Requirements for the importation of domestic animals (pets)
To be allowed into Costa Rica, your animal (dog or cat) must have:
Health certificate for the transport of domestic animals
If your animal's passport has all vaccinations up to date and it is signed and stamped by the veterinarian and the respective authorities of your country, you do not need a health certificate for the transit of pets. The required vaccinations are: distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus and rabies (for animals over four months). The rabies vaccine must have been applied at least one month before entering Costa Rica. In Costa Rica the rabies vaccination is valid for one year.
A Health certificate for the transit of domestic animals is required for the import of pets if the animal does not have a passport or the passport does not meet the conditions described in the previous paragraph. This certificate must be requested to your veterinarian. The certificate must state that the animal is in good health, has no external or internal parasites and has no infectious or contagious diseases. The required vaccinations are: distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus and rabies (for animals over four months). The rabies vaccine must have been applied at least one month before entering Costa Rica.
Costa Rican veterinarians also recommend the coronavirus vaccine. Regarding the validity of the other vaccines, it depends on the animal's age, in accordance with international regulations, known by veterinarians.
How to transport your pet
It is recommended to declare the pet as part of your personal luggage or passenger's hand luggage, regardless of where the animal travels (with a passenger under the seat or in the luggage compartment at the bottom of the plane), because in this way the passenger will not have to deal with the procedure of obtaining a health import permit.
If the animal is declared as air cargo, airport health authorities will request a health import permit from the Department of Animal Health of Costa Rica. In that case, prior to travel, you must complete the appropriate form and fax or email it directly to the Directorate of Animal Health of Costa Rica. This document doesn’t have to be apostilled. Upon arriving in Costa Rica, you must go to the Animal Health Services Division, where, within 48 hours, they will issue the necessary permit to recover the animal, provided that you also provide them with the international health certificate for the transit of domestic animals, completed by your veterinarian in your country of origin. You will have to pay about US$15 for obtaining this permit, regardless of the number of animals you travel with. Generally, the Directorate of Animal Health Services grants the permit on the same day, but the legal time limit is 48 hours. If you want to declare your animal as air cargo, you may also contact a customs agent in Costa Rica (you must choose it by yourself), who can arrange for this permit to be ready upon your arrival in Costa Rica.