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Perpetual Tourists – Good Time to Get Legal or Get Gone

October 1st, 2013

pp.jpgPerpetual Tourists (PTs) are those folks who come to Costa Rica to live but have no intention of applying for legal residency.  They are under the mistaken impression that they can just leave Costa Rica every 90 days to “renew” their visa.  Some have done this for years and so will argue that it is OK.  However… This has never been legal, but sadly, it has never been made strictly illegal. Immigration has had many opportunities to remedy or clarify this problem, but instead it has skirted the issue time and again. Therefore, what we have now is a most unpleasant and even dangerous situation.  We have the immigration officials at airports and at the international frontiers  who pretty much seem to be acting on their own seemingly having received no guidance from their supervisors.  I know of nothing worse than bureaucrats acting on their own.

Interested in this topic?  Read on… Continue reading »

Costa Rica Modifies Rentista Residency

May 20th, 2012

Last Thursday, 17 May 2012, various new immigration rules (reglamentos) were published in La Gaceta, the magazine used to publish various legal notices and also where all new laws must be published before they actually become  enforceable, active laws. These reglamentos (rules) clarify the actual underlying law and also state publicly how a law, (in this case immigration law) will be enforced. Should you wish to read this reglamento, click here.

I waited until I gad a chance to read the new rules myself as often what is published very quickly in CR  papers may not be 100% accurate. If you wish to know more about the new Rentista form of residency, read on!

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One Way Airline Tickets to Costa Rica

December 10th, 2009

customerserviceI was preparing another of those “My Readers Write” posts that I do every so often, and this topic came up… again. Maybe it is time to give it its own space as apparently it is not clear to some people.

The question is always something like this: “I have heard I cannot fly to Costs Rica using a one-way ticket.”

My answer is, as always, “No, you can NOT unless you are a citizen of Costa Rica or have in your possession a valid and current residency ID card (cedula) proving that you live here. If you try, you will almost assuredly not be permitted to board the plane. If you do make it on board, you may well get caught at THIS end by immigration. Airlines are required to verify that any person attempting to fly and using a one way ticket is, in fact, a legal resident of Costa Rica. Most airlines (read that as all) try to follow the procedure religiously as they are faced not only with large potential fines, but also for paying for the return flight for the passenger when he is refused entry in Costa Rica.

Now please, before you start composing your comment telling me that you, your friend, your friend’s girlfriend and her auntie, etc flew here on a one-way ticket with no issue, please remember my “job” on this blog and in the RCR Web Site is to deal with facts, not luck or urban legend.

Read on if you wish!

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Costa Rica Residency Renewal – Revisited

July 2nd, 2009

Residency CedulaLast year, I blogged about the process of renewing my residency. Those interested can read the posts here and here.  For no good (logical) reason that I can see, renewals are for one year only and even though I did not GET my residency card until 4 months after the process began, it is now time to again renew the *%*(&$**  thing.

This year, though, things have changed!  OK… I know better than to say such a thing. Let us just say that the process has changed, and we shall see if  “things have changed”.

What are the big changes? Well the biggie is that this year, it seems, that I will not need to make the trek to immigration.  The other stuff will be gravy. So here is the new process:

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Renewing My Costa Rica Residency

January 26th, 2009

pain1Oh the pain.  Caught again! Obviously a regular reader… and one with a good memory… Miguel is one of my Blog watchers.  This is good really as I get busy and fail to followup on things when months pass between the writing and the actual activity. The pain is for making me remember what I sort of wanted to forget!

In this case, Miguel (who I suspect is really a Michael as he writes from the USA), reminded me that I had never followed up on my post from last July 4 regarding my residency renewal. I really meant to do this, but as I did not go until September… OK October… I lost track. So for anyone interested in what happened… read on!

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Much Ado About Nothing – Proposed Immigration Law

January 11th, 2009

nopanicI have received a fair amount of email regarding the proposed immigration laws and asking my thoughts.  I understand the panic as several online sources have made this out to be a done deal.  A disaster!  One such article promised the law would be passed before the Christmas Holiday.  All I can say is that Chicken Little would have been proud. Panic does sell though…  as we all know.

