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Travel Insurance Costa Rica


Costa Rica Country Guide

  1. CountryFacts
  2. Health
  3. Media
  1. Intro
  2. Geography
  3. People
  4. Travel
  5. Embassies & Visas
  6. Finance
  7. Cities/Regions

Quick Facts

Region: North & Central America & the Caribbean
Full Name: Republic of Costa Rica
Capital City: San Jose
Language Spoken: Spanish (official), English


Costa Rica Travel Insurance

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Geographic data

10 00 N, 84 00 W

Elevation Extremes

lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m highest point: Cerro Chirripo 3,810 m

Land boundaries

total: 639 km border countries: Nicaragua 309 km, Panama 330 km

Natural hazards

occasional earthquakes, hurricanes along Atlantic coast; frequent flooding of lowlands at onset of rainy season and landslides; active volcanoes

Natural resources


Land use

arable land: 4.4% permanent crops: 5.87% other: 89.73% (2005)

Environmental current issues

deforestation and land use change, largely a result of the clearing of land for cattle ranching and agriculture; soil erosion; coastal marine pollution; fisheries protection; solid waste management; air pollution


In the Central Valley, where the main centers of population are located, the average temperature is 22?C (72?F). In the coastal areas, the temperature is much hotter. The rainy season starts in May and finishes in November. The ?warm? dry season is December to May, though temperature differences between summer and winter are slight.\nRequired clothing\nLightweight cottons and linens most of the year, warmer clothes for cooler evenings. Waterproofing is necessary during the rainy season.

Time difference

time difference: UTC-6


4,075,261 (July 2006 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 28.3% (male 590,261/female 563,196) 15-64 years: 66% (male 1,359,750/female 1,329,346) 65 years and over: 5.7% (male 108,041/female 124,667) (2006 est.)

Median age

total: 26.4 years male: 26 years female: 26.9 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate

1.45% (2006 est.)

Birth rate

18.32 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate

4.36 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate

0.49 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.87 male(s)/female total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 77.02 years male: 74.43 years female: 79.74 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate

2.24 children born/woman (2006 est.)

Business Practices

Business meetings and customs tend to be conservative. Unlike the protocol in some neighboring countries, a business suit is appropriate for most business meetings Advance appointments, courtesy and punctuality are appreciated. It is necessary to have some knowledge of Spanish, although many locals speak English. Costa Rican business executives place great importance on personal contacts with foreign suppliers. Appointments should take place in the hosts' facilities instead of a hotel room, unless a special room has been arranged for the meeting. Typical working hours are from 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM, and from 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM. The Costa Rican government has a continuous working schedule from 7:30 AM to 4:00 PM. Most banks open from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM.


Crime is increasing, and tourists as well as the local populace are frequent victims. Most crimes are non-violent, including pickpocketing and house and car break-ins, but criminals have shown a greater willingness to use violence in recent years. Travelers should ensure that they purchase an adequate level of locally valid theft insurance when renting vehicles. Never leave valuables in the vehicle, and park in paid lots whenever possible. Criminals have reportedly used skeleton keys to break into cars, particularly rental cars. Carjackings have occurred in recent years, and motorists have been confronted at gunpoint while stopped at traffic lights or upon arrival at their homes. The women were found with gunshot wounds in the head. In addition, a number of women have been victims of sexual assaults at beach resorts on both coasts and in San Jose. There have been several attempted sexual assaults, including one rape, by taxi drivers. Travelers should be careful to use taxis that have working door handles, locks, and meters (called "marias"), and not ride in the front seat with the driver. There have been several kidnappings, including those of foreigners, in recent years. Incidents of crime commonly occur in downtown San Jose, at beaches, at the airport, and at national parks and other tourist attractions. There were assaults on tourist buses in recent years. Travelers who keep valuables out of sight, who do not wear jewelry, and who travel in groups during daylight hours lessen their risk. Local law enforcement agencies have limited capabilities. Money exchangers on the street pass off counterfeit U.S. dollars and local currency. Credit card fraud is growing. Some trails in national parks have been closed because of low numbers of visitors and reported robberies of hikers in the area. Tourists should check with park rangers for current park conditions.


