Costa Rica - Country Commercial Guide
Import Tariffs
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Customs duties for Costa Rica range from 1 to 15 percent ad valorem.  The reduction of tariffs in recent years has been an important factor behind the growth of imports of consumer goods from the U.S.  The Central America-Dominican Republic-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), took effect in Costa Rica on January 1, 2009 and immediately eliminated tariffs on 80 percent of U.S. exports.

Duties on imported raw materials, bulk grains, and oilseeds have been set at one percent since 1996. Costa Rica periodically reduces the applied tariff on rough rice and beans to meet local demand.  Under the CAFTA-DR, however, 100 percent of U.S. originating consumer and industrial goods have entered Costa Rica duty free since January 1, 2015.  Nearly all textile and apparel goods that meet the Agreement’s rules of origin also enter Costa Rica duty free and quota free.  In addition, more than half of U.S. agricultural exports currently enter Costa Rica duty free under the Agreement. 

Costa Rica has eliminated its tariffs on substantially all U.S. agricultural products.  Costa Rica is scheduled to eliminate remaining tariffs on chicken leg quarters on January 1, 2022, and on certain rice and dairy products by 2025.  For certain agricultural products (rice, dairy, and poultry), tariff-rate quotas (TRQs) permit duty-free access for specified quantities during the tariff phase-out period, with the duty-free amount expanding during that period.  Costa Rica’s CAFTA-DR commitments provide for liberalizing trade in fresh potatoes and onions through continual expansion of a TRQ, rather than by the reduction of the out-of-quota tariff. 

Import Taxes, Including Value-Added Taxes, Purchase Taxes, Uplifts and Surcharges, and Provincial Taxes

A 13 percent value-added (sales) tax is imposed on the purchase of most goods and services (including imported goods) not intended for official use by central or local governments. Certain basic products (staple foods, school uniforms, etc.) are exempt .

Selective consumpton (excise) taxes for many imported and domestic products have been reduced or eliminated.  However, excise taxes still apply to some products imported into the country such as whiskey, wine and beer (10 percent); new and used vehicles (ranging from 30 to 50 percent, depending on the vehicle model, with a five-year partial excepmtion on EV’s); and some domestic appliances, such as domestic refrigerators (ranging from 30 to 40 percent).

Certain imports are also subject to Central Bank surcharges.  The surcharges are generally paid on goods that are also manufactured in Costa Rica or in other parts of Central America,  unless purchased by the Central Government or local municipalities. The goods would be tax exempt if purchased by local municipalities.  The one-percent surcharge formerly imposed on raw materials for human consumption has been eliminated for imports from CAFTA-DR countries.