Guide to Driving In Costa Rica - Drive Safe in Costa Rica

With our Drive Smart guide you're fully prepared to hire a car in Costa Rica and stay safe on unfamiliar roads.

URBAN SPEED LIMIT

40-60 kph

urban
More info  

RURAL SPEED LIMIT

80 kph

rural
More info  

motorway speed limit

80-100 kph

speed limit
More info  

Drink Drive Limit

 75mg

drink and drive limit
More info  
urban
You drive in Costa Rica on the Right side  
urban
The currency in Costa Rica is CRC
urban
To rent a car is  25 years and to drive is 18 years of age
urban
Current fuel price in Costa Rica 1.03 €/Ltr

Driving Laws in Costa Rica

Are there any special requirements for driving or hiring a car in Costa Rica?

Driving in Costa Rica
Pocket guide to driving in Costa Rica
Profile:
Costa Rica
San Jose
CRC
Driving in Costa Rica
SPEED: (kph)
40-60
80
80-100
Speed limit in Costa Rica
Holiday:
Rush hour in Costa Rica
Cameras:
YES
YES
Speed cameras in Costa Rica
FUEL:
0.89
0.80
EUR/Litre
Fuel prices in Costa Rica
DRIVE:
RIGHT
Drive RIGHT in Costa Rica
MIN AGE:
18
25
Min driving age in Costa Rica
DRINK:
75mg
Blood alcohol content
Drink driving in Costa Rica
EMERGENCY:
911
Emergency phone number in Costa Rica
DOCUMENT:
Driving documents in Costa Rica
PHONES:
No
Hands free only
Mobile phone driving in Costa Rica
SEATBELTS:
Yes
Yes
Seat belt in Costa Rica
Costa Rica's success at the 2014 World Cup has meant a rise in tourism for the country, many of whom hire a car to see the beauty of this rainforest and beach location. For the main part Costa Rica has good roads although in the rainy season the weather can cause potholes to form.  During the rainy season you'll find landslides are also a danger and they can block the road between San José and Guapiles as well as sections of the new San Jose to Caldera Highway. This can cause delays but usually an alternative route is set up and the mess is cleared away quickly.

Many customers choose to rent 4x4's in Costa Rica to explore the amazing natural delights of Costa Rica. However take care when approaching national parks as on occasion they may have warnings of active volcanoes. Beware of scams when driving in Costa Rica. Sometimes thieves will leave something sharp in the road and then use the opportunity of helping you to change your punctured tyre as a distraction. Keep your wits about you at all times.

Costa Rico Volcanos

Rules of the road

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Emergency Services Numbers

Police Police: 911

Police Fire: 911

Police Ambulance: 911

Notes:

Fuel Prices in Costa Rica by Month

Parking Information

Parking regulations

Parking regulations
 
You need to consider carefully where you park as theft from and of parked cars is rife in Costa Rica. Keep all valuables hidden or, better stll, don't take them with you when you leave the hotel.
 
Paid parking
 
Choose bona fide parking areas or garages wherever possible. Use ones with CCTV if possible too. Even some of the attended lots can have problems with the attendant advising car thieves of new arrivals. Be wary if the attendant asks how long you will leave the car. 
 
Enforcement
 
Parking laws are rarely enforced leading to haphazard parking in towns and cities. 
 
Disabled parking
 
Costa Rica has no regard for European disability regulations but if you take your card with you and show the garage attendant, most will try to get you a more convenient space in exchange for a tip.

Emergency Information

Emergency Information

Police Police: 911

Police Fire: 911

Police Ambulance: 911

You can contact the police on 911 in an emergency, and the fire service and ambulance is also available on this number. Another ambulance number is 128, 118 for the fire department and 2221-5337 for the Police Investigative Service.

If you believe the police or other authorities have acted inappropriately you can call 2257-7798, ext. 2506. In case of an accident call the Traffic Police on 222-9330 or 222-9245 while the Insurance Investigator is on 800 800 8000.

The United States Embassy in Costa Rica is located at Vía 104, Calle 98, San José, Costa Rica and you can call (506) 2519 2000 or 011-506-2519-2000 from the US. Their website is https://cr.usembassy.gov/

The British Embassy in Costa Rica is located at San José, Apartado 815-1007
Edificio Centro Colón, (Piso/floor 11) and you can call (506) 2258 2025. Their website is https://www.gov.uk/world/organisations/british-embassy-in-costa-rica

What to do in an emergency

If you're involved in an accident you must not move the vehicle, not even to the side of the road, until the traffic police have come to inspect it. The only exception to this is if you believe that the accident has been caused in order for criminals to stop your car. In that case you can continue driving but you must explain the situation to the traffic authorities as quickly as possible. When the Traffic Police (Transito 222-9330 or 222-9245) and the Insurance Investigator (INS 800 800 8000) arrive they will complete accident reports which you will need for your insurance or for the car hire company.

Handy Guides

World Driving Guides

Road Signs

Handy Phrases

  • Give way - Ceda el paso
  • Traffic lights - Semaforas
  • Right of way – Prioridad
  • Exit – Salida
  • Danger – Peligro
  • No parking - Prohibido aparcar
  • Slow – Despacio
  • Lane – Un carril
  • City centre – Centro ciudad
  • Carretera – Local Highway
  • Roadworks – Obras
  • Where is the nearest petrol station? – ¿Donde es la gasolinera la más cercana?
  • Excuse me, I’m lost – Por favor, estoy perdido…
  • Go straight on – ‘Siga todo recto’
  • Turn right – ‘Toma el giro a la derecha’
  • Turn left – ‘Toma el giro a la izquierda’
  • Detour - Desviacion
  • Toll Road – Carretera de Peaje
  • Road Closed – Cerrado.
  • Road Open – Abierto
  • Motorway – Una autopista
  • One way street – Direccíon unica
  • Dual Carriageway - Autovia

Costa Rica Fuel Price History

Fuel Prices in Costa Rica by Month
Month, YearDiesel €/ltrUnleaded €/ltr
Jun, 2019 0.86 1.03
May, 2019 0.85 1.03
Apr, 2019 0.80 0.91
Mar, 2019 0.77 0.85
Feb, 2019 0.77 0.85
Jan, 2019 0.80 0.89

Hiring a Car

With our Drive Smart guide you're fully prepared to hire a car in Costa Rica and stay safe on unfamiliar roads.
Kellie Hodge
Posted by Kellie Hodge
About the Author -

Travel writer, customer service guru, Kellie knows the ins and outs of car rental and always happy to share her knowledge on our blog. Favourite country to visit: Spain.

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