Includes information on business customs, travel advisory, visa requirements, and other aspects of international travel.
Costa Ricans are friendly and service-oriented people. As such, Costa Rican business executives place great importance on personal contact with their foreign suppliers. If possible, meetings should take place at the hosts’ facilities and not in a hotel room. A business suit is appropriate for most business meetings, the use of a tie is optional.
Handshakes are the common greeting used by visiting businesspersons. *
Being on time to a meeting is expected, but you might have to wait for the Costa Rican counterparts, as punctuality is a flexible concept, and being 15 minutes late is not seen as late but just being “a little behind.”
The U.S. company representative should have business cards, proposals, and other material printed or ready to be transferred in both English and Spanish. At first, a company looking to do business in Costa Rica should address a person directly by using his or her last name. Only after several meetings, one may refer to the other person with his fist name.
Business negotiations proceed much slower than in North American culture. Sometimes Costa Ricans prefer a more indirect and political approach to business as opposed to direct business tactics. Impatience is widely viewed as a weakness and can sometimes lower one’s credibility. Talking about family is viewed positively and becoming “friends” will likely be good for business.
Men should wear a conservative, dark suit. In warmer climates, a jacket is optional. Women can wear a dress or skirt and blouse for formal business meetings, but it is far more common for women to wear pants to work. Costa Ricans are a little more formal than other Latin Americans.
Telephone calls continue to be the number one way to set up appointments, in-person, or virtual conferences, although an email may also do the trick. Be sure to follow up with an e-calendar meeting request after an agreement is reached over the phone. WhatsApp is the number one direct way to contact someone in Costa Rica, bypassing assistants and it usually beats emails in quick answers or even sending documents.
Keep in mind, the rainy season lasts from late April to November. If you don’t want to be stuck in traffic and rain, you should consider coming to Costa Rica during another time of year, or at least try to set your meetings during the morning, when it is usually sunny. Be sure to take local holidays into consideration as most businesses will close, and the ones that remain open might not have the decision-makers available.
Although Costa Rican businessmen are very friendly, it is not customary to invite people home, not until a deep business and personal relationship has developed.
Meetings during breakfast or lunch time are not customary. Evening dinners or after-office meetings tend to be more social and less business oriented.
*Not recommended during COVID-19 pandemic.
Safety and Security
There have been no recent acts of terrorism in Costa Rica. Though infrequent, visitors to Costa Rica may experience the effects of civil disturbances, such as work stoppages and strikes. On both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts, ocean currents can be swift and dangerous, and there are few lifeguards or signs warning of dangerous beaches. Every year, American citizens drown in Costa Rica due to riptides or sudden drop-offs while in shallow water; extreme caution is advised. Adventure tourism is popular in Costa Rica, and many companies offer white-water rafting, bungee jumping, jungle canopy tours, deep sea diving, and other outdoor attractions. Some tour operators take risks, and government regulation and oversight of firms that organize sporting activities may not always adhere to international standards and best practices. U.S. citizens have died in Costa Rica while participating in adventure sports. Use caution and common sense when engaging in ALL adventure sports, such as bungee jumping, sky diving, hiking, rappelling, climbing, whitewater rafting, kayaking, etc. Make sure your medical insurance covers your sport.
Never participate in adventure sports alone. Always carry identification and let others know where you are at all times. Before kayaking and rafting, check river conditions and wear a life jacket and helmet. Even popular rafting locations such as the Rio Naranjo near Quepos can become extremely dangerous in flash flood conditions. When hiking, rappelling, or climbing, carry a first aid kit and know the location of the nearest rescue center. Observe all local or park regulations and exercise caution in unfamiliar surroundings.
For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the State Department’s Internet web site at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel.html where current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts can be found.
Over one and a half million foreign tourists, the majority American, visit Costa Rica annually. All are potential targets for criminals — primarily thieves looking for cash, jewelry, credit cards, electronic items and passports. U.S. citizens are encouraged to exercise the same level of caution they would in major cities or tourist areas throughout the world. Local law enforcement officers can have more limited response capabilities and may follow protocols differing from their U.S. counterparts. Travelers should minimize driving at night, especially outside urban areas.
