Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Use Normal Level of Caution
Use High Level of Caution when visiting the following municipalities: Puntarenas, San José, Desamparados, Liberia, San Rafael, Talamanca, and Limón

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 November 15, 2019 - Solidarity Rallies Scheduled on 15 November

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. Travellers in transit through Costa Rica and travellers who have transited through an airport in a country/territory at risk for yellow fever transmission are exempt. 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. The World Health Organization notes that there is negligible or no risk of malaria transmission, except for sporadic cases in the cantons of San Carlos, Matina and Sarapiqui. 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. Travellers in transit through Costa Rica and travellers who have transited through an airport in a country/territory at risk for yellow fever transmission are exempt. 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.

The incidence of road accidents is high in Costa Rica. Road travel may be dangerous due to poor road conditions and reckless driving. Exercise extreme caution in rural areas where roads may be unpaved and unlit at night. Avoid travelling after dark. Always carry your passport with you when driving in Costa Rica as authorities may request to verify it.

Exercise extreme caution when participating in outdoor adventure activities as safety standards may not be adequate. Also exercise caution when swimming as currents may be strong and unpredictable Ensure travel and medical insurance is acquired before departing and that your insurance policy covers outdoor adventure activities.

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

Hurricanes occur in Costa Rica, especially between May-November. Flooding, landslides, major damage to infrastructure and disruption to travel plans may result. Monitor weather updates. Costa Rica is also at risk for earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanos.

LGBTI travellers should note that same-sex relations are legal and most locals are tolerant of same-sex behaviours.

Areas To Avoid

Exercise extra caution in the municipalities of San José, Desamparados, Liberia, San Rafael, Talamanca, and Limón due to high risk of criminal activity.

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. It is illegal for foreigners to participate in protests and demonstrations.

Get A Free Account!

Sitata uses advanced software algorithms to monitor the world for disease outbreaks and safety hazards. Each travel alert published by Sitata is reviewed by staff to ensure it meets the concerns of a traveller.

Sign up for a free account so that you can prepare for your trip and view the latest alerts.

Plan A Trip