How to Get to Costa Rica

Arrival Costa Rica

Comparatively few people reach Costa Rica by sea (on fishing or diving tours or cruises). More visitors come by bus from neighboring countries. However, the majority of travelers reach the country by plane.

Airplane: Costa Rica is easily accessible by air from other Central and Latin American countries as well as the USA. The national airline, LACSA (part of the Central American Grupo TACA), flies to numerous destinations in the USA, Colombia, Mexico, Panama as well as Venezuela and Cuba. Iberia and Air Plus Comet fly direct from Europe. Condor offers direct flights from Frankfurt, Düsseldorf, Berlin / Tegel, Munich, Hamburg and Zurich, among others.
Other airlines that offer flights to and from Costa Rica include: Air Canada, KLM, America West, COPA, American Airlines, Continental, Delta, Cubana de Aviación, Mexicana, US Airways, SAM / Avianca and United Airlines.

According to computergees, Grupo TACA is the largest provider of flight connections between Costa Rica and Central and Latin America. Grupo TACA flies daily direct to Caracas, Guatemala City and San Salvador. TACA and Mexicana have daily flights to Mexico City, TACA and Copa fly to Panama City several times a day.

Most flights from Europe have a stopover in the US or Mexico City. This is to change in the future, Liberia airport is to serve as a destination for direct flights.
More than a third of all travelers to Costa Rica come from the USA, and direct flights are particularly frequent from Houston, Miami and New York.

Airports: International flights arrive at Aeropuerto Internacional Juan Santamaria (SJO), 17 km northwest of San José. Numerous buses go to the city center (journey time around 35 minutes), and taxis can also be used.

The airport Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (LIR, Liberia) is mainly used by American airlines (American Airlines, Continental and Delta) and the airline Sansa and is located in the province of Guanacaste. This airport is to be expanded further in the future.

Ship: the main ports in Costa Rica are Limon, Puerto Caldera, Moin, Golfito, Quepos and Puntarenas.

Cruise ships stop in Costa Rica’s ports and passengers can take short trips into the country. The usual ports for cruise ships are the Pacific port of Caldera (near Puntarenas) and the Caribbean port of Puerto Limón. The companies Holland America, Costa, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Wind Star, Celebrity, Sun, Carnival, NCL, Silversea, Crystal, Regal, Royal Olympic, Cunard, Seabourn, Delphin Kreuzfahrten, Radisson and Hapag Lloyd offer cruises to Costa Rica.

Car: the route of the Panamericana crosses the area of ​​Costa Rica, from La Cruz on the Nicaraguan border via San Jose to Canoas on the Panamanian border.

Due to the cost of insurance, fuel and border controls, car travel in Costa Rica is significantly more expensive than flights. Numerous formalities are required to enter the country with your own vehicle, which is why more travelers are renting or buying a car in Costa Rica. To import a vehicle into Costa Rica, you need: Registration and proof of ownership, a valid national or international driver’s license, valid license plates, passport, copies of these documents for security in case the originals are lost.

In some cases, the vehicle controls at the border are very detailed, so regulations should be strictly observed. Otherwise, officials quickly have the opportunity to demand a “fee”… Check whether: the front and rear lights and indicators are working properly, the spare tire is in good condition, a petrol can, warning triangle and fire extinguisher are on board.
A well-stocked tool box is also important, as special tools / spare parts cannot be found everywhere in Central America.

There is also the option of shipping a car from Miami (USA) to Costa Rica with Latii Express International.

Foreign auto insurance is not accepted in Costa Rica, you need to purchase national insurance, this is possible at the border. Typically, a road tax is required upon entry (around US $ 10). Visitors are not allowed to sell their car in Costa Rica. If you leave Costa Rica without the previously imported vehicle, you have to park it in the customs warehouse in San José.
Buses: Costa Rica shares land borders with Nicaragua and Panama, and numerous visitors come to the country by bus. An extensive and inexpensive bus system connects the Central American capitals with each other.
If your travel documents are in order, it usually doesn’t take long to cross the border. When traveling in international buses, you have to cross both border stations on foot.
International buses run from San José to Changuinola (Bocas del Toro), David and Panama City, Guatemala City, Managua, San Salvador and Tegucigalpa.

Costa Rica entry requirements

is generally required for traveling in Costa Rica. The passport (or the temporary passport) must be in good condition and be valid for at least 180 days upon entry.

Visa :

Citizens of EU countries and Switzerland do not need a visa for tourist trips with a maximum stay of 90 days in Costa Rica. When entering the country, however, the officer in charge may enter a stay of 30 or 60 days in the passport. Pay attention to the required length of stay here.

Citizens of Turkey travel up to 30 days in Costa Rica without a visa.

If you are planning a longer stay in Costa Rica or if you are coming for other reasons (e.g. study or internship), you must apply for a residence permit before leaving for Costa Rica.

It should be noted that numerous flights to Costa Rica stop over in the USA. Therefore, the entry regulations of the USA must also be observed.

Travelers who would normally require a visa do not need a transit visa if they do not leave the airport, continue their flight within 12 hours and can present valid onward or return travel documents. However, some states are exempt from this regulation, inquire about this at the relevant Costa Rican representation. Entry with children : For accompanying children, the same visa requirements apply as for their parents. This also means that the visa regulations there must be observed when stopping over in the USA.

Germany: German child ID card with photo or child passport with photo. Child ID cards are no longer issued in Germany, existing child ID cards remain valid until the expiry date.

Austria: Children need their own passport.

Switzerland: children need their own passport.

Minors traveling alone require a passport and a declaration of consent from their legal guardian.
Minors who do not travel from Costa Rica with both parents often have to present a declaration of consent from the legal guardian who is not traveling with them. The responsible representations in Costa Rica give a precise overview of the required documents.

Adequate funds:
Foreign visitors must have sufficient funds for their trip. When entering the country, you have to prove how your stay in Costa Rica is financed (here you can, for example, present cash, travelers checks or credit cards with a value of at least US $ 500, depending on the length of the journey). When entering the country, travelers must also be able to show an onward or return ticket.


Information on recommended vaccinations, health risks and hygiene in Costa Rica can be found in the chapter Costa Rica – Health and Diseases.

Entry with pets :
When entering Costa Rica, dogs and cats require a certified health certificate that proves that the animal is disease-free, an international vaccination card with proof of a rabies vaccination. If dogs or cats are to be transported as cargo, an import permit from the Salubridad Publica Veterinaria in San José is required.

The Ministry of Agriculture must issue an import permit for parrots to be imported. A prerequisite for the import of parrots is that the birds have belonged to their owner for 6 months. The responsible agency of Costa Rica must have issued a health certificate for parrots prior to importation, which confirms that the bird is free from ornithosis, salmonella, parrot disease and other infectious diseases.

How to Get to Costa Rica