Importing Firearms

This is a very common question for people from the United States, especially, relocating to Costa Rica, whether they are gun enthusiasts or simply would like to bring a firearm for protection. One may bring your firearms to Costa Rica subject to the laws currently in effect. However, there are laws restricting foreigners from owning firearms. These laws, in a way discourage people from doing this by setting up barriers, a bunch of red tape and makes the whole process a little impractical to say the least.

In order to own a firearm, a person must have legal residency or apply for a concealed carry permit. Please consult a competent lawyer in this matter before trying to bring or purchasing a firearm. Non-residents can own a handgun when its registered under the name of a corporation, but a non resident will not be able to obtain a concealed weapons permit.

A corporation may also be the registered owner of a firearm, but a carry permit will never be issued. It must remain in the corporate office.

The admission of firearms and ammunition in to the territory of Costa Rica are subject to restrictions and import permits approved by the government of Costa Rican. Applications to import non-military weapons to Costa Rica must be filed by or through a licensed importer, authorized dealer, or a particular person. According to Costa Rica law NO weapon of war is permitted in Costa Rica as Costa Rica is a relatively peaceful place. Any war weapon in hands of a non-authorized individual is  illegal in Costa Rica by definition.

Firearm permits are issued by the Ministry of Public Security know as the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública.

They say the process to issue these permits will take up to two months once all the requested documentation is presented. As with everything in Costa Rica this process can take a little longer.

According to the embassies state that if someone wants to bring a handgun, revolver, or pistol in to Costa Rica, you must follow the required procedure:

  • Inform the airline that the individual is traveling with a weapon.  More specifically, the weapon must be placed inside (checked) luggage or in an approved container, either hard shell or soft shell.
  • Ammunition must be placed in a separate approved container but can be taken on the same flight.  Guns travel with paperwork filled out beforehand, normally at the airport.  Check with the individual airline for their policies on this.
  • Once the gun arrives in Costa Rica, the weapon will remain at the Customs office until the owner has registered the weapon at the Ministry of Public Security in the Department of Firearms and Ammunitions.

There, one must provide the following documents:

  • Official Registration of the firearm with the corresponding authorities of  State of residence (Secretary of State and or Police Department). This document must be duly certified by the Costa Rican consulate.
  • Must send or take these records to a Costa Rican consulate in the home country and have the certification done there.  This is normally about $45.00 per document, check for updated fees.
  • As with all major processes, a Police record from the Police precinct where one has legally resided for the last six months. This document must be no older than six months, and must be duly certified by the Costa Rican consulate and legalized.
  • Weapon Entrance Proof of Receipt issued by the Customs/Airport authorities in Costa Rica.
  • The results of a psychological test, taken in Costa Rica, that evaluates the individual's personality traits.

Once the required permit is obtained, take it to the Customs Office and the weapon will be released. However, if someone is caught traveling with a weapon without the appropriate permits and registrations in Costa Rica, the weapon will be confiscated and the person will be fined, arrested or deported. This is a serious offense in Costa Rica and the matter will not be taken lightly. Whether someone is a resident or a tourist expect to encounter very serious problems for breaking any firearms laws.

To Purchase a New Gun in Costa Rica

To buy a new gun a person will need to fill out a form that gives the name of the gun shop, the serial number, and other purchase information of the item to be purchased. Next, take a written examination. The practice test requires the person to hit a target seven out of ten times. Then the person will need to pass a psychological exam by a government certified psychologist. The individua will then undergo a criminal background check by the OIJ (Judicial Investigation Police) similar to the FBI in the US.

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