There is a good range of reasonably priced hotel accommodation. Most proprietors speak English. San Jos? has many hotels, from the extravagant to the smaller, family-run hotels in the less fashionable districts. There are several good hotels out of town near the airport. Larger hotels have swimming pools and other sports facilities. The majority of the hotels have their own restaurants that are generally good and reasonably priced. Traditional business services are available in larger hotels (e.g., phone, fax, conference rooms, computer equipment, audiovisual equipment, etc.). Outside the capital, charges and the standard of comfort are lower.


Telephone IDD is available. Country code: 506. Outgoing international code: 00. Costa Rica enjoys an advanced telecommunications network, although some 67,000 Costa Ricans are waiting for telephone service. Telephone service, in general, is reliable. The country also enjoys both public cellular services and data transmission services. Fax facilities are available in San Jos? at the Radiografica Costarricense SA (opening hours: 0700-2200). An additional digit (2) will be added to the beginning of all landline numbers as at 21/03/08 and an additional digit (8) will be added required for all mobile numbers.


is 110/220 volts AC, 60Hz. 2-pin plugs are standard. Electricity 110 volts AC, 60Hz. Two-pin plugs are standard.

Plug Types


Food And Dining

Restaurants in towns and cities serve a variety of foods including Chinese, French, Italian, Mexican and North American. Food is satisfactory, from the most expensive to the cheapest eating places (which are generally found west of the city center). Food sodas (small restaurants) serve local food.

National specialties:
? Casado (rice, beans, stewed beef, fried plantain, salad and cabbage).
? Olla de carne (soup of beef, plantain, corn, yuca, nampi and chayote).
? Sopa negra (black beans with a poached egg).
? Picadillo (meat and vegetable stew).
? Gallos (filled tortillas).
? Tortas (containing meat and vegetables).
? Arreglados (bread filled with same).
? Pan de yuca (specialty from stalls in San Jos?). National drinks: There are many types of cold drinks made from fresh fruit, milk or cereal flour, for example:
? Cebada (barley flour).
? Pinolillo (roasted corn).
? Horchata (corn meal with cinnamon). Imported alcoholic and soft drinks are widely available. Coffee is good value and has an excellent flavor. Tipping : Tipping is not necessary but is accepted if the service was particularly outstanding. Restaurants add a 23 per cent service charge to the bill.

San Jos? especially has many nightclubs, venues with folk music and dance, theaters and cinemas.

Entry departure requirements

Visa immigration information


Passport valid for at least six months at date of entry required by all.


Required by all except the following:
(a) 1. nationals of the UK and its dependencies for stays of up to 90 days;
(b) 2. nationals of Andorra, Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Honk Kong (British passport holders only), Hungary, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea (Rep), Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithunia, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, The Netherlands, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad & Tobago, Uruguay and USA for stays of up to 90 days;
(c) 3. nationals of Antigua & Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Chile, Dominica, El Salvador, Estonia, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Iceland, Ireland, Jamaica, Mexico, New Zealand, The Philippines, Russian Federation, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent & The Grenadines, San Marino, Singapore, Slovak Republic, South Africa*, Surinam, Taiwan (China), Turkey, Vatican City and Venezuela for stays of up to 30 days;
(d) transit passengers continuing their journey to a third country by the same or first connecting flight within 12 hours, provided holding confirmed onward tickets and not leaving the airport (except nationals of China (PR) who do need a transit visa authorized by the Immigration Department in San Jos?).


