Costa Rica has just recently passed and started enforcing a new exit tax of $5 (USD) on people leaving Costa Rica at both its northern and southern borders. While the fee is very minimal and a common practice at many border crossing through out the world, Costa Rica’s implantation of the new tax can only be considered one thing, a complete failure.
As anybody attempting to cross the border over the last week can tell you, the system suffered not one but two major flaws that lead to long lines, delays and anger that eventually caused the Immigration Administration to temporarily suspend verification of the tax to keep some resemblance of order at the border.
1- Lack of Awareness
Costa Ricans, Nicaraguans and tourists from all over the world all had one thing in common when trying to leave Costa Rica, no one new that there had been a new Tax put into place and if they did it was unclear when it was going to be enforced. This tends to be a issues with the government, pass a new law and let no one know about it until the last possible minute.
2- Paying the Exit Fee
The new Costa Rican exit fee can only be paid at Bancredito branched or ATM’s. Now here is the kicker, there are no Bancreidto branched or ATM’s at the border. That is right, you can not pay the exit fee at the border… Confused, you are not alone on this one. The nearest branch is located Liberia which is an hour plus drive each way from the border.
Conclusion on Costa Rica Border Tax
As of now the border issue has not been resolved and while the bank contracted to take the $5 exit tax has stated they will have ATM in place by next Monday. They also stated they would have ATM up and running by the time the tax would start to be enforced and we now know how that worked out. I am willing to bet that when they do put the ATM in it will only be that type of machine that dispenses money and not one that you can make a deposit in. But only time will tell!!
As soon as I verify that the ATM’s at the border are working and are the correct type, I will update this post but based on past experiences I would highly recommend doing the following.
To save your self the trouble of the ATM not being ready or not working after they are installed, before leaving town make sure you stop in Liberia and pay your exit tax before you start your drive to the border. You can even stop at the Liberia International airport as there is a branch there that take the $29.00 exit tax for all those flying out side of Costa Rica.