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The Final Information to Renting a Automotive in Costa Rica (Up to date 2024)

A sunny, bright day overlooking the towering Arenal volcano in Costa Rica with lush jungle in all directions
Posted: 1/25/24 | January twenty fifth, 2024

I really like Costa Rica. It was the primary place I visited on my own over 15 years in the past and the nation that set me on my nomadic journey. From its gorgeous seashores to its lush jungles, this biodiverse nation is widespread with backpackers, honeymooners, and expats alike. And whereas it’s small, there’s a ton to see and do. You possibly can simply spend a month and nonetheless barely scratch the floor.

It’s additionally superb for road-tripping.

As a lot as a backpacking bus or hitchhiking journey would possibly initially sound interesting, the fact is that ready within the sizzling solar after which bouncing alongside bumpy roads in an outdated bus with out shocks or air-conditioning is just not for the fainthearted. If you would like actual freedom to discover, you want a rental automotive.

That will help you plan your journey, right here’s all the pieces it’s essential learn about renting a automotive in Costa Rica.


Selecting the Proper Rental Automotive (and Rental Firm)

Earlier than you hire a automotive, learn and evaluate evaluations for automotive rental firms. Whereas the usual massive firms can be found right here, there are many native ones too.

After you have narrowed down the record to a selected few, ask for quotes for the kind of automobile and journey dates that you just require. The quote ought to embody necessary third-party insurance coverage, taxes, and another surcharges, like airport tax. Most websites embody all this data when getting a quote on-line.

Whether or not you might be reserving on-line or immediately with an agent, double-check the main points of your reservation. Crossing time zones could imply that your rental pickup time and even date is completely different in Costa Rica than your nation of departure. You’ll need to verify the time, date, and placement of your automobile’s pickup and drop-off, the automobile class, transmission, and protection required.

Factors to recollect when renting a automotive in Costa Rica:

  • A guide transmission could also be cheaper than automated and extra frequent in Costa Rica however ought to solely be chosen in the event you can drive a stick shift.
  • Returning your automotive at a vacation spot completely different from the place you picked it up will in all probability incur an extra cost.
  • Most rental firms is not going to assure a particular make and mannequin inside the rental class.
  • Count on to hire for 24-hour durations. Time your pickup and drop-off accordingly.
  • Present your flight quantity earlier than you arrive, so the corporate can observe your flight.
  • When you have an early flight, contemplate dropping off the automobile the evening earlier than and utilizing a resort shuttle to the airport.
  • On-line journey businesses (OTAs) typically fail to incorporate all costs, so in the event you e book via one, be sure you verify the ultimate worth with the automotive rental firm, via which the pricing could also be extra clear.
  • Most firms now provide a web based check-in course of to add paperwork corresponding to passports and driver’s licenses to chop time on the counter and get on the highway sooner.

My go-to rental automotive firm in Costa Rica is Vamos. You’ll be able to click on right here to get a quote. (You’ll get 5% off simply by utilizing that hyperlink).

Arriving on the Airport

Each worldwide airports in Costa Rica have automotive rental firm desks inside the constructing; nonetheless, the workplaces (the place you’ll get your automotive) are off-site. They often have a shuttle service to take purchasers to their workplaces, most of that are positioned inside a 10-minute drive of the airport.

Native hustlers would possibly inform you that your organization has gone out of enterprise to persuade you to go together with a distinct firm that may pay them a fee. Search for an indication together with your firm’s brand and ignore the hustlers.

In case your flight is delayed otherwise you miss your connection, contact the corporate together with your new estimated arrival time to keep away from having the reservation canceled as a no-show.

While you arrive on the rental workplace, the agent will fill in any excellent paperwork that has not been accomplished on-line and conduct a automobile inspection with you. Though the agent will word current injury, it’s best to take photographs or video of the automotive for backup functions.

Your automobile could not have a full gasoline tank while you decide it up, however the gasoline gauge stage needs to be logged on the inspection kind. You’ll need to return the automotive with the identical gasoline stage. Though you’ll not be reimbursed for a stage greater than the one registered, you’ll be charged whether it is beneath the beginning stage.

Returning the Automobile
Affirm your drop-off location and time while you decide up the automobile. In case you are caught in site visitors or are delayed for any purpose, contact the rental firm to keep away from a penalty. Be sure that your gasoline gauge is on the proper stage, or else head to a gasoline station earlier than you drop it off. The corporate’s consultant will examine your automobile with you after which course of the deposit reimbursement.

Paperwork Wanted for Renting a Automotive in Costa Rica

Right here’s all the pieces it’s essential hire a automotive in Costa Rica:

Driver’s license – You should utilize your native driver’s license throughout the rental interval so long as it’s printed within the Latin alphabet. In case your license is in a language that doesn’t use the Latin alphabet (e.g., Mandarin, Arabic), a global driving license is required. Your driver’s license have to be legitimate for everything of your keep.

You will need to word that though most vacationers can be given a 180-day visa once they enter the nation, their driver’s licenses are solely legitimate for 90 days, and they are going to be required to go away Costa Rica and return to legally drive once more.

