International Movers and Customs

The very best advice for making an international move to Costa Rica is REALLY look at what is really important and irreplaceable to bring. International moving can turn into a major headache the more compicated it is. If at all possible it is almost always better to sell all belongings in a home country and buy anything needed here. Local craftsmen sometimes hand make custom furniture to replicate anything that has to be left behing cheaper than expected, just bring photos.


Only in the case that there is something someone is sure that they will not be able to find in Costa Rica, or if it would be significantly more expensive here, or if it is a family airloom do we reccommend shipping. There are simply too many factors that can negatively affect a move. Afterall, this is a new fresh start in most cases in a new climate, wouldn't it be better to do it with all new stuff instead of complicating life by trying to ship used stuff?

Besides,  in Costa Rica it is pretty simple to find many common items and they are either the same price or less expensive here. The best part is that they are made for the climate down here. There is a small border down near Panama, called Golfito where one can purchase major kitchen appliances from all the major brands from home and other big ticket items tax free.

Options for International Shipping

1) If someone does not have many items, the first, simpliest, and most economic way to bring things to Costa Rica is in checked baggage. Despite extra baggage fees it is still a more economical option than simply shipping boxes here. With this option one is almost 100% guaranteed that items will make it quickly. As for Customs, they are not likely to cause much trouble in this case. People are allowed to bring in several things with no problems and individuals are also given a $500 duty-free tax exemption (given every six months.)

2) With more items that cannot simply be checked or carried on,  there is the air cargo option. With this option one can ship a few more larger items and it is still fairly reasonable. One is allowed to send up to 500 pounds as air cargo. One still has to fill out some forms, declare items value, pay some Cutsoms fees between 15% and 60% (each item is different) and stand in some lines, but it is an excellent option for important items. For this option one will need: a passport copy, the air way bill, packing inventory with declared values, and to pay the duties.

3) If planning  to practically ship an entire house and larger items then one can ship things by boats in containers from ports in California or Florida to Puntarenas or Limon. Many people have said that the shipping is less expensive from Florida.

The average container is 40 by 8 by 8 feet. One is allowed to ship using a quarter, half or full container as most shipping companies consolodate. There are a variety of different international shipping companies both here and in home countries, so it is important to select one that can meet specific needs. Some companies offer door-to-door service. Depending on how advanced someones Spanish is and how familiar one is with the process will help you decide. It is very important to anaylze different companies quotes to see which services are included and the costs to save hundreds of dollars.

This option is the most complex and there are several restrictions about what cannot be shipped such as liquids and old shoes. When packing one has to do a serious inventory and write EXACTLY what is in each box put on the container. For example, "used clothes, not for resale."

For this option it is extrememly important that to ship items that are six months older or more. If not, one will pay high import taxes that could make the item pay more than it is worth.

In order to pick up items one will need your passport, shipping bill, an inventory list with declared values, and to pay any duties.

4) If you choose to drive to Costa Rica with the  items please read the section importing vehicles to Costa Rica.

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