Importing Pets

One should not encounter any major problems bringing in a furry friend to Costa Rica as long as one does all the paperwork correctly. The process should not cost more than about $300 plus the cost of the plane ticket for your animal. After Customs has received the Health Certificate from a pet's veterinary doctor, and a vaccination record that shows that an animal is in good condition and free of contagious or infectious diseases and vaccinations are up to date against rabies (at least 30 days), distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, and leptospirosis, they will take 48 hours to process the paperwork.

If a pet is traveling to countries in South America or Europe, they might need more time to prepare the export papers, because some countries demand special permits from the Consulate. For animals coming from the USA and Canada they do not need more time or special permits.

For special cases, it would take from 4 to 6 days to prepare the papers. If bringing a pet it is neccessary to work with a vet in Costa Rica since their office can handle everything for when they want to bring pets into Costa Rica. Contact them at least a month before the date of travel. Please keep in mind that pets are not permitted to travel if they are sick. In fact, if officials feel your animal may have some kind of dangerous disease it could be put into quarantine in the Animal Shelter of the Ministry of Agriculture an Animal Control or put down.

Please note that for pets other than cats or dogs, such as exotic birds or iguanas, will require more than the below requisites and processing times will be significantly longer.

In order to import most pets to Costa Rica one will need the following documents:

1. Health Certificate – This must be issued by a licensed veterinarian and endorsed by Veterinary Services - VS - in the Veterinary Section of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA APHIS). The examination is recommended within two weeks prior to traveling to Costa Rica.

The Health Certificate must have the following information:

a) Information of your Vet including: full names, license numbers, name of pet clinic, address, phone numbers, and E-mail address.

b) Owner's Personal information including: full name, passport number, home address, phone numbers, and E-mail address.

c) Pet’s information including: name, place of birth (city, state, country), species, breed, pedigree (if applicable), age, gender, any vaccinations received with dates, and a statement made by the vet certifying that the animal is in good health, de-wormed, and free of infectious diseases.

2. The name of the Exporter or the person who is taking the animal out of the US or Canada and the Importer. In most cases, this will be a local veterinarian who is assisting in the process or any other person who is responsible for the pet once it arrives into Costa Rica.

3. Proof of purchase: This is stating the market value of the pet. If one will not be using the animal for commercial reasons like selling or breeding, you simply just state that the pet will not be used for economical reasons. Therefore, the market value of the pet is more sentimental than economical. This is important so Customs does not charge extra. If a pet's market value is lower than a $100 dollars, and, one has not brought pets into Costa Rica for the past 2 years,  thepet will be considered to be of non-commercial nature. In this case owners will not pay any Customs Duty as it is not required.  If one brings a pet and declares the purchase price, then Customs is going to charge significant customs duties. If the pet has been rescued  or adopted then there will be very little customs duty to be paid.

4. Customs bill that shows the owner paid for getting a pet out of the country and an Exit Permit for the pet from its home country.

5. Quarantine permit issued by the Ministry of Agriculture an Animal Control.

6. Interstate and International Certificate recommended but not always required. This form is known as a VS 18-I form.

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