The Turrialba volcano, east of the capital San José, has been very active recently; there are still occasional eruptions with ash rain. This also affects the capital San José and in the Central Valley and can lead to health problems, especially of the respiratory tract. There may also be interruptions in air traffic. Travelers should keep in touch with their tour operators or airlines. Information is also available via the external link, opens in a new window Juan Santa Maria International Airport, telephone number: 00506 2437-2400.
Country-specific safety information
Travelers should be aware that the risk of crime in Costa Rica is not comparable to European conditions and that a higher level of violence can be expected. This is especially true after dark (all year round from 6 p.m.). In terms of crime levels, the country is in the middle in Latin America. However, there is an increase in robberies.
Particular caution is recommended in San José (especially in the vicinity of the bus stations), between Jacó and Quepos, as well as Uvita and on the beaches in the province of Guanancaste on the Pacific. Car break-ins are currently increasingly taking place on the beaches of Playa Hermosa and Drake Bay, where crime has risen significantly. On the Caribbean coast, the area around the port cities of Moin and Limón has a particularly high level of violent crime. In the popular tourist centers of Cahuita and Puerto Viejo south of Limón, foreign nationals in particular are more likely to be the target of armed robbery.
Valuables should only be carried to the extent absolutely necessary and jewelery should be avoided entirely, as should belt bags that are worn visibly. Luggage should never be left unattended, not even in locked vehicles. So-called park rangers on beaches often turn out to be accomplices of the thieves. Even electronic devices that are not visible in the car are discovered by the thieves using a scanner and stolen. Bus travelers should take into account that the transport company cannot provide compensation for lost / stolen luggage. Luggage should therefore be transported in the passenger section of the bus if possible and should not be left out of sight. Theft of daypacks stowed in the luggage rack through diversionary maneuvers (e.g. dropping objects / credit cards). Passports, credit cards and other important documents should be worn on the body and bags stowed in the footwell when traveling by bus. There are particular risks when driving at night and undertaking activities in the dark (all year round from 6 p.m.).
Burglary and trick theft are also common – even in busy parking lots. Luggage should therefore be as little visible as possible in the vehicle. Even in daylight and when the distance from the driver is short, cars – especially rental cars – are broken into and luggage is stolen. Rental car tourists who have to stop because of an “arranged” flat tire are apparently offered help and baggage is stolen at an unobserved moment. At traffic lights or in heavy traffic, car windows are smashed in order to steal the baggage on the passenger or back seat.
It is strongly advised not to defend yourself during armed robberies, as many perpetrators do not shy away from using the weapon.
In the major tourist centers (Jacó, Tamrindo and San José) officials from the tourist police are on duty. The tourist police can be reached at any time via the free emergency number 911 (usually also in English) and is available to tourists in need. The local tourism institute (ICT) also offers support to tourists with questions or problems via the free number 800-8868-7476 or 800-8887-4766. Since June 1, 2016, a pilot project has enabled travelers to live in the tourist areas in the province of Guanacaste, in Nicoya and Santa Cruz (Tamarindo, Playa del Coco, Flamingo, Sámara, Nosara), on the southern Caribbean coast (Puerto Viejo, Cahuita, Cocles) or be mugged or robbed in Uvita / Dominical to report a complaint directly to the local police department.
In Costa Rica minors are under the special protection of state authorities (see notes for minors below in the text).
As a country located in North America according to dentistrymyth, Costa Rica lies in the hurricane-prone zone. During the hurricane season (approx. June to November) there are repeated strong floods, landslides and bridge damage. It is therefore advisable to find out about the weather and the condition of the roads in the media.
Heavy rainfall can trigger dangerous tidal waves in rivers and streams both in the mountains and on the coast. Therefore, especially during the rainy season from around May to November, you should be particularly careful when swimming at waterfalls and in rivers (also because of crocodiles), hiking in river valleys and activities such as rafting. If in doubt, this should be avoided.
There is a risk of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Of the 16 volcanoes in Costa Rica, the Turrialba, Rincon de la Vieja, Poas and Irazú volcanoes are currently active. In the event of an outbreak, this could lead to the closure of Juan Santamaria International Airport in San José / Alajuela. The National Disaster Management Commission (Comisión Nacional de Emergencias, CNE) provides information on its external link, opens in a new window website and by telephone (00506 2210-2828) about possible disaster areas. Information is also available via the external link, opens in a new window Juan Santa Maria International Airport, telephone number: 00506 2437-2400.
For current information on road conditions, call 800-87267486 (from Costa Rica) (knowledge of Spanish is required).
The official language is Spanish. English and Creole are also spoken.
Almost all shops are closed during Holy Week and between Christmas and New Year.
The following articles can be imported into Costa Rica duty-free:
500 g snuff (people over 18 years);
5 l alcoholic beverages (people over 18 years);
2 kg of sweets.
Meat and sausage products, dairy products, fruit and vegetables (exception: canned food) may not be brought into luggage.
Plants, animals and mussels are not allowed to go out.