This is a loosely categorized list of questions we've received at Cocorí. It has grown a lot so we've broken it down into several pages. We recommend browsing the complete list because many questions couldn't be strictly defined as belonging to only one category. If your question isn't answered here, ask now. If you have suggestions for improving this list please address your comments to webmaster@cocori.com.


[Living in Costa Rica]
[Doing Business in Costa Rica]
[Traveling Around the Country]
[Miscellany]

 

Miscellany

What is the exchange rate for the Costa Rican money?
You can find the current rate of exchange between the Costa Rican colon and the US dollar on Cocori's Money Matters page.
Is it possible to access the World Wide Web from Costa Rica? Can I get an E-mail address?
RACSA, a subsidiary of the national communications company, ICE, provides full access to the WWW, Telnet, Email and News groups. The price is US$25 per month for 25 hours of on-line time. Additional time is US$1.00 per hour.
Can I bring a handgun into Costa Rica?
Yes. You must declare the weapon at port of entry. Officials will mark your passport. When leaving the country, you must again show the weapon to customs officials.
I want to drive to Costa Rica. What are the rules for bringing my vehicle in?
Tourists may bring their vehicle into Costa Rica. The vehicle is noted on entry papers and must leave the country with you. If you sell the vehicle while here, you must show paperwork proving a legitimate sale and proof that the customs duties and other taxes have been paid.
Can I work while visiting Costa Rica?
It is illegal for tourists to work in the country. For ways to work legally in Costa Rica see Working Your Way Through Paradise in the Cocori Library.
What kind of electrical power does Costa Rica use?
Costa Rica follows the US standards of 120/240 VAC, 60 Hz. Electrical outlets are also the standard US flat-prong type.

Electricity is available in all but the most remote areas. Many remote places not serviced by the utility company have local generators.

Can I drive in Costa Rica with my drivers license from home?
Yes. Your license, along with your passport or Tourist Card, are all that you need to drive in the country.
Are computers readily available in Costa Rica? Are they more expensive or cheaper than in the US?
Computers are very available and similarly priced as in the States.
I would like to be able to get information from a law library in Costa Rica.
There is computer access to the national law library called "MASTERLEX." This access is available only here in Costa Rica. The only other access to a law library would be through contact with a law office of considerable size. We suggest you contact an attorney where you are and see if you can be put in touch with a firm here.
Can you supply me with a list of public holidays and/or festivals?
The official government holidays are:
  • January 1
  • April 11 - Juan Santamaria Day (the country's only war hero)
  • Thursday and Friday before Easter Sunday
  • May 1 - Labor Day
  • July 25 - Annexation of Guanacaste
  • August 15 - Mother's Day
  • September 15 - Independence Day
  • December 25

Although not the "official" holiday that Mother's Day is, Father's Day is celebrated nonetheless on the second Sunday in June.

Can you give me some leads on colleges and universities? I'm considering moving to Costa Rica to study Spanish initially, then communications/journalism.
There are about 28 private and several public universities in Costa Rica. The University of Costa Rica (public) accepts many foreign students and has an excellent journalism school. UCR has about 40,000 students and is the largest university in the country. You might consider studying Spanish at a private language school first and then applying to UCR.
I want to bring my car to Costa Rica for three to six months. If I decide to keep it in the country, how much will I have to pay in taxes?
You can bring your car into the country on your tourist visa for three months without paying anything. That can generally be extended for an additional three months. After that, you must pay the taxes which will be around 60% of the FOB (USA) value of the car. You should be able to get a current tax schedule from any Costa Rican embassy/consulate or a reputable customs agent familiar with Costa Rica's duty/tax laws.
I am thinking of retiring to Costa Rica, but recently read of some tourists being kidnapped. What is happening regarding this type of crime?
The government has beefed up security in the northern zone where both kidnappings occurred. By the way, those kidnappings were perpetrated by Nicaraguan ex-Sandinistas, not Ticos. In both instances the kidnappers were caught and the money returned. As long as there is an open border between Nicaragua and Costa Rica and the economic situation is so bad in Nicaragua, there will most likely be "incidents."
My son is interested in studying in Costa Rica during summer vacation. How might he do this?
This organization has various length student programs to Costa Rica and other countries in Central America:
  • Iberoamerican Cultural Exchange Program
    13920 93rd Avenue N.E.
    Kirkland, WA 98034
    Tel: (206) 821-1463
    Fax: (206) 821-1849