First… let’s look at what this is all about.

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Renewing Residency

July 4th, 2008

It is a bit hard to believe, but in all the years I have lived here, I have never had to make “the trip” to immigration (migración) to renew my residency. I have always been “legal” but the rarely used form of residency I began with was a true pain in the butt. Migración ran me in circles for several years, never approving my residency, but thankfully, never denying it either. Every time I thought they would approve it, they came up some new requirement that was never even in the law.

North Americans and others always have a real problem understanding “how things work” in Costa Rica. In the USA, for example, laws are more or less clearly defined. The “rules” are clear. If you go to renew a drivers license, you know what has to be done, and you are confident that all the clerks and others who assist you will follow these rules. Nobody does things on-the-fly.

This is NOT the case in Costa Rica, and most assuredly it is not the case when dealing with migración.

Continue reading »

Questions from Readers

November 6th, 2007

I guess this is going to turn into its own permanent post as the number of emails I am getting is just crazy. So here again are my replies to some of the better requests:

Is residency required to obtain a driver’s license in Costa Ria and is a test required?

Not yet! However there is now a bill before lawmakers that requires this, and it looks like it has a good chance of passing. As your right to drive here is tied to your being in the country legally, this might spell problems for those here illegally (past their 90 or 30 day tourist visa).

Do you know if the CCSS insurance covers pre-existing conditions?

They do. I actually hope this changes and I think it must. Too many people are coming to Costa Rica with VERY costly illnesses and this places an enormous burden on the already financially strapped CAJA.

I loved your website, very helpful. I do have a suggestions; maybe you can include more information for MOPT offices, hospitals, clinics, etc; in other areas, like Guanacaste where the expat populations is very high.

The hospitals (CAJA) are listed in the Real Costa Rica. There are VERY few private hospitals in Guanacaste and the “clinics” would shock the average expat. This is why I have ranted about 400 times that if you are over 50, you should consider whether you wish to be 4-5 hours from quality medical care. Expats love that beach, but seem to forget that over 50, your chances of needing emergency medical care go way up. Even in San Jose. getting an ambulance and getting to the hospital can take an hour. Just two weeks ago, three persons died in Escazu (10 minutes from Cima Hospital) because the ambulance arrived 50 minutes after it was called. Consider this when moving here!

There are MOPT (Ministry of Public Transportation) in Liberia and Limon, but the reason I have not listed them is that I have been told my many expats that those offices cannot issue driver’s licenses and are not full service.  I’d love some feedback on this as I am getting mixed signals.

Your website is very informative. Thank you. Quick question: I have an opportunity to work in Costa Rica for a couple years (have been there several times). My wifes main objection is that she does not want to live where she cannot fluch (sic) toilet paper. Is it possible to rent homes with plumbing that can handle TP?

I was not going to answer this, but then I remembered why I wrote The REAL Costa Rica in the first place which was to debunk these generalities!

Yes, there are about a jillion places to buy or rent homes with toilets that can handle paper. This is one of those truly dumb urban legends that surface on occasion… probably based on either plumbing from the last century or places that used really cheap toilets. Also, there are some older homes where the pipes are too small. Easy to find out! FLUSH before you BUY (or rent)… something you should be doing anyway! Now if you are one of those people (read GUYS) who use about a half a roll to take care of your business, then you may have a issue.

 

old-1412.jpgHello, my name is Dave, I am the fire chief at Nancy Run Fire Department I am trying to locate one of our old fire trucks that was sent to Costa Rica some time ago, I was seen at a parade called the fiesta palmares, see photo attached, I am hoping to find where it is currently located and contact information for the department that is using it. The fire truck is a 1964 Mack, yellow in color with the above listed fire company name on it.

So here is the photo (click to enlarge)! Any of you readers able to help? If so, email him at djb2328@rcn.com

When a cable company advertises cable modem speed 4 mb would that really be 4 mb? After reading your segment on the internet I wondered if they could really deliver that speed.

