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Pets and Public Transportation

We received an inquiry from Rob Evans, who happens to manage a Facebook Group called Costa Rica by Bus.In his group, someone inquired whether it is possible to bring service dogs into public transportation such

We received an inquiry from Rob Evans, who happens to manage a Facebook Group called Costa Rica by Bus.

In his group, someone inquired whether it is possible to bring service dogs into public transportation such as buses, taxis, or ferries.

While transit law does not allow pets or animals in general to ride in public transportation, the law for the protection of people with disabilities (Law 7600) allows service animals to use public transportation along with the owners. Notwithstanding the language of transit law, the law 7600 trumps the transit law.

Section 45 of Law 7600 sets forth the freedom and right of access with the following language:
“People with disabilities who use service dogs or other service animals, as well as equipment for their mobility, shall have equal and free access to public transportation as well as access to any building structure regardless of whether it is public or private, without causing any additional costs to them.”

Section 164(h) of the Regulation for Law 7600 states:
“That all public transportation shall be available to people with disabilities who may need additional assistance whether by tools and instruments as well as service animals.”

Furthermore, Section 176 defines service animal as the ones required for mobility, companionship and assistance. A problem, in my opinion, is that Costa Rica does not currently have a certification process for service animals. For people who are blind or ride a wheel chair, the situation is self-affirming and thus not required to produce further evidence about the necessity of the service animal. The issue will arise for people who need companion animals for emotional support. Without appropriate certifications, how can people demonstrate the need for the animal to a bus driver or a taxi driver.

In sum, all people with disabilities who require the assistance of a service animal are allowed in public transportation as well to all government facilities and private businesses. While people with emotional support animals could encounter some difficulties with the enforcement of this law, people with more apparent disabilities should not have any issues bringing their support animals along.

I hope this information to be helpful.



Attorney and Entrepreneur with more than 15 years experience in: immigration law in the US and Latin American countries including Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Brazil, Costa Rica and Panama. In addition, Rafael has extensive experience in Business Law, Estate Planning, and Real Estate. Lastly, Rafael has developed experience in people management, talent development and business development.

Review overview
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    Jim August 23, 2017

    So if you have an emotional service dog or your disability is not apparent like being blind for example, what can one do to ensure one will be able to bring one’s service dog on a bus or in a taxi?

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    Georgia Lawrence January 29, 2018

    I have the proper USDA certification for my emotional support animal to travel into Costa Rica. I also have the documentation from the appropriate Mental Health accredited professional as to why she needs to be with me. She has an emotional support animal vest that identifies her as such she’s a 20lb Doxie and is completely manageable trained. Can she ride on public transportation with me?

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    Heidi October 10, 2020

    Our vested service dog with her medical tags was denied entry to marina ballena national park today. Is this legal? The ranger was quite rude, he seemed to imply that it had something to do with the protests?

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    Patti November 30, 2020

    What does the law say about people coming on to private property with an emotional support dog. Do the owners have to allow this ? What if someone in the family is terrified of dogs and it would cause them emotional distress having the dog on the property.