Land exit tax likely to be enforced starting Monday

Costa Rica is expected to begin requiring proof of payment of an exit tax Monday at land border crossings.

This is the tax that went into effect Dec. 2 and was abruptly ignored the same day because there was no way for travelers to pay the tax at the borders.

The amount is $5 a person plus $2 for baggage inspection even if there is no baggage.

A reader who crossed into Nicaragua Thursday said that there are signs at the border saying that proof of payment will be required Monday.

John Koger, who runs a business called A Safe Passage, agreed Thursday and cited a legal notice published Tuesday in the La Gaceta official newspaper that said the agents of the  Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería will be obligated to confirm that the tax has been paid.

It is strongly recommende that you purchase your exit tax in advance, and Bancredito is the only bank that sells the tax, said Koger. He is an agent for Tica Bus. He noted that the bus company is the only one that collects the tax and provides proof of payment at its terminal.

“However with the hundreds of people traveling daily, and with the occasional loss of Internet connection, it is strongly recommended by management that you have your tax paid for before going to the station,” he said

A.M. Costa Rica published a list of locations where the payment may be made. That list isHERE! However, there may have been changes since Christmas.

Koger said that he would be putting up a current list in a few days. That link will be HERE!

The original launch of the tax was a disaster because the Ministerio de Hacienda appeared to have serious trouble in communicating with the immigration authorities. Spokespersons for the ministry insisted for weeks that travelers had to show proof of payment of the tax. But those who actually crossed the border said this was not true.

“Hopefully things will run smoothly the second time around,” said Koger. “However if history is a teacher, travelers should expect that it will take more time to cross the border and be prepared for possible confusion and chaos.”

Koger said he crossed the border this week, and that as of Tuesday there was just one machine to collect the tax payment and issue a receipt at the Peñas Blancas crossing.

Thousands of persons cross there every day, he noted, and said that the machine only takes debit or credit cards, thus people without one will be out of luck.

Tica Bus is working on a system in which passengers boarding at places other than the main terminal will be able to get a slip showing payment.

“The system is not in place yet, but when it is we will post it on our site,” he said.

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