When people think about moving out of the country they are often overwhelmed by the thought of having to deal with visas, getting residency, and all the red tape that is involved with moving abroad. Lucky for you, you decided to look into moving to Costa Rica. As long as you aren’t trying to become a major real estate investor or looking for permit Costa Rican residency there are a few loop holes that make living in Costa Rica a very easy thing to do with no red tape involved.
The Loop Hole
When you visit Costa Rica you are automatically given a tourist visa that is good for 3 months. There is no need to apply for this visa, it is given to anyone who is visiting the country. Thats easy enough to acquire right? So what happens after three months? All you need to do to re-new your tourist visa is to leave the country for 72 hours. After that, you can come back and stay for another 3 months.
Many long term expats have done this for years without any problem. Is this 100% legal? Honestly, I don’t know, but I have yet to meet anyone who has really had a problem with doing things this way.
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Loop Holes in the Loop Hole
Leaving the country every 3 months is not a big problem when you live near the border of Panama or Nicaragua. If you live somewhere in the Central Valley though, making the trek to the border and back every 3 months can be quite tiresome. So what does one do if they don’t feel like leaving every few months? Why use bribery of course!
Many long term expats or those living in the Central Valley don’t feel like dealing with the trouble of leaving the country. Instead, they pay a local cab driver to take their passport to the closest border, bribe the border officials on each side (check out our post on How to Bribe a Police Officer in Costa Rica), and then bring their passport back.
This “loop hole” usually cost around US$70 if you live around an hour from the border. Prices for other locations, like that of the Central Valley, will differ greatly. By now you are probably asking yourself how safe this is. I haven’t heard any horror stories about people who got in trouble by border patrol or that didn’t get their passport back, but I can’t say for certain that this doesn’t happen. Your best bet is to talk to another expat who uses this method. That way you know the cab driver is trust worthy.