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One-way travel to San Jose, Costa Rica

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Scottsville, Va
posts: 3
One-way travel to San Jose, Costa Rica

My wife and I are traveling to San Jose in January on a one-way ticket with the thought of traveling around Costa Rica for two or three weeks then taking a bus overland to Panama. We then plan traveling Panama for the same period and exiting through Columbia. I looked at a website which states a outward bound ticket (either air or surface) is required (upon entry?) into Costa Rica. Does anyone know of exceptions or something I can do to preclude buying a ticket before I arrive? The whole idea of this trip is to have the freedom to explore at leisure without having set artificial departure times in advance. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Jim R.

27 replies to this topic
Destination Expert
for Jaco, Bocas Town
posts: 3,727
reviews: 115
1. Re: One-way travel to San Jose, Costa Rica

You can buy a Tica Bus ticket and you have a year to use it. Or contact Caribe Shuttle and ask them if you buy a ticket with them for a certain date, can you change dates (crossing with Caribe Shuttle from Puerto Viejo to Bocas Del Toro is an easy option for crossing CR to Panama)

Jaco, Costa Rica
posts: 1,013
2. Re: One-way travel to San Jose, Costa Rica

Or just by an onward ticket and cancel it. If you can find a way at home to get the bus ticket that would definitely be an option too. I have had a bus ticket I keep in my computer bag for a while now.

posts: 940
3. Re: One-way travel to San Jose, Costa Rica

I've never had anyone check if I had a return ticket when entering Costa Rica. I suppose they could, but so far (over 20 times) it hasn't happened.

Scottsville, Va
posts: 3
4. Re: One-way travel to San Jose, Costa Rica

Thanks to all of you for your kind responses. In this day of electronic tickets, I have never been asked by anyone in any country I've traveled to for an onward ticket. I will look into the bus ticket however as I will have to use it anyway and if it is good for a year, that is even better. Thanks again. JIm R.

Jaco, Costa Rica
posts: 1,013
5. Re: One-way travel to San Jose, Costa Rica

The problem is not so much with them checking here but the airlines are pretty strict in the States about making sure you have an onward ticket .

Winnipeg, Canada
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
posts: 6,017
reviews: 16
6. Re: One-way travel to San Jose, Costa Rica

The airlines always used to check. They are subject to large fines if the bring in a passenger that Costa Rica deems inadmissable.

For years no one ever asked me when I entered Costa Rica. Then once about a year and a half ago, the migra person did and I had to pull out what I had. But since then I haven't been asked again. And I have read on the forum that others have been asked when entering Costa Rica. So just in case I would get the bus ticket or something else to show. Better to be safe...

With electronic tickets - if you show your itinerary file I think that does it.


Uvita, Costa Rica
Destination Expert
for Uvita, Ojochal
posts: 2,127
reviews: 28
7. Re: One-way travel to San Jose, Costa Rica

You do need some kind of ticket showing you are leaving the country within 3 months, and its a requirement to board your flight to Costa Rica.

The airlines are very strict as they can get fined. I never have a return ticket as I am resident in CR but the airline always see that I do not have a return ticket in their system and ALWAYS will ask for recidency card or proof of onward journey (Had this in the UK, France, Colombia, Mexico & USA) without fail. Last flight to Costa Rica from Orlando I got asked two times, the second time they paged me in departures to the counter as they were doing a secondary check on non CR passports with no retur ticket in their system (but not my wife who has a Costa Rican passport).

The posters who never got asked by the airline is probably because they had a return flight with the same airline and the clerk can see it in the system.

A bus ticket in your hand should do the trick, or a return flight that you latter cancel. Make sure you have something as they will deny boarding.

A nice place
posts: 713
reviews: 3
8. Re: One-way travel to San Jose, Costa Rica

Officially it is a requirement to have an onward ticket and they have asked me when I checked in.

Here is the official document from Migracion, it's on the second page:

"... las personas extranjeras que pretendan ingresar a Costa Rica deberán aportar: 4) tiquete, boleto o pasaje de continuación de viaje..."


Edited: 10:18 am, November 12, 2012
posts: 940
9. Re: One-way travel to San Jose, Costa Rica

So, buy a one-way air ticket to C.R. (any fare), and a one-way air ticket back for some time in the distant future at a fully refundable fare. Then just cancel it once you have safely entered C.R.

It would seem that no matter which option you choose, you will have to set the artificial departure times that you want to avoid. I'm not really sure what the big deal is. Pretty much every country requires some evidence that you will be leaving and not becoming a resident.

Thomas C has it correct. The checking is done before you leave, not when you arrive.

San Jose, Costa Rica
posts: 41,665
10. Re: One-way travel to San Jose, Costa Rica

Ticket to leave the country is mandatory...


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