Costa Rica - Commercial Guide
Import Tariffs

Includes information on average tariff rates and types that U.S. firms should be aware of when exporting to the market.

Last published date: 2019-10-13

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.  Duties on imported capital goods and most finished products are one percent and 15 percent, respectively.

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 consumption (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 exemption 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.  Note table below:

TariffTariff amount
Ad valorem dutyVariable;  Levied on the CIF (cost, insurance, freight) value of the item reported.
Selective consumption taxVariable;  Levied on the CIF (cost, insurance, freight) plus the ad valorem duty
Sales tax13%; Levied on the sum of the CIF (cost, insurance, freight) value, ad valorem duty, and selective consumption tax.
Surcharge (Law 6966)1%; One percent levied on the CIF (cost, insurance, freight) value only; (Eliminated for imports from CAFTA countries)

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.