Can I bring my pets to Costa Rica?

Many foreigners relocate in Costa Rica and bring their pets along with them! Some of them even go back and forth many times during the year between their former country and Costa Rica!

Bringing dogs and cats to Costa Rica is a relatively simple process. There is no quarantine period if they are brought in as luggage, but animals imported as freight may be subject to customs charges and hold times. In most cases, you will present your pet’s paperwork and breeze right through customs.

Always review an airline’s pet policies before purchasing your ticket. Some airlines have strict weight limits for in-cabin pets, minimum and maximum outdoor temperatures for animals checked as baggage, and other policies, such as only allowing animals on nonstop flights. Adhere to the airline’s procedures: though they may seem arbitrary, they were developed to protect your pet’s safety. If you’re having trouble finding a carrier to accommodate your pet, check out Delta and Continental, two airlines known for their special pet-friendly programs.

Birds, snakes, horses and other “exotic” or agricultural animals may be subject to additional restrictions. If you have specific questions regarding import of your pet(s), please contact the Costa Rican embassy and your local veterinarian.

If you have to travel out of Costa Rica, Costa Ricans overall, are huge animal lovers, and most of your maids, friends and/or caretakers will treat them like family.

In order to enter Costa Rica with your pet, you will need the following documents:

1. A pet health certificate, which must be issued within 10 days of travel to Costa Rica.

2. For dogs, proof of vaccination against distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus (DHLPP), corona virus, parainfluenza, and rabies is required. For cats, feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, panleukopenia (FVRCP), and rabies are required. Note: Vaccines, except for rabies, must be administered within 30 days of departure to Costa Rica. Rabies vaccines must be given more than 30 days but less than 12 months prior to travel to Costa Rica. The Costa Rican government does not recognize the three-year rabies vaccine.

3. As of January 2008, Costa Rica is allowing the import of birds. However, birds may never be exported under any circumstances, so you should be absolutely sure of your intentions to remain in Costa Rica before importing your avian companion. Parrots require an import permit and proof of ownership for more than six months. Additionally, the parrot’s veterinary certificate must state that the animal comes from an area free of ornithosis, psittacosis, salmonella, or any other contagious disease.

4. For registered, purebred animals, you must provide a personal letter stating the pet’s market value or a document that proves it, such as a purchase receipt.

5. Proof of payment of your Pet Customs Duty (if applicable).

6. A pet quarantine permit issued by the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Control (Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganaderia, aka MAG) in Costa Rica. In general, the quarantine permit is only necessary if you ship an animal in as cargo; if the pet arrives with you as carry-on or checked luggage, the permit should not be necessary. However, always check the latest requirements with the Costa Rican embassy nearest you.

Are Real Estate agents licensed in Costa Rica?

Although that as for now, no enforced license is required by the law, you should ensure that your realtor in Costa Rica is certified by a Real Estate association recognized by the Costarican government, that he have a permanent residency, that he´s registered to Sugef (Organization of laundry money) and that he comes from an established and reputable real estate company.

The professional real estate agents here in Costs Rica formed their own boards over a decade ago and have encouraged everyone in the industry to join. Their classes are based upon the same requirements as NAR (National Association of Realtors) and monitor and police themselves, adhering to the highest standards of ethical practices.

Our main real estate organizations in Costa Rica are the CRGAR (Costa Rica Global Associations of Realtors) and CCCBR(The Costa Rican Chamber of Commerce for Real Estate

How much are the closing cost?

If buyer decide to purchase through a corporation instead under his own personal name ,the safest and cleanest way to purchase a property in Costa Rica is to transfer the property to a Brand New corporation.(Company or Corporation). At closing, the attorneys will transfer the property out of the old existing corporation and into a new corporation that was set up strictly for this investment.  It will have no liabilities of any kind, as it was recently formed specifically for this transaction, and the seller can then either use the old corporation for another investment or choose to dissolve the corporation after the sale. It will be their choice.

Certain standard closing costs are required in Costa Rica to transfer the title of a property from the seller to the buyer, in most cases paid by the buyer. Closing Costs include: (1) Real Estate Transfer Tax, which is 1.5% of the registered value of the property on the deed; (2) Documentary Stamps, which total a maximum of 1.25% from the registered value; (3) The Notary Fee is around 1.25 % of the property sales price. Using the example of a $100,000 property, closing costs would be approximately $4,000 (Other fees might be added depending of the kind and price of the property)

How does ownership works?

