Travel Tips for Your Costa Rica Vacation

travel to costa rica

Costa Rica is a safe country to travel. Here some travel tips that may be helpful for your next Costa Rica Vacation.
Costa Rica Currency
The national currency in Costa Rica is the colon; in Nicaragua it is the Cordoba; Panama uses the Balboa and also accepts U.S. dollars as legal tender.
U.S. dollars and travelers cheques can be exchanged at banks and hotels and are accepted virtually everywhere, especially in the resort areas.
Major credit cards are accepted in most larger hotels, stores and restaurants; local currency is suggested at smaller establishments.
Water in Costa Rica
All major hotels and restaurants use purified water throughout. Most hotels provide bottled water in all rooms, and many hotels now have potable water delivered through their taps using an on-site purification system; there should be a note in your room if this is the case.
Costa Rican tap water is safe to drink.
Electricity in Costa Rica
The standard electrical service in Central America is 110 volts (same as the United States and Canada). Some electrical sockets do not accept three-prong or polarized plugs so it is recommended that you bring your own adapter.
U.S. Citizens travel to Costa Rica
A valid U.S. passport is required for people of all ages who travel to Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama, regardless of age. Please visit for more details.
Any person younger than 18 is considered a minor for travel purposes. Minors traveling with only one parent must have a notarized written permission statement from the other parent. In the case of deceased or divorced parents, legal proof of custody must be carried to accept just one signature on the letter. Minors traveling unaccompanied or with anyone other than their legal parents or guardians must obtain an original notarized letter of permission signed by both parents. Airlines will also require the name, address and phone number of the person meeting the unaccompanied minor upon arrival.
Non-U.S. Citizens
A valid passport is required. Green cards are not acceptable as a sole means of identification. Citizens of some countries may require a Tourist VISA. Check with your local consulate or go online to for more details.
Airport Check-in
Arrive at the airport at least 2 hours prior to departure to ensure a smooth check-in.
Costa Rica Immigration Processing
You will be given a tourist card and customs declaration form during your flight to complete before you exit the airplane. When you arrive at your destination you will first process through Immigration Control where your paperwork will be inspected and stamped.
The immigration officer will return the tourist card to you as you will need to submit it to Immigration when you depart Central America. Keep your tourist card with your passport in a safe place throughout your stay. Next, continue to baggage claim to get your luggage, then proceed through customs where your luggage will be scanned and a customs officer will obtain your customs declaration form. Once you have cleared customs, proceed to the exit.
Costa Rica Departure Tax
There is a $29 per person, non-ticketable departure tax, payable to an airport representative upon your departure from Costa Rica. It is payable in U.S. dollars or in colones, and credit cards are accepted.

Returning Home from Costa Rica Vacation

Each United States citizen returning from Central America is required to go through U.S. Customs when re-entering the country.