Even at this early hour of 6am, I’ve got some helpful information to know about flying out of Costa Rica. We arrived at the airport in San Jose just after 4am this morning and are now sitting at our gate, having passed check-in and security. So that you are more prepared than us, though, learn what you have to do to even get out of this exotic country.

Ever heard of a departure tax? I know other countries have them and now I know first-hand, Costa Rica has one per traveler. The tricky thing for me and Eric was that we saw the long line and the desks across from where our Delta check-in counters were, but there was a large sign hanging up saying there were conditions that meant you were exempt. It stated something to the extent that if your airline was listed there and you met other conditions, you just went straight to the airline. To the right of the list of airlines, which included Delta (our airline) and about eight other major airlines, there were dates (June 3, 2015 and September 1, 2015). The fine print just below those dates was impossible to read from where we were.

Yet when we went to check in, the Delta staff asked for our Departure Tax slip and informed us that we had to have purchased our ticket between those listed dates and travel within that time frame (or something to that extent). At first though, he didn’t even know about the sign and had to run over and ask someone and read the sign closer to even see what I guess is a new exception right now.

The take-away for you to be aware of…The departure tax cost $29 each traveler. And they only take cash! To make it even more disorganized and stressful when you’re trying to travel, they had an ATM machine right next to the tax counter that, of course, had a huge line of its own. So when an attendant encouraged those of us at the end of the line to go to one further down in the terminal, we took off. Only to find that the other ATM was not functional until 5am. Another worker there insisted it was 24hours and then just stood staring at the message on the screen that clearly said it was not available until 5am. He did direct us though to the ATM that was just outside the terminal where passengers were dropped off. Fortunately, this one worked for us all.

It all turned out nice and fine. It would just be great that 1) Delta provided information such as that more readily for its passengers departing Costa Rica on their flights, and 2) that Costa Rica’s airport got their stuff together better to ensure their ATMs work and that they consider lower their departure tax or having the airlines include it in their ticket price.

So just to summarize:

1. Be ready for a departure tax when flying out of Costa Rica

2. It’s $29 (that’s USD) each traveler

3. They only take cash so preferably go to an ATM before you even get to the airport

And in this way, you can save yourself a lot of trouble and enjoy those last moments in the beautiful, yet the somewhat disorganized and chaotic, country of Costa Rica. Maybe instead of pura vida, it should be loca vida.

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