Perpetual Tourist in Costa Rica

Is living as a Perpetual Tourist in Costa Rica in Jeopardy? This intriguing question has captivated the minds of many individuals who have discovered a unique way to reside in this beautiful country. The concept of being a perpetual tourist has been a widely exploited loophole in the system for as long as one can remember. With a multitude of benefits, perpetual tourists own businesses, invest in properties, and contribute significantly to Costa Rica’s flourishing economy. However, recent developments suggest that this unconventional lifestyle might be facing uncertain times. Let’s delve deeper into the world of perpetual tourism and explore the potential risks involved.


A family of 3 gets deported from Costa Rica for overstaying 3 months.


Understanding Perpetual Tourism

A perpetual tourist is an individual who chooses to live in Costa Rica without obtaining residency status. Instead, they rely on a cycle of leaving the country every 90 days and reentering to renew their “tourist visa” for an additional 90 days. This process is repeated periodically, enabling perpetual tourists to maintain their presence in the country while avoiding the complexities of obtaining official residency. Typically, perpetual tourists cross the borders into neighboring countries like Nicaragua and Panama, with Nicaragua being the more accessible option. The border crossing into Nicaragua and back into Costa Rica can be completed within a short span, often allowing individuals to return home before lunchtime. On the other hand, Panama requires a stay of a day or two, which can add some inconvenience to the process. Despite these challenges, the practice of perpetual tourism has thrived for years.




The Cracking Down on Perpetual Tourism

In recent times, there has been an apparent tightening of regulations, with authorities showing less tolerance towards the perpetual tourist lifestyle. Individuals who exhibit a pattern of frequent border crossings are now facing increased scrutiny and potential complications. Immigration officers at the border have begun warning and even intimidating those who engage in this repetitive cycle, declaring that such practices will no longer be tolerated. They strongly advise perpetual tourists to seek proper residency, emphasizing that the current leniency may be coming to an end. While perpetual tourism remains technically legal, the discretionary power held by immigration officers leaves room for ambiguity and potential difficulties for those who choose this path.



Navigating the Future: Exploring Residency Options

Given the recent developments and the uncertain future of perpetual tourism, individuals who have embraced this lifestyle are now contemplating their next steps. While residency offers a more secure and stable foundation for living in Costa Rica, it comes with its own set of requirements and considerations. Exploring the available residency options is crucial for those seeking a more permanent solution. Costa Rica provides various avenues for obtaining residency, such as pensionado, rentista, and inversionista programs, each catering to specific circumstances and eligibility criteria. By transitioning from perpetual tourism to official residency, individuals can enjoy enhanced rights, access to healthcare, and the peace of mind that comes with a more established legal status.




Living as a perpetual tourist in Costa Rica has long been a tantalizing option for those seeking a unique and flexible lifestyle in this tropical paradise. However, recent changes in regulations and increased scrutiny at the borders have cast a shadow of uncertainty over this loophole. While perpetual tourism continues to be a legal gray area, the discretionary power held by immigration officers introduces ambiguity and potential complications for those who choose this path. As the landscape evolves, individuals are now considering the transition to official residency to secure their presence in Costa Rica. Exploring the available residency options allows one to embrace change and adapt to the evolving immigration landscape, ensuring a more stable and secure future in this beautiful country.

-Written by Glenn Tellier (Founder of CRIE and Grupo Gap).

[email protected]



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Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if I overstay my tourist visa in Costa Rica?

Overstaying your tourist visa in Costa Rica can result in fines when you attempt to leave the country. Additionally, you may face difficulties or restrictions when trying to re-enter Costa Rica in the future.

How long can a non-citizen live in Costa Rica?

A non-citizen can live in Costa Rica indefinitely if they have obtained the appropriate residency status. Temporary residency usually requires the individual to live in Costa Rica for at least four months of the year, while permanent residency requires at least six months.

How can I stay in Costa Rica longer than 3 months?

If you wish to stay in Costa Rica for longer than 90 days, you will need to apply for a visa or residency status that allows a longer stay. This could be a student visa, work visa, or one of the various types of residency visas.

How long can you stay in Costa Rica as a tourist?

You can generally stay in Costa Rica for up to 90 days as a tourist. This can be extended by leaving and re-entering the country, but frequent border runs may attract the attention of immigration officials.

What happens if you stay over 90 days in Costa Rica?

Staying in Costa Rica for more than 90 days without the appropriate visa or residency status is considered overstaying your visa. This can result in fines and potential difficulties when trying to re-enter the country in the future.

How much money do you need to live comfortably in Costa Rica?

The cost of living in Costa Rica can vary greatly depending on your lifestyle and where in the country you live. However, many expats find that a budget of around $1,500 to $2,500 per month allows for a comfortable lifestyle.

What is the downside to living in Costa Rica?

While Costa Rica offers many benefits, there are also some downsides to consider. These can include the high cost of imported goods, the humid climate, and the slower pace of life, which can be frustrating when dealing with bureaucracy or business matters.

How can I live permanently in Costa Rica?

To live permanently in Costa Rica, you must apply for permanent residency. This usually requires first obtaining temporary residency and living in the country for three years, although some exceptions exist.

How much does an average house cost in Costa Rica?

The cost of a house in Costa Rica can vary greatly depending on the location and size of the property. On average, you might expect to pay anywhere from $100,000 for a small home in a rural area to over $1 million for a large property in a desirable location.


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