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Airport fees

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Edmonton, Canada
Level Contributor
10 posts
3 reviews
Airport fees


Just wondering if someone can tell me if there is an entrance and/or exit fee you must pay at the San Jose airport? If so, where is it paid and what means of payment is accepted?

One other thing, what type of currency is best to use while staying in Costa Rica?


Edited: 10:07 am, April 16, 2013
Costa Rica
Level Contributor
25,682 posts
26 reviews
1. Re: Airport fees

1. Currency -- You will find the US dollar acceptable almost everywhere. But it's a good idea to also have some local currency - colones. You can get some colones at the airport from an ATM. If you bring US dollars, bring small bills - mostly $20's or smaller - and make sure they are in good shape with no tears or writing. You can bring larger bills - $50 or $100 - that you can use to pay your hotel or tours, but most places will not accept anything larger than $20. The current exchange rate is between 490 and 500 colones to the US dollar.

2. There is an exit fee of $29. Best to pay for that in cash since using a card will often result in an extra charge. There is a form you will need to fill out so good idea to have a pen, your passport number and flight information handy.

Denver, CO
Level Contributor
195 posts
63 reviews
2. Re: Airport fees

In Jaco, you can pay the exit fee at Jaco 360 or at the Marriott for a couple of dollars more. I have never had to wait long in line at the airport, but it is easier to have it so that you can go straight to your airline for check-in.

Most of the time you will receive change in Colones. Just bring down a stack of $20's and you will be good. The only place I would not use $'s is on the toll road. They give an awful exchange rate!! So, bring a $5 for that or break a $20 in the airport before leaving.

Edmonton, Canada
Level Contributor
10 posts
3 reviews
3. Re: Airport fees

Thanks for the tips!

Level Contributor
55 posts
15 reviews
4. Re: Airport fees


There is no need to pre-purchase your airport departure tax before you get to the airport. Even when the departure tax line is a little long, it moves quickly. We have never waited more than 5 minutes in the many times we have flown back home from Costa Rica. I suggest you just take care of it when you get to the airport.

As far as currency while you are in Costa Rica, just walk into any bank to exchange money and use Costa Rican Colones. I don't suggest you exchange money at the airport exchange windows as you'll get a lower rate and pay their fees. Have a great time in Costa Rica. My wife and I are heading back to Jaco in two weeks and will be at our condo thee for a month. We love it there.

Pura Vida!

Edited: 11:22 am, April 17, 2013
Edmonton, Canada
Level Contributor
10 posts
3 reviews
5. Re: Airport fees

Thanks for your input. I generally like to use local currency, will order some Colones from the bank to get us started.

This is our first trip to Costa Rica and we are very excited! It's a bit of a journey (western Canada), but I'm certain it will be well worth it!

Jaco, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
1,012 posts
6. Re: Airport fees

Personally, I don't see much reason to stand in the line of a bank to change money, especially for Jaco. As you break a $20 you will get your change in colones and most folks usually end up having a mix in their pockets. Will all the tourists' dollars in the town and country you will see quite a number of Costa Ricans spending dollars. Keep an eye on the exchange rates or ask ahead of using. Most are honest but there are some greedy folks out there. Usually gringo businesses if the truth be told. I have used dollars in sodas and tiny local businesses and have always gotten a fair exchange rate. Been hijacked in 1 or 2 gringo establishments but that is definitely not the norm. As for paying the airport departure, in 14 years worth of trips, I have never waited to pay at the airport more than about 2 minutes. I hope you enjoy your trip to Costa Rica.

Edmonton, Canada
Level Contributor
10 posts
3 reviews
7. Re: Airport fees

Thanks. Sounds as though paying the departure tax at the airport should not be a long wait. We'll make sure to have cash for that. I think I'll probably use Colones for most transactions, part of the experience and eliminates any doubts of unfair exchange rates.

Olympia, Washington
Level Contributor
63 posts
67 reviews
8. Re: Airport fees

We too just visited Costa Rica! Got back this morning!

You can use dollars (USD) or colones. The ATM just after you go through security has the lowest fees to pick up some colones. As of this past week most people were exchanging 500 colones for 1 USD.

Make sure you use small bills, most places take credit cards.

When you exit it's $29 (USD) per person. When you walk in the airport it's to your right. You can't even check in without paying the fee. There are plenty of people working, the line moves quickly and it's easy to do. Don't pay with credit - it is processed as a cash advance not a credit charge. This is something no one talks about - it's actually written on the boards when you walk up along with MasterCard advertisements.

So if you are not reading carefully you see MasterCard and assume - great they take credit and they do - they just charge more for it.

Visa charges the lowest fees in CR

American Express is outrageous so we left it out of the equation and most placed don't accept it I think we heard 18%.

MasterCard was higher than Visa so we used Visa at most restaurants and excursions. Our hotel required cash deposits to book events - not an issue - usually $20 USD per person.

Good luck.

Edited: 9:59 pm, April 29, 2013
Edmonton, Canada
Level Contributor
10 posts
3 reviews
9. Re: Airport fees

Thanks so much for all the tips! I had heard about using a credit card to pay fees and it being charged as a cash advance. Good to know about the varying fees for credit cards, will keep that in mind.


10. Re: Airport fees

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