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FAQ

Do I need a visa to visit Costa Rica?

Citizens of the United States, Canada, and the European Union countries do not require a visa to enter Costa Rica.  With their passport, they can enter Costa Rica and remain in the country for up to a maximum of 90 days. While in Costa Rica your passport and the immigration stamp that was placed in it when you entered the country is your proof of legal status. Tourists from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Israel, Japan, Panama, Paraguay, Uruguay, United States, and all European countries except Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Czech Republics, Iceland, Ireland, Lithuania, Malta, Russia Slovakia, and Slovenia are allowed to stay for 90 days without a visa.

If you are from Australia, Belize, China, Guatemala, Honduras, Iceland, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, The Philippines and Venezuela you may stay for only 30 days without a visa.

All other countries require a visa to come to Costa Rica.

If you are already in Costa Rica and want to stay longer than 90 days, then you’ll have to leave the country for 72 hrs and re-entry legally again for another 90 days. You do not have to go too far. You may go to Panama or Nicaragua (which is pretty cheap).

I am traveling with my pet. What do I need to do?

If you want to bring your dog or cat, you will need to get in touch with the Consulate of Costa Rica in your country, bring a health certificate from a Veterinarian plus all vaccination given to your pet, or a certification of this by the doctor. Once you have all these papers, the Consulate of Costa Rica will seal all your documents; that will allow your pet to come into any country.

How can I get a job or internship in Costa Rica?

Some Americans can get a job in Costa Rica. They may teach English in one of many private language schools in Costa Rica. The salary is not very attractive for US standards. If you have an elementary or secondary education certification you might get a job in a primary and secondary school as a teacher or office clerk also. You may also try at one of the English Language publications like The Tico Times, The Beach Times, For Sale by Owner, among others. You may get lucky and get a job at a beach hotel and be near the ocean (Wow!) Just remember that these jobs are not legal because only residents and citizens are allowed to work in Costa Rica.

 You can also volunteer in Costa Rica. There are some U.S. non-profit programs such as “World Teach” that place volunteers in Costa Rica every now and then. The Costa Rican Embassy in Washington may help you on this topic. There are also volunteer opportunities with the Costa Rican Energy and Environment Ministry.

What are the medical concerns and suggested vaccines?

Health care in Costa Rica is very good and sanitary standards are high. First class hospitals are found throughout San José and some of the other largely populated areas.  Since long ago, diseases such as malaria, paludism, and yellow fever were eradicated in Costa Rica.

There are no plagues like in other countries, and no special vaccine recommendations for travelers more than influenza and the tetanus vaccines. Hospitals and the Red Cross will provide any medical treatment in case of an emergency.

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.

How secure is a real estate purchase in Costa Rica?

It is just as safe to buy titled land in Costa Rica as it would be in the US, Canada, or Europe. The guiding principles of offer and acceptance and the public registration of ownership leans and encumbrances are no different here. Additionally, there are no restrictions on foreign ownership of the real estate in Costa Rica as there are in some other countries such as Mexico. So, a foreigner has the exact same rights on titled real estate as does a Costa Rican.

How can I know if a property is legally titled?

All properties are properly registered in the Public Registry. It does not matter if it is a concession or a regular property. If you want to find out if the seller possesses ownership of the property you may ask your attorney to check in the Public Registry. There you may also find out if there are any restrictions, encumbrances, and liens. If the property is not registered, DO NOT BUY IT!

Is bank financing available?

Yes, there is bank financing available in Costa Rica. Current rates are running from 8% to 8.5% with a 60% loan to value.

How much are property taxes?

Property taxes are .25% of the registered value of the property. The tax is paid to the municipality and can be paid annually or quarterly.  There is a second tax, the luxury property tax, which applies only to built structures (not to raw land). This tax rate is tiered and runs from 0.25% to 0.55% of the market value of the property. This tax is paid every January to the Ministry of the Finance (La Hacienda) and the proceeds from the tax, which is called the Solidarity Tax, will be used to provide better housing to the poor.

Are dollars accepted in Costa Rica or I have to change the currency?

The official currency in Costa Rica is the Colon. Most prices will be in colones but you will find some stores (especially souvenir stores) that have all items marked in dollars. Credit cards and dollars are accepted almost everywhere but not in $50 or $100 bills. Smaller bills will always be accepted. All major credit cards are accepted (Visa, Master Card, AMEX).

When is the best time to visit Costa Rica?

Travelers can visit Costa Rica at any time of the year. Temperatures are relatively consistent year-round, comfortably warm in the highlands and hot along the coasts. There are two distinct seasons based on typical rainfall, the wet and dry season.
Dry Season: December – April (The Caribbean side experiences a dry season during Sept/Oct as well).

The best time to visit is usually considered to be the dry season, December to April, with only one or two rainy days per month in most regions. This is also the busiest time of year, especially during Christmas and Spring break. Travelers planning during those school holidays should try to plan at least six months in advance if possible.

Travelers visiting during the green season can participate in most of the same activities and will generally experience much smaller crowds during this time. Because temperatures are warm and rain often comes in brief, heavy showers, many travelers enjoy the green season as well.

What type of food is typical of Costa Rica?

Rice, beans, tortillas, chicken, beef, fish, tropical fruit, and fresh vegetables are some of the standard foods that travelers can expect in Costa Rica. International specialties are also widely available.

Is the water safe to drink in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is possibly the most sanitary of Central American nations. Tap water in San José and the rest of the central valley is safe to drink but you may wish to employ caution elsewhere, although simply asking locals is the water is potable might be enough caution. If you are hiking and camping, either drink boiled water or have iodine tablets available.

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