February 21, 2019
No one wants surprise-endings, especially a hidden charge at the end of a fabulous Costa Rica vacation. The last thing you want to hear is- “Excuse me; there is a ‘small’ problem here! Your Airport Tax has not been paid.” If you are not careful this could be you when boarding an International flight at a Costa Rica airport. Here is how to ensure that Costa Rica’s dreaded Exit Ariport Tax is paid before lining up to check-in for your flight.
Costa Rica’s laws require all passengers departing Costa Rica by air, whether adult, child or infant, to pay an Exit Tax of US$29.00 in cash. The revenue goes into the Government’s general funds; primarily for operating and providing improvements at the airport (overhead, security, and facility maintenance). Fortunately, the Exit Airport Tax is now included in the fare paid to most airlines, but not all.
One Last Tax & Then You Can Go
To avoid paying the exit Airport Tax requires getting past security and that is rare. Getting caught, can involve grounding the aircraft and having security officials escort the ‘forgetful’ person(s) back to the gate to pay the Exit Airport Tax at the airport’s Bancredito kiosk.
Paying the Exit Tax in the Airport
Upon entering the departure area inside the airport, head to the Costa Rica bank, Bancredito, to pay the Exit Tax in ‘cash,’ it’s denominated in U.S. Dollars or the equivalent in Colones; by credit card (Visa, Master Card, and American
Express), they treat this as a cash advance which entails interest charges.
Exit Tax Law
The Exit Tax is governed by Costa Rica’s Law #5874, which requires all persons (adults, children and infants) leaving the Country by air, to pay the Exit Tax.
In 2016, the Government decided to simplify the process and allow the airlines to collect the Exit Tax on their behalf; along with their airfares. That may sound like a simple, novel way of going about business; but not so. Not all the airlines readily agreed to setting up systems to collect many siting problems reporting this
additional income internally; some still have not yet joined the system.
To further complicate matters, a standard method of displaying the Exit Tax on the ticket was never devised. So each airline has their own method of showing their receipt of this Tax on their ticket; it creates a confusing situation and has lead to reports of it giving birth to a Tax Scam (a rip-off). Unsuspecting and confused travelers, anxious to catch their flight, have found themselves paying ridiculous amounts for Exit Taxes to unscrupulous agents dressed in a ‘uniform?’
When purchasing your tickets ensure the Exit Tax is included in the fare, get the travel agent or person issuing the ticket to clearly indicate the Exit Tax payment and make a copy to keep with your travel documents.
In situations where the carrier does not facilitate the collection of the Exit Tax remember to set aside US$29.00 each to purchase it at the airport prior to check-in.
As an extra measure of personal safety, travelers should always keep a few dollars handy for unforeseen circumstances.
Being able to prove the Exit Tax is paid prevents unnecessary delays and unwanted expenses.
Be Warned! Once the Exit Tax has been collected, there is no known method of collecting a refund.
Find out if the Exit Tax is included in your ticket beforehand. Request a breakdown of all charges included in the ticket price. This breakdown should be photocopied; keep the copy attached to your other travel documents. Information printed on the ticket is sometimes very difficult to understand (even by them); try explaining it to someone speaking a foreign language.
If you choose to leave Costa Rica by road then the Exit Tax is only USD 7.00; but that has another set of challenges.
Airlines that Include the Exit Tax in the Fare
The Costa Rica Departure Tax is Included in the ticket by these Airlines-
- Air Canada
- Air France
- Air Panama
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines
- British Airways
- Jet Blue Airways
- Taca Airlines
- United Airlines
- US Airways
Exit Tax / Departure Taxes Charged In Other Countries
The list below demonstrates that the Exit Tax charged in other nearby countries-
|Rio de Janeiro||36.00|
More Travel Recommendations
Avert potential problems when traveling to or from Costa Rica-
- Set-aside a few Dollars for emergencies, e.g. Credit card systems may be temporarily down- then what?
- Get printed copies of all travel details including items paid for along with the airfare.
- When reconfirming your flight, ask if the Exit Tax payment is indicated on their records.
- Delays in airport departure lounges are inevitable; for passenger-comfort, especially young children, purchase snack and refreshment items before going to the airport. Snack items are very expensive at the airport.
- Alcohol and other items may be purchased ‘Duty-Free’; they are reasonably priced in Costa Rica’s airports.
- The concierge services at the Blue River Resort and Hot Springs will assist guests in their pre-departure preparations. They offer updated information support for guests staying in Costa Rica.
Check-In Early On Your Return Flight
Before your departure, check-in earlier than the airline’s prescribed deadline. They will need to process your passport and immigration documents before departure. During this time they must check that you have no outstanding-
- Traffic tickets (speeding too)
- Other outstanding Government business
- And if your name Appears on any International Watch List
As part of the pre-boarding checklist the carrier must make sure they can verify your Exit Tax has been paid. If it has not, then the passenger may purchase the Tax there in the airport. Inside the airport there are Bancocredito kiosks offering the Exit Tax for sale.
If an error is found before going to the airport it can still be purchased in some hotels, banks and a few other places (ask at your hotel).
Travel safely and contact the Blue River Resort and Hot Springs for information on how they can help to make your Costa Rica vacation the very best. You can always ask the reservations staff for help with the airport Exit Tax in Costa Rica.