Costa Rica F.A.Q.'s

Do I need a passport to go to Costa Rica?

A valid passport is mandatory to enter Costa Rica. All passengers need a passport and there must be at least six months remaining before the passport expires.

Do I need a visa to go to Costa Rica?

Depending on your country of origin you may enter Costa Rica without a visa. USA, Canada and most European countries have this privilege.

Can I enter Costa Rica with a one way ticket?

In general, the answer is no. Most airlines will not sell them, but this is changing and I understand that some airlines will do this. Some require proof that you will be applying for residency. As this seem to vary by airline, you should contact them directly.

Do I need an international drivers license to drive a car in Costa Rica?

No. An International license is not required. You are allowed to drive with your normal drivers license for whatever is the term of your visa.

How can I get married in Costa Rica? What documents do I need?

Foreigners can get married in Costa Rica. The documents needed are:

  • original birth certificate
  • affidavit of single status
  • police record
  • valid passport
  • divorce decree (if applicable)

These documents need to follow the authentication procedure before being taken to Costa Rica. This means you must take or send these documents to a Costa Rica Embassy in your country BEFORE you come. They will attach tax stamps (timbres) and return the documents to you. The current price is about $40.00 per document. I would urge you to check with the Association of Residents of Costa Rica to get up to date information.

What is the difference between the rain forest and the cloud forest?

Mainly the altitude and the temperature. The rain forests are very hot and humid while the cloud forest are humid and moist. The species of flora and fauna are significantly different.

Is the water safe to drink in Costa Rica?

The water is fine in nearly all locations. When in very remote or rural areas, you may wish to drink bottled water. Also, if you have a very sensitive stomach, bottled water may be better, but I have lived here for years and I never drink the bottled stuff. Recently (Spring, 2005) a University of Costa Rica study indicated problems with the water in San Jose and parts of Heredia. Of course the water department said nonsense. Your call.

Oh... and did you know that Evian spelled backwards is Naive? Maybe the French are trying to tell us something!

What is the currency in Costa Rica?

The Costa Rican currency is called Colon. US dollars may or may not be accepted. Do NOT count on it. Major tourist areas accept dollars, as do most hotels and travel related businesses, but a lot of small (and excellent) restaurants as well as almost all the non-commercial artisan shops (not in a tourist trap area) will accept neither dollars nor credit cards.

Are credit cards accepted in Costa Rica?

In the major tourist areas, yes. However, many locations do not accept credit cards, especially those great places where you actually see the artist creating something. Also, if ANYTHING is priced in dollars, you are VERY likely over paying! Carry some colones and use any you have left over to pay your Departure Tax.

What kind of inoculations do I have to take to Costa Rica?

No vaccines are required to enter Costa Rica but for detailed information, see Disease in Costa Rica. No matter where you travel though, a tetanus shot (or booster) is always a good idea.

Do I need an electric adapter for a hair drier?

Probably not but that depends on the voltage in your home country. Outlets here are 110 V, with standard US two prong plugs (or three prong if grounded).

What documents are required to bring my pet to Costa Rica?

Dogs and cats entering Costa Rica must have a health certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian, endorsed by a veterinarian service (VS) veterinarian. The examination for the certificate must be conducted within the two weeks prior to traveling to Costa Rica. The required vaccinations are: distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus and rabies (for animals 4 months or older).

Is there and exit or departure tax in Costa Rica? If so, how much is it?

Departure tax is $26, can be paid in US Dollars, colones or with a credit cards. This must be paid at the point of exit.

How can I get a visa so I can work in Costa Rica?

In general, you cannot. Costa Rica protects its labor force. There are exceptions. See Working in Costa Rica for details.

How can I apply for legal residency in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica offers different ways to legalize your status.

Are the national parks and other tourist areas wheel chair accessible?

In general, Costa Rica is not wheelchair friendly. This IS getting better though. The Poas Volcano National Park is the one that offers access for wheel chairs. Some of the newer and more modern hotels now offer wheel chair access for the disabled.

Another notable location is INBioparque, a wonderful place located in Santo Domingo de Heredia. See map at right. It is an amazing theme park offering interactive experiences with Nature. INBioparque offers daily round-trip shuttle service from most hotels in the San Jose area but it is unclear whether these shuttles are wheelchair equipped. Once you get to the park, you will find it is 100% wheelchair (and stroller) friendly! There are tours, a farm, a lagoon, an aquarium and other attractions (like the ANTS!). Price $15 adults, $8 kids. Open Tuesday through Sunday 8AM to 6 PM, but admissions closes at 4 PM.

Is there a tour operator offering special tours for handicapped people?

This one offers wheel chair tours. Also, Gray Line has handicapped equipped bus tours.

In general, Costa Rica is moving slowly toward providing tourist services for the disabled, but they ARE making progress. Recently the Sala IV constitutional court ordered all buses to be wheelchair equipped. Many of the better hotels now offer ramps. Check before you book your reservation to avoid surprises.

Is there an American Legion in Costa Rica?

There is an American Legion for people who were in the army. American Legion Post 10 in Escazu tel: 228-1740. You can also contact The Association of Residents at (506)233-8068 or at Association of Costa Rica Residents (ARCR).

If I decide to stay longer, can I get a visa while I am there?

When you enter Costa Rica, your passport will be stamped and that is your visa to be here. The length of time depends on your country of origin. Your visa CAN be renewed if you leave the country for 72 hours. This cannot be done forever, but 2-3 times is probably not a problem. Short trips to Panama, Nicaragua, or San Andres are cheap and available. When you return, your visa will be renewed automatically for 90 more days if you are from the USA.

What should I bring when going to the rain forest?

All you need is insect repellent, a rain coat with a hood and hiking boots. I also suggest a good deodorant unless you are traveling alone!

Are there domestic airlines that travel within Costa Rica?

Yes. Check our Domestic Air section on our web page.

What is the sales tax in Costa Rica?

Sales tax is 13% but some other travel related taxes are 17%.

What number should I dial in case of emergency?

Dial 911. Do not expect the operator to speak English.

Are there English written newspapers?

The Tico Times. (506)258-1558 is published weekly on Fridays.

Where can I do some white water rafting in Costa Rica?

On the rivers: Pacuare, Reventazon, Corobici, Sarapiqui, Naranjo or Savagre. There are a ton of tour operators here offering rafting on rivers from class 2 to class 5.

Where can the famous turtles be seen?

You can go to Tortuguero National Park in the Caribbean or to Las Baulas National Park in the Pacific coast.

What are Costa Rica's natural boundaries?

North: Nicaragua - South: Panama - East: The Caribbean Sea - West: The Pacific Ocean.

How is Costa Rica divided? Are there states?

Costa Rica is comprised of seven provinces: San Josť, Heredia, Alajuela, Cartago, Limon, Puntarenas and Guanacaste.

What sort of Clubs, Groups, Social associations are there in Costa Rica?

Here are the most popular, but their are many others.

What is the attitude towards Gays and Lesbians in Costa Rica?

In general, Gays and Lesbians are tolerated in Costa Rica so long as they tend to keep a low profile. One recent gay magazine described Costa Rica as being at about the stage of the US in the late 60's.

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