Questions about renewing visa every 90 days

As I stated earlier this trip was primarily to renew my visa in Costa Rica. I get occasional letters from people considering a move to Costa Rica with questions of all kinds. Well, just today, a regular reader of this blog asked the following questions about getting the visa renewed every 90 days. The questions are in blue and my answers in black. Maybe you have had the same questions? These photos are not from this week’s trip, but a group trip I did December 30, 2015. This week’s trip was solo and much more than just getting a visa! This week in two days I birded in two reserves and photographed colonial churches in Leon. A lot more fun than just a border run! But both give you the 90 day visa needed:

Has the 90 day visa situation worked okay for you? 
One of several “Visa Run” groups I was a part of – at border.
It has worked fine for me for a year and a half now, but I’m kind of hoping today’s is the last visa I have to get as I am completing residency requirements and will then be able to get a CR Driver License. I do not have a car but rent one occasionally, mainly for birding trips. You have to have residency before you can get a Costa Rica Driver License, so I have to use my Tennessee Driver License which requires a current Visa. Once my residency was in process I could have lived here without renewing the visa, but could not drive (legally). It is interesting to note that there are actually a lot of expats who, for whatever reasons, do not want to fool with residency application red tape and elect to be permanent tourists, living here legally on tourist visas. There have been rumors about the government “putting a stop to that,” but since it brings money into the country I doubt they will. If we could just get a Tico Trump for president of Costa Rica, he would put a stop to these damn yankees! 🙂  Fortunately, Ticos love Americans and Canadians and are all very welcoming of us and all foreigners, all races and all religions. 

A reasonable wait in line coming out of Nicaragua.
How many times have you had to leave and return? I think this week was number 6. The first 4 times I used a local tour operator who organizes “Visa Runs” for local expats. We left at 5 AM, stopping for breakfast and then in Liberia for the exit tax certificate. At the Nicaragua border town of Penas Blanca we cross over and then turn around and come back. About $25-$30 of border fees plus tipping a local Nica expediter. We payed the tour guy $150 for the drive, technical assistance and two meals enroute. It was a 12-14 hour day with some good fellowship, but I got tired of that and for two times now I have made it into birding trips.  

Did you ever have any problems returning (as some online sources say you are at the mercy of the agent and the agent doesn’t have to let you back in for a full 90 days). I’ve heard of that and agents do have that power, but it has never happened to me (or anyone in our groups). Well, one time a lady was given 30 days and our tour leader went back and talked to the agent and he changed it to 90 days. I always get 90 days. Now you do have to show proof that you can leave the Costa Rica within the 90 days and that is easy by purchasing an open-ended bus ticket at the border for just $25. It is good for 12 months.  

I also read that you cannot depart to the same country two times in a row. Not true. It is funny to hear rumors like that and wonder how they get started. 🙂 I just departed Nicaragua 6 times in a row with 90-day visas every time. I go there because it is closer from Atenas than Panama or other country further away. If I have to do it again, I plan to go to Panama next time, which I will do anyway at some point. Birding is very good in several spots along the canal which I have done, but I haven’t been to northern Panama yet or seen Boco Toro which is mainly snorkeling I think, but sea birds I’m sure. 

Many of the “Snowbirds” only stay here 3 months or if longer take one trip out. And there are Americans with a lot of family who go home to the states every 3 months or so, which gives you the visas. So there are many angles, but if you are really going to make it your retirement home, I recommend getting residency. It will make life here easier. And of course I already have a bank account with debit card, have my SS check deposited here, attend a local church, joined clubs and made friends; all of which makes it more like home. 


I’m back home from the Nicaragua trip but too busy to process photos, so this little break in my photo blog by answering questions. And remember that the SEARCH box top right will help you find answers like this somewhere in my blog! 

Resident Male Yellow Warbler

Resident Male Yellow Warbler
Juan Venado Wildlife Refuge, Nicaragua
The one that migrates north has a yellow head, only the resident has red-brown.

My computer has no more space for me to download more photos from my camera. So I have a problem to solve before I post more. 🙂

The “Other World-ness” of a Colonial Town

A Corridor Invites You to
Step into the 15th Century.

