Coming to a new country is not easy. Here are some recommendations that may help you during your first few days in Costa Rica:
• If you want and need to apply for refugee status, the first thing you should do is go to the Migration Office at the border area or at the headquarters so they can provide you with guidance. At the Department of Refugees of the Office of Migration in San José they will give you a provisional document as an applicant for refugee status that will allow you to remain in Costa Rica without any risk of being deported or detained by the police. It is important that you carry this refugee status application document with you at all times.
• Do not trust people who offer you services to facilitate the process of applying for refugee status. The process to be completed through the Office of Migration is free and should be done without intermediaries.
• Learn about the institutions that are specialized in refugee assistance: UNHCR, ACAI, RET, House of Rights of the Desamparados Municipality. These organizations provide advising and humanitarian assistance if you need it (any financial support is subject to an evaluation process to be performed ahead of time).
• Keep the contact information of the main organizations where you can ask for support with you.
• If you do not know where to stay, you can look for inexpensive hostels and inns in different parts of the city. There are websites where you can find information about hostels, including www.hostelworld.com and www.hostels.com. In the national newspapers, such as La Teja, La Extra and La Nación, among others, accommodation and renting offers appear daily in the Classifieds section.
• Learn about your rights and duties in the country. This will serve you well as you look out for your safety and well-being.