Foreign Citizens and Costa Ricans have equal rights under the Costa Rican Constitution to own property here. Property can be purchased in your personal name or in the name of a corporation that you is more common and recommended to acquire the property through a corporationas in order to ease ownership by multiple partners or within a family group, to separate potential personal liabilities, to facilitate the closing procedure, and allow for easier transfer to relatives in case of casualty. The Costa Rica holding company will also make it easier to obtain services such as electricity and cell phones, as well as, opening a bank account.The process of setting up a corporation is not complicated or expensive, but requires the expertise of your attorney to ensure it is set up according to your wishes

How much is the property tax?

Property taxes in Costa Rica are very low, only ¼ of 1% of the registered property value.  For example a property valued at $100,000 pays $250 per year in Property Tax.  On larger homes, usually over $500,000 there is a Luxury tax which can bump your property tax up to .50%, still substantially less than most tropical locations.

If the property you own no matter what type, lot, condo, luxury home and even a car is held in a Costa Rican corporation, there are two additional fees to all of these properties.  The corporate tax is $194.00 per year for a non-active corporation; this is classified as a corporation not doing business and not making income. If you happen to have an Active corporation, one making money and doing some kind of business activity, then the annual corporate tax is $365.00 per year. Of course you can own any fee simple property in your own name as well and would not have the need to pay Corporate Tax.

How registering properties works?

All property in Costa Rica is registered in the Public Registry of Properties, whether the property is fee simple titled or a maritime concession.  By means of a detailed title search in the Public Registry of Properties your Attorney will be able to confirm that the property is legally fit to be purchased and the title will be purchased free and clear of any claims, liens or encumbrances.  There is a portion of Costa Rican property that is not titled nor has a maritime concession.  We strongly advise against the purchase of unregistered property.Each property registered in the Public Registry of Properties is assigned a unique number called the Folio Real Number.  The number is comprised of three parts, the first number indicates the province, the second group of six numbers is the number of the property itself, and the last group indicates how many owners the property has.  The Plano Catastro is an officially registered Survey Plan prepared by a licensed Topographer based on a physical survey of the property.  All properties must have a registered Plano Catastro and their own Folio Real duly recorded in the Public Registry of Properties before they can be bought or sold.

Is there financing in Costa Rica?

A cash purchase affords you big bargaining possibilities and is the easiest and most hassle-free way to pay for your home in Costa Rica. If you do not pay with cash, you have the following financing options:
Bank financing: Although it is always a nightmare, even for the Costarican, banks in Costa Rica offers financing to residents but for foreigners it´s almost impossible. Requirements include a current account with the bank, incomes verification, a national and/or international credit check, and a bank-sanctioned home appraisal (paid by the borrower). The paperwork is mind boggling and the banks do not operate with the efficiency that you are used to in the USA or Canada. Local mortgage terms are not as advantageous as those in the United States due to higher interest rates, large down payments and shorter loan periods. Loans take up to three months to process.

Home-equity loan:
 You may take a home-equity loan out on your primary residence in your own country. This allows you to approach a Costa Rican real estate purchase as a cash buyer. You will also have a better interest rates as the ones in Costa Rica are very high (around 9%)

Owner financing: Some homeowners may be willing to finance a partial loan on their home. The average terms in our region would be around 40-50% cash down, the balance with 30 years amortization at around 7% interest and a balloon payment within 3-5 years.

Mortgage broker: Mortgage brokers are a recent addition to the local market, allowing buyers to finance through international lenders. You will be required to provide U.S. tax information, income reports, and a credit check. Depending on your credit score and other information, you may have lower interest rates and a faster loan approval.

P.S.: Another way to purchase your dream property in Costa Rica is by using what’s called a Self-Directed IRA. Many people in the U.S.A. do not realize that they can convert their current IRA or 401k into an IRA that they themselves control. It is actually a very simple process and most companies can process it in less than 30 days. We had dozens of US citizens buy their house or condo this way in the last 3 or 4 years.

What are the “Due Diligences”?

The period of Due Diligence (D.D.P.) is the complete legal research of the property from your attorney/notary to insure there are no liens, contingencies, legal issues, and that it has absolute fee simple title.

