The land exit tax appears to have been reinstated.
Without mentioning that the tax was suspended because collection generated chaos, the finance ministry emitted a strange news release Friday. The tax has been in force since July, the release said.
That statement was contrary to what expats have experienced. Nov. 26 the ministry issued a release saying that Banco Crédito Agrícola would be collecting the tax and that credit card machines eventually would be placed at strategic border crossings. It also said that officials would start to collect the tax.
When the tax went into effect Dec. 2, hardly anyone making a border crossing knew abut it, and there was no easy way to pay it.
Since then workers at the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería referred all questions to the Ministerio de Hacienda. And that ministry stayed mum until Friday.
Without actually admitting that the tax had been suspended and implying that the tax had been collected since July, the ministry gave a list of locations where the tax could be paid. Some expats had been paying the tax at the bank and collection was spotted at the border crossings.
The locations where payments will be accepted appears to be new because late last month, the ministry said that the tax could only be paid at branches of Coopealianza as well as the Banco Crédito Agrícola.
Some bus lines, such as Tica Bus, had been collecting the tax.
In addition there is a $2 fee for x-ray baggage inspection even if the traveler has no baggage.
There does not seem to be a firm date when the credit card machines will be installed.
In addition to Coopealianza and the major international bus lines, the following firms will sell the exit tax, according to the ministry:
Viajes Colón with four Central Valley locations; Viajes Faytur in Grecia and San José; 3 Monkeys Tour in Filadelfia, Guanacaste; Cast Corp. in Escazú, CATOURS in Sabana Oeste; Daily tours in Plaza Mayor, Rohrmoser; Excursiones Marvi in Hatillo.
Also, New World Quality; Swiss Travel in San José, Ciudad Colón and Guanacaste; Servicios Turisticos Ecológicos in Heredia; Viajes Nacionales Isla Bonita in San José downtown; Cactus Tours in Hereida; Plus Papagayo in Liberia; Libería y Bazar María José in Sixaola; Viajes Ejecutivos Mundiales in San José; TAM in Los Yoses and Servicos Rápidos de Viajes FAST in San José.
The immigration agency reported over the weekend that the flow of travelers at Peñas Blancas into Nicaragua was orderly. There was no mention of the exit tax.
Officials estimated that 200,000 persons would cross the border into Nicaragua during the days leading up to Christmas. the border posts were open for 24 hours through tonight.