Pets in Costa Rica

Hello everyone,

Many of us in Costa Rica have four-legged friends. What about you? Do you have one or more pets? Share your experience with us!

What are the formalities to import pets in Costa Rica? What about pet adoption procedures in the country? Did you bring your pet from your home country to your host country? If so, did everything turn out fine?

What do Costa Ricans think about pets? Are they comfortable with dogs, cats or unusual pets?

Share your advice!


We brought two dogs down from the states. After some panics when we found out that on the United flight we'd booked, the dogs wouldn't get in until after 5, which meant they'd have to spend the night in Cargo and have to be "imported" the next day for who knows how much extra money. It was going to cost about $470 each to bring them in on United cargo. So then I talked to a dog shipper, who was very kind and helpful ... and then sent me the $4000 estimate to ship the dogs -- which we didn't have! I went into panicked research mode and found that the dogs could come in as "baggage" (who knew there's a difference between baggage and cargo) on American Airlines for $175 each -- as long as the temps were below 85F when the plane took off and landed -- we were driving from Phoenix to Miami, visiting family and friends -- and leaving on Oct. 2 -- so it was fingers-crossed time. Plus, we had to get the paperwork for the dogs within 10 days of leaving, so I had to find a vet in North Carolina that would do the official paperwork. Then when I got to Miami, I was told that the paperwork had to be from Florida, but a supervisor finally gave us the okay. On October 2, we brought the dogs to the Miami airport -- the temp at the airport was 84F and the temp in San Jose was 83F -- so we were allowed to board!!! We heard the dogs barking as soon as we got to baggage claim in San Jose, and a few minutes later their crates came rolling along and we happily reunited. We have since adopted two kitties and a horse that I've been raising and training since her birth two years ago. We live at the end of a farm lane, with coffee and cows as our closest neighbors. The only problem is that the house we live in is for sale, and we know it will be challenging to find another place as perfect for all of our menagerie as we have now. If I felt more secure (e.g. knew that this was only a long-term rental with no intention to sell), I'd probably have another dog, another horse, chickens and a few goats (at least!).

I brought my little Shi Tzu with me. She had to have a physical and her shots up to date. I had to take her paperwork to the Department of Agriculture, to have the papers stamped. She was small enough, that I was able to bring her, with me onboard in a small dog carrier. I had to buy a ticket for her but less than a humans ticket. We made the trip without any interruptions. I have had her since she was eight weeks old. She just turned 12 years old this past July. We both are living the good life in Costa Rica.

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