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posts: 8
reviews: 23

I am arriving at SJO at 11:30 am. How long can I plan for customs/immigration as I see 9 or 10 international flights arriving with 40 minutes of each other.

Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
posts: 8,538
reviews: 58
1. Re: Customs/immigration

Ouch. It will be crowded. Not only the customs/immigration, also the baggage area. So it is almost impossible to calculate the waiting time.

Grecia, Costa Rica
posts: 916
reviews: 15
2. Re: Customs/immigration

Have your documents properly filled out, as a major delay is often caused by travelers who expect the immigration officer to explain them. Limit what you have in your carry on, present your docs promptly, and immediately attempt to find your luggage, one more doc to present, quick scan, and you're out. My guess is just under 1 hour. Have a great holiday.

Playa Hermosa...
Destination Expert
for Manuel Antonio National Park, Jaco
posts: 1,143
reviews: 62
3. Re: Customs/immigration

We had several groups of friends arrive this year all via Delta which came in during that timeframe. Each time it took them 60 minutes and one group almost 75 mins. Knowing to expect that will help with your frustration level : ) Recently I came in on JetBlue arrival at 11:05 a.m. and there was no lines at all... maybe you'll get lucky and be early! Be aware that sometimes airport officials take bags off the carousel and put them to the side b/c of the next arriving flight and need for that carousel. Good luck and have a great trip!

San Jose, Costa Rica
posts: 44,925
reviews: 3
4. Re: Customs/immigration

We go to SJO and LIR daily to pick up passengers...at SJO about 45 minutes...at LIR about 30 minutes...

Of course depends of different factors .like luggage arrive at flight...how many more flights...etc..

But overall those times are about the corect times you can expect to take in Customs and Migration!

Thank you for visiting my country...please enjoy it as we natives do!


posts: 8
reviews: 23
5. Re: Customs/immigration

Thanks for info. Really looking forward to this trip see u all thursday

posts: 125
reviews: 23
6. Re: Customs/immigration

I am coming in on a 6:00 AM Saturday flight this week--assuming customs/passport control will be much less than 45 minutes?

Thanks in advance!


Jaco, Costa Rica
posts: 1,013
7. Re: Customs/immigration

A simple tip is not to mess around when they let you off the plane. If you think you might need to use the restroom, use it on the plane as late as you can. When they open that door I take off in my usual fast walk as I see people dawdling around in the terminal. Might sound small but it makes a difference.

Costa Rica
posts: 25,252
reviews: 26
8. Re: Customs/immigration

A good rule of thumb is that it will take an hour to get through the airport. It might take less, but probably not more.

If you have only carryon, then 45 minutes probably. It may take 15 minutes to get your luggage - it probably won't. But if you have only carryon, you will just bypass all that and head straight for customs where there will not be any line at all.

But it also depends on where you are seated on the flight. If you are in the back of the plane, you will be behind most of the other people on your flight so it could take a while. But the people at passport control are really good and there is usually a person "directing traffic" so things move pretty fast.

For customs, you will put your luggage and all the rest of your stuff on a conveyor belt to be x-rayed, hand over your customs declaration (which they usually don't look at) and you're done. There are 3 or 4 x-ray "stations" so it moves pretty quickly.

If you arrive at 6 am, it should be pretty quick, once again, depending on your position on the plane. Good advice from jako - if you are in a hurry, don't dawdle on the way.

posts: 125
reviews: 23
9. Re: Customs/immigration

Thanks for the good advice! And am in row 3 on the plane, so will just plan on hustling through!

Costa Rica
posts: 25,252
reviews: 26
10. Re: Customs/immigration

Is there some reason why you would be in a hurry to get through the airport? Are you hoping to catch a shuttle or something like that?