Moving Household Goods to Costa Rica

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Moving to Costa Rica

You have made the decision to move to Costa Rica and are now starting to consider the logistics of relocation. This planning stage naturally brings up the questions that come with any decision to make a move: What do I take with me? What is it time to leave behind? How do I go about shipping my belongings?

There are as many opinions on what you should or should not move to Costa Rica as there are expats who have made the move. One school of thought is that this move is a great time to declutter and make a fresh start; a popular choice for people starting their retirement years. Many of the homes that we offer for sale can be purchased fully furnished, meaning that you only need to bring items that will add your own personal touches to your new home.

The opposite theory is that it is comforting to be surrounded by familiar things when you make a big move. It all comes down to a personal choice with regard to what you might choose to move with to Costa Rica.  In either case, we can help you find the right resources to make things a little easier. 

Here is a helpful list of considerations for your move to get you started before choosing what exactly you intend to bring:

·         For electrical appliances, Costa Rica operates on North American electrical standards:

o    Voltage: 120 V

o    Frequency: 60 HZ

o    Power sockets: Type A/B

·         Do not attempt to transport inflammable liquids, fireworks or aerosol sprays as these are prohibited by safety regulations concerning the transportation of dangerous substances.

·         Costa Rican legislation dealing with packaged foods and agricultural products is comprehensive and requires registration and nutritional labeling in Spanish.  Please see the Food and Agricultural Import Regulations and Standards report.

·         Cats and dogs must be accompanied by a health certificate issued by a Veterinarian and endorsed by your local department of agriculture.  Your vet should be aware of the Costa Rican requirements for importing pets.

·         If you intend on bringing exotic pets, plants, antiques, ivory, or tortoise shell, please check the CITES Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora checklist.

·         Automobiles, boats and motorbikes are all subject to local taxes and customs duties.  The current taxes for importing vehicles to Costa Rica is 52.29% for models up to three years old, regardless of mileage or condition.  Cars between 4 and 5 years old are assessed at 63.91%, and cars older than 5 years must pay 79.03%.  These high taxes are to discourage the over-circulation of cars, especially the older models with less environmental regulations.

·         Keep all valuable items with you, such as jewelry, bank and insurance documents, money, credit cards and passports.  Store them in a safe place to avoid them being accidentally packed and transported.  Consider using a security moving company if you need these items to be transported for you.

·         We recommend that you make digital copies of your family photos and film in case of accidental damage in transport, but also because of the increased humidity in Costa Rica potentially affecting your originals.

Once you have decided what you want to move, you will need to select a moving company. There are reputable Costa Rica-based moving companies that can handle all of the details from pick up at your old home and delivery to your new Costa Rican address.  You will need a Costa Rica-based moving company to handle the receipt of your goods in Costa Rica. This company is important to manage your shipment through the regulatory process once your items arrive in the country. With that in mind you may want to select your Costa Rica moving company first and ask them for recommendations on who to use at your point of origin if a local company is also needed.  Your local moving company may have an existing relationship through international moving associations so they are also a good resource.

Moving to Costa Rica

We are often asked how much it will cost to make the move to Costa Rica. Each move is unique based on the point of origin and the makeup and size of your shipment. Getting written quotes that include all terms and conditions related to services included in the quote is a good way to come up with your personal estimate.  Some moving companies base their rates on total weight of the shipment and others base rates on the volume of your shipment (cubic feet). It is good to assess which method will result in the most favorable pricing given the items that make up your shipment.

As a part of estimating the cost of your move, you will want to investigate what customs charges you may incur when moving your belongings to Costa Rica. Customs regulations are covered in Article 3 of the Costa Rica Customs Law which regulates the import of used household goods. A Costa Rican customs broker is a good resource for the most current information about your shipment.

References based on first hand experience are always a good resource.  As is always the case with big decisions, it is important to research and obtain reliable references for all services involved in your move to Costa Rica. Osa Tropical Properties can put you in touch with clients who have made the move and can provide you with references and helpful hints from their experience. We also have the first-hand information that will help you in the process of planning and organizing your move to Costa Rica.

Whether you are moving to Costa Rica to start your retirement or to pursue a new business opportunity, there is no denying that a move can be stressful. Careful research and planning up front can help you minimize the stress and opportunity for surprises along the way. And once you and your personal belongings are settled in your new home in Costa Rica you will realize that it was all worth it to live in paradise.