Bank card – You want a sound bank card in your identify to pay the automotive rental and to position the deposit.

Passport – Your passport needs to be legitimate at some stage in your keep. Legally, vacationers should carry it with them always. The transit police will need to see it and your entry visa in case you are pulled over.

A Be aware on the Minimal and Most Driving Age
Every automotive rental firm has insurance policies concerning the age of the drivers it insures. Many should not have a most age, however some set a restrict of 70-75 years outdated. The authorized age to drive in Costa Rica is eighteen; nonetheless, most firms require that drivers be no less than 25. Youthful drivers might be able to hire a automotive for an extra surcharge and insurance coverage prices.

Insurance coverage Protection

Costa Rica has necessary third-party insurance coverage for automotive leases. It isn’t potential to acquire this protection another manner. Verify that this price is included in your rental quote, because it’s typically not noted, so it’s possible you’ll find yourself paying greater than what you initially thought.

A collision injury waiver (CDW) covers losses from injury to your rental automotive. That is legally required when renting a automotive in Costa Rica. Most firms provide numerous tiers of insurance coverage, with numerous deductibles. Many renters choose full protection for peace of thoughts, as then any injury that happens throughout rental is roofed. Some firms provide extra protection for tires and the windscreen (windshield), as they don’t seem to be at all times coated by the CDW.

In case your bank card supplier has a CDW as a perk, you may waive the in-house CDW. Simply word that you’ll want to carry a letter that explicitly states the quantity of protection, that Costa Rica is included within the areas coated, and the final 4 digits of the motive force’s bank card. A duplicate of the bank card firm’s phrases and circumstances is just not normally adequate.

One necessary factor to notice is that the rental firm could maintain a deposit for the rental interval, which could possibly be as much as $5,000 USD if the renter is utilizing their bank card supplier’s CDW. The deposit can be launched on the finish of the rental interval. Ensure you have a bank card that may soak up this residue.

Driving in Costa Rica

Right here are some things to remember whereas driving in Costa Rica:

Pace limits – Indicators are in kilometers somewhat than miles, and velocity limits are typically decrease than you’d count on, with a 90 km/h (55 mph) restrict on main highways. Pace limits change with restricted warning between areas, so keep alert to signage.

Gasoline stations – Just be sure you know in case your rental automobile is fueled by gasoline or diesel. This info needs to be on the automobile inspection report in the event you’ve forgotten. Gasoline stations will not be self-service, so be ready to ask for the sort of gasoline you want in addition to the quantity.

For those who’re renting one of many EVs which might be beginning to kind a part of fleets in Costa Rica, then plan your route across the community of charging stations throughout the nation. You’ll be able to be taught extra about these right here.

Navigation – Use Waze, which is up to date in actual time by an enthusiastic group of volunteers, so that you’re conscious of accidents or different conditions which will have an effect on your journey time. Google Maps is out there however doesn’t at all times have correct info. It additionally tends to underestimate journey instances, so it’s best to take that into consideration when planning your itinerary in the event you plan to make use of it.

Regardless of Costa Rica’s official tackle system, which consists of calles (roads that run north-south) and avenidas (avenues that run west-east), nearly all locals give instructions utilizing landmarks, and few can present instructions utilizing highway or avenue numbers. It’s useful to know {that a} block is normally described as 100 meters.

So as to add to the confusion, a location could use landmarks that not exist however have been identified properly sufficient to stay in residing reminiscence. So it’s possible you’ll be directed to go 600 meters south of the place “the place the massive mango tree was once” or to show left after “the grocery store that was once pink.” Fortunately, Waze is a navigation lifesaver, however you would possibly develop to benefit from the quirky tico (Costa Rican) manner of discovering locations!

Parking – At all times park in safe parking tons, and don’t go away valuables in an unattended automobile, as break-ins can happen.

In the previous couple of years, there have been circumstances of the transit police issuing fines and eradicating license plates from automobiles parked on yellow traces at widespread vacationer spots like Manuel Antonio. The headache on this scenario is that the automobile can’t be pushed with out plates and have to be towed again to the workplace, the place it stays off the highway till the automotive rental firm reclaims the plates from the related authority. This can be a time-consuming and costly process, so be conscious of the place you park!

Extra Rental Concerns

Many automotive rental firms cost a each day worth for gear or providers past the fundamental rental prices. You must take this under consideration when budgeting your journey. These can embody:

Extra drivers – Count on to pay a each day charge for every driver added to your rental settlement after the primary driver. (Vamos Hire-A-Automotive provides extra drivers with out further price.) It is smart to have no less than one extra driver to share the burden for longer journeys or to take over if the primary driver is feeling below the climate.

Roof racks – For those who’re touring with numerous baggage or surfboards, then renting a roof rack at a each day charge could also be an answer to a cramped automobile inside.

Child or automotive seating – For those who’re touring with youngsters, Costa Rican regulation about seating (see beneath) is strictly enforced. Both carry your personal little one seat or hire one at a each day charge from the corporate.

