Hello readers... today I bring you a very cool topic and my first hand experience. If you need a visa or tourist card extension, to visit the immigration office or need to know about leaving El Salvador to goto Costa Rica... this post is gonna be your one stop shop. In addition, if you have overstayed your tourist card -- I will talk about that to.
1. Going to Costa Rica
Why? Because it is outside the 4 countries that include El Salvador, Nicaragua, Hondorus and Guatemala. When you enter El Salvador you get a tourist card, it's good for 15, 30, 60 or 90 days. This card expires and once it does, you must LEAVE this region for 72 hours and return to get a new card. You can't just goto the 3 neighboring countries, the closest country that you can goto to restart your time is Costa Rica.
How? BUS! Tica Bus or King Quality are both luxiorious, safe bus lines that will take you to San Jose, Costa Rica. The price is currently $121.00, if you are a memeber of Hiper Europa shopping (I am) it's $109.00. You can purchase the tickets at their office in San Benito right before the traffic circle that takes you into "Zona Rosa". They are (King Quality and Tica) a few doors down from the great mexican restaurant, "Zocalo".
2. Overstayed Tourist Card
You have two options. One, leave the country by bus or airplane and pay the "Multa" of $114 upon leaving. You are free to re-enter. At the airport this is no big deal and does not set you back, on bus... you can get left at the border (seriously).
Second option: Goto the immigration office and pay the fine there and then ask for a Progorra aka Tourist card extension to leave the country. The "multa" is the same if paid at immigration.
3. Progorra (Tourist card extension)
The process for this depends on the type of extension you want. I personally find it much easier to leave the region for 72 hours, come back and get a new tourist card.
If you decide you want to get an extension you need:
-Original passport w/ stamp
-Passport sized foto
-Scanned, printed copy of photo page of passport
-Scanned, printed copy of last entry stamp.
-Name and telephone number of a national (citizen) who can account for your good conduct.
Note: it's much easier if you bring said person rather than just their name and phone number.
Once you get to the immigration office, you will enter the "compound". There is a door in the middle that says "Progorra and Visas" and that is where you will go. You will explain to them why, they will take documents, fill out form, ask your motives and take your finger prints. It costs $25 for a 1-15 day extension. The 90 day extension cost $95 at this time. This must be paid in cash, so go prepared.
The officials in the Immigration office are INCREDIBLY professional, courteous, polite and just wonderful at their jobs. I was attended by a wonderful young lady who helped me with a complicated issue. I wish I knew her name but I don't, but she was wonderful.
Apparantly they speak decent English, I speak fluent Spanish though, so I did not get the chance to test that.
The Progorra is given the same day (in a few hours) in most cases. It can take up to one day.
Do not wait until the last minute to travel or get an extension, do it a few days ahead of time.
Overall I would say that the Foreign Immigration office here is one of the best run offices in the entire country, with a well trained, attent staff. If you need to handle a visa or tourist card issue, don't fear going to immigration.
There are several immigration office but ONLY ONE HANDLES foreigner issues. So you will need to go to: