You are currently viewing The Final Information to Renting a Automobile in Costa Rica (Up to date 2024)

The Final Information to Renting a Automobile in Costa Rica (Up to date 2024)


A sunny, bright day overlooking the towering Arenal volcano in Costa Rica with lush jungle in all directions
Posted: 1/25/24 | January twenty fifth, 2024

I like Costa Rica. It was the primary place I visited on my own over 15 years in the past and the nation that set me on my nomadic journey. From its gorgeous seashores to its lush jungles, this biodiverse nation is fashionable with backpackers, honeymooners, and expats alike. And whereas it’s small, there’s a ton to see and do. You would simply spend a month and nonetheless barely scratch the floor.

It’s additionally wonderful for road-tripping.

As a lot as a backpacking bus or hitchhiking journey may initially sound interesting, the truth is that ready within the scorching solar after which bouncing alongside bumpy roads in an outdated bus with out shocks or air-conditioning will not be for the fainthearted. In order for you actual freedom to discover, you want a rental automobile.

That will help you plan your journey, right here’s all the things you must learn about renting a automobile in Costa Rica.


Choosing the Proper Rental Automobile (and Rental Firm)

Earlier than you hire a automobile, learn and evaluate critiques for automobile rental corporations. Whereas the usual massive corporations can be found right here, there are many native ones too.

Upon getting narrowed down the checklist to a selected few, ask for quotes for the kind of car and journey dates that you simply require. The quote ought to embody necessary third-party insurance coverage, taxes, and another surcharges, like airport tax. Most websites embody all this data when getting a quote on-line.

Whether or not you’re reserving on-line or straight with an agent, double-check the small print of your reservation. Crossing time zones could imply that your rental pickup time and even date is totally different in Costa Rica than your nation of departure. You’ll need to verify the time, date, and site of your car’s pickup and drop-off, the car class, transmission, and protection required.

Factors to recollect when renting a automobile in Costa Rica:

  • A guide transmission could also be cheaper than automated and extra frequent in Costa Rica however ought to solely be chosen should you can drive a stick shift.
  • Returning your automobile at a vacation spot totally different from the place you picked it up will in all probability incur an extra cost.
  • Most rental corporations is not going to assure a particular make and mannequin throughout the rental class.
  • Count on to hire for 24-hour intervals. Time your pickup and drop-off accordingly.
  • Present your flight quantity earlier than you arrive, so the corporate can observe your flight.
  • When you have an early flight, think about dropping off the car the evening earlier than and utilizing a resort shuttle to the airport.
  • On-line journey companies (OTAs) usually fail to incorporate all expenses, so should you e book by way of one, remember to examine the ultimate worth with the automobile rental firm, by way of which the pricing could also be extra clear.
  • Most corporations now provide a web-based check-in course of to add paperwork akin to passports and driver’s licenses to chop time on the counter and get on the highway quicker.

My go-to rental automobile firm in Costa Rica is Vamos. You may click on right here to get a quote. (You’ll get 5% off simply through the use of that hyperlink).

Arriving on the Airport

Each worldwide airports in Costa Rica have automobile rental firm desks throughout the constructing; nevertheless, the places of work (the place you’ll get your automobile) are off-site. They often have a shuttle service to take shoppers to their places of work, most of that are situated inside a 10-minute drive of the airport.

Native hustlers may inform you that your organization has gone out of enterprise to persuade you to go along with a special firm that can pay them a fee. Search for an indication together with your firm’s emblem and ignore the hustlers.

In case your flight is delayed otherwise you miss your connection, contact the corporate together with your new estimated arrival time to keep away from having the reservation canceled as a no-show.

Whenever you arrive on the rental workplace, the agent will fill in any excellent paperwork that has not been finished on-line and conduct a car inspection with you. Though the agent will notice present injury, you need to take images or video of the automobile for backup functions.

Your car could not have a full gasoline tank while you decide it up, however the gasoline gauge degree ought to be logged on the inspection type. You’ll need to return the automobile with the identical gasoline degree. Though you’ll not be reimbursed for a degree increased than the one registered, you may be charged whether it is under the beginning degree.

Returning the Car
Verify your drop-off location and time while you decide up the car. If you’re caught in site visitors or are delayed for any purpose, contact the rental firm to keep away from a penalty. Be sure that your gasoline gauge is on the proper degree, or else head to a gasoline station earlier than you drop it off. The corporate’s consultant will examine your car with you after which course of the deposit reimbursement.

Paperwork Wanted for Renting a Automobile in Costa Rica

Right here’s all the things you must hire a automobile in Costa Rica:

Driver’s license – You need to use your native driver’s license through the rental interval so long as it’s printed within the Latin alphabet. In case your license is in a language that doesn’t use the Latin alphabet (e.g., Mandarin, Arabic), a world driving license is required. Your driver’s license should be legitimate for the whole lot of your keep.

It is very important notice that though most vacationers can be given a 180-day visa after they enter the nation, their driver’s licenses are solely legitimate for 90 days, and they are going to be required to depart Costa Rica and return to legally drive once more.

