COVID-19: travel health notice for all travellers

Costa Rica travel advice

Latest updates: The Health section was updated - travel health information (Public Health Agency of Canada)

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Risk level

Costa Rica - Exercise a high degree of caution

Exercise a high degree of caution in Costa Rica due to crime.

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Safety and security

Crime

Petty crime

Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching, occurs frequently. Tourists are common targets for theft because they are perceived as being wealthy.

Crime against property, such as house burglary, theft from cars, and vehicle theft, is frequent. Passport theft is also extremely common and increases in frequency during the peak tourist seasons, from November to May and from July to August.

Thieves often work in teams, in which one thief diverts the victims’ attention while the other snatches their possessions. Thefts commonly occur: 

  • in popular tourist areas, including viewpoints
  • on buses, on trains, in bus and train stations as well as in airports terminals
  • in hotel lobbies
  • at restaurants, including on patios located near streets

While you’re in Costa Rica:

  • ensure that your belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times
  • carry your passport, including the Costa Rican entry stamp received at the immigration entry point
  • avoid showing signs of affluence or wearing expensive jewellery
  • avoid carrying large sums of cash or unnecessary valuables
  • avoid isolated or deserted areas
  • avoid walking alone at night
  • be aware of your surroundings, particularly in crowded and tourist areas
  • be extra cautious when withdrawing cash from ATMs
San José

In San José, high-risk areas for theft include:

  • the Coca-Cola bus terminal area, located between El Paso de la Vaca, Calle 12 and the Coca-Cola market
  • the inner downtown area, located between the San Juan de Dios Hospital, the National Museum, Avenida 1 and Avenida 14
  • the Mercado central areas
  • public parks
Pacific Coast

In Puntarenas province, the following areas are of particular concern for theft:

  • Dominical
  • Jacó, including the crocodile viewing area along the Tárcoles River
  • Manuel Antonio national park
  • Quepos
  • Cóbano area, including the small seaside towns of Mal País, Montezuma and Santa Teresa, as well as the port of Puntarenas
Caribbean Coast

On the Caribbean coast, the following areas are of particular concern for theft:

  • Cahuita
  • Puerto Limón 
  • Puerto Viejo
Residential break-ins

Residential break-ins occur. Burglars may target rental accommodations or houses and apartments owned by foreigners.

  • Choose well-secured accommodation
  • Make sure you lock doors and windows at night and when you’re away
Car theft

Car break-ins and theft are very common throughout the country. Rental and luxury vehicles are a target of choice. Theft commonly occurs: 

  • hotels
  • supermarkets
  • restaurants
  • store lots
  • national parks
  • beaches

If driving in Costa Rica:

  • familiarize yourself with your route before starting the trip
  • keep your windows and doors locked at all times
  • keep your belongings out of reach
  • use secure parking facilities, especially overnight
  • never leave belongings unattended in a vehicle, even locked or out of sight in the trunk
  • don’t stop to change a flat tire in an isolated area, and beware of strangers offering their help
  • ensure emergency assistance and car insurance are offered by the rental agency when renting a car

Violent crime

Violent crime, including murders and armed robberies, occurs. Drug trafficking is common, and most incidents are drug-related.  The most affected provinces are:

  • Alajuela
  • Limón
  • Puntarenas
  • San José

Although not frequent, violent assaults against travellers have occurred on the Caribbean coast in:

  • Puerto Limón
  • Puerto Viejo

If you are threatened, hand over your cash and valuables immediately without resistance.

Fraud

Credit card and ATM fraud occurs. Be cautious when using debit or credit cards:

  • pay careful attention when others are handling your cards
  • use ATMs located in well-lit public areas or inside a bank or business
  • avoid using card readers with irregular or unusual features
  • cover the keypad with one hand when entering your PIN
  • check for any unauthorized transactions on your account statements

Overseas fraud

Spiked food and drinks

Snacks, beverages, gum and cigarettes may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.

