Do You Need a Passport to Go to Costa Rica?

By Leah Rendon; Updated June 08, 2017

Headed to Costa Rica? Here are the travel documents to take along

Do You Need a Passport to Go to Costa Rica?

Hike through lush rainforests, raft down rushing rivers or snooze on a Caribbean beach – Costa Rica offers an array of outdoor activities under sunny skies. But before you can enjoy this tropical getaway, you must also deal with the some trip details. From travel documents to health safeguards, find out exactly what’s required before setting out for your Central American adventure.

Is a passport required?

Yes, a passport is required to visit Costa Rica, and you should always carry your passport on you in case an immigration authority asks to see it. Visas are not necessary for entry into Costa Rica unless the trip is expected to last more than 90 days. Even with a visa, immigration authorities are not required to permit a stay of up to 90 days.

All travelers must also produce proof, such as a bus, airline or cruise ticket, that they’re leaving the country before the 90-day deadline. Finally, tourists may also be required to demonstrate the financial ability to spend at least 100 U.S. dollars for each month of their visit.

Is it safe to travel to Costa Rica?

As in most countries, tourists are targets for thieves in Costa Rica, although most travelers rarely fall victim to the crime. Report crimes immediately to the local police department or the Tourism Police, the latter of which is a special unit found in areas with a high concentration of travelers. The Consular in the U.S. Embassy can provide assistance should tourists become crime victims.

Generally, however, Costa Rica is quite a safe place to travel. It is a democratic republic governed by a constitution with one of the most stable governments in Latin America. Aided by its strong government, Costa Rica has also managed to avoid much of the drug trade violence afflicting much of Central America.

What type of natural disasters occur in Costa Rica?

Natural disasters are cause for concern throughout the country. Set along the edge of active tectonic plates, Costa Rica frequently experiences earthquakes, particularly in the Nicoya Peninsula. Although seismic activity can lead to tsunamis, they rarely occur in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica has numerous active volcanoes, some of which have erupted in recent years. It’s not unusual for volcanic ash to fall on the capital city of San Jose and even disrupt air travel at times. Pay particular attention to volcano warnings in the areas of Arenal, Poas, Rincon de la Vieja and Turrialba. Understand that evacuations may take place at any time.

Major flooding and landslides happen during the rainy season which typically lasts from May through November. These natural disasters frequently occur in the lowlands, central valley and the mountain regions, as well as along both coasts, particularly in the Provinces of Limon and Puntarenas.

Be mindful of rip tides while swimming in the ocean as many Pacific and Caribbean beaches feature dangerous currents but few have lifeguards. The stretch along the Pacific Coast from Jaco Beach to Playa Dominical is considered one of the nation’s most dangerous for rip tides.

Are any shots required?

All tourists traveling to Costa Rica from South America and sub-Saharan Africa must vaccinate against yellow fever. At least four to eight weeks prior to traveling abroad, always make certain that routine vaccines, such as measles, polio and Hepatitis A, are up-to-date. The Center for Disease Control advises travelers visiting rural areas to vaccinate against typhoid. Outdoor adventurers traveling to remote regions should get the rabies vaccine. Tourists who might be sexually active or plan on getting piercings or tattoos should receive the Hepatitis B vaccine. As of March 2017, pregnant women are discouraged from visiting Costa Rica due to the Zika virus.

Is the water safe to drink?

Yes, the tap water in developed areas of Costa Rica, such as San Jose, is considered safe to drink. Tap water from undeveloped areas is more questionable, and bottled water is the safer choice. Taking iodine pills or boiling water (for one minute at least) helps eliminate the presence of bacteria.

About the Author

Leah Rendon