Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Use Normal Level of Caution

The Republic of Costa Rica is located in Central America. Neighbouring countries include Nicaragua and Panama. Costa Rica’s coastline includes the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. The population is about 4.5 million people.

Costa Rica's government is a democratic republic with a president as chief of state and head of government. Costa Rica has experienced more stability than most of the Latin American countries. After the Costa Rican Civil War in 1948, the new government abolished the army and established a democratic government.

Costa Rica is known for its progressiveness. The country has a universal health care system ranked higher than the United States. In 2007, the government created plans to become the first carbon neutral country by 2021. This country has also set aside about 25 percent of its land area as protected.

Costa Rica is also known for ecotourism and is one of 20 countries with the richest biodiversities in the world. Visitors can enjoy national parks, wildlife, cloud forests, beaches, tropical rain forests, volcanoes and jungles.

Currency CRC: Costa Rican colon
Language Spanish
Capital San Jose. Also recognized are the regional languages of Bribri and Mekatelyu.
Recent Alerts 2
Latest Alert March 27, 2017 - Countries reporting Zika microcephaly in the Americas

Diseases To Be Aware Of

The diseases listed below are those which occur most often in Costa Rica. Other, less frequently encountered diseases might be displayed within the Travel Alerts section if they have occurred recently.

Dengue Fever

Dengue fever outbreaks occur in Costa Rica in the tropical and semi-tropical areas.

Hepatitis A

There is a significant risk for hepatitis A virus exposure in Costa Rica through contaminated food or water. Infection can still occur at tourist destinations and resorts.

Hepatitis B

There is a risk for acquiring hepatitis B in Costa Rica.

Typhoid Fever

Unvaccinated people can become infected through contaminated food and water in Cambodia. The risk is higher when visiting smaller cities, villages, or rural areas where food and water sources may be contaminated.

Leishmaniasis

Leishmaniasis occurs mostly in rural areas in Costa Rica.

Chagas Disease

American trypanosomiasis (“Chagas disease”) may occur in rural Costa Rica. Areas where this disease occurs include Alajuela, Liberia, and Puntarenas. The risk of travellers acquiring this disease is low unless staying in very poor quality housing or camping.

Chikungunya Fever

Chikungunya fever has occurred in this country.

Yellow Fever

There is no risk of yellow fever transmission. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travellers over 9 months of age, who are arriving from the following countries/territories: In Africa, all countries/territories at risk for yellow fever transmission, plus Eritrea, Sao Tome and Principe, Somalia, Tanzania, Zambia; In the Americas: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guyana, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travellers over 9 months of age departing Costa Rica, and travelling to the following countries/territories: In Africa: countries/territories at risk for yellow fever transmission, plus Eritrea, Sao Tome and Principe, Somalia, Tanzania, Zambia; In the Americas: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guyana, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela.

Rabies

Rabies occurs in this country. Travellers involved in outdoor activities (e.g., campers, hikers, bikers, adventure travellers, and cavers) may have direct contact with rabid dogs, bats, and other mammals. Those with occupational risks (such as veterinarians, wildlife professionals, researchers) and long-term travellers and expatriates are at higher risk.

Zika Fever

There is transmission of the Zika virus in this country.

Malaria

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has declared this country to be free of malaria. It is expected that the World Health Organization will endorse this finding after a period of observation. Anti-malaria medication is not recommended.

Vaccinations to Consider

The following is a list of recommended vaccinations for travelling to Costa Rica.

Hepatitis A Vaccine

There is a significant risk of exposure to hepatitis A for this country, therefore, the vaccination is recommended.

Typhoid Fever Vaccine

Unvaccinated travellers are at risk of exposure to typhoid fever in this country through consumption of unsafe food and water. Since exposure to unsafe sources is variable within this country, the vaccination against typhoid fever is generally recommended, especially when visiting smaller cities, rural areas, or staying with friends and family.

Yellow Fever Vaccine

There is no risk of yellow fever transmission. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travellers over 9 months of age, who are arriving from the following countries/territories: In Africa, all countries/territories at risk for yellow fever transmission, plus Eritrea, Sao Tome and Principe, Somalia, Tanzania, Zambia; In the Americas: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guyana, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travellers over 9 months of age departing Costa Rica, and travelling to the following countries/territories: In Africa: countries/territories at risk for yellow fever transmission, plus Eritrea, Sao Tome and Principe, Somalia, Tanzania, Zambia; In the Americas: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guyana, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela.

Hepatitis B Vaccine

There is a significant risk of infection with hepatitis B for this country. Therefore, the vaccination is recommended.

Rabies Vaccine

Vaccination against rabies is recommended for travellers involved in outdoor activities (e.g., campers, hikers, bikers, adventure travellers, and cavers) who may have direct contact with rabid dogs, bats, and other mammals. Those with occupational risks (such as veterinarians, wildlife professionals, researchers) and long-term travellers and expatriates are at higher risk and should be vaccinated.

Medications to Consider

The following is a list of recommended medications for travelling to Costa Rica.

Anti-malarial Drugs

Anti-malaria medication is not recommended.

Safety and Security in Costa Rica

Emergency Numbers

911

Personal Safety

Most travellers have no safety problems in Costa Rica, however, crimes against tourists have increased over the past few years. There have been reports of some muggings and armed robberies occurring even in daylight hours.

To minimize safety risk, be aware and alert to surroundings and personal safety. Be particularly cautious with belongings on buses, at transportation hubs, on beaches, and in tourist areas in general. Avoid showing signs of wealth and keep valuables out of sight to avoid being targeted. Do not carry large amounts of cash. Keep your belongings in sight at all times. Keep travel documents secure at all times. Passport theft is common. Theft from parked cars (including from car trunk/boot) and hotel rooms does occur.

Never leave drinks or food unattended. There have been reports of tourists being drugged and robbed.

In general, be wary of new acquaintances. Be wary of strangers offering help with situations like changing a flat tire. They usually are the cause of the flat tire and seek to distract you while their accomplice steals your possessions. Carjacking is common so keep windows up and doors locked. There have been reports of criminals causing an auto accident as a means of stopping a car to commit a robbery. If you believe an auto accident could be deliberate, consider driving until you reach a safe place to stop, i.e. a police station.

Do not carry, sell or use illegal drugs in Costa Rica. The minimum sentence in this country for drug offences is eight years in prison.

Use only official red taxis with a yellow triangle on the side panels. There are reports of people who used unofficial taxis being attacked and robbed.

Areas To Avoid

Exercise extra caution in the capital city, San Jose, particularly around the Coca-Cola bus station and public parks. If possible, arrive at the airport during daylight hours. There has been criminal activity on the roads from the San Jose airport after dark.

Exercise extra caution around the ports of Limon and Puntarenas, Tamarindo, Jaco, Quepos, Manuel Antonio and Tarcoles River on the Pacific Coast and Puerto Viejo and Cahuita on the Atlantic Coast.

Political Unrest

Strikes and civil unrest do occur. Minimize safety risk by avoiding public and political gatherings and demonstrations since even peaceful protests can quickly and unexpectedly escalate and become violent.

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