  • Be wary of accepting these items from new acquaintances
  • Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers

Unregulated alcohol

Some people died after consuming adulterated alcohol in Costa Rica during the summer of 2019. Further incidents occurred in October 2020.

  • Be cautious if you choose to drink alcohol
  • Be wary of lesser-known or illegal brands
  • Avoid buying alcohol from individuals
  • Seek medical assistance if you begin to feel sick

Alcohol, drugs and travel

Women’s safety

Women travelling alone may be subject to some forms of harassment and verbal abuse. Incidents of sexual assault against foreigners at beach resorts and by taxi drivers in San José have occurred.

Advice for women travellers

Demonstrations

Demonstrations take place from time to time, particularly in San José. Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation.

Costa Rican law prohibits political activity by foreigners. Participating in demonstrations or activities may result in you being detained and/or deported.

  • Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities
  • Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations

Mass gatherings (large-scale events)

Water activities

Coastal waters can be dangerous. Riptides are common. Several drownings occur each year.

Very few beaches are supervised by lifeguards.  There are no warning signs of dangerous conditions.

  • Exercise caution when swimming
  • Don’t swim alone, after hours or outside marked areas
  • Consult residents and tour operators for information on possible hazards and safe swimming areas
  • Monitor weather warnings
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities

Useful links

Adventure tourism

Outdoor activities, such as white-water rafting, scuba diving, bungee jumping, canopy touring and other adventure sports can be dangerous if unprepared. Trails are rarely marked, and weather conditions can change rapidly, even in summer.

Safety features on small boats used in river and lake excursions are not always reliable.

Life-threatening fauna such as jaguars, pumas, wild pigs and poisonous snakes are common in the densely wooded areas.

If you intend to practice adventure tourism:

  • never do so alone, and don’t part with your expedition companions
  • obtain detailed information on your activity and on the environment in which you will be before setting out
  • buy travel insurance that includes helicopter rescue and medical evacuation
  • ensure that your physical condition is good enough to meet the challenges of your activity
  • avoid venturing off marked trails
  • don’t camp or sleep overnight on beaches
  • ensure that you’re adequately equipped and bring sufficient water
  • stay informed of weather and other conditions that may pose a hazard
  • know the symptoms of acute altitude sickness, which can be fatal
  • inform a family member or friend of your itinerary
  • refrain from using facilities or equipment if you have doubts on their safety

National parks

You must obtain a permit to access national parks.

Nation Parks – Costa Rica Tourist Board

Road safety

Road conditions and road safety are generally poor throughout the country. Costa Rica has one of the highest traffic accident rates in the world.

Road conditions

Most roads are not paved and those paved are generally in poor condition. Driving conditions may be hazardous, especially during the rainy season, due to:

  • potholes
  • sharp curves
  • lack of traffic signs
  • landslides
  • narrow or unpaved roads

Driving habits

Drivers don’t respect traffic laws. Motorists often drive without lights at night.

While driving:

  • remain vigilant when stopped at lights or stop signs
  • keep doors locked and windows closed at all times
  • keep your valuables out of plain sight
  • avoid travel at night

Public transportation

Buses

Public bus transportation is unreliable. Schedules and routes may not be accurate. Vehicles are often late due to traffic and road conditions. Itineraries may also vary from the ones originally announced.

Pickpockets often target tourists in public buses.

If travelling by public bus:

  • keep your ID and valuables with you
  • avoid placing your bags in the overhead compartment or under your seat
  • avoid sleeping

Police checks of passengers on public transportation also occur. Officers often use those checks to determine if foreigners have overstayed the 90-day visa exemption period.

Always carry your proof of legal stay on your person.

Taxis

Official taxis are safe. They are orange at the airport and red with a yellow triangle on the side elsewhere in the country.

  • Use official taxis only booked ahead of time
  • Never board taxis at taxi stands or flag taxis in the street
  • Note the driver’s name and plate number
  • Make sure the driver uses the meter
  • Never use shared taxis

Air travel

We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.

Information about foreign domestic airlines

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Entry and exit requirements

Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.

We have obtained the information on this page from the Costa Rican authorities. It can, however, change at any time.

