Exporting guide to Costa Rica


With a population of 5 million people (IMF, 2019), Costa Rica is a Central American country bordered by the Caribbean Sea to the north east and the Pacific Ocean to the south west. In the year ending June 2019, the total trade in goods and services was £446 million, an increase of 2.5% on the previous year (ONS, 2019).

Demand for UK goods and services

The total UK exports to Costa Rica in the year to June 2019 amounted to £87 million (ONS 2019). There are particular opportunities for UK businesses in the cleantech, food and drink, healthcare, security and infrastructure sectors.

Growth in imports

Imports into Costa Rica have grown consistently since 2014. In 2018 they rose by just 0.1%, but a figure of 1.5% was predicted for 2019 and 4.7% for 2020. The top goods imported by Costa Rica from the UK in the year to June 2019 were cars, specialised machinery, metal manufactures, chemicals and beverages (ONS, 2019). If your business specialises in any of these product sectors, Costa Rica could be a good market for you.

Economic stability

The Costa Rican economy has expanded consistently since 2014. Its GDP grew by 2.6% in 2018, with a rise of 2.0% predicted for 2019 and similar figures expected for the following 5 years (IMF, 2019). With the rate of inflation staying low at 2.2% in 2018 (IMF, 2019), the spending power of the Costa Rican population should increase, which could benefit UK exporters.

San Jose, Costa Rica

Costa Rica: at a glance


Costa Rican colon

Business languages


You may need a translator

GDP per capita


UK is $46,200 (IMF, 2021, projected figures)

Economic growth


(IMF, 2021, projected figure)

Time zone

GMT -6

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Check for trade barriers

Trade barriers, such as tariffs or taxes, can raise costs, cause delays, or even stop you from exporting. Check for any issues that may impact your business when exporting.

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Check duties and customs

Find information on how to export goods from the UK. View the duties, rules, restrictions, and the documents you need for your products.

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Next steps

DIT can advise you on doing business abroad, and help put you in touch with other people who can help such as lawyers and distributors.