(a) * Persons holding passports issued by the former homelands of Transkei and Venda do need a visa authorized by the Immigration Department in San Jos?. (b) Nationals of countries listed above must obtain an exit visa from the Immigration Department in San Jos? at least three weeks before leaving Costa Rica. Those who stay for less than 30 days are exempt if in possession of a disembarkation card. (c) Nationals of the following countries may enter Costa Rica with a consular visa for stays of up to 30 days: Belarus, Colombia, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Malaysia, Nicaragua, Peru, Thailand and Zimbabwe; nationals of these countries will have to apply for a consular visa in their country of origin or if they are permanent residents in a country of group (b) 2. in the country where they have permanent residency. (d) All other nationals require a visa. In some cases, an authorization from the Immigration Department in San Jos? is also necessary and visitors should consult the Consulate for an up-to-date list. Temporary visitors must hold return or onward tickets, except those holding a visa showing an exit ticket is not required.

Types of visa and cost

Tourist. Visas cost approximately US$21 ($20). All passengers requiring a visa must hold documents required for the next destination.


Visas are valid for 30 or 90 days, depending on nationality. Contact the Immigration Department in Costa Rica for renewal or information on the extension procedure.

Application to

Consulate (or Consular section of Embassy; see Passport/Visa Information). Applications should be made in person.

Application requirements

(a) Completed application form. (b) Two passport-size photos. (c) Passport valid for six months at time of entry. (d) Proof of sufficient funds to cover duration of stay. (e) Return or onward ticket.

Working days required

One to two, depending on nationality of applicant. Some visas need the authorization of the Immigration Department in Costa Rica (ask the Consulate or Consular section of Embassy for details) and may take up to three weeks.

Temporary residence

Apply to the Consulate or Consular section of Embassy.

HIV entry requirements

No Test Required

Departure tax

US$26 (or the equivalent in Costa Rican Colon), payable if staying more than 24 hours.


Embassy and Consulate of the Republic of Costa Rica in the UK

Flat 1, 14 Lancaster Gate, London W2 3LH, UK
Tel: (020) 7706 8844.
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 1000-1500 (embassy); 1000-1300 (consulate).

Embassy of the Republic of Costa Rica in the USA

2114 S Street, NW, Washington, DC 20008, USA
Tel: (202) 234 2945 or 328 6628 (consular enquiries).

Most visits to Costa Rica are trouble-free but you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate international terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners.
Incidents of violent crime, some targeted at tourists, are on the increase.
This advice is based on information provided by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office in the UK. It is correct at time of publishing. As the situation can change rapidly, visitors are advised to contact the following organizations for the latest travel advice:

British Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office


US Department of State



Costa Rican Col?n (CRC) = 100 c?ntimos. Notes are in denominations of c10,000, c5000, c2000, 1000 and 500. Coins are in denominations of CRC100, 50, 25, 20, 10 and 5. US Dollars are also widely accepted.

Currency restrictions

Up to US$10,000 can be brought to Costa Rica without any restrictions. Amounts above that figure must be declared to customs upon arrival.

Banking hours

Mon-Fri 08000900-1500/1800.

Currency exchange

Visitors should consult their banks for the current rate of exchange (there is no direct local quotation for sterling; the cross rate with the US Dollar is used). ATMs are available throughout the country.

Credit cards

Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa are all accepted; American Express slightly less so, but check with your credit or debit card company for details of merchant acceptability and other services which may be available.

Travellers cheques

To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travelers are advised to take traveller's cheques in US Dollars.


  1. Health Information
  2. Recent Disease Outbreak
  3. Hospital Database

Dental care

Dental care is available in the major cities of Costa Rica

Medication Availability

Supplies of International medications are available in the larger cities

Blood supplies

Blood supplies are screened to international standards in San Jose and considered safe. The same standards cannot be guaranteed elsewhere in the country

Medical facilities

Medical facilities are available, but may be limited outside urban areas.

