You must understand an important point : there are big differences between what are the laws and the way the officials apply them.
We should make a full stop at intersections, cops don't bother if you do not.
It's illegal to drive a motorcycle without a helmet, I see a lot of them.
The law stipulates that we must pay a 7$ exit tax... last week, I was told at the border that it was not necessary.
I could continue on a very long list.... you understand the point.
Yes, the law stipulates that we must be 72 hr outside the country... if we have something to declare to the Customs (500$ or more).
Until 2014, it was acceptable to Salida-Entrada CR within the hour (if on the Panama side they do not ask for a wait of one hour).
Now, Panama ask for a 3-hr wait... last week, I was told that in their new system, they can not enter new data in my file within 3 hours. So, this procedure is not from a law, but a computer programmation.
Since a couple of months, only Panama asked for a return ticket for the Entrada stamp (one way airplane from Panama City, or airplane from San José + bus ticket Panama-San José).
Now, Costa Rica ask also for an airplane ticket. I don't think that this is the law. It is just a practice of officials tired to be gringo's dummies... stamp-stamp... and not to be more stupid than the panamean officials...
Again, many tourists entering CR won't be ask for an airplane ticket (except at the airports). Again, last week I was not asked for an airplane ticket at the Entrada of CR (but three months ago, with another official, it was obligatory...). By the way, both Panama and CR kept a copy of your airplane ticket, I don't know if it is to verify until your next visit at the border... with another airplane ticket...
For no apparent reason, since 2014, the CR's officials asked for a 24 hr stay outside of the country for a 90-days visa. Is it not the law... because I was told that : if I don't want to stay overnight, that I will receive a visa of only 30 or 45 days. In December, I got only a 60 days visa... last week, same day run again, and with a little friendly discussion with the official, I've got 90 days.
In brief :
- for a 90 days visa with an Entrada with foreign goods declared = 72 hours
- for a 90 days visa without Customs declaration = 24 hours
- for a less than 90 days (30 or 45) = 3 hours (or less if Panama accepted it)
The lessons to learn :
Don't go by the law, but by the official you're dealing with in the moment.
It is then prerogative to be friendly, do not contradict them, be relax, do not try to convince them of your point of view. And don't try to bribe them, there are cameras...
---Robert asked: what is the minimum requirement for a visa run? One day, or three days?