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Home > About Costa Rica > Tips for Driving in Costa Rica

Welcome to our country

Thank you for visiting Costa Rica. We will like to offer these simple guidelines to help you enjoy a safe stay with us. Like any other country, Costa Rica Faces the challenge of keeping citizens and visitors safe. Avoid problems by following these recommendations.

  • Always carry a photocopy of your passport, showing your photograph and the date you entered the country. Leave the original in the safety deposit box at your hotel.
  • Keep your airline ticket, important documents, cash and travelers checks in the hotel safe. Write the numbers of your travelers checks in a separate place.
  • Always change your money at a bank or your hotel, never on the street.
  • Don't wear valuable jewelry and carry only the amount of money you'll need for each day.
  • Guard valuable items you are carrying, such as cameras. Put your wallet in your front pocket and carry your purse crosswise.
  • If you are going out at night, have the hotel receptionist call you a cab.

Renting a vehicle:

It is important to become familiar with driving rules and regulations, \road conditions and areas that should be avoided. Plan your route ahead of time and check your map when needed. Remember to carry your driver's license, passport and the car rental contract at all t times.

Rules and regulations of the road:

Please review the following summary of Costa Rica's traffic laws. Obey these regulations at all times. Avoid accidents by driving carefully and defensively, that is, expecting the unexpected.

  1. Unless otherwise indicated, minimum speed on highways is 40 kilometers per hour (k.p.h.). The speed limit varies and is posted by the road.
  2. On highways and secondary roads the speed limit is 60 k.p.h., unless otherwise indicated.
  3. In urban areas, the speed limit is 40 k.p.h., unless otherwise indicated.
  4. Around school zones and in front of hospitals and clinics the speed limit is 25 k.p.h.
  5. Driving on beaches is strictly prohibited everywhere, except when there is no other path connecting two towns.
  6. Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is strictly prohibited. The law enables police officers to perform alcohol test on drivers.
  7. The law requires all car passengers to wear a seat belt.
  8. Pull over if a police officer signals you to do so. Police officers may ask you to stop if there is an accident ahead, a checkpoint or if you are violating the law by not carrying a license plate or exceeding the speed limit, for example.
  9. Your personal documents and the vehicle's registration papers are private property and may not be retained by police officers for any reason.
  10. If you are involved in an accident, always wait until a police officer arrives. Do not move your vehicle. The officer will prepare a report. You may also report the accident by calling 911 or 800-0123456.
  11. Under no circumstances give money to traffic police or other police officers.
  12. If a police officer insists on stopping you or retaining your documents for no apparent reason, ask him to escort you to the nearest police station to clear the problem.
  13. If you believe a traffic police officer or any other police officer acted inappropriately or you have questions regarding their behavior, call 257-7798, ext. 2506, and ask to be referred to the nearest police station.
  14. Drive confidently and stay alert. Do not stop for people making signals and never stop for hitchhikers.
  15. Do not drive through or park your car in poorly lit areas. Never leave your car on the street; always park it in a safe parking lot. Do not leave any belongings in the car where they might be spotted by passersby.
  16. Keep your car doors locked at all times. If you are driving in downtown San José, keep the windows shut.
  17. Check your car and make sure you are carrying the proper documents before you begin to drive. If you are given a ticket, please pay it at the nearest stateowned bank and present a copy of the receipt to the car rental agency when you return the car.
  18. Cabs are red with the license plate number painted in the middle of a yellow triangle on both doors. Airport cabs are orange. Cab drivers must carry visible identification in the cab, including their name and photograph. And the must use their meters for trips of 12 kilometers or less. For longer trips, the fare is negotiated beforehand.

Safety inside national parks and at the beach:

  • Follow the safety tips posted inside the parks. To ensure a safe and pleasant visit, walk along the marked trails.
  • It is best to explore the trails in groups of two or more.
  • Do not touch the plants or attempt to pet the animals.

At the beach:

  • Before entering the water, find out what parts of the coast are safe and which are not. Warnings are posted at some beaches. If you find no signs, request information about tides and undertows at you hotel lifeguards or surfers.
  • If you feel yourself being pulled out to sea, stay calm. Do not try to swim directly to the shore. Instead, swim parallel to the shore towards breaking waves and let them help you get back to the beach.

Finally every person leaving Costa Rica must pay a tax.

These recommendations are intended to make your experience in Costa Rica safe and comfortable.

Discover the natural beauty and diversity that has made Costa Rica one of the world's leading travel destinations.

Have a great trip and come back soon.

In case of emergency call 911 or dial hot line or information 800-0123456


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