Exporting to Costa Rica – everything you need to know

Costa Rica is one of Latin America’s most stable countries – its population of just under 5 million has an open economy that is focussed on agriculture, industrial production, services, and tourism.

There are many well known UK businesses that are now established over there, including  AstraZeneca, Glaxosmithkline, and Land Rover.

So if you’re planning on exporting to Costa Rica, here’s everything you need to know…

Exports of goods from the UK to Costa Rica has reached £63 million, and the top exports are:

  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Chemicals
  • Vehicles and spare parts
  • Whisky
  • Machinery
  • Petroleum products

If you’re in the service sector, there are opportunities in the following areas:

  • Contact centres
  • Shared and back office services
  • Digital technologies
  • Design and engineering
  • Regional hubs

The pros and cons of exporting to Costa Rica

There are a number of good reasons to export to Costa Rica, and the strengths of its market include:

  • Open and well-diversified economy
  • English widely spoken
  • Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth since 1991
  • Highly educated and efficient workforce, with a high literacy rate
  • Politically stable, with more than 120 years of solid democracy
  • Safest country in Latin America according to the 2014 Latin America security index
  • International standards for Intellectual Property (IP) protection
  • An excellent location for business at the heart of the Americas

As you might expect though, exporting to any Latin American country is not without its problems though, so watch out for:

  • Bureaucracy
  • Corruption and lack of transparency
  • Slow judiciary system and decision-making processes
  • Delays in customs
  • Long standing fiscal deficit
  • Some language barriers
  • Unemployment is one of the highest in the region, at 7.9%
  • Poor infrastructure

If you’re doing business in Costa Rica, you’ll need a reliable and cost-effective conference call provider to help keep in touch when travelling isn’t an option. Here’s How to set up a conference call between the UK and Costa Rica.

And remember, you can now screen share and video conference, using Crankwheel.

Tax and customs


Costa Rica offers some of South America’s most attractive tax incentives. The Free Trade Zone (FTZ) Regime – a set of incentives and benefits granted by the country to companies making new investments and complying with local requirements and obligations – provides 100% tax exemption, with an option for either a 10-year period or no expiration period.

If you’ve a manufacturing project with an investment of £6.5 million or more, you can 100% exemption from income tax for eight years, followed by a further four years at 50%.

Other taxes include Sales Tax, set at 13%, and Selective Consumption Tax, which can be anywhere between 5% and 75%.


Customs procedures in Costa Rica are carried out through an agent responsible for presenting declaration forms to the Customs Office, and when importing, you must provide the following documentation:

  • Commercial invoices
  • Bills of lading
  • Insurance agreements (if any)
  • Technical specifications
  • Documents issued abroad must be authenticated by the corresponding Costa Rican Consular authority.


Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *