Costa Rica - Country Commercial Guide
Import Requirements and Documentation

Includes import documentation and other requirements for both the U.S. exporter and foreign importer.

Last published date: 2021-11-10

 Arms and munitions require a license from the Costa Rican Ministry of Public Security’s Department for the Control of Weapons and Explosives.

Imports are registered by the Central Bank of Costa Rica for statistical purposes.

Special Import/Export Requirements and Certifications (Health, Pharmaceuticals, Pre-Shipment Inspections)

Pharmaceuticals, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices and some chemical products, such as solvents, agricultural inputs and precursor chemicals used to 

produce narcotic drugs, must have import permits (valid for five years) and be registered with the Ministry of Health.  Food products require registration when imported for the first time. 

The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG) requires sanitary and phytosanitary certificates from exporting country authorities.  The Costa Rican importer must obtain the permits.  Surgical and dental instruments and machines can be sold only to licensed importers and health professionals.  Also, regulations require that imported biomedical equipment and materials be registered with the Ministry of Health. Under local sanitary registry regulations all dietary supplements and natural medicinal products should be registered with the Ministry of Health before being sold in Costa Rica. According to these regulations, all dietary supplemental products containing vitamins and minerals must meet a predetermined quantity of each ingredient that falls within the minimum-maximum quantities found in Tables 1 and 2. Table 1 (Annex 1 of the RTCA 436-2009) corresponds to 20 percent of the U.S. RDI, and Table 2 (Annex 2 of the RTCA 436-2009) is a table of values obtained from different regulatory agencies including IADSA, FNB and EC SCF.

The Costa Rican Institute of Social Security (CCSS) Procurement Department requires bar code identification on all purchases of medicines and medical supplies upon entry into the Costa Rican market. This requirement is included in the specifications of all public and private tenders issued by the CCSS for medicines and medical supplies.

Under CAFTA-DR, Costa Rica must apply the science-based disciplines of the WTO Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures.  Costa Rica also guarantees equivalence to all factories inspected by USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service.  As a result of the agreement, beef, pork and poultry products from federally inspected factories are allowed to enter the country without facility registration procedures.  Costa Rica requires exporters of U.S. dairy (also lamb, egg, and seafood) products to register with the Animal Health Service Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock to submit questionnaires that require a substantial amount of company specific information. Also, Costa Rican Plant Health authorities are increasingly enforcing pesticide residue regulations by increasing the number of chemical molecules tested on different fresh fruits, vegetables, and grains. Increased testing has resulted in the rejection of shipments of rice, fruits and potatoes.