Bank card – You want a legitimate bank card in your identify to pay the automobile rental and to put the deposit.

Passport – Your passport ought to be legitimate in the course of your keep. Legally, vacationers should carry it with them always. The transit police will wish to see it and your entry visa if you’re pulled over.

A Notice on the Minimal and Most Driving Age
Every automobile rental firm has insurance policies relating to the age of the drivers it insures. Many would not have a most age, however some set a restrict of 70-75 years outdated. The authorized age to drive in Costa Rica is eighteen; nevertheless, most corporations require that drivers be at the very least 25. Youthful drivers could possibly hire a automobile for an extra surcharge and insurance coverage prices.

Insurance coverage Protection

Costa Rica has necessary third-party insurance coverage for automobile leases. It isn’t doable to acquire this protection another means. Verify that this value is included in your rental quote, because it’s usually omitted, so it’s possible you’ll find yourself paying greater than what you initially thought.

A collision injury waiver (CDW) covers losses from injury to your rental automobile. That is legally required when renting a automobile in Costa Rica. Most corporations provide varied tiers of insurance coverage, with varied deductibles. Many renters choose full protection for peace of thoughts, as then any injury that happens throughout rental is roofed. Some corporations provide further protection for tires and the windscreen (windshield), as they aren’t all the time coated by the CDW.

In case your bank card supplier has a CDW as a perk, you may waive the in-house CDW. Simply notice that you’ll want to convey a letter that explicitly states the quantity of protection, that Costa Rica is included within the areas coated, and the final 4 digits of the driving force’s bank card. A replica of the bank card firm’s phrases and situations will not be often ample.

One vital factor to notice is that the rental firm could maintain a deposit for the rental interval, which might be as much as $5,000 USD if the renter is utilizing their bank card supplier’s CDW. The deposit can be launched on the finish of the rental interval. Ensure you have a bank card that may take up this residue.

Driving in Costa Rica

Right here are some things to remember whereas driving in Costa Rica:

Pace limits – Indicators are in kilometers quite than miles, and velocity limits are usually decrease than you’d anticipate, with a 90 km/h (55 mph) restrict on main highways. Pace limits change with restricted warning between areas, so keep alert to signage.

Gasoline stations – Just be sure you know in case your rental car is fueled by gasoline or diesel. This info ought to be on the car inspection report should you’ve forgotten. Gasoline stations will not be self-service, so be ready to ask for the sort of gasoline you want in addition to the quantity.

Should you’re renting one of many EVs which can be beginning to type a part of fleets in Costa Rica, then plan your route across the community of charging stations throughout the nation. You may be taught extra about these right here.

Navigation – Use Waze, which is up to date in actual time by an enthusiastic group of volunteers, so that you’re conscious of accidents or different conditions which will have an effect on your journey time. Google Maps is accessible however doesn’t all the time have correct info. It additionally tends to underestimate journey occasions, so you need to take that into consideration when planning your itinerary should you plan to make use of it.

Regardless of Costa Rica’s official handle system, which consists of calles (roads that run north-south) and avenidas (avenues that run west-east), virtually all locals give instructions utilizing landmarks, and few can present instructions utilizing highway or avenue numbers. It’s useful to know {that a} block is often described as 100 meters.

So as to add to the confusion, a location could use landmarks that now not exist however have been recognized nicely sufficient to stay in dwelling reminiscence. So it’s possible you’ll be directed to go 600 meters south of the place “the place the massive mango tree was” or to show left after “the grocery store that was pink.” Fortunately, Waze is a navigation lifesaver, however you may develop to benefit from the quirky tico (Costa Rican) means of discovering locations!

Parking – All the time park in safe parking tons, and don’t depart valuables in an unattended car, as break-ins can happen.

In the previous few years, there have been instances of the transit police issuing fines and eradicating license plates from automobiles parked on yellow strains at fashionable vacationer spots like Manuel Antonio. The headache on this scenario is that the car can’t be pushed with out plates and should be towed again to the workplace, the place it stays off the highway till the automobile rental firm reclaims the plates from the related authority. This can be a time-consuming and costly process, so be conscious of the place you park!

Further Rental Issues

Many automobile rental corporations cost a day by day worth for gear or companies past the fundamental rental prices. You must take this under consideration when budgeting your journey. These can embody:

Further drivers – Count on to pay a day by day price for every driver added to your rental settlement after the principle driver. (Vamos Lease-A-Automobile affords further drivers with out additional value.) It is sensible to have at the very least one further driver to share the burden for longer journeys or to take over if the principle driver is feeling underneath the climate.

Roof racks – Should you’re touring with a whole lot of baggage or surfboards, then renting a roof rack at a day by day price could also be an answer to a cramped car inside.

Child or automobile seating – Should you’re touring with kids, Costa Rican legislation about seating (see under) is strictly enforced. Both convey your personal baby seat or hire one at a day by day price from the corporate.

