Customs regulations for your trip to Costa Rica

Last modified: January 5, 2024
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Customs Regulations

Required documents to clear customs :

  • Bill of Lading, air waybill
  • Copy of the passport
  • Packing list, including brand, model and series of electronics and electrical items
  • If shipment consists of new articles, please inform us, we will need original invoices

All shipments pay approx. 35-38% over the CIF value.

Used Household Goods and Personal Effects

  • Used household goods and personal effects are subject to import taxes and duties, except for diplomatic shipment or international organisations. Costa Rican citizens who have lived a minimum of 24 months out of the country have a partial exemption of the taxes.
  • New items are subject to very high duties and require an original receipt
  • Used Computers, cosmetics, refrigerator are subject to import permits.
  • All household goods and personal effects must be unloaded in bonded warehouse for customs inspection.

Bulk agricultural products require phytosanitary certificates.

Imports of cosmetics, pharmaceutical, vitamin supplements, medical devices, chemicals, toxic substances, insecticides, pesticides, and agricultural chemicals require an import permit from the Costa Rican Ministry of Health.  The permit can be obtained upon presentation of quantitative-qualitative analysis certificates, good manufacturing practices and free-sale certificates, which must be provided by the foreign exporter. The registration process for pharmaceuticals has become very slow, in some cases and depending on the product class and usage it can take six months for approval.

If you are over the age of 18, the list of things you can take on an airplane to Costa Rica includes:

  • Up to 50 cigars or 400 cigarettes or 500g of tobacco
  • Shoes, clothing, and perfume for personal use
  • Alcohol must not exceed 3 litres. Despite this, how much alcohol you can take out of Costa Rica is not stipulated by local law. In this case, you need to rely on the customs regulations of your country.

Prohibited Items

Please be informed that due to regulations in Costa Rica, the following items are considered restricted or prohibited. Failure to comply with these provisions may result in fines and / or delays or shipment confiscation.

The following are prohibited or restricted items:

  • Liquid fuels
  • Drugs
  • Flammable 
  • Medicines
  • Chemicals 
  • Poisons
  • Compressed gas 
  • Archaeological pieces
  • Corrosive 
  • Fossils
  • Cans with aerosols (spray) 
  • Plants
  • Explosives 
  • Food or Dry Fruit
  • Seeds 
  • Weapons
  • Ammunition
  • Collections of coins or stamps
  • Matches 
  • Pornography
  • Liquor
  • Any article with refrigerant gas (such as refrigerators, air conditioners, etc) 
  • Vehicle tires
  • Alcoholic beverages

Arms and munitions require a licence from the Costa Rican Ministry of Public Security’s Department for the Control of Weapons and Explosives.

Imports are registered by the Central Bank of Costa Rica for statistical purposes.

Special Import/Export Requirements and Certifications (Health, Pharmaceuticals, Pre-Shipment Inspections)

Pharmaceuticals, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices and some chemical products, such as solvents, agricultural inputs and precursor chemicals used to produce narcotic drugs, must have import permits (valid for five years) and be registered with the Ministry of Health.  Food products require registration when imported for the first time. 

The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG) requires sanitary and phytosanitary certificates from exporting country authorities.  The Costa Rican importer must obtain the permits.

Surgical and dental instruments and machines can be sold only to licensed importers and health professionals.  Also, regulations require that imported biomedical equipment and materials be registered with the Ministry of Health.

Under local sanitary registry regulations all dietary supplements and natural medicinal products should be registered with the Ministry of Health before being sold in Costa Rica.

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