General caution

Recent medical and dental exams should ensure that the traveler is in good health. Carry appropriate health and accident insurance documents and copies of any important medical records. Bring an adequate supply of all prescription and other medications as well as any necessary personal hygiene items, including a spare pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses if necessary. Drink only bottled beverages (including water) or beverages made with boiled water. Do not use ice cubes or eat raw seafood, rare meat or dairy products. Eat well-cooked foods while they are still hot and fruits that can be peeled without contamination. Avoid roadside stands and street vendors. Swim only in well-maintained, chlorinated pools or ocean water known to be free from pollution. Wear clothing which reduces exposed skin and apply repellents containing DEET to remaining areas. Sleep in well-screened accommodations. Carry anti-diarrheal medication. Reduce problems related to sun exposure by using sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats, sunscreen lotions and lip protection.

Specific concerns

AIDS occurs. Blood supply may not be adequately screened and/or single-use, disposable needles and syringes may be unavailable. When possible, travelers should defer medical treatment until reaching a facility where safety can be assured.


Cholera: Although limited in effectiveness, vaccination may be appropriate for persons living and/or working in less than sanitary conditions for more than 3 months where medical facilities are unavailable. Vaccination may also be appropriate for travelers with impaired gastric defenses who are planning an extended visit or being exposed to unsanitary conditions. Vaccination is not advised for pregnant women, infants younger than 6 months old, or persons with a history of severe reaction to the vaccine. Hepatitis A: Consider active immunization with hepatitis A vaccine or passive immunization with immune globulin (IG) for all susceptible travelers. Especially consider choosing active immunization for persons planning to reside for a long period or for persons who take frequent short-term trips to risk areas. The importance of protection against hepatitis A increases as length of stay increases. It is particularly important for persons who will be living in or visiting rural areas, eating or drinking in settings of poor or uncertain sanitation, or who will have close contact with local persons (especially young children) in settings with poor sanitary conditions. Typhoid: Vaccination should be considered for persons staying longer than 3 weeks, adventurous eaters, and those who will venture off the usual tourist routes into small cities, villages and rural areas. Importance of vaccination increases as access to reasonable medical care becomes limited. Contraindications depend on vaccine type. Note: All routine vaccines (such as DTP or Td, Hib, MMR, polio, varicella, influenza and pneumococcal) should be kept up-to-date as a matter of good health practice unrelated to travel.

Disease risk summary

Insect-borne illness: Dengue fever - occurs Dengue hemorrhagic fever - occurs Encephalitis (Venezuelan equine) - occurs Leishmaniasis - occurs Malaria - occurs Trypanosomiasis (Chagas' disease) - occurs Food-borne and water-borne illness: diseases, including amoebic and bacillary dysenteries and other diarrheal diseases, and the typhoid fevers are very common throughout the area. Many shigella dysenteria type I infections have been caused by drug-resistant enterobacteria. Cholera - occurs Helminthic (parasitic worm) infections - common Hepatitis - occurs Leptospirosis - occurs Paragonimiasis (oriental lung fluke) - occurs Other hazards: Diseases such as measles and diphtheria are commonly reported. Influenza risk extends throughout the year. Rabies - occurs

Entry requirements


Recent disease outbreaks

No recent disease outbreaks

Hospital CIMA San JoseCarretera Prospero Fernandez San Jose
Hospital Clinica BiblicaTorre Omega, 5 Piso, Calle Centra Y Primera Avenidas 14-16 San Jose
Hospital Clinica CatolicaApartado 3184-1000 San Jose


Costa Rica has nine major newspapers, several private and public TV stations and a busy FM radio scene. Cable TV is widely available.
Press: Daily newspapers printed in Spanish include Al Dia, Diario Extra, El Heraldo, La Nacion, La Prensa Libre and La Republica. The Tico Times is a weekly newspaper published in English. Television: The public channel is Rede Nacional (channel 13). Private channels include: Teletica (channel 7), Repretel (channels 4, 6, 11) and Conexion (channel 2).
Radio: Radio Reloj is a popular national radio; Radio Columbia and Radio Monumental are news and talk stations; Radio Eco is a news station; Radio Faro del Caribe is a religious station. Radio Uno and Radio Dos are commercial stations.