Am I in Europe? Spain?
View of Cathedral de Granada from Bell Tower of La Merced Church

A Magical Sunset
without extreme light pollution.

An “Old Fashion” Funeral

Crowded Market Street
as in all third world countries even today and inside the mercado
can only be experienced in person with the smells, sounds, jostling, goods.
The majority of the world!

This is a tinge of what I experience in Nicaragua which would still be considered by most as “3rd World,” whatever that means. While Costa Rica would probably be called “2nd World” which is also not an official description. We have our poverty and crowded streets and old-fashion markets with some of the same smells and sounds, but without the colonial color much of Central America has. There is a long, complicated historical explanation of why Spain did not build a lot of colonial buildings in Costa Rica, other than churches. And today’s Ticos love to consider their country progressive with a NASA astronaut, big businesses and shiny new shopping malls. I have to go to small rural villages to experience even some of what I did in Nicaragua. And I do!

I’ll try to stop talking about Nicaragua now, so maybe these are the last photos I will share. There is the oxcart parade in Atenas this weekend, so a refocus back here!  🙂

Sharing the road with all kinds of vehicles in Nicaragua!

These and other photos are now in my online gallery: Nicaragua Birding Trip 2016.

The Road to Montibelli

The road approaching Montibelli Nature Reserve in Nicaragua
Talk about a “Road Less Traveled!”  A wonderful place!
In dirt walls along the road were holes/nests of Turquoise-browed Motmots

And I now have my photo gallery up for my Nicaragua Birding Trip 2016 with all birds labeled and most of the other photos, though still working on the labels. The above image is one.

Nicaragua: The Book

Of course with all those photos, I had to make a book! It is mostly birds but includes culture photos of Granada, people, Semana Santa, and interesting roadside shots across the country. You can click on the image above and electronically thumb through the book for free. No purchase required!  🙂


Yellow-throated Vireo,  Montibelli Nature Reserve, Nicaragua

Yellow-faced Grassquit,  El Jaguar Nature Reserve, Nicaragua

Common Bush Tanager,  El Jaguar Nature Reserve, Nicaragua

Rose-breasted Grosbeak,  El Jaguar Nature Reserve, Nicaragua
A really bad photo, but it does show I saw one!  🙂

Will I ever finish the Nicaragua birds? You may be asking that and I am getting closer to the end, but it is I believe the most different birds I have photographed on any trip, about 85 to 90 species. No exact count yet, but it beats my 2009 Costa Rica birding trip with about 50 species.

Last of Birds from El Jaguar, Nicaragua

Black-headed Saltator
El Jaguar Nature Reserve, Nicaragua

Bushy-crested Jay
El Jaguar Nature Reserve, Nicaragua

Baltimore Oriole
El Jaguar Nature Reserve, Nicaragua

Clay-colored Thrush
El Jaguar Nature Reserve, Nicaragua

Great-tailed Grackle
El Jaguar Nature Reserve, Nicaragua

El Jaguar Nature Reserve was a great place for birding, maybe the best yet!

Last of the Birds from Montibelli Nicaragua

Smooth-billed Ani
Montibelli Nature Reserve, Nicaragua

White-winged Dove
Montibelli Nature Reserve, Nicaragua

White-tipped Dove
Montibelli Nature Reserve, Nicaragua
The difference from White-winged is the tail is tipped white

Inca Dove
Montibelli Nature Reserve, Nicaragua

Bronzed Cowbird
Montibelli Nature Reserve, Nicaragua

Clay-colored Thrush
Montibelli Nature Reserve, Nicaragua

Rufous-naped Wren
Montibelli Nature Reserve, Nicaragua

Melodius Blackbird
Montibelli Nature Reserve, Nicaragua

Streak-headed Woodcreeper
Montibelli Nature Reserve, Nicaragua

Whew! It was a lot of birds! A wonderful trip!

Long-tailed Manakin, Nicaragua

Long-tailed Manakin
Montibelli Nature Reserve, Nicaragua
This shot shows his face best while the next his colors

Long-tailed Manakin
Montibelli Nature Reserve, Nicaragua
Notice the blue on his back and red on his head

About Long-tailed Manakin on