U.S. citizens should exercise caution when in areas with high concentrations of bars and nightclubs, especially at night, and steer clear of deserted properties or undeveloped land. For safety reasons, the Embassy does not place its official visitors in hotels in the San Jose city center, but instead puts them at the larger hotels in the outlying suburbs. U.S. citizens should walk or exercise with a companion, bearing in mind that crowded tourist attractions and resort areas popular with foreign tourists are common venues for criminal activity. Travelers should ignore verbal harassment and avoid overt displays of wealth — to include large amounts of cash, jewelry, or expensive photographic equipment. In lieu of their original passport document, tourists are encouraged to carry photocopies of their passport data page and Costa Rican entry stamp on their persons, leaving the original in a hotel safe or other secure place.
Travelers should purchase an adequate level of locally valid theft insurance when renting vehicles, park in secured lots whenever possible, and never leave valuables in their vehicle. The U.S. Embassy receives regular reports of valuables, identity documents, and other items stolen from locked vehicles, especially rental vehicles. Thefts from parked cars occur in downtown San Jose, at beaches, in the airport and bus stations, gas stations, parking lots, and at national parks and other tourist attractions.
Travelers should use licensed taxis, which are red with medallions (yellow triangles containing numbers) painted on the side. Licensed taxis at the airport are painted orange. All licensed taxis should have working door handles, locks, seatbelts and meters (called “marias”); passengers are required to use seatbelts. When traveling by bus, to limit risk of theft, avoid putting bags or other personal belongings in the storage bins. At all times have your belongings in your line of sight or in your possession.
Thieves typically work in groups of two to four. A common scam has one person drop change in a crowded area, such as on a bus, and when the victim tries to assist, a wallet or other item is taken. Another common scam involves the surreptitious puncturing of tires of rental cars, often near restaurants, tourist attractions, airports, or close to the car rental agencies themselves. When the traveler pulls over, a “good Samaritan” quickly appears to change the tire - and just as quickly removes valuables from the car, sometimes brandishing weapons. Drivers with flat tires are advised to drive to the nearest service station or other public area if possible, and change the tire themselves, watching valuables at all times.
In 2006, the government of Costa Rica established a specialized Tourist Police force, with units patrolling popular tourist areas throughout the country. The Tourist Police can assist with the reporting of a crime, which can be difficult for victims due to language barriers and the requirement that only investigative police can accept crime reports.
General Entry/Exit Requirements
For entry into Costa Rica, U.S. citizens must present a valid passport and a roundtrip/outbound ticket. A visa is not required for U.S. citizens traveling with a valid U.S. passport. Some U.S. airlines may not permit passengers to board flights to Costa Rica without a return ticket. Passports should be in good condition; Costa Rican immigration will deny entry if the passport is damaged in any way. Costa Rican authorities generally permit U.S. citizens to stay up to 90 days. To stay beyond the period granted, travelers must apply for an extension to the Office of Temporary Permits in the Costa Rican Department of Immigration. Tourist visas are usually not extended except under special circumstances, and extension requests are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. There is a departure tax for short-term visitors, which is typically included in the cost of a traveler’s airfare. Tourists who stay beyond the designated exit date may experience a delay at the airport when departing and will have to pay a fine. Individuals with prior overstays may further be denied entry to Costa Rica. Persons traveling to Costa Rica from certain countries in South America and sub-Saharan Africa must provide evidence of a valid yellow fever vaccination prior to entry. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Costa Rica in Washington, D.C., or one of Costa Rica’s Consulates in the United States for information on specific countries considered at risk.
Resources on COVID-19 Travel Restrictions and Requirements:
As conditions for entry into Costa Rica are constantly evolving due to COVID-19, we recommend that all travelers should utilize the following resources when planning your trip:
- The most authoritative and up-to-date information on Costa Rican entry and exit requirements, including visa information, may be obtained from the Consular Section of the Embassy of Costa Rica at 2114 “S” Street, NW, Washington, DC 20008, telephone (202) 499 2991, fax (202) 265-4795, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, web site http://www.costarica-embassy.org/, or from the Costa Rican consulates in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, San Juan (Puerto Rico), San Francisco, and Tampa. The Costa Rican immigration agency maintains a website at: http://www.migracion.go.cr/. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Costa Rica in Washington or one of Costa Rica’s consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements before shipping any items.
- Additional resources:
- U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica: https://cr.usembassy.gov/COVID-19-information/
- It is also advisable to confer with your airline for additional information.
U.S. companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States should be advised that security evaluations are handled via an interagency process. Business visitors are advised to plan their trips as far in advance as possible.
