Upon release from prison, and providing all probation terms have been met, felons are free to travel throughout the US. Unfortunately, this is not the case for felons wanting to travel to another country.
Can Felons Travel to Costa Rica?
This blog post will cover whether felons can travel to Costa Rica.
Restrictions on Foreign Travel
Traveling from the US to another country After a felony conviction is an interesting question
What’s even more interesting is the fact that the US government does not set restrictions on felons wanting to travel abroad, restrictions are imposed by the country felons want to visit.
For example, a felon cannot freely travel to Canada, Canadian law states that anyone with a criminal conviction of any type, felony or misdemeanor, cannot travel freely across the Canadian border.
The Canadian government does not take the security of its people lightly and have invested heavily in protecting its citizens from anyone deeded “undesirable,” namely anyone with a criminal record.
Canadian laws are notorious handing out stiff penalties for its citizens in term of a prison sentence. As a result, they have developed zero tolerance for felons of other countries, particularly the US.
Canada’s stringent restrictions do not apply to all countries, each country differs in their requirements and restrictions placed on felons wanting to travel to that country.
In another blog post we discussed whether felons could obtain a passport to allow them to travel outside the US.
Generally, felons can get a passport but there are a few exceptions.
Convicted felons who cross the US border without permission after committing a drug-related felony is subject for federal arrest. Also, as part of their sentence and probation term, felons cannot obtain a passport.
And for felons holding a passport subjected to these terms, can have the passport revoke or restricted.
Also, any felon subjected to these terms who applied and received a passport but lied on the application can lose their passport. Apart from that, felons can legally obtain a passport and leave the US.
Why Costa Rica?
What about Costa Rica that attracts felons? And why would they even want to go there? Well, to start, Costa Rica is a popular tourist destination among US travelers, and just as anyone would. Costa Rica is the perfect travel destination, the perfect place for ex-cons from the US to refresh and relax for a while.
But why is Costa Rica so popular Among US tourists?
Let’s start with beautiful beaches, breathtaking surfing, lush vegetation, delicious foods, and fascinating wildlife. We might as well add to the list it’s amazing sightseeing, serene outdoors. Put all of that together, and we will have probably the happiest country on Earth, no wonder Costa Rica is so popular Among US tourist.
Entering Costa Rica
Where entry to Costa Rica as a US citizen is concerned, there are several requirements. Weather felon or not, these requirements must be met before entering the country.
Firstly, according to Costa Rica’s law, you must have at least 6 months remaining on your passport upon entering the country. For those entering by plane, your passport must be presented upon landing.
Felons must have a return ticket in their possession to show that at the end of the trip they will depart the country. Also, there is an exit fee roughly about $29 that must be paid on departure.
For those entering the country by sea, passports must be presented upon arrival at the various ports.
For those arriving by car, passports along with the vehicle’s registration information must be presented before entering the country.
For US citizens who plan to stay in the country for less than 90 days, a visa isn’t required. But if a US citizen plan to stay more than 90 days then a visa is required, and the visa must be obtained prior to leaving the US.
Felons wanting to visit Costa Rica are best advised to limit the length of their stay to less than 90 days. Failing to do so will increase the chances of a felon’s criminal record being checked.
It’s even more important for felons while in Costa Rica to stay out of trouble, especially if you are a US citizen. The legal system of Costa Rica is way different to that of the US.
Read also: Can a Felon Drive through Canada?
If arrested and placed in jail, for a tourist, a bond is extremely difficult to place.
Once in jail, it can take months before a formal complaint is filed. There is a rumor in Costa Rico that says the accused is not innocent until proven guilty. Hence a good legal counsel is required for felons jailed in Costa Rica. This is easily the best way to gain release from jail.
Considering the consequences, it is best to obey all laws and leave the country as planned.
Encouraging Felons in Costa Rica
Families of felons can be helpful by encouraging their loved ones to travel to Costa Rica, providing they have finished their probation terms.
Once the decision has been finalized to travel to Costa Rica, be supportive and help them to plan their trip well in advance.
In most countries, Americans are the subject for scrutiny. So, remind them to obey the law and stay out of trouble, attracting the eyes of the law in Costa Rica will spell doom for a US ex-con.
Remind your loved ones that they are taking this trip to Costa Rica to relax and reflect on the past with the intent to chart a new course in life. The goal should be, living a life of hard work, honesty, and integrity. Approximately 2/3 of felons return to prison within 2 years of their release, but with support, commitment, honesty, and dedication this reality can be avoided.
What are your thoughts about this blog post about how a felon can travel to Costa Rica? Have you or someone you know gone through a similar experience? what was it like, and were they successful?
Robert Gomez was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. He currently lives in Northern California with “the wifey,” “the kids,” “the dog,” and “that cat,” 🙁 He is also a former journalist who has interviewed murderers on death row. Felonyfriendlyjobs.org was born to help ex-felons get a second chance in life.