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What Can I Bring To Costa Rica?

If you are flying to Costa Rica, you should check with three different authorities (Airline, TSA and Customs) to determine what you are allowed to bring to the country. We understand this can be confusing

What Can I Bring To Costa Rica?

If you are flying to Costa Rica, you should check with three different authorities (Airline, TSA and Customs) to determine what you are allowed to bring to the country. We understand this can be confusing when those authorities sometimes contradict each other, that’s why this article is a must.

  1. Airline restrictions on baggage can be found by searching “Baggage Information” on your airline’s website. Every airline restricts size, weight, type of checked baggage and what you can carry on a plane. These restrictions can be different when your airline imposes a baggage embargo which sometimes happens for flights to Costa Rica during the holiday season. It is important to check your airline’s current baggage restrictions before every flight.
  2. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) restrictions are imposed for safety reasons. Your checked baggage will be scanned by TSA and may be opened and searched. TSA also scans everything you carry on a plane when you go through security check points and they may also open and search your carry on items. We also recommend checking TSA restrictions before every flight because these can change. For example, TSA restrictions changed during Covid. You can find current TSA regulations on their website.
  3. Costa Rica’s government (Customs) restricts what you can bring to Costa Rica by land, air and sea. It is important to note that Costa Rica’s Customs does not allow everything that TSA allows in your checked baggage. Customs will put your baggage through an x-ray machine at the airport and they may or may not search your luggage.

Costa Rica’s Customs 101

Every person entering Costa Rica is entitled to bring luggage with items for personal use in reasonable quantities, such as medicines and assistance equipment.

“Reasonable quantities” is usually interpreted as what you can use during the length of your legal stay, those quantities might vary between citizens or tourists, since their permitted stay period is different.

As a legal resident, I typically bring a 12-month supply for my personal use and this has not been questioned. The maximum tourist visa is 90 days so it is better for tourists to bring only what they can consume and/or use within 90 days.

Medicines

If you need to take your personal medication while traveling to Costa Rica, please consider the following:

  • Carry just the necessary quantity that has been prescribe for your health problem, during the length of your legal stay.
  • You should have a prescription or a written statement from your doctor, specifying that the medicine is being used under his/her control and that you need it for your physical health.
  • Have the medicines labeled or properly identified.

Items for personal use

You can bring to Costa Rica the following items for personal use if they are portable and used:

  • Phone (1)
  • Books and manuscripts
  • Camera (1) and its accessories
  • Clothing
  • Jewelry
  • Musical instrument (1) and its accessories
  • Non-commercial photographs and prints
  • Portable radio or tape-recorder or compact disk player (1)
  • Purse rolls of film (6)
  • Toys
  • Umbrella
  • Video-camera (1) and its accessories
  • Zoom (1)

For you and your family’s consumption you may also bring

  • Baby food
  • Cigarettes (500 grams per person)
  • Candy (2 kilograms per person)
  • Wine and liquor (up to 5 liters per person). You have to be 18 years or older.
  • Packaged food items for personal consumption

Items for work

You are allowed to bring to Costa Rica items that you require in your profession, as long as they are used and portable. These provisions exclude complete equipment for laboratories, offices and workshops. Some of the items you may bring are:

  • Laptop computer (1)
  • Paint and canvas
  • Portable printer (1)
  • Tape recorder (1)

Pets

Dogs and cats are permitted entry, by proving they have obtained both general health and rabies vaccination certificates.

What Can I Bring To Costa Rica?

IMPORTANT NOTES

  • You are allowed to bring one (1) of each type of electronic device as long as the device is portable and used. New electronic devices are not included in this list.
  • You will not be charged import taxes or Customs duties on used portable items listed above.
  • New items and items not on this list may be subject to import taxes or Customs duties.
  • Items subject to import taxes are seized until you pay assessed taxes.

Can I bring new items to Costa Rica?

You can bring new items to Costa Rica as long as they are not for resale or prohibited items, but they will be subject to import taxes. Costa Rica allows a US $500 exemption from import taxes every six months.

What can I not bring to Costa Rica?

  • Illegal drugs
  • Pornographic materials
  • Plants, seeds, vegetables, fruits and unpackaged or bulk food items

Tourists are prohibited from bringing weapons and ammunition to Costa Rica

Citizens and legal residents are allowed to bring some types of weapons and ammunition to Costa Rica but Customs will seize these items and hold them until you have obtained a permit for your weapon. This is a good example of items that TSA will allow in checked baggage but Costa Rica will not allow tourists to bring through Customs.

What happens if I bring prohibited or restricted items to Costa Rica?

If Customs finds prohibited items in your possession they will confiscate these items and they might fine you.

This article does not attempt to provide exhaustive information and lists. If you want to bring items not covered in this article to Costa Rica, reach out to Outlier Legal to answer all your questions about what you can bring and not bring to Costa Rica.

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clientservices@outlierlegal.com

Margaret Aliff is a true Outlier who chose to work as an independent contractor in different fields for most of her career. She is a US citizen who lived in many places but found her forever home in Costa Rica 15 years ago. Margaret finds fulfillment in retirement by helping people who want to move to Costa Rica.

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