Moving to Costa Rica

Country Guide

Country Guide: Costa Rica

Due to the current coronavirus/COVID-19 situation and restrictions in various countries, the below information may not be accurate. This pandemic is a fluid situation. Check with authorities for local laws and restrictions concerning movements.

Updated: June 01, 2018

Used Household Goods and Personal Effects

Documents Required

  • Copy of passport
  • Rated original bill of lading (OBL) / airway bill (AWB)
  • Packing list in English or Spanish

Specific Information

  • Customs clearance takes approximately 10 business days from the date of shipment arrival.
  • The items and weights identified on the OBL must match the actual items in the shipment or a fine of 250 USD will be levied and clearance will be delayed.
  • All shipments are subject to physical inspection.
  • Diplomat shipments are duty free.
  • Returning citizens may receive a partial tax exemption if having lived abroad for at least 24 months preceding import; proof from the Costa Rican consulate in the origin country is required and must indicate the number of years of residence lived abroad.
  • Liftvans, airvans, wooden crates, and boxes arriving in containers or single shipments must be fumigated per ISPM-15 guidelines and visibly marked on at least two opposite sides of the container in permanent black ink.
  • Certain wood packing materials are exempt from ISPM-15 regulations; contact the destination agent for specific information.
Motor Vehicles

Documents Required

  • Original title
  • Original purchase invoice
  • OBL

Specific Information

  • Duties range from 45% to 70% of the retail value of a vehicle.
  • The import of motor vehicles is not recommended as duties may exceed the value of the vehicle.
  • Contact the destination for additional information.

Documents Required

  • Rabies vaccination record
  • Veterinary health certificate (2 copies)
  • International certificate (APHIS Form 7001) is recommended
  • Authorization from the Costa Rican Health Ministry obtained at origin from the Consulate / Embassy

Specific Information

  • Documents must be received by the destination agent prior to the arrival of the animal and are subject to examination upon arrival.
  • Animals over 3 months of age must be vaccinated against rabies.
  • Quarantine is not currently required unless the pet is deemed unhealthy upon examination then the pet may be kenneled in a government facility.
Restricted/Dutiable Items
  • The following items are subject to taxes:
    • Arms and ammunition (a permit from the Ministry of National Security is required for returning citizens or residents)
    • Dangerous objects (a permit from the Ministry of National Security is required for returning citizens and residents)
    • Plants (a phytosanitary certificate and permit from the Ministry of Agriculture are required prior to import)
    • New household goods / new furniture (an original invoice or a statement under oath of the value of the item is required)
    • Household / electrical appliances (the brand, serial number, and model must be listed on the packing list)
    • Wedding trousseaux, inheritances, gifts and souvenirs
    • Carpets
    • Antiques and works of art
    • Furniture (wooden items / ornaments require a permit from the Ministry of Agriculture)
    • Precious metal objects, such as jewelry, coins, etc. (purchase receipts / invoices are required)
    • Non-motorized vehicles, such as bicycles, watercraft, etc. (duties depend on value, year, model, cubic centimeters, and features)
    • Wine and alcohol (permits from the Ministry of Health /Ministry of Economy are required)
    • Tins and food (a permit from the Ministry of Health are required) (3 copies)
Prohibited Items
  • Narcotics, drugs and medicines (permits from the College of Pharmacy and Ministry of Health are required)
  • Pornographic and subversive materials
  • Explosives
Consignment Instructions

Recommended: Contact the destination agent to ensure all requirements have been met prior to import, especially for differences regarding air / sea shipments.

Cultural and Other Information

CIA World Factbook Entry for Costa Rica

Wikipedia Entry for Costa Rica