Taking Your Dog, Cat or Small Pet to Costa Rica

Your pet may be put into one of these pet containers for the flight to Costa Rica.

Your pet may be put into one of these pet containers for the flight to Costa Rica.

Okay want to take your pet to Costa Rica?  In reality it is fairly simple and Costa Rica does not require a quarantine period as many countries do.  For dogs and cats and other small pets,  all you need to  prove to both the airlines and Costa Rican customs officers that your animal is healthy.

First, your dog or cat must be taken to a local veterinarian for a complete examination. This should be done a minimum of two weeks before departure.  The animal must be free from all infectious and/or contagious diseases, including rabies (the rabies shot must be no sooner than 30 days prior to departure and no later than 1 year).

The examination report must also identify the animals name, specie, breed, sex, color and name, in addition to the owners name and address. This examination report (health certificate) must be on business letterhead and signed by the veterinarian. The health certificate must also include that the animal has been vaccinated against distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis and parvovirus.

When this process is completed the papers must be forwarded to the Costa Rica Consulate in your area. Upon receipt of that material, the Consulate will prepare Certificate #10-SC, which is filled out by the Consulate; you are not required to fill out this form. Providing that the required health documents are completed properly this certificate will be completed, signed, sealed and sent to you for your departure.

However, when doing this, make sure they do it in a timely fashion, so there is not a mad rush at the last moment.   In addition, a fee of $50.00 US dollars is required for two stamps which are placed on this Certificate; the price may vary depending on your location.

When flying it is recommended that you notify the airline personnel regarding your pet and make sure the documents they require are fulfilled.  Not all airlines are the same. It is important that the compartment in which your dog is place is properly heated during the flight; some airplanes have special compartments set aside for animals. And some allow the animal to be seated with the owner.

When you arrive in Costa Rica, the customs officer will do a visual inspection of your pet (for which you will be charged a few US dollars), and look over the health certificate and the authorization from the Costa Rican Health Ministry. If all is in order, you’re set to go, and then the real problem can come up and that is to find find a pet-friendly taxi, which strangely enough is not easy to do.

If you’re missing any documents or the officer decides your pet looks ill and might transmit disease, the animal will either be temporarily released to your care (kind of like being released on your own recognizance) or if the official thinks there’s a real health risk the animal may find itself in a state kennel for up to 30 days, until you work out what to do next, which is, arrange for the necessary paperwork. If this happens, you will be required to contact a local Costa Rica vet and get their blessing and  expect to pay around $100US for their examination.

Upon departing Costa Rica you will have to complete a form which is supplied by the Department of Health, or more specifically the Department of Zoonosis. This office is located behind the Hospital of San Juan Dios on Avenida 2nd. The form is titled “Solicitud de Permiso” and requires much of the same information necessary to bring your pet into the county.

All the requirements are on the back of the form, however, they are in Spanish; there are no documents provided in any other language. So if you do not speak or read Spanish make sure that you get in contract with someone who does otherwise you may be detained at the airport and/or you may have a problem leaving Costa Rica with your animal.

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