Verify this information with the Foreign Representatives in Canada.

Passport

Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.

Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.

Regular Canadian passport

Your passport must be valid for the duration of your stay.

Passport for official travel

Different entry rules may apply.

Official travel

Passport with “X” gender identifier

While the Government of Canada issues passports with an “X” gender identifier, it cannot guarantee your entry or transit through other countries. You might face entry restrictions in countries that do not recognize the “X” gender identifier. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.

Other travel documents

Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.

Useful links

Visas

Tourist visa: not required for stays up to 90 days
Business visa: required
Student visa: required

Length of stay

The immigration officer will determine the permitted length of your stay when you enter Costa Rica. As a tourist, you may be granted a stay up to 90 days.

If you intend to stay for more than 90 days, you must obtain a residency status from the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería.

You may face deportation if you overstay the authorized 90-day period. Persons deported from Costa Rica will not be allowed to re-enter the country for 5 to 10 years.

Immigration department – Costa Rica government (in Spanish)

Other entry requirements

Customs officials will ask you to show them a return or onward ticket and proof of sufficient funds to cover your stay.

Minors with dual citizenship

Costa Rica strictly enforces requirements for the departure of minors with dual citizenship.

The Canadian passport of a dual citizen child must have a Costa Rican departure approval delivered by the immigration authorities. The granted permission may be temporary or permanent and will be recorded in the Costa Rican immigration electronic system.

The approval must be requested jointly by both parents, prior to departure, to either of the following authorities:

  • Costa Rica’s immigration department
  • the Embassy of Costa Rica in Canada

Several cases of departure denials have occurred due to the lack of proper documentation.

Minors with dual citizenship who are travelling unaccompanied must also have legally certified written consent from both parents.

Useful Links

Children and travel

Learn more about travelling with children.

Yellow fever

Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).

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Health

Relevant Travel Health Notices

This section contains information on possible health risks and restrictions regularly found or ongoing in the destination. Follow this advice to lower your risk of becoming ill while travelling. Not all risks are listed below.

Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic preferably 6 weeks before you travel to get personalized health advice and recommendations.

Routine vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccinations, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date before travelling, regardless of your destination.

Some of these vaccinations include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.

Pre-travel vaccines and medications

You may be at risk for preventable diseases while travelling in this destination. Talk to a travel health professional about which medications or vaccines may be right for you, based on your destination and itinerary. 

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

Risk
  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country. 
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of yellow fever vaccination is required if you are coming from a country where yellow fever occurs, excluding Argentina and Panama, or if you are coming from Tanzania or Zambia.
Recommendation
  • Vaccination is not recommended.
  • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
  • Contact a designated Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre well in advance of your trip to arrange for vaccination.

About Yellow Fever

Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada
* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.

Rabies

Rabies is a deadly illness spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from an infected animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (e.g., are children, have an occupational risk, or in close contact with animals, including free roaming dogs in communities).

Measles

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It can spread quickly from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air..

Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of being infected with it when travelling internationally.

Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are fully protected against measles.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

COVID-19

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious viral disease. It can spread from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.

It is recommended that all eligible travellers complete a COVID-19 vaccine series along with any additional recommended doses in Canada before travelling. Evidence shows that vaccines are very effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. While vaccination provides better protection against serious illness, you may still be at risk of infection from the virus that causes COVID-19. Anyone who has not completed a vaccine series is at increased risk of being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and is at greater risk for severe disease when travelling internationally.

For destination entry and exit requirements, including for COVID-19 vaccination requirements, please check the Entry/exit requirements section.

Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are adequately protected against COVID-19.

Influenza

Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.

Malaria
  • There is a limited risk of malaria in this country.
  • Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no vaccine against malaria.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in enclosed, air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider pre-treating clothing and travel gear with insecticides and sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet.
  • Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.

Safe food and water precautions

Many illnesses can be caused by eating food or drinking beverages contaminated by bacteria, parasites, toxins, or viruses, or by swimming or bathing in contaminated water.