Costa Rican seating legal guidelines for kids are primarily based both on age or weight/top:

  • Rear-facing child seat: Required for kids lower than a 12 months outdated and underneath 22 lbs (10 kg)
  • Little one seat: For these as much as 4 years outdated or lower than 40 lbs (18 kg) and underneath 3’7”
  • Booster seat: For these 5 to 12 years outdated, 40 kilos or extra, and nonetheless underneath 4’9”
  • Seat belt: For these 4’9” or taller or over the age of 12

Wi-Fi – Keep related all through your journey with out paying extortionate roaming expenses through the use of a Mi-Fi (cellular Wi-Fi) gadget out of your rental firm. It’s often quick sufficient to add your newest vacay pics onto Instagram, connect with your Spotify road-trip playlists, and navigate with Waze, however downloading motion pictures might be an excessive amount of to anticipate. Web protection in Costa Rica is large, however don’t rely on it if you’re touring off the overwhelmed observe.

Accidents – If you’re concerned in a site visitors accident, examine that nobody is harm then transfer to security off the highway. Don’t transfer the car. Name the transit police and your insurance coverage firm. You also needs to name your automobile rental supplier to evaluate if the automobile might be pushed, if a mechanic is required onsite or if the automobile must be exchanged and towed. The car might be moved as soon as the transit police give permission.

Crossing the Border – Rental automobiles can’t be taken to neighboring international locations (Nicaragua or Panama) resulting from insurance coverage restrictions. If you wish to go to these locations, you may prepare to drop off your rental car on the border and reserve a automobile to be delivered when you’ve crossed it.

11 Driving Ideas for Costa Rica

A car driving on a dirt road in the shadow of Arenal volcano in Costa Rica
1. Maintain a detailed eye on velocity restrict indicators, as this could change rapidly inside a brief distance.

2. You’re renting a automobile, not a ship, so resist the temptation to drive by way of rivers (even when the locals are doing so). Insurance coverage insurance policies are voided if the car is pushed by way of any physique of water. And the digital elements of recent automobiles are more likely to expertise costly injury in water.

3. On an identical notice, it’s unlawful to park on the seashore. That is to guard wildlife, akin to turtles. Even when locals are doing it, discover a safe car parking zone as an alternative.

4. Drivers within the different lane could flash their lights as they’re coming towards you. That is often a warning that there are transit police forward or that there’s an upcoming impediment.

5. Pace bumps could also be massive and might be unmarked. Keep vigilant.

6. Bridges could also be one lane, so you must search for signage that signifies which path has precedence.

7. If driving a manual-transmission car, change gears when driving downhill, and don’t experience the brakes or else the pads might overheat.

8. Use warning whereas driving at evening. Roads are sometimes poorly lit, and cyclists or pedestrians could use the highway edge in locations the place there’s no sidewalk. Plan to reach at your vacation spot by sundown or round 5:30pm. Maintain your eyes peeled for sloths or different wildlife crossing the highway.

9. Should you’re touring outdoors of the Central Valley or essentially the most visited vacationer spots like Jaco, hire an SUV for the upper clearance that the car affords. For extra rural locations, a 4×4 could also be required, particularly within the wet season. Be at liberty to ask your automobile rental supplier for recommendation on the very best car on your itinerary.

10. Flat tires will not be often coated by in-house or bank card insurance policies. Should you get a flat tire, a neighborhood storage can often repair it for lower than $20 USD.

11. If you’re pulled over by the transit police, you need to current your driver’s license, passport, and the paperwork supplied by the automobile rental firm. Visitors tickets might be issued by officers, however the fee can solely be made in a financial institution or through your automobile rental firm. Ought to a police officer ask you for money, name the police straight or your automobile rental firm for help. Don’t pay any bribes.


Costa Rica is an attractive nation and considered one of my favourite locations in Central America. To make sure you benefit from your go to and get off the overwhelmed path, hire a automobile. You’ll have extra freedom and suppleness, and be capable of discover past the usual vacationer websites. I can’t suggest it sufficient!

Click on right here to get a quote from Vamos Lease-A-Automobile. You’ll get an automated 5% off simply through the use of this hyperlink!

E book Your Journey to Costa Rica: Logistical Ideas and Methods

E book Your Flight
Use Skyscanner to discover a low cost flight. They’re my favourite search engine as a result of they search web sites and airways across the globe so that you all the time know no stone is left unturned!

E book Your Lodging
You may e book your hostel with Hostelworld as they’ve the largest stock and finest offers. If you wish to keep someplace aside from a hostel, use as they constantly return the most affordable charges for guesthouses and low cost lodges. My favourite locations to remain are:

Don’t Neglect Journey Insurance coverage
Journey insurance coverage will defend you in opposition to sickness, harm, theft, and cancellations. It’s complete safety in case something goes flawed. I by no means go on a visit with out it as I’ve had to make use of it many occasions previously. My favourite corporations that provide the very best service and worth are:

Searching for the Greatest Corporations to Save Cash With?
Try my useful resource web page for the very best corporations to make use of while you journey. I checklist all those I exploit to save cash once I’m on the highway. They may prevent cash while you journey too.

Need Extra Info on Costa Rica?
Remember to go to our sturdy vacation spot information on Costa Rica for much more planning ideas!