Probably not. I know I have never received even close to what I pay for (2MB). First, the infrastructure is generally crummy and second, you are sharing the connect with your neighbors. Order 50% more than you need and you will probably be happy. Also, expect a fair bit of downtime from the company you mentioned in your email.

We are planning our first visit for June 2008, and would appreciate any
feedback you have on the tentative following itinerary for myself, my wife,
and our two daughters, ages 11 and 9:

June 24 depart LAX – redeye
June 25 arrive San Jose around noon and take private van to Monteverde
June 26 fun and games in Monteverde
June 27 private van to Arenal
June 28 fun and games in Arenal
June 29 private van to Tamarindo
June 30 fun and games in Tamarindo
July 1 private van to Grecia
July 2 shuttle/van to airport, San Jose – LAX

I almost never answer these questions (or even reply) as I tell people I am not a travel agent. It occurred to me though, that this is a great example of why not to plan your own trip without the assistance of a good travel agent. Let’s take a look at this.

Monteverde is about 5-6 hours from the San Jose airport and about 2 hours from the Liberia airport. Is Liberia a better option?

Next, there are few vans that can handle the truly horrible road to Monteverde. A 4X4 is required. A tank would be better! Beautiful place though for sure! I love it!

Then to Arenal? Same issue. 4X4! Lovely drive – 2-3 hours depending on roads. Go North around the top of Lake Arenal.

To Tamarindo? 3-4 hours I am guessing. Loooong drive with young kids on bad roads (until you reach the Pan American Highway.

Tamarindo to Grecia? 5-7 hours. Lose a day just driving. Good roads though and a van would be OK.

You chose some GREAT places to visit, but after counting your drive hours (about 17-20 including the trip to the airport), you should be prepared for some grumpy kids and the perhaps serious loss of some vacation time. Now if you and the kids all really enjoy driving… well then give it a shot! You’ll pass through some beautiful country.

In summary, it is very tempting to look at a Costa Rica map and make plans based on what you THINK looks close. When traveling here, plan on an average travel speed of 20-25 MPH. Sound low? It is not. A 100 mile (150KM) trip here is at least 3-4 hours if you know where you are going. Bad roads are everywhere. Just this week I informed two of my tourist customers that the Pan American highway south is closed. They had no idea and had they followed their original plans, would have lost 6-8 hours getting back on track.

There are some excellent US based travel agents who really do know Costa Rica. Sadly, the majority read the same travel brochures and web sites you do and that is not enough. I always suggest a good Costa Rica based TA as they know what is happening here.

That’s it ’til the next batch.

Better Interest Rates in Costa Rica?

July 28th, 2007

After the demise of the several high interest houses a few years ago, Costa Rica lost its appeal as a place to get thirty plus percent annual interest rates in a supposed secure offshore environment. Couple that with the influx of baby-boomers and retirees and I often get asked for secure locations where money can be kept at decent interest rates. Here are some of my ideas, and while I am for sure not a financial planner or expert in these areas, I can shed a bit of light on your options here.

Our money needs change as we age. A thirty-something person or couple can afford a lot more risk in their money management style knowing that they have another 30-40 years to “balance” the ups and downs. A bad stock decision is far less important at age 32 than at age 62. Therefore, I am directing this post to the over 50 crowd who are not in the market for a $2 million beach front home in Costa Rica. If you can afford that, then you have little need for anything I have to say.

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My Readers Write

February 8th, 2007

I receive a zillion emails, and try to reply personally to all of them (except the ones that are clearly answered in The Real Costa Rica or are written by folks too lazy to just read the relevant page… but I digress! Over the holidays, the sheer numbers of emails increase AND I am run ragged by my wifey and businesses and have less time to reply. These emails were sent from The Real Costa Rica, The RCR Guest Book and Hisfault.

Some of the questions are pretty good and my reply may be of interest to others… so here they are! As always, I generally do not edit emails though I DO protect the identity of the writer as, sadly, some folks appear to be borderline literate. I may also shorten them a bit showing only the relevant question. Continue reading »

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