Departing Costa Rica By Plane, By Bus and By Automobile
All travelers leaving Costa Rica via its international airports in San Jose (SJO) or Liberia (LIR) are required to pay a departure tax before they can check in for their flights. The exit tax is $29 U.S. dollars, and applies to visiting foreigners, permanent residents and Costa Rican nationals. Here are a few helpful tips on paying this exit tax, to help you avoid any unpleasant surprises.
Exit tax waived if departing by sea or overland
If you are departing Costa Rica overland in your own vehicle, by foot or by TicaBus, please note that the exit tax is waived. The same applies for cruise departures as well, as the tax is only collected for international departures via airplane. For many years, the exit fee was $26, but this amount was raised to $28 in 2011, and further increased to $29 last year.
Available payment methods
The departure tax can be paid in either local colones or U.S. dollars, or a mix of both currencies. If you have some leftover colones from your Costa Rica vacation, this is a smart way to use them before boarding your plane. If you’re short on cash, you can also pay with your credit card or debit card, as long as it has the Visa or Mastercard logo. At the airport, this transaction will be processed as a cash advance, even though it technically isn’t. Depending on your particular bank, you may incur additional fees for this convenience – sometimes as much as $10. The most cost-effective way to avoid these extra charges is to plan ahead and pay in cash.
Where can I pay the departure tax?
Most travelers pay their exit tax at the international airport, but a small number of hotels such as the Holiday Inn, Courtyard Marriott and Intercontinental are beginning to offer this service for a nominal fee. If you’re staying in an Escazu or San Jose area hotel, be sure to inquire. In addition, you can pay the tax at select Banco de Costa Rica branches near the San Jose and Liberia terminals. When paying the tax at the airport, you must do so before checking in for your flight. During the high season months of December through April, the lines can be daunting, with wait times more than 25 minutes. Be prepared and arrive for your international flight at least 2.5 hours early, which will ensure plenty of time for check in and any last-minute souvenir shopping.
Easy online payment now available
Travelers now have a third option for paying their departure tax by doing so online. A relatively new system offered by Bancredito let’s you pay on the website, www.coimsa.com, helping you avoid waiting lines at the terminal. Note that departure taxes are not transferable as the payee’s passport number is attached to the receipt. However, there is no expiration date on the tax payment, so it can be used for an indefinite time period after purchase.