Applicants for U.S. visas should go to the following links:
- State Department Visa Website: https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english.html.
- Consular Section in the U.S Embassy in Costa Rica: https://cr.usembassy.gov/visas/nonimmigrant-visas/
- U.S Embassy in San Jose, Costa Rica: https://cr.usembassy.gov/.
ICE (Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad) is Costa Rica’s most powerful provider of telecommunications, internet and electricity services. Telephone coverage is extensive throughout the country.
In 2011, the two new cellular phone competitors of ICE, Mexico-based America Movil, known locally as “Claro,” and “Movistar”, previously owend by Spanish provider Telefonica and recently acquired by U.S.-based Liberty Latin America.
Service providers of voice communication over internet connections (VOIP) for overseas calls are licensed and regulated under the new telecommunications regime.
The accessibility and use of the internet is growing rapidly as technology improves, going from 2.1 million internet subscriptions in 2011, to 5.6 million in 2020, as per the latest Report of Sutel (July 2020). This same report highlights how access to the internet has been expanded for users of mobile internet. The report states that fixed internet subscriptions are at 19 percent (from 18 percent) of the population and 63 percent (from 57 percent) of households. The report also states that 57 percent of the total mobile subscriptions have internet, reaching 91 percent of population. ICE is the main provider of internet services in Costa Rica.
Internet usage for cellular phones is prevalent in urban areas. Internet cafes are available in some areas (especially in San José), and Wi-Fi in hotels and restaurants is increasingly common, particularly in the Central Valley. However, in many rural areas internet connectivity can be limited and slow.
During the first quarter of 2014, fourth-generation wireless technology (4G) was introduced in Costa Rica and is available in major urban areas. Mobile penetration reached 179 percent in 2017 however has declined to 150 percent in 2020 as result a massive lost in prepaid lines.
5G implementation is still under discussion however and is an important topic moving forward as the country evaluates future spectrum auctions.
For more information, visit either ICE’s or Sutel’s website.
According to the latest World Economic Forum’s (WEF) 2019 Global Competitiveness Report (https://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_TheGlobalCompetitivenessReport2019.pdf), Costa Rica’s road infrastructure ranks 88 out of 141 countries. The road system often receives only intermittent, short term fixes, causing strain to both the vehicle and driver. Commuting times have been increasing year by year. There are more than 7,000 kilometers (4,400 miles) of main highways and roads, and roughly 16,000 kilometers (9,600 miles) of rural roads. However, some roads can only be driven with a 4-wheel drive vehicle. Signage is often lacking and sometimes confusing. Outside the downtown areas of San Jose and Heredia, few areas have formal addresses; the descriptive directions serve as addresses.
Costa Rica has more than 500 kilometers (300 miles) of railway track, but little of it is currently in use. Limited service operates within the populous Central Valley region, primarily for weekday commuters. All overland cargo, except bananas from the Pacific ports and the Caribbean sector, is transported via truck.
A rapid commuter train serving the Great Metro Area of San Jose is under discussion, with the goal to relief the traffic congestion in the Central Valley, but due to economic impact of COVID-19 there is much debate on the economic viability of the project for 2021-2022. A few modern train cars were bought from China and will be used to help expand the train reach in the Great Metro Area and surrounding cities.
There are more than 100 small private landing fields serving approximately 300 registered aircrafts. Before 2020, twenty international passenger airlines (including Delta, American, America West, Frontier, United, Spirit Air, JetBlue, Alaskan Airlines and Southwest) and fifteen cargo airlines (including Fedex and UPS) served San Jose’s principal airport, the Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO). In early 2017 the only airline flying from Europe was Iberia. New direct flights from Europe started flying to SJO from Zurich, Amsterdam, Paris and London. Iberojet from Spain started to operate in mid-2021.
A second international airport operates in Liberia, known as Daniel Oduber Airport (LIR). It supports mainly seasonal flights (December to April) to the northern Guanacaste beach resort area.
Regional airports offer regularly scheduled domestic flights to Golfito, La Fortuna, Liberia, Samara, Tambor, Tortuguero, Puerto Jimenez, Punta Islita, Nosara, Quepos, Tamarindo as well as flights to Granada, Nicaragua and Bocas del Toro, Panama. Costa Rica’s largest domestic airline is Sansa.