Are there any opportunities for teaching in Costa Rica? I am particularly interested in teaching in a private elementary school. Would that be legal for a tourist or resident?
Yes, there are opportunities for teaching here. There are many bilingual schools and many "institutes" that teach English. Tourists are not allowed to work in any field. Residents are if their status includes it. Work permits or special residencies are sometimes issued for certain conditions. Those conditions often include help from a prospective employer. Here are a few of the more well-known schools. When contacting them be sure to ask what help they can give you in getting legal.
Private English preparatory - US academic calendar
  • American International School
    ais@aiscr.com
    Web Site
    Phone: (506) 293-2567
    Fax: (506) 239-0625
    Bosques de Doña Rosa
    Ciudad Cariari
    Heredia, Costa Rica
  • Country Day School
    codasch@sol.racsa.co.cr
    Fax: (506) 289-6798
    P.O. Box 8-6170-1000
    San José, Costa Rica
  • International Christian School
    intchris@sol.racsa.co.cr
    Fax: (506) 235-1518
    P.O. Box 3512-1000
    San José, Costa Rica
  • Marian Baker School
    mbschool@sol.racsa.co.cr
    Fax: (506) 273-4609
    P.O. Box 4269-1000
    San José, Costa Rica

Costa Rica academic calendar
  • Blue Valley School
    Fax: (506) 253-7708
    P.O. Box 2050-1000
    San José, Costa Rica
  • Monteverde Friends School
    Web Site
    Fax/Phone: (506) 645-5302
    P.O. Box 10165-1000
    San José, Costa Rica
    (located in the mountains of Monteverde)
    Monteverde Friends School
    5655 Monteverde, Puntarenas
    Costa Rica
  • Escuela Britanica
    britsch@sol.racsa.co.cr
    Fax: (506) 234-7833
    P.O. Box 8184-1000
    San José, Costa Rica
  • Lincoln School
    Fax: (506) 236-1706
    P.O. Box 1919-1000
    San José, Costa Rica
Can you tell me a little about the health care system in Costa Rica?
There is a government-run public health system somewhat like socialized medicine. It is cheap, but tends to be extremely slow, although the care is generally good. There are also private clinics and doctor offices (many of the same doctors who work in the public system) which are more expensive but still significantly below prices in the U.S. You can gain more insight into Costa Rica's health care system in the article To Your Health in Costa Rica in the Cocori Library.
What can you tell me about the cost of living such as utilities, clothes and food prices in Costa Rica?
One of the biggest problems with trying to give cost of living estimates is matching the lifestyle you are used to. It is possible to live very well on US$1,500 per month, and live ok on US$1,000. It is possible to manage fairly well on less, but maybe not in the manner in which you are accustomed.

Clothes, appliances and imported goods are generally significantly higher than in the States, due to high import taxes. Food costs are less than in the States. Import duties on autos are near 100%. Other things aren't that bad--computer equipment is now taxed at ten to fifteen percent.

The basic phone rate is about US$5.00 per month, but you pay for all calls you make. If you spend time on the Internet, you might expect to pay US$30 per month or more, plus the Internet charge of US$1.00 per hour (minimum charge for internet connection is $30 per month for 30 hours).

Electricity is about seven cents per Kwh. Most houses don't have air conditioning nor is it usually necessary except in the coastal areas.

I am a US citizen interested in marrying another US citizen while in Costa Rica. What do I need to know? What legal documents are required for a civil ceremony?
You will both need notarized legal documents stating your current marital status, i.e. single or divorced. If you are close to a Costa Rica Consulate, you can then get those documents certified before coming here. If not, you can appear before a Notary/Lawyer (the one who will eventually marry you would be fine) to prepare a sworn declaration to accompany your documents. You'll need your passports or drivers licenses and two witnesses who are willing to swear to your stated marital status (people often find someone at their hotel). The ceremony will need to be performed by a Costa Rican registered Notary/Lawyer.
What side of the street do you drive on in Costa Rica?
Like the States--on the right side (except when dodging potholes).