in which their citizens may travel to more countries without any visa, and the last places corresponds to those, which have more restrictions.
For 2018, Costa Rica ranked 25 (position that is shared with Antigua and Barbuda) as Costa Rican citizens may travel to 149 countries without visa, and will need to apply for one in 77 nations.
Japan has the first place of the ranking, as they may enter into 189 countries visa-free, followed by Singapore and Germany.
In the bottom of the list and with the most restrictions are Afghanistan and Iraq, as their citizens may only travel visa-free to 30 countries.
In the case of Costa Rica, the regulation that determinate who needs a visa is given by presidential decree, that the last update been of 2016, that divide all the countries or nations recognized by Costa Rica in four groups.
The first two groups are nations that we have bilateral relations, and therefore the Government gives the possibility of entering the country visa-free. Some of the countries that are in those groups are USA, Germany, Spain, France, Mexico, Panama, Guatemala, Honduras, and Venezuela among others.
The third group correspond to nations that the government needs to verify the objective of the trip, and what the traveler would do during the time spent inside the Country. Citizens in this group must file for a Consular Visa.
Some of the nations of this third group are Nicaragua, Colombia, China, Dominican Republic, India, Egypt among other others. Their citizens - before entering Costa Rica - need apply for the visa in the embassy or consulate of Costa Rica.
The fourth group, are the nations that do not have many bilateral relations with Costa Rica. Their citizens would not only need to send documents to the consulate, but for this documents to be analyzed by a Visa Committee in Costa Rica that will approve or deny the request. In this category we may find countries like Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, and Cuba between others.
Is a difficult process, as normally Costa Rica does not have consulates in these countries, and therefore people need to visit a third country in order to file there for the Visa. The approval resolution would be issued by the Visa Committee located in Costa Rica, and the name of this process is Restrict Visa.
Furthermore, it is important to consider that citizens of groups three and four would not need a Costa Rican Visa if they have a valid American or Canadian Visa, you can confirm this on Immigration Web Page.
Costa Rica demands consular Visa to more than 80 countries and restrict Visa to 16 nations. Therefore it is important to take that into account for any foreigner that comes to our country.