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Moving to Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Capital: San Jose
Population: 4,586,353 (2011)
Area: 19,653 sq. mi
Top 5 Largest Cities: 1. San Jose 2. Limon 3. Alajuela 4. San Francisco 5. Cinco Esquinas
Lanuage: Spanish
Climate: Tropical
Motto: “Vivan siempre el trabajo y la paz” / “Long live work and peace”

Planning on moving to Costa Rica with your important household goods and personal effects? Nationwide Van Lines want to help you with the success of moving you overseas. We have a full staff of professional consultants to assist along each and every way. We want to focus on you and your goods to keep your venture stress-free. Give us a call today to become one step closer to a great move!

Required Documents for Import

To assist clearing your household goods, Customs will need documentation for identity and charges.

Below are some of the documents you may need to present to Customs.

Certificate of Origin – Gives verification of which country your household goods are manufactured in.

Customs Value Declaration – A document used to calculate duties and taxes that states the value of the entire household shipment.

Import Requirements and Documentation

Costa Rican Customs requires a span of documents to make clearance easy and swift. Take a look below at some of the documents that may expected from you.

  • A copy of your Passport certified by a lawyer
  • Your Packing List in either English or Spanish with the reason
  • Your Inventory List with values
  • Authorization letter of Power of Attorney to give your Destination Agent authority to clear shipment
  • Original Bill of Lading
  • Proof of your insurance coverage
  • Your proof of residing abroad in your originating country

Additional detailed document requirements

  • The items and weights of your Bill of Lading must match your shipment to avoid a penalty of $250 USD and clearance delays.
  • If you are a Diplomat, your duties are free.
  • Any wooden packing and boxes within a container or a single shipment must be fumigated according to the ISPM-15 guidelines and show the markings in black ink visibly on at least two sides opposite of each other.
  • If you are a returning citizen, you may can receive a partial tax exemption as long as you’ve lived abroad for 2 years or more prior to import. You will also need proof from the Costa Rican consulate at your origin to show you’ve lived abroad for at least 2 years.

The Examination of Household Goods and Entry Documents

Once your household goods have arrived in Costa Rica along with your documents, both are subjected to examination by Customs. A CBP officer will examine your household goods to determine the value, correct markings, proper invoicing, existence of prohibited items, damages, deterioration and illegal narcotics. It’s important to assure all items are properly described and accounted for to avoid any delays or seizure of items. Once your items are approved for release, they are safeguarded by the proper officers.

Duty and Taxes

Once your items has arrived to Costa Rica, duties and taxes will due to satisfy. Every used household good will be charged 45% of the Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF). Your Value-added Taxes (VAT) will stand at 13 %. Allow Customs 10 business days from the time of the arrival of your shipment. The number of boxes on your Bill of Lading must be equal to the actual amount of boxes being imported. Your shipment is subjected to inspection and will be unloaded in a bonded warehouse.

Duty-free Items

There are certain quantities of duty-free items one can import into Costa Rica. You must be 18 years of age or older to apply. Please take a look below to learn more about duty-free goods.

  • 400 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 500 grams of tobacco
  • 3 liters of alcoholic beverages
  • Goods up to $500.00 USD

Labeling and Marking Requirements

The correct labeling and markings are very important for Customs. Each mark and label should be in the English language. Please take a look below to discover the marking and labeling requirements.

  • The name and address of the importer
  • The country of Origin
  • Clearly numbered in reflection of the inventory list
  • The quantity

Prohibited Items

Customs pay very close attention to what is and isn’t permitted into Costa Rica. Please take a look below at some of the multiple prohibited household goods.

  • Illegal drugs
  • Dairy
  • Obscene articles, publications, videos and/or softwares
  • Weapons
  • Vegetables
  • Fauna or agriculture geared products
  • Explosives
  • Seeds
  • Used tires
  • Fruit
  • Plants
  • Narcotics

Restricted Items

There are many restrictions when it comes to importing certain items into Costa Rica. Please take a look at some of the restrictions may encounter.

  • Any new household goods or new furniture must have an original invoice or a statement done under oath regarding the value of your items.
  • All household and electrical appliances requires you to display on your Packing List the serial number, brand and model.
  • Carpets are subjected to duties.
  • If you’re importing chemicals, assure to have a permit and allow 2 additional days for Custom clearance.
  • Wine and alcohol must be accompanied with permits from the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Economy.
  • Precious metals and objects container them will require a purchase receipts or invoices.
  • Inheritances, souvenirs, gifts and wedding trousseaux will be dutiable.
  • Any dangerous items must have a permit from the Ministry of National Security for returning citizens or residents.
  • Only one of each large appliance
  • Any drugs, narcotics and/or medicines require a permit from the College of Pharmacy and the Ministry of Health<
  • Firearms must be for personal use, must have the original invoice and a permit from the Firearm and Explosive Department once arriving in Costa Rica. Taxes can range as high as 141% for importation.
  • Tins and food requires 3 copies of the permit from the Ministry of Health.
  • All non-motorized vehicles must have the specifications on your Packing List.
  • All plants requires a Phytosanitary Certificate and also a permit from the Ministry of Agriculture.
  • All arms and ammunition types must have a permit from the Ministry of National Security for returning citizens or residents.
  • Antiques and any works of art is dutiable.
  • All computers must have the original purchase invoice and also the instruction manual.
  • Any new items will be taxed as high as 35% and also will need receipts accompanying them.
  • Alcohol, tobacco and any food products must not be in large quantities and must have a permit. If there are large quantities of either or all, your import tax can be as high as 110%.
  • All furniture and ornaments made of wood will require a permit from the Ministry of Agriculture.

Receiving your Household Goods

The liability for duties are paid once Customs has cleared your shipment for release. There are no options of prepaid duties or taxes prior to exportation from a foreign country. Once your shipment is filed with CBP, the party and only the party listed as the receiver can pick up the shipment. If household goods are warehoused, the party of liability can be changed to another party, most whom purchased the goods. The Customs broker cannot pay duties, but can accept a check written out to the Customs and Border Protection to forward. Once items are received, all articles are deemed owned by the receiver and no longer in ownership of the CBP.

For more information regarding moving to Costa Rica, please visit the websites below.

Direccion General de Aduana

Ave 1 y 3 Calle 12 y 14
Edificio Centro 1
P.O. Box 5016
1000 San Jose
Phone: 233-6014
Fax: 233-6014

All information featured above is for viewing purposes only. To obtain up-to-date information about overseas shipment, please notify your nearest Consulate.