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Airport Departure Tax

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My wife and I just got back from Costa Rica and there were a couple of things that I wish I knew ahead of time about the airport departure tax so I thought I'd share what I found out.

Each person has to pay a departure tax of $26 USD before leaving Costa Rica. There are a couple of ways that I found out that you can pay for this fee.

First, you can pay at the airport the day you leave. When we arrived at the airport it was around 4:30 AM and there was no line at all. I have no idea if the lines get long during the day so it's probably a good idea to allow some extra time if you're leaving during a busier time and you plan on paying at the airport. One important thing to note is that you can pay in cash or you can pay with a credit card. I don't remember which credit cards they accept, but I'm sure they take Visa because that's what I paid with. The catch is that it's actually a cash advance transaction. When I got home, I noticed that not only was the charge for the tax more than what I was expecting (I was charged $53.06 instead of $52 for two people), but I also was charged $10 by my credit card company since it was considered a cash advance. I didn't see any signs telling me that it would be a cash advance or I would've opted to just pay in cash. One other thing to mention is that you're expected to pay the departure tax before you check in for your flight so make sure you do that first.

The other way I found that you can pay is at certain hotels. Not every hotel offers this service, and I don't think any of the hotels I stayed at did, but we did run into two hotels that did. We asked about it in one hotel and they told us that we could pay the departure tax there, but it was an additional $2 per person fee. I don't know if that fee is typical since we only asked at the one hotel. You also need your passports (not a photocopy) with you at the time. The guy we spoke to tried to convince us that the lines at the airport are really long so we were better off paying the tax at the hotel. Like I said, there were no lines when we were there, and we may have just gotten lucky, but it did feel a little like he was trying to convince us to pay at the hotel. One nice thing about paying at the hotel is that you don't have to wait until the day you leave. If you think you might be rushed at the airport, it might be a good idea to just get it out of the way and pay it a few days in advance.

I hope this helps!

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