  • Learn more about food and water precautions to take to avoid getting sick by visiting our eat and drink safely abroad page. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
  • Avoid getting water into your eyes, mouth or nose when swimming or participating in activities in freshwater (streams, canals, lakes), particularly after flooding or heavy rain. Water may look clean but could still be polluted or contaminated.
  • Avoid inhaling or swallowing water while bathing, showering, or swimming in pools or hot tubs. 

Travellers' diarrhea

Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.

Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.

The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.

Typhoid

Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among children, travellers going to rural areas, travellers visiting friends and relatives or those travelling for a long period of time.

Travellers visiting regions with a risk of typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation, should speak to a health care professional about vaccination.  

Insect bite prevention

Many diseases are spread by the bites of infected insects such as mosquitoes, ticks, fleas or flies. When travelling to areas where infected insects may be present:

  • Use insect repellent (bug spray) on exposed skin
  • Cover up with light-coloured, loose clothes made of tightly woven materials such as nylon or polyester
  • Minimize exposure to insects
  • Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors or in buildings that are not fully enclosed

To learn more about how you can reduce your risk of infection and disease caused by bites, both at home and abroad, visit our insect bite prevention page.

Find out what types of insects are present where you’re travelling, when they’re most active, and the symptoms of the diseases they spread.

Chikungunya

There is a risk of chikungunya in this country.  The risk may vary between regions of a country.  Chikungunya is a virus spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Chikungunya can cause a viral disease that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. In some cases, the joint pain can be severe and last for months or years.

Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.

Dengue
  • In this country, dengue is a risk to travellers. It is a viral disease spread to humans by mosquito bites.
  • Dengue can cause flu-like symptoms. In some cases, it can lead to severe dengue, which can be fatal.
  • The level of risk of dengue changes seasonally, and varies from year to year. The level of risk also varies between regions in a country and can depend on the elevation in the region.
  • Mosquitoes carrying dengue typically bite during the daytime, particularly around sunrise and sunset.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue.
Zika virus

Zika virus is a risk in this country.

Zika virus is primarily spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. It can also be sexually transmitted. Zika virus can cause serious birth defects.

Pregnant women and women planning a pregnancy should visit a health care professional before travelling to discuss the potential risks of travelling to this country. Pregnant women may choose to avoid or postpone travel to this country.

Travel recommendations:

  • Prevent mosquito bites at all times.
  • If you are pregnant, always use condoms correctly or avoid sexual contact with anyone who has travelled to this country for the duration of your pregnancy.
  • Women: Wait 2 months after travel to this country or after onset of illness due to Zika virus (whichever is longer) before trying for a pregnancy. If your male partner travelled with you, wait 3 months after travel or after onset of illness due to Zika virus (whichever is longer).
  • Men: Wait 3 months after travel to this country or after onset of illness due to Zika virus (whichever is longer) before trying for a pregnancy.

For more travel recommendations, see the travel health notice: Zika virus: Advice for travellers

American trypanosomiasis

American trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease) is a risk in this country. It is caused by a parasite spread by infected triatomine bugs. The infection can be inactive for decades, but humans can eventually develop complications causing disability and even death.

Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from triatomine bugs, which are active at night, by using mosquito nets if staying in poorly-constructed housing. There is no vaccine available for Chagas disease.

Animal precautions

Some infections, such as rabies and influenza, can be shared between humans and animals. Certain types of activities may put you at higher risk of contact with animals, such as travelling in rural or forested areas, camping, hiking, and visiting wet markets (places where live animals are slaughtered and sold) or caves.

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, livestock (pigs, cows), monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats, and to avoid eating undercooked wild game.

Closely supervise children, as they’re more likely to come in contact with animals.

Monkeypox

Mpox (monkeypox) is a risk in this country. It is a viral disease that can cause serious illness in some circumstances. Risk is generally low for most travellers.