Surveys, availability of water, soil tests, home inspections, inventories and other studies requiring professional services are included in this period.  If the property is being sold with an existing company, then the research of the company for any legal contingencies will also be completed during Due Diligence.

Anytime during the DD period (between 15-30 days), the buyer has the option to cancel the contract and get their deposit back with No penalty.  At the end of the Due Diligence period, assuming there are no issues with the property, the deposit becomes Non refundable and stays in escrow until time of closing, to be applied towards the purchase price.

Why corporation for property ownership?

You can acquire a property under your personal name, even being a foreigner,in which can be less expensive than the cost to keep a corporation however, it is more common and recommended to acquire the property through a corporationas in order to ease ownership by multiple partners or within a family group, to separate potential personal liabilities, to facilitate the closing procedure, and allow for easier transfer to relatives in case of casualty.  The Costa Rica holding company will also make it easier to obtain services such as electricity and cell phones, as well as, opening a bank account.

How do I purchase a property in Costa Rica?

The decision to purchase real estate in a foreign country can at first be a daunting proposition. However, it is possible to safely buy property in Costa Rica with the assistance of a reputable realtor and attorney. Your realtor should be able to help you to locate property suitable to your needs, educate you as to property values and investment opportunities in your chosen area, and assist you with negotiating a fair price. It is important to choose an experienced attorney with a solid reputation who can handle the financial aspects of the transaction and ensure that your property has legal title and is purchased free of any liens or encumbrances.
                Why Buy with Tres Amigos?  • All of our Real Estate Agents are LICENSED with either CRGAR (Costa Rica Guanacaste Association of Realtors)
and CCCBR (Costa Rican Chamber of Realtors) and are member of NAR (National Association of Realtors). In
additional all of our agents are duly registered with Costa Rica’s banking authority SUGEF.
• Tres Amigos Realty Groups Agent’s have unrivaled local knowledge and professionalism all backed by the
strongest Real Estate group in Costa Rica with 20 dedicated Professionals in 3 locations and over 125 years of
combined local Real Estate Experience.
• We will help you to negotiate the best possible price and terms for the property you are purchasing by
leveraging our deep understanding of market conditions and sales history of virtually every property in our area.
• While other Real Estate Companies were going out of business or downsizing, Tres Amigos Realty Group was
the only company building and investing in their business and focusing solely on helping their clients buy and
sell real estate. As a result many of the remaining competing realtors joined Tres Amigos Realty Group, creating
a team of the most seasoned, knowledgeable, professional and trustworthy real estate agents in the country.
All of our agents are either LEGAL RESIDENTS or CITIZENS of Costa Rica.
• We cover the entire area from Playa Hermosa, Playas del Coco, Ocotal, Playa Panama, Matapalo, Tamarindo,
Liberia and beyond. We specialize in: Homes, Condos, Lots, Land, Commercial Development Property, Business
Operations, Investment Opportunities, Rental Properties, Beach, and Mountain and Farm Land.
• Our Websites will always have the most up-to-date listing information and the most extensive amount of
listings. The majority of websites about Costa Rica are inundated with false information and outdated
properties. Searching multiple websites can be a waste of time for a Buyer. Our agents will do the legwork for
you; so that you can be assured that you are only seeing current properties for sale.
• We will always show you properties that fit your requirements. We work with all the other real estate
agencies in the area, to insure that you see EVERY property that is for sale, not just our exclusive listings. Don’t
be surprised if you view mostly Tres Amigos Realty Group listings because we do have the overwhelming
majority of the best listings in our area.
• Since there is no real certifiable and monitored Multiple Listing Service (MLS) in Costa Rica you – The Buyer –
must rely on your Real Estate Agent to know the market better than anyone and ensure you see all the possible
properties that fit your requirements and budget.
• All the listed properties that are on our websites have gone through a ‘Listing Due Diligence’ process to ensure
the property is fit for sale and that any major issues are disclosed up front, saving you time and future issues.
• You will always deal directly with one of our Real Estate Agents when you inquire about property. We will
never sell your lead like many lead generating real estate websites. If we can’t handle your business we will
refer you to a qualified professional that can.
• Our Agents will pick you up to show property in a well maintained and air conditioned vehicle – not a golf cart.