We would like to give you some recommendations for a safe stay in Costa Rica:
Always carry a copy of these two pages in your passport: The page with your picture and personal details, and the page with the stamp of the date on which you entered Costa Rica. Leave your passport in a safe in the hotel, and only carry it with you when you travel to a new destination.
Leave important documents, big amounts of cash, and credit cards you don’t use in a safe in the hotel.
Make a copy of your credit card number(s) and passport number and keep it separately.
Write down the telephone numbers of your bank and credit card company in case you need them.
Exchange money in a bank or in your hotel, never on the street.
Do not wear valuable jewellery and only take what you need in terms of (cash) money.
Pay careful attention to valuables, such as cameras. When you are in San Jose carry your wallet in your front pocket and carry your backpack / handbag in front of you.
When you go out at night, ask the hotel receptionist to call a taxi for you or use an Uber (only in San Jose).
Traffic safety: The quality of the roads is not always up to standard, watch out for potholes. Plan your route and consult the map or a digital route planner. Remember to always have your driving license, (copy of) passport, and car rental contract with you. Take in mind slow drivers on the road.
Traffic rules: Read the summary of the most important traffic rules in Costa Rica carefully. Comply with these rules at all times. Prevent accidents by driving carefull.
Unless stated otherwise, the minimum speed on motorways and outside the metropolitan area is 60 km / 40 miles per hour and the maximum speed is 80 km / 50 miles per hour.
In residential areas, the maximum speed is 40 km / 25 miles per hour, unless stated otherwise.
The maximum speed near schools, hospitals, and clinics is 25 km / 16 miles per hour.
Driving on the beach is strictly prohibited in Costa Rica unless there is no other route between two villages.
Driving under the influence of alcohol and or drugs is strictly forbidden. Police officers are permitted by law to carry out alcohol tests.
The law requires all passengers of a car to use their seat belt.
Stop when the police ask you to stop. Officers can do this just to check your papers when you violate the (traffic), or for example when an accident has occurred.
Your personal documents and your car’s documentation are private property and may not be confiscated by the police.
When you are involved in an accident, contact the police via 911 or 800-0123456, and contact your car rental company. Do not move your car!
Never give money to (traffic) police officers.
If a police officer asks you to stop or takes your documents without any apparent reason, ask him to accompany you to the nearest police station to clarify the problem.
If you think a police officer behaves inappropriately or if you have questions regarding their behavior, call 2257-7798, ext 2506, and ask if you can be connected to the nearest police station.
Drive with confidence and stay alert. Do not stop to pick up hitchhikers or for people who make gestures.
Do not drive and park in poorly lit areas. Never leave your car on the street. Always park in secured parking places. Never leave valuables behind in your car.
Always keep your car doors locked. When you drive in downtown San José, it is recommended to leave your windows closed.
Before you leave your hotel, check your car and check your documents. When you get a fine, pay it at the nearest bank and give a copy of the payment slip to the car rental company when you return the car.
Official taxis are red and have a yellow triangle with their
registration number on both front doors. Taxis at the airport are orange. Taxi drivers must always clearly carry their identification (including their name and photo) in the taxi. They are also required to turn on the meter (la maria) for trips up to 12 kilometres / 7,5 miles. A different rate can be agreed for longer trips.
The symbols used on traffic signs in Costa Rica are similar to international symbols. The most important signs are: ‘Alto’, which means ‘Stop’. And ‘Ceda el Paso’ means ‘Give way to oncoming traffic’.
Streets in Costa Rica have no names. In cities and villages, the route or an address is explained on the basis of important landmarks. For example: The house is 2 kilometers / 1,3 miles south of the Church.
Or: if you are looking for the post office, you may be directed to the road as follows: Drive along the same road for 200 meters until you see the town hall. Then turn left and drive 50m towards the north until you see a yellow building. That’s the post office.
Safety in national parks and on beaches:
Always follow the safety instructions given in national parks and stay on the indicated paths.
It is advisable to walk in groups of at least 2 or more people.
Do not touch plants.
Do not pet animals or feed them.