Mpox spreads in 3 ways:

  • from animals to humans through direct contact or by eating or preparing undercooked meat of infected animals or coming into contact with an infected animal's body fluids

  • from person to person through close contact, including direct contact with the skin lesions, blood, body fluids, or mucosal surfaces (such as eyes, mouth, throat, genitalia, anus, or rectum) of an infected person

  • through direct contact with contaminated objects such as bedding and towels, or by sharing personal objects used by an infected person

 

Follow recommended public health measures and avoid contact with animals such as rodents and primates to help prevent getting or spreading the infection

Person-to-person infections

Stay home if you’re sick and practise proper cough and sneeze etiquette, which includes coughing or sneezing into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand. Reduce your risk of colds, the flu and other illnesses by:

  •  washing your hands often
  • avoiding or limiting the amount of time spent in closed spaces, crowded places, or at large-scale events (concerts, sporting events, rallies)
  • avoiding close physical contact with people who may be showing symptoms of illness 

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; use condoms, practise safe sex, and limit your number of sexual partners.

Medical services and facilities

Health care is very good.

Public hospitals offer very good services throughout the country but waiting times may be long. Doctors rarely speak English or French.

Private clinics and hospitals provide excellent health care. They are mainly located in San José. Services may be expensive. Doctors and hospitals typically require upfront payment.

Emergency services may be limited in rural areas.

Medical evacuation can be very expensive and may be necessary in case of serious illness or injury.

Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.

Travel health and safety

Medications

Some prescription medication may not be available in Costa Rica.

If you take prescription medication, you’re responsible for determining its legality in the country.

  • Bring sufficient quantities of your medication with you
  • Always keep your medication in the original container
  • Pack your medication in your carry-on luggage
  • Carry a paper and an electronic copy of your prescriptions

Medical tourism

Canadian citizens have had serious health complications following cosmetic or other elective surgeries abroad.

Before leaving for medical travel:

  • make sure you’ve done your research
  • use reputable health-care providers only

Receiving medical care outside Canada

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

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Laws and culture

You must abide by local laws.

Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.

Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons

Canada and Costa Rica are signatories to the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. This enables a Canadian imprisoned in Costa Rica to request a transfer to a Canadian prison to complete a sentence. The transfer requires the agreement of both Canadian and Costa Rican authorities. This process can take a long time, and there is no guarantee that the transfer will be approved by either or both sides.

If you violate Costa Rica’s laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned.

Overview of the criminal law system in Costa Rica

Drugs

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect lengthy jail sentences or heavy fines.

Useful links

Child sex tourism

It's a serious criminal offence to have sex with minors in Costa Rica.

Conviction may result in a lengthy prison sentence.

Child Sex Tourism: It’s a Crime

Identification

Authorities may request to see your ID at any time.

  • Carry valid identification at all times
  • Keep a photocopy of your passport and entry stamp in case it’s lost or seized
  • Keep a digital copy of your ID and travel documents

Photography

It is illegal to photograph official buildings.

Check with local authorities before taking photos.

Investments

Disputes related to property acquisition or other investments are costly and take time to resolve.

If you plan on buying property, or making other investments in Costa Rica:

  • seek legal advice in Canada and in Costa Rica before making commitments
  • choose your own lawyer
  • avoid hiring a lawyer recommended by a seller

Dual citizenship

Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Costa Rica.

If you are a Canadian citizen, but also a citizen of Costa Rica, our ability to offer you consular services may be limited while you're there. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements.

Travellers with dual citizenship

International Child Abduction

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international treaty. It can help parents with the return of children who have been removed to or retained in certain countries in violation of custody rights. The convention applies between Canada and Costa Rica.

If your child was wrongfully taken to, or is being held in Costa Rica, and if the applicable conditions are met, you may apply for the return of your child to the Costa Rican court.

If you are in this situation:

  • act as quickly as you can
  • contact the Central Authority for your province or territory of residence for information on starting an application under The Hague Convention
  • consult a lawyer in Canada and in Costa Rica to explore all the legal options for the return of your child
  • report the situation to the nearest Canadian government office abroad or to the Vulnerable Children’s Consular Unit at Global Affairs Canada by calling the Emergency Watch and Response Centre

If your child was removed from a country other than Canada, consult a lawyer to determine if The Hague Convention applies.

