The adventure of an overseas move to your new home in Costa Rica comes with a few challenges that are easily met with preparation and advance planning. Just as with any move, you’ll probably want to pare down your belongings and decide what you what to take, dump or store. To help you make informed decisions, here are a few things to consider.
Contact two or three companies that specialize in international moves. Ask specifically about the company’s experience with moving to Costa Rica. A knowledgeable move coordinator can give you a reliable shipping timeline, explain the firm’s procedures and knows the paperwork required for particular items. The coordinator can also advise you on the correct container size for your possessions.
The Costa Rican government levies taxes and duties on everything shipped into the country, even clothing and toiletries. However, whatever is in your suitcase when you arrive is exempt from import duties. Extra baggage charges are almost certainly going to be less than taxes and duty. Also be sure the declared value of the items you ship is as low as you can reasonably state it.
With the right preparation, you can bring high-value items—vehicles, boats, large appliances—with you, but import duties will be expensive. Washing machines and similar home appliances incur heavy import duties, but they are very expensive to buy in Costa Rica for the same reason.
It’s fairly easy to bring dogs and cats into Costa Rica, you’ll need a health certificate (APHIS FORM 7001, in duplicate—a Spanish translation may also be a good idea) and proof of current vaccinations from your vet. Pets usually have a 72-hour quarantine and there are specialty companies that can handle the details for you. Costa Rica will allow you to bring your bird, but your bird will become a permanent resident—Costa Rica does not allow bird exports under any circumstances. Registered, purebred animals will require a statement or purchase receipt indicating market value.
Do your research about required vaccinations or you’ll risk having your pet euthanized or quarantined. A veterinarian from the U.S.D.A.’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Veterinary Services area office must endorse the health certificate. Visit Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) for more information
You’ll probably want to want to buy into the Caja if you are a legal resident. Costa Rica’s healthcare system is one of the best and least expensive healthcare systems in the world. Costs vary depending on income but the monthly cost covers an entire family. Private insurance similar to that available in the U.S. is another option.
Moving is never easy, whether around the block or across the world. Ex pat life in Costa Rica has many benefits: beautiful scenery, friendly people and an easy lifestyle.