Latinamerica Collection
Tourist Information About Costa Rica

Passport and Visas

The following information is subject to change and should be verified by contacting the nearest diplomatic or consular office of Costa Rica. Violations of entry and exit requirements may result in serious penalties.

 

i. United States Tourists
A valid U.S. passport is required for all citizens regardless of age in order to enter Costa Rica and to return to the U.S. A visa is not required for tourist visits of up to 90 days. Though not necessarily an official requirement of Costa Rica, U.S. citizens should assure that their passports are valid for a period of six months after their expected date of departure from Costa Rica and are in good condition. If a second nationality passport was used to enter Costa Rica in the case of dual citizenship, all U.S. citizens must use a U.S. passport when returning to the U.S. Certificates of Naturalization, birth certificates, driver's licenses and photocopies are NOT accepted as alternative travel documents by authorities in the U.S. or Costa Rica.

 

All U.S. tourists traveling within Costa Rica should have in their possession at all times either the original passport or a photocopy of the information page as well as a photocopy of the visa stamp showing date of entry into Costa Rica.

 

In order to prevent international child abduction, Costa Rica may require documentary evidence of approval of both parents when the child is traveling alone, with only one parent, or in the custody of someone else.

 

ii. Canadian Tourists
A valid Canadian passport is required for all citizens regardless of age in order to enter Costa Rica and to return to Canada. A visa is not required for tourist visits of up to 90 days. Though not necessarily an official requirement of Costa Rica, Canadian citizens should assure that their passports are valid for a period of six months after their expected date of departure from Costa Rica. If a second nationality passport was used to enter Costa Rica in the case of dual citizenship, all Canadian citizens must use a Canadian passport when returning to Canada. Certificates of Naturalization, birth certificates, Certificates of Canadian Citizenship, driver's licenses and photocopies are NOT accepted as alternative travel documents by authorities in Canada or Costa Rica.

 

All Canadian tourists traveling within Costa Rica should have in their possession at all times either the original passport or a photocopy of the information page as well as a photocopy of the visa stamp showing date of entry into Costa Rica.

 

In order to prevent international child abduction, Costa Rica requires documentary evidence of approval of both parents when the child is traveling alone, with only one parent, or in the custody of someone else.

 

iii. European Tourists
A valid European passport is required for all citizens regardless of age in order to enter Costa Rica and to return to Europe. A visa is not required for all tourist visits of up to 90 days. Though not necessarily an official requirement of Costa Rica, European citizens should assure that their passports are valid for a period of six months after their expected date of departure from Costa Rica.

 

All European tourists traveling within Costa Rica should have in their possession at all times either the original passport or a photocopy of the information page as well as a photocopy of the visa stamp showing date of entry into Costa Rica.

 

In order to prevent international child abduction, Costa Rica requires documentary evidence of approval of both parents when the child is traveling alone, with only one parent, or in the custody of someone else.

 

Airport Taxes and Customs
There is an international airport tax of US$26 that is collected upon departure of Costa Rica. Visitors also have the option of paying this upon arrival and would be given an official receipt that must be shown upon departure as proof of payment.

 

Health and Vaccinations
All tourists should be sure that their routine vaccinations are up to date whether traveling or not. This information can be found on the Centers for Disease Control website.

 

Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid, and Rabies vaccinations are recommended, but not required, for all those traveling to Costa Rica. For more information visit the Centers for Disease Control website.

 

Malaria risk exists in some areas in Costa Rica including Alajuela, Limón, Guanacaste, and Heredia provinces. No Malaria risk exists in Limón city (Puerto Limón). If you will be visiting areas with a risk of malaria infection, you should take an antimalarial drug. The drug Chloroquine is recommended in this region. Please visit the Centers for Disease Control website for more information.

 

To avoid infection of any diseases transmitted by mosquitoes, it is recommended that you wear long sleeves or pants or have in your possession mosquito repellant, especially in areas where infection of Malaria is possible. Additionally, the use of bed nets is recommended in these areas.

 

Safety and Security
Costa Rica is a developing country, and travelers should exercise caution as criminal activity continues to be an active problem. Tourists should avoid carrying with them valuables that may jeopardize their safety.

 

Clothing and What to Bring
The weather in Costa Rica is generally broken up into two seasons: the dry season and the wet season with temperatures changing only mildly throughout the year. The dry season generally runs from December to March and comes with cooler temperatures.

 

If you are planning to visit the capital or those areas in the mountains, be sure to pack some warm clothes, but nothing too heavy. The mornings and evenings in these areas can carry a chill. Do keep in mind that even during the dry season there may be some surprise rainfall. Also, you may want to bring bug repellent as the mosquitoes tend to exist more in the higher, humid areas.