There are reliable taxi and public bus services in the capital city of San Jose. Official taxis are red and are the recommended means of travel for business visitors. Visitors should ensure that the taxi driver is using the meter. The official taxis have the name of the taxi company written on a yellow box on the top of the car. In 2016, Uber started operating in San Jose, and even though the company is not fully recognized as a legal operation by the government, it is used throughout the main suburbs of the metro area of San Jose and neighboring provinces. During 2019, the Chinese app Didi begun operating in this market as well.
Parking in downtown San Jose is usually easy as you can find a parking meter to pay via credit card, or the app e-parker. In the district of San Pedro, the app needed is Parso. In other cities like Heredia, paper strips sold by the Municipality need to be filled out and left inside the car.
Orange taxis from the company Taxis Unidos operate at the SJO Airport (Juan Santamaria) with bilingual drivers and good reliable service. Online reservations are available at Taxi Aeropuerto’s website.
Car rental service is also available from Budget, Avis, Hertz, Dollar, Thrifty and other well-known companies. Visitors are allowed to drive with their normal driver’s license for three months.
Costa Rica’s air safety oversight program is rated Category One. However, in 2020 inconsistencies were found in operations that are currently under review. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation in the U.S. at 1-866-835-5322, or via the FAA’s website. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the Department of Defense at (703) 697-7288.
Costa Rica is a Spanish-speaking country, although English is often taught in schools and used widely in business circles. All official documents issued by the Costa Rican government are in Spanish.
Other native languages still spoken by indigenous people are: Bribrí, Maleku, Ngäbe (Guaymí) and Cabecar. Creole-English language (or Mekatelyu) is spoken on the Caribbean Coast.
Note: In Costa Rica people address each other with “Usted” and “Vos” (a local version of Tú). It is normal for foreigners to use the international “Tu”
Covid -19 has impacted Costa Rica as it has the rest of the world. Please visit the Embassy San Jose web page, https://cr.usembassy.gov/, for the latest updates on the pandemic in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica has a socialized healthcare system identified as the Costa Rican Social Security System (Costarricense de Seguro Social: CCSS, or “Caja,” as it is popularly known). This system includes 30 hospitals: 10 general hospitals, 7 regional hospitals (1 in each geographic region/province), and 13 peripheral hospitals, which vary in size. Sixteen of the hospitals are in the Central Valley region of the country, where about one-half of the population lives. Additionally, the CCSS is responsible for approximately 500 clinics, and approximately 1,000 small attention units with only basic equipment, known as “Equipos Basicos de Atencion Integral” (EBAIS), which provide basic medical assistance to patients in remote areas of the country.
The CCSS hospitals have approximately 6,000 beds, while there are approximately 223 beds in three private clinics/hospitals. The “Caja” buys approximately 90 percent of the medical equipment in Costa Rica.
There are several private hospitals and clinics in the country, mainly in the Central Valley. Hospital Clínica Bíblica (HCB) is the largest, followed by CIMA Hospital, owned by the International Hospital Corporation (headquartered in Dallas, Texas), and Hospital Hotel La Católica (HCC). Hospital Clinica Biblica and CIMA Hospital are accredited by the Joint Commission International (JCMI). The HCB is also accredited by the Medical Tourism Associations. Hospital Metropolitano, in San José downtown and in Lindora, just west of San Jose, has an Association for Ambulatory Healthcare (AAAHC) accreditation, and is the newest hospital. The hospital provides services to U.S. veterans and accepts medical insurance under the Foreign Medical Program (FMP) and Tricare. Hospital Metropolitano is associated with a U.S. company. Sanford Health.
The number of small, private clinics is growing constantly, as the population is demanding quicker and better health services. The largest private clinics in Costa Rica are Clinica Santa Catalina, Clínica Santa Rita, Clínica Santa Fe, and Hospital Clínica Jerusalem. The influx of foreigners, mainly from North America (U.S. and Canada), is also contributing to this private growth, often known as “medical tourism.”
Costa Rica is competing with other countries such as Brazil, Mexico, India and Malaysia in the medical tourism arena. Costa Rica appears to have an advantage because it is closer to United States and Canada, the principal sources of medical tourists, and many professionals here trained in the United States. Several North American insurance firms are looking into the prospects of insuring medical tourists in Costa Rica.
