US Travel to Costa Rica: Passports, Visas, Vaccines and More

Costa Rica is a country in Central America and greets over 1 million tourists every year. People love it there and there is no big secret about why that might be.

us travel to costa rica

Costa Rica translates from Spanish into "Rich Coast" and was named that after Europeans noticed natives wearing lots of gold jewelry.

It is one of the most beautiful and popular Central American destinations for tourists, especially those from North America.

So, what exactly is required for US travel to Costa Rica? Continue reading and we'll walk you through everything you need to know.

Costa Rica Travel Tips 101

It's important to know that the official language of Costa Rica is Spanish. Luckily, English is the second most popular language and is widely spoken throughout the country. Especially at tourist attractions and hotels.

In Costa Rica, the official currency is the colón.

However, American dollars and major credit cards are widely accepted. Still, it's helpful to carry some cash for smaller expenses as well as if you travel to less popular locations.

The country's rainy season lasts from May through November and the dry season goes from December through April. If you visit any rain or cloud forests, you should be prepared for it to rain, no matter what time of year it is.

The country's climate, like its landscapes, is extremely varied.

Because of this, it's important that you consider where and when you will be going and which activities you will want to do so that you'll be ready for the weather.

If you intend to spend time in a variety of regions, you are going to have to be prepared for all different types of climates.

For example, if you plan to spend time on either of the coasts in Costa Rica, you can expect a lot of sunshine and very high temperatures. As you go to higher altitudes, the temperature is going to get a lot lower. And at the highest elevations, you're going to want to pack for cold weather.

Manage Your Documentation

In order for you to be allowed into the country, you must present a passport that will be valid for at least three months after you arrive.

You also need to have an onward or return ticket.

If you're a citizen of the United States, most European countries, or Canada, then you do not need a visa to enter the country.

Generally, tourists are allowed to stay in the Central American country for up to 90 days. If you want to stay longer than 90 days, you will have to apply with Costa Rica's Department of Immigration for an extension.

When it's time for you to finally leave the country, you will have to pay a departure tax. The fee, as of 2019, costs $29 USD. This cost is usually, but not always, included in your airline ticket.

You will also have to show proof of sufficient funds.

You should have enough cash for you to show customs officials that you have at least $100 for each month you'll be staying in Costa Rica.

You won't have to pay anyone this money. You just need to prove that you have money.

Don't Forget Vaccines

If you are coming from the United States, you're not required to be vaccinated when traveling to Costa Rica. However, if you are coming from certain South American countries like Ecuador, Brazil, and Colombia, then you will have to provide a yellow fever vaccination certificate.

You will also need to be vaccinated if you're coming from an African country where yellow fever is known to be present.

The World Health Organization and Center for Disease Control recommend that Americans traveling to Costa Rica be vaccinated for the following:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Typhoid
  • Rabies
  • Polio
  • Mumps and rubella
  • Chickenpox
  • Pneumonia
  • Hepatitis B
  • Yellow Fever
  • Meningitis
  • Measles
  • Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis)
  • Shingles
  • Influenza

Costa Rica is a high-risk country when it comes to rabies. Anyone who intends to stay in the country longterm or work with animals should be vaccinated.

Remember Your Own Safety

Costa Rica is a relatively safe, stable, and welcoming place. They also have a well-developed tourism industry. In fact, tourism makes up 6.3% of the country's GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

Still, it's important that visitors remain aware of some basic safety precautions. It's recommended that you keep a photocopy of your passport's data page as well as the Costa Rican entry stamp on you at all times.

Water safety is also a big concern. Many of the beaches in Costa Rica don't have warning signs or lifeguards.

Always enter the water, whether it's a lake, river, sea, or ocean, with the utmost caution. You also need to watch out for sudden dropoffs in shallow water and strong rip tides, since these things can be fatal.

Choose your adventure and tour companies with care as well. Only go with licensed travel agencies and tour operators.

If you go in a taxi, it should have a yellow tringle printed on its doors. There should also be a meter in it. This proves that the vehicle meets the legal operating requirements.

If the taxi doesn't have a meter and yellow triangle on the doors, then don't go in it. It's not worth the risk.

The Importance of Knowing the Requirements for US Travel to Costa Rica

By knowing the requirements and recommendations for US travel to Costa Rica, you can be better prepared and make the most out of your vacation.

Remember that the requirements can change so it's always helpful to check the American or Costa Rican government websites to make sure that you are the most up to date.

Interested in having the best Costa Rican vacation possible? Contact us today and see how we can help you!