Be aware that Canadian consular officials cannot interfere in private legal matters or in another country’s judicial affairs.

Useful links

Driving

You can drive with your valid Canadian driver’s licence in Costa Rica for up to 3 months.

You must also carry your passport when driving in the country. Photocopies are not acceptable. You may face a fine if you fail to provide proper documentation when stopped by a traffic officer.

The Costa Rican government may prevent you from leaving the country until all injury claims have been settled if you are involved in a road accident, regardless of which party is at fault or insurance coverage.  Local judicial resolution process may take several months.

In the event of a car accident:

  • don’t move your vehicle until the authorities arrive
  • remain at the scene
  • call 911 to report the accident

There are camera monitoring systems in various locations. You may receive a speeding ticket by mail if you exceed the speed limit.

Traffic fines don’t have to be paid on the spot. You can pay a fine:

  • at COSEVI (Costa Rican Road Safety Council)
  • at a bank

If a police officer asks you for money, you may make a complaint to the Costa Rican Tourism Bureau.

Useful Links

Money

The currency in Costa Rica is the Costa Rican colón (CRC).

Credit cards are generally accepted.

It’s extremely difficult to exchange Canadian dollars in Costa Rica. U.S. dollars are more easily exchanged.

Cash withdrawals are possible with a 4-digit PIN only.

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Natural disasters and climate

Hurricane season

Hurricanes usually occur from mid-May to the end of November. During this period, even small tropical storms can quickly develop into major hurricanes.

These severe storms can put you at risk and hamper the provision of essential services.

If you decide to travel to a coastal area during the hurricane season:

  • know that you expose yourself to serious safety risks
  • be prepared to change your travel plans on short notice, including cutting short or cancelling your trip
  • stay informed of the latest regional weather forecasts
  • carry emergency contact information for your airline or tour operator
  • follow the advice and instructions of local authorities

Useful links

Flooding

The rainy season extends from May to November, sometimes January.

Torrential rains and landslides occur frequently in the lowlands and mountainous areas along the Caribbean and in the Central Valley.

Seasonal flooding often causes power outages.  It can also hamper overland travel and reduce the delivery of other essential services. Roads may become impassable and bridges damaged.

Earthquakes and tsunamis

Costa Rica is located in an active seismic zone. Earthquakes and tremors occur regularly. Tsunamis are possible.

A tsunami can occur within minutes of a nearby earthquake. However, the risk of tsunami can remain for several hours following the first tremor. If you’re staying on the coast, familiarize yourself with the region’s evacuation plans in the event of a tsunami warning.

Volcanoes

There are several active and potentially active volcanoes in the country, including:

  • Arenal
  • Poás
  • Rincón de la Vieja
  • Turrialba

Eruptions may occur at any time. They sometimes lead to evacuations of surrounding areas on short notice.

In the event of an earthquake or volcanic eruption:

  • pay careful attention to all warnings issued for national parks
  • monitor local media to stay informed of the evolving situation
  • follow the instructions of local authorities, including evacuation orders 

Useful links

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Need help?

Local services

Emergency services

In case of an emergency, dial 911.

Consular assistance

San José - Embassy of Canada
Street AddressLa Sabana Executive Business Centre, Building No. 5, 3rd Floor, behind the Contraloría General de la República, San José, Costa RicaPostal AddressP.O. Box 351-1007, San José, Costa RicaTelephone(506) 2242-4400Fax506 2242-4410Emailsjcraconsular@international.gc.caInternethttps://www.Canada.ca/Canada-And-Costa-RicaServicesPassport Services AvailableFacebookEmbassy of Canada to Costa Rica, Nicaragua and HondurasTwitterCanada in Costa Rica, Honduras and NicaraguaConsular district

Nicaragua

Appointment Book your appointment online

For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada to Costa Rica, in San José, and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.

 

 

 

Disclaimer

The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.

The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, expressed or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.

If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.

Learn more about consular services.

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