According to information provided by one of the private hospitals, foreigners mainly from United States and Canada, travel to Costa Rica to seek medical/surgical treatment in the following areas: orthopedics (hip, shoulder and knee replacement); surgery (bariatric surgery and gastric bandages placement); dermatology (skin stein and wrinkle removal through laser application); plastic surgery (liposuction and face lifting); and dentistry (several procedures). There is a Medical Tourism Association in Costa Rica, PROMED. The Association is a not-for-profit membership organization dedicated to promoting the growth and prosperity of medical tourism; recognize leaders providing high quality international patient care and medical tourism services. PROMED advises, offers training and information targeted to the medical tourism, wellness and retirement living markets located in Costa Rica. More information about the organization can be found on PROMED’s website.
In the private sector, Clinica Biblica’s Santa Ana campus and Metropolitano’s Lindora campus represent a heavy investment in those hospitals’ interest in having a presence on the west side of San Jose. Metropolitano has announced plans for clinics in Alajuela and the east side of the central valley. Metropolitano currently has maintained presence outside the central valley with clinics in Huacas and Liberia, located in the Guanacaste Peninsula and a clinic in Quepos, which is in the south, on the pacific side.
The National Healthcare System
All Costa Rican employers must cover workers and their dependents in the public healthcare system of clinics and hospitals administered by the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social, or CCSS). There is private healthcare, as well. Many doctors in both the national health system and private clinics are fluent in English, and many have had training abroad. Medical office staff and nurses are less likely to speak English. Specialists are available in almost all branches of medicine.
Hospitals and Providers
Top-tier public hospitals such as Hospital Mexico, San Juan de Dios Hospital, Calderon Guardia and Children’s Hospital are in San Jose and receive referrals from public hospitals throughout the country. The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted these hospitals’ capacities, especially during the second quarter of 2021. However, under normal circumstances, they are important resources for trauma and for managing mass casualty situations.
Private hospitals in San Jose are more like U.S. hospitals and are used frequently by foreign residents and visitors. Hospital CIMA San Jose and Hospital Clínica Bíblica are U.S. Joint Commission International (JCI) accredited. Hospital Clinica Catolica and Hospital Metropolitano (San Jose and Lindora) also offer high-quality private medical service. The Consulate at the U.S. Embassy in San Jose, while not able to make recommendations, maintains a list of specialized English-speaking medical practitioners. In the San Jose area, private and public health facilities have more medical specialty care and diagnostic testing options than those in outlying areas.
Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. Patients then must seek reimbursement from their insurer. Not all U.S. Health Insurance policies cover health care outside the U.S. Supplemental medical insurance or policies with overseas coverage, including provision for medical evacuation is highly recommended for emergencies.
For those with long-term stays in the metropolitan San Jose area, subscription to a private ambulance service is a way to access quality ambulance service with English-speaking personnel in case of an emergency.
- Most high-end restaurants are careful to maintain their reputations; thus, cleanliness and high-quality food can be expected. Few food poisonings occur in restaurants.
- It is recommended that all meats be eaten well cooked. In general, it is not advisable to eat raw fish or shellfish.
- Raw fruits and vegetables should be peeled or washed well. Lettuce should be rinsed, soaked in a Clorox and water solution (1tbsp. bleach per gallon of water), and then re-soaked in clean water to remove the Clorox taste. Hydroponic lettuce does not need the Clorox soak. Do not eat locally grown peanuts as they are not tested for, and may contain, aflatoxins.
- Dairy products are very good in Costa Rica. Those that are packaged and sold in grocery stores are pasteurized.
- Tap water is typically potable in the capital city. However, pipe breakages during earthquakes or tremors have caused episodes of water contamination. Another concern is that aquifers may not be adequately protected from eventual contamination.
- Tap water is not fluoridated, but the local salt has iodine and fluoride.
- Tap water and ice below the elevation of the capitol area come from many sources, and some of them may not supply water that consistently meets U.S. standards for potable water.
- Bottled water is easily obtained.
- Metropolitan San Jose area air quality is impacted by vehicle emissions and occasionally smoke from burning in rural areas. In addition, the Turrrialba and Poas volcanoes episodically emit ash, sulphur dioxide and aerosols that cause irritation to skin, eyes and airways.
- The rainy season, from May to November, is favorable to molds, and the dry season, from December to April, is dusty. The pollen count is relatively high, year-round, due to an abundance and variety of flowering plants and grasses.