Costa Rican seating legal guidelines for kids are primarily based both on age or weight/peak:

  • Rear-facing child seat: Required for kids lower than a 12 months outdated and below 22 lbs (10 kg)
  • Baby seat: For these as much as 4 years outdated or lower than 40 lbs (18 kg) and below 3’7”
  • Booster seat: For these 5 to 12 years outdated, 40 kilos or extra, and nonetheless below 4’9”
  • Seat belt: For these 4’9” or taller or over the age of 12

Wi-Fi – Keep linked all through your journey with out paying extortionate roaming costs by utilizing a Mi-Fi (cellular Wi-Fi) system out of your rental firm. It’s normally quick sufficient to add your newest vacay pics onto Instagram, connect with your Spotify road-trip playlists, and navigate with Waze, however downloading films might be an excessive amount of to count on. Web protection in Costa Rica is extensive, however don’t depend on it in case you are touring off the crushed observe.

Accidents – In case you are concerned in a site visitors accident, verify that nobody is damage then transfer to security off the highway. Don’t transfer the automobile. Name the transit police and your insurance coverage firm. You also needs to name your automotive rental supplier to evaluate if the automotive will be pushed, if a mechanic is required onsite or if the automotive must be exchanged and towed. The automobile will be moved as soon as the transit police give permission.

Crossing the Border – Rental automobiles can’t be taken to neighboring international locations (Nicaragua or Panama) on account of insurance coverage restrictions. If you wish to go to these locations, you may prepare to drop off your rental automobile on the border and reserve a automotive to be delivered when you’ve crossed it.

11 Driving Ideas for Costa Rica

A car driving on a dirt road in the shadow of Arenal volcano in Costa Rica
1. Hold a detailed eye on velocity restrict indicators, as this may change shortly inside a brief distance.

2. You’re renting a automotive, not a ship, so resist the temptation to drive via rivers (even when the locals are doing so). Insurance coverage insurance policies are voided if the automobile is pushed via any physique of water. And the digital parts of contemporary automobiles are prone to expertise costly injury in water.

3. On an analogous word, it’s unlawful to park on the seashore. That is to guard wildlife, corresponding to turtles. Even when locals are doing it, discover a safe car parking zone as an alternative.

4. Drivers within the different lane could flash their lights as they’re coming towards you. That is normally a warning that there are transit police forward or that there’s an upcoming impediment.

5. Pace bumps could also be massive and could possibly be unmarked. Keep vigilant.

6. Bridges could also be one lane, so it’s essential search for signage that signifies which route has precedence.

7. If driving a manual-transmission automobile, change gears when driving downhill, and don’t trip the brakes or else the pads may overheat.

8. Use warning whereas driving at evening. Roads are sometimes poorly lit, and cyclists or pedestrians could use the highway edge in locations the place there’s no sidewalk. Plan to reach at your vacation spot by sundown or round 5:30pm. Hold your eyes peeled for sloths or different wildlife crossing the highway.

9. For those who’re touring exterior of the Central Valley or probably the most visited vacationer spots like Jaco, hire an SUV for the upper clearance that the automobile provides. For extra rural locations, a 4×4 could also be required, particularly within the wet season. Be at liberty to ask your automotive rental supplier for recommendation on the perfect automobile in your itinerary.

10. Flat tires will not be normally coated by in-house or bank card insurance policies. For those who get a flat tire, an area storage can normally repair it for lower than $20 USD.

11. In case you are pulled over by the transit police, it’s best to current your driver’s license, passport, and the paperwork offered by the automotive rental firm. Site visitors tickets will be issued by officers, however the fee can solely be made in a financial institution or through your automotive rental firm. Ought to a police officer ask you for money, name the police immediately or your automotive rental firm for help. Don’t pay any bribes.


Costa Rica is a gorgeous nation and considered one of my favourite locations in Central America. To make sure you benefit from your go to and get off the crushed path, hire a automotive. You’ll have extra freedom and suppleness, and be capable to discover past the usual vacationer websites. I can’t advocate it sufficient!

Click on right here to get a quote from Vamos Hire-A-Automotive. You’ll get an automated 5% off simply by utilizing this hyperlink!

Ebook Your Journey to Costa Rica: Logistical Ideas and Tips

Ebook Your Flight
Use Skyscanner to discover a low-cost flight. They’re my favourite search engine as a result of they search web sites and airways across the globe so that you at all times know no stone is left unturned!

Ebook Your Lodging
You’ll be able to e book your hostel with Hostelworld as they’ve the largest stock and finest offers. If you wish to keep someplace apart from a hostel, use as they persistently return the most cost effective charges for guesthouses and low-cost resorts. My favourite locations to remain are:

Don’t Neglect Journey Insurance coverage
Journey insurance coverage will defend you in opposition to sickness, harm, theft, and cancellations. It’s complete safety in case something goes mistaken. I by no means go on a visit with out it as I’ve had to make use of it many instances up to now. My favourite firms that provide the perfect service and worth are:

On the lookout for the Finest Corporations to Save Cash With?
Take a look at my useful resource web page for the perfect firms to make use of while you journey. I record all those I exploit to economize once I’m on the highway. They are going to prevent cash while you journey too.

Need Extra Info on Costa Rica?
Be sure you go to our strong vacation spot information on Costa Rica for much more planning suggestions!

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