Official advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas

  • Reviewed: 9 August 2022, 15:24 NZST
  • Still current at: 25 September 2023

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If you are planning international travel at this time, please read our COVID-19 related travel advice here, alongside our destination specific travel advice below.

Exercise increased caution

Exercise increased caution in Costa Rica due to violent crime (level 2 of 4).

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Costa Rica

Violent Crime
Violent crime is a concern in Costa Rica and can include armed robbery, sexual assault, home invasions, gang mugging and car-jacking. Exercise particular caution in the capital, San Jose. In January 2018 a tourist bus was stopped by criminals and passengers were robbed at gunpoint in Tortuguero, Limon province.

Incidents of “express kidnappings”, where individuals are forced to withdraw funds from automatic teller machines (ATMs) to secure their release, have occurred. To reduce the risk of this occurring we recommend you use ATMs located inside banks during daylight hours. Credit card fraud is a growing problem.

We advise New Zealanders travelling in Costa Rica to stay alert, be aware of your surroundings and exercise vigilance at all times, particularly in popular tourist destinations, including airports, bus stations, harbour facilities, beaches and the capital city of San Jose. You should avoid travelling alone at night and only use official red taxis (with a yellow triangle on side panels) or pre-booked orange airport taxis.

Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and bag snatching, is a significant problem, including in tourist areas and from vehicles. Theft from overhead compartments on buses is common. You should take steps to secure your personal belongings and avoid wearing or displaying valuables such as mobile devices and jewellery or leaving them visible in vehicles. Theft may involve attempts to distract victims, such as slashing car tyres.

There have been incidents of drink spiking followed by robbery and assault reported in Costa Rica. Drink spiking with methanol is common and has caused a number of deaths and cases of serious illness. Extra care should be taken to ensure your drink is never left unattended. We recommend against accepting drinks from strangers or recent acquaintances.

If you do become a victim of a crime, report it to the closest office of the ‘Organismo de Investigacion Judicial’ (the Judicial Investigation Department) to ensure local authorities can conduct an investigation.

Civil Unrest
Demonstrations and strikes take place occasionally in Costa Rica and may disrupt local public services and transport. While protests are generally peaceful, New Zealanders in Costa Rica are advised to avoid all protests, demonstrations and marches as they have the potential to turn violent with little warning. Costa Rica’s constitution prohibits political activity by foreigners, and such actions may result in detention or deportation.

General Travel Advice
Costa Rica is located in an active seismic zone, and earthquakes occur regularly.

There are several active volcanoes, which have caused airport closures in the recent past and tsunamis are possible.

Keep your passport in a safe place and only carry a photocopy for identification purposes.

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe and can include lengthy imprisonment or fines.

New Zealanders in Costa Rica should have a comprehensive travel insurance policy in place that includes provision for medical evacuation by air.

New Zealanders in Costa Rica are encouraged to register their details with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.


Travel tips

The New Zealand Embassy Mexico City, Mexico is accredited to Costa Rica

Street Address Jaime Balmes No 8, 4th Floor, Los Morales, Polanco, Mexico D.F. 11510 Telephone +52 55 5283 9460 Fax +52 55 5283 9480 Email Web Site Hours Mon - Fri 0930 - 1400

See our regional advice for Central/South America

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Accredited New Zealand Embassy Mexico

Street Address
Jaime Balmes No 8, 4th Floor, Los Morales, Polanco, Mexico D.F. 11510

Telephone: +52 55 5283 9460

Fax: +52 55 5283 9480



Hours: Mon - Fri 0930 - 1400

Related advice from other countries

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