- Please check the U.S. Embassy San Jose and Consulate web page information for current COVID-19 guidance and Costa Rican Government regulations;
- Mosquitoes are responsible for Dengue Fever, Chikungunya and Zika transmission. Malaria transmission is very rare, but could occur in low-lying areas, especially near the border with Nicaragua. No Malaria prophylaxis is required. Use repellent outdoors. Repellents with 25-30 percent Deet or 20 percent Picaradin are most effective according to Consumer Reports (9/2017). Screens in windows and doors reduce mosquito entry. Eliminate standing water to reduce mosquito breeding. Long sleeves and pants also offer protection. For the most recently updated information on mosquito-transmitted disease, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/zika/index.html, https://www.cdc.gov/dengue/and
- Rabies in dogs and cats is not a significant threat in Costa Rica;
- Fungal skin infections are common because of the humidity;
- AIDS and sexually transmitted disease epidemiology and prevalence patterns are similar to those
- Intestinal parasites such as giardia and blastocysts hominis are common, but amoebic dysentery and severe diarrhea are uncommon. Good hand washing can help protect you from outbreaks of viral gastroenteritis.
- Upper respiratory illnesses are common.
- By law, proof of vaccination against Yellow Fever will be required upon entry to Costa Rica for those arriving from Bolivia, Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador or Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leona and Sudan.
Other Health Risks
Sunburn and skin damage from excessive UV rays can be prevented by avoiding long exposure to sun during the middle of the day. Sunlight is gentler in the early morning and late afternoon.
Pedestrians and bike riders account for a high percentage of traffic deaths every year. Driver carelessness and lack of clear signage, adequate sidewalks and bike lanes are common problems.
For additional health information:
Local Time, Business Hours, & Holidays
Local time for Costa Rica is minus 6 hours Greenwich Mean Time (-6 GMT). Costa Rica is one hour behind Eastern Standard Time (EST), and two hours behind Eastern Daylight Time (EDT). Costa Rica does not have daylight savings time.
Typical working hours are 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM and 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM. Most businesses are open with a continuous working schedule. Generally, the Costa Rican government offices have a continuous working schedule from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Most public banks are open from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM, while private banks are usually open until 6:00 P.M. Most public and private banks have some weekend hours.
Table 23: Costa Rica 2021 Holidays
January 1, 2022
New Year’s Day
April 11, 2022
Juan Santamaria Day
April 14 2022
April 15, 2022
May 1, 2022
July 25, 2022
Annexation of Guanacaste Province Day
August 2, 2022
Lady of Los Angeles Day
August 15, 2022
Septmeber 15, 2022
December 1, 2022
Abolition of the Military Day
December 25, 2022
Business trips to Costa Rica hould not be scheduled immediately before or immediately after local holidays. Costa Rican residents tend to take vacations during school holidays, for example, from mid-December to late January, and during the month of July (mid-term vacations are the first two weeks of July), also the week prior, during and after Holy Thursday and Good Friday. Securing business appointments during these times can be difficult. The Embassy is closed on U.S. and Costa Rican holidays.
Temporary Entry of Materials and Personal Belongings
Costa Rican law requires checked luggage to be screened, and travelers to declare at customs the existence and value of any item in their possession different than their personal belongings like fruits, vegetables, meat and by-products, biological products such as vaccinations, serums, etc. The head of a family may make a joint declaration for all members residing in the same household and traveling together to Costa Rica. The declaration is usually handled by the international transportation company, Customs usually have copies at their facilities in each entry for travelers to take in case they did not receive one before.
No customs duties are charged on personal luggage, which is defined as a series of items for personal, professional, and non-commercial use. If you are entering the country with other items different from personal luggage you should declared them, for example: commercial samples without commercial value, cash if this is equal or greater than USD10,000.00 and securities if its value is higher than USD50,000.00
For more information, please visit the Costa Rican Institute of Tourism’s website
Ministry of Finance / Customs https://www.hacienda.go.cr/AduanaFacil/
Costa Rican Institute of Tourism https://www.visitcostarica.com/en
U.S. Embassy in San Jose, Costa Rica:
Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s International:*
State Department Visa Website:
Consular Section in the U.S Embassy in Costa Rica:
Costa Rica Embassy (Washington, DC):
Instituto Costarricense de Turismo:
https://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/convert/?Amount=1&From=USD&To=CRC*Includes COVID-19 advisory