A new migration system implemented by Costa Rica’s General Directorate of Migration is causing significant delays at airports throughout the country. According to media reports, travelers and airlines have complained of long lines at check-in and disruptions to flight departures, particularly at Daniel Oduber Airport (LIR) in Liberia and Juan Santamaria Airport (SJO) in Alajuela. On January 7, migration officials said that the number of counters would be increased from eight to 14 at SJO to speed up the check-in process and that additional personnel would be hired at both airports within the next month and a half.
The delays are believed to be due to the new migration system that was implemented in September 2017. Under the new process, travelers provide all of their information to migration authorities at the check-in counter who enter it into the computer system rather than using a paper form. According to media reports, the system had crashed at least ten times as of January 3, creating further delays. However, migration officials denied that the new system is causing the long lines, instead claiming that airports do not have the capacity to handle the number of travelers.
Travelers flying from airports in Costa Rica, particularly LIR and SJO, are advised to anticipate crowded conditions and allow additional time to complete the check-in process.