Exporting guide to

Costa Rica

Overview

Costa Rica is a Central American country bordered by the Caribbean Sea to the north east and the Pacific Ocean to the south west.

Trade statistics

£209.0 million total UK exports to Costa Rica for the four quarters to the end of Q2 2023

(Source: ONS UK total trade: all countries, seasonally adjusted
Last updated: October 2023)

107th largest UK export market

(Source: ONS UK total trade: all countries, seasonally adjusted
Last updated: October 2023)

less than 0.1% of total UK exports for the four quarters to the end of Q2 2023

(Source: ONS UK total trade: all countries, seasonally adjusted
Last updated: October 2023)

UK-Central America association agreement

The UK has signed an association agreement with a number of Central American countries, including Costa Rica. This covers provisions on trade in services, intellectual property, government procurement and trade in goods. Tariff rates on goods and quotas, rules of origin, preferential tariffs and sanitary or phytosanitary measures have been agreed upon to facilitate trade with the region. Non-preferential applied rates may apply, according to the UK’s Most Favoured Nation tariff arrangement.

Read our latest updates for more information on the status of this agreement and how it may benefit your business.

Top five UK goods exported to Costa Rica , in the four quarters to the end of Q3 2023

Goods Value (£ million )
Cars 53.4
Specialised machinery (capital) 10.5
Scientific instruments (capital) 10.0
Medicinal & pharmaceutical products 5.0
Plastics in non-primary forms 4.7

Source: ONS Trade in goods: country-by-commodity exports
Last updated: November 2023
Download the latest trade and investment factsheet for Costa Rica.

Costa Rica: at a glance

Economic growth

4.3%

Actual figure (IMF, 2022)
The UK is 4.0% (IMF, 2022, actual figure)

GDP per capita

$12,473

Actual figure (IMF, 2021)
The UK is $46,422 (IMF, 2021, projected figure)

Currency

Costa Rican colon

Business languages

Spanish

You may need a translator

Time zone

GMT -6

Want to see more on Costa Rica? Sign up for additional market data, content specific to your product or sector and to compare Costa Rica side by side with other markets.

Opportunities for exporters

The Department for Business and Trade team in San José has identified opportunities for UK companies in the following sectors.

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.

See current trade barriers

See resolved trade barriers

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.

See current duties and customs procedures

Doing business in Costa Rica

Preparing to export

Register with Costa Rica's Customs agency

You must be registered with the General Customs Agency (DGA) and have submitted the appropriate paperwork.

This includes:

  • the unique customs declaration of importation carried out by a customs agency
  • original commercial invoice
  • original transportation documents
  • customs value declaration

It is strongly recommended that you hire a customs agency authorised by the National Customs Agency.

Import duties

The UK-Central America association agreement incorporates all provisions from the EU-Central America Association Agreement (EU-CAAA), with some exceptions.

Preferential tariffs, their suspension deadlines, specific rules of origin, and customs procedures remain the same as those agreed upon on the EU-CAAA. Agricultural goods and industrial goods and fisheries are some of the sectors with the most tariff eliminations.

Guidelines for specific goods

There are additional requirements for certain import goods to enter the Costa Rican market.

Agricultural products must be registered with the Agriculture and Cattle Ministry and comply with phytosanitary or zoo-sanitary certifications.

Other products such as food, cosmetics, fertilisers and dangerous chemical products must be registered with the Health Ministry.

Products with additional safety measures must be registered with the corresponding authorities and comply with international guidelines. They include animals and plants, seeds, weapons and explosives and fishing products.

Operating in Costa Rica

Intellectual property

Legislation in Costa Rica protects trademarks, copyrights, encrypted programs, carrying satellite signals, industrial designs, patents and geographical indications.

Intellectual property (IP) rights are territorial and rights granted in the UK do not provide protection elsewhere. You should consider getting IP protection abroad if you want to trade overseas or sell to overseas customers via the internet.

The Intellectual Property Office provides practical information to help you protect, manage and enforce your IP abroad. Further support for British businesses can be found through a network of IP attachés, based in key UK export markets.

Tax-free zones

Costa Rica offers incentives and benefits to companies looking to invest and export in the country.

The Costa Rican Foreign Trade Promoter (PROCOMER) agency can grant benefits fully or for a 10-year period. They can cover corporate income tax, custom duties on imports and exports, sales tax stamp duty and territorial tax.

Challenges

Bureaucracy in Costa Rica can be overwhelming and obstructive due to the multiplicity of government agencies, institutions and required procedures.

You should seek experienced professionals who know the legal and regulatory landscape to operate efficiently.

Next steps

Contact us

Get ready to do business abroad

Step-by-step lessons to accelerate your exporting ability.

Read more
Contact us

Find the answers to your exporting questions

Get instant help from our online services and how-to articles or contact our Export Support Service to access our wider network of support.

Find answers

Something went wrong. Please try again.

Was this page useful?

Thanks for letting us know

Can you tell us why this page was useful?

Do not share any personal or commercially sensitive information.

Cancel

Thanks for letting us know

Can you tell us more about your feedback?

Do not share any personal or commercially sensitive information.

Cancel

Thanks for your feedback