 

If you are planning to spend time on the beach be sure to bring comfortable beach clothes and sunscreen. Again, the nights and morning can sometimes be chilly so pack a sweater in case.

 

Other items to bring include good shoes for those planning to partake on tours through the forest or in the mountains. Long pants may be a good idea to protect from bug bites, but repellent will work well also. If you plan on rafting try to bring a pair of sandals that actually strap onto your feet as regular sandals may get washed out of the raft.

 

Currency, Banks, Credit Cards
The currency used in Costa Rica is known as the Costa Rica colon (CRC). Recently, the exchange rate has generally been roughly 500 to 530 colones for every US$.

 

A good option is to bring US$ into Costa Rica as they can be exchanged in the airport or banks. Upon departure, any surplus may be exchanged back. Canadian dollars may be difficult to exchange in Costa Rica and US$ are preferred.

 

In addition, international debit and credit cards may be used to withdraw money from local ATMs. Also, most major credit cards are accepted in Costa Rica, especially in tourist destinations. It is always a good idea to check with your credit card companies to find out what, if any, foreign exchange fees exist.

 

Bringing US$ traveler's checks to Costa Rica for exchange is also another viable option. Canadian dollar traveler's checks may be difficult to exchange and US$ traveler's checks should be used.

 

Taxes and Tips
A service charge is generally added to all bills of roughly 10% percent, but be sure to check the bill. In some cases, good service may deserve an additional discretionary gratuity. Taxi drivers are generally not tipped though it is customary to tip your tour guide a few dollars.

 

Time Zone
The time zone used in Costa Rica is six hours before Coordinated Universal Time, or (UTC-06:00). This means that during summer (daylight savings time) Costa Rica is two hour behind New York City and one hour ahead of Los Angeles.

 

Telephone Calls
When calling from Costa Rica to the United States or Canada visitors must dial the following: 001 City Code Local Number.

 

When calling from Costa Rica to another international country visitors must dial the following: 00 Country Code City Code Local Number.

 

Electricity and Voltage
Electricity in Costa Rica is 110V at 60Hz and uses the standard two prong flat blades or the double round pin plug. These sockets will most likely not have a third hole for the round ground pin but will be capable of accepting both the round pin plugs as well as the flat pin plugs. This means that standard North American devices may still require an inexpensive prong adapter to get around the third ground prong.

 

Local Newspapers
• Al Día (San José) 
• A.M. Costa Rica (San José) [English] 
• The Beach Times [English] 
• Central America Panorama (San José / Escazú) 
• Costa Rica, Guanacaste News (Guanacaste) 
• Costa Rica Today 
• Cyberprensa 
• Diario Extra (San José) 
• Diario La República (San José) 
• El Financiero (San José) 
• El Heraldo [Spanish] 
• Escazu news (Western San José) [English and Spanish] 
• Explore Costa Rica.com [English] 
• Informa-Tico 
• Inside Costa Rica [English] 
• La Provincia (Guanacaste) [Spanish]
• La Republica 
• La Nación (San José)
• NC4 Sucesos 
• Prensa Libre 
• Semanario Universidad (San José) 
• The Tico Times [English]
• Voice of Nosara Costa Rica (Nosara, Guanacaste) [English]

 

Transportation and Getting Around in Costa Rica
i. Cars
Car rental is also a good option for travel within cities as well as from city to city in Costa Rica. Road conditions are generally much worse than in North America which means that though distances are relatively short, it may still take a long time to travel from destination to destination.

 

ii. Taxis
Taxis are an excellent and affordable way to get around any Costa Rican city. Other than those coming form the airport all taxis are red with a yellow triangle on the side which displays their license number. Also, all taxis are required to use a meter. Airport taxis maintain the same requirements but are generally not red in color like those in the city. Do not accept transport from those claiming to be taxis that do not possess these mentioned characteristics.

 

iii. Buses
Buses are by far the most affordable way to get from town to town. Also, they are great for those that do not know their way around the country. There are stations in San José where tickets may be purchased as well as in any of the destination cities' bus terminals. Tickets should be bought at least a few hours in advance to ensure that you have a seat rather than a standing spot in the aisle.

 

Business Hours
Offices in Costa Rica are generally open from 8:00AM until 5:00PM and may close for an hour at lunch. Retail business open at 9:00AM and remain open until 6:00PM while major stores stay open until roughly 9:00PM. Banks are generally open from 9:00AM until 3:00PM though there are several throughout the city that stay open later to cater those that work until the late afternoon.