Home Travel The Final Information to Renting a Automotive in Costa Rica (Up to date 2024)

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

The Final Information to Renting a Automotive 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 beautiful seashores to its lush jungles, this biodiverse nation is standard with backpackers, honeymooners, and expats alike. And whereas it’s small, there’s a ton to see and do. You possibly can simply spend a month and nonetheless barely scratch the floor.

It’s additionally superb for road-tripping.

As a lot as a backpacking bus or hitchhiking journey may initially sound interesting, the truth is that ready within the sizzling solar after which bouncing alongside bumpy roads in an previous bus with out shocks or air-conditioning is just not for the fainthearted. If you would like actual freedom to discover, you want a rental automotive.

That can assist you plan your journey, right here’s every part it is advisable to find out about renting a automotive in Costa Rica.


Selecting the Proper Rental Automotive (and Rental Firm)

Earlier than you lease a automotive, learn and evaluate critiques for automotive rental firms. Whereas the usual huge firms 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 automobile and journey dates that you just require. The quote ought to embrace necessary third-party insurance coverage, taxes, and another surcharges, like airport tax. Most websites embrace 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 main points of your reservation. Crossing time zones might imply that your rental pickup time and even date is totally different in Costa Rica than your nation of departure. You’ll need to substantiate the time, date, and placement of your automobile’s pickup and drop-off, the automobile class, transmission, and protection required.

Factors to recollect when renting a automotive in Costa Rica:

  • A guide transmission could also be cheaper than automated and extra frequent in Costa Rica however ought to solely be chosen when you can drive a stick shift.
  • Returning your automotive at a vacation spot totally different from the place you picked it up will in all probability incur an extra cost.
  • Most rental firms won’t assure a selected make and mannequin throughout the rental class.
  • Anticipate to lease for 24-hour durations. Time your pickup and drop-off accordingly.
  • Present your flight quantity earlier than you arrive, so the corporate can monitor your flight.
  • In case you have an early flight, think about dropping off the automobile the evening earlier than and utilizing a resort shuttle to the airport.
  • On-line journey companies (OTAs) usually fail to incorporate all expenses, so when you guide by way of one, you’ll want to test the ultimate value with the automotive rental firm, by way of which the pricing could also be extra clear.
  • Most firms now supply a web based check-in course of to add paperwork comparable to passports and driver’s licenses to chop time on the counter and get on the street sooner.

My go-to rental automotive firm in Costa Rica is Vamos. You’ll be able to click on right here to get a quote. (You’ll get 5% off simply by utilizing that hyperlink).

Arriving on the Airport

Each worldwide airports in Costa Rica have automotive rental firm desks throughout the constructing; nevertheless, the places of work (the place you’ll get your automotive) are off-site. They often have a shuttle service to take shoppers to their places of work, most of that are positioned 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 distinct firm that may 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.

While you arrive on the rental workplace, the agent will fill in any excellent paperwork that has not been executed on-line and conduct a automobile inspection with you. Though the agent will be aware current harm, you need to take photographs or video of the automotive for backup functions.

Your automobile might not have a full gasoline tank if you choose it up, however the gasoline gauge stage must be logged on the inspection kind. You’ll need to return the automotive with the identical gasoline stage. Though you’ll not be reimbursed for a stage increased than the one registered, you may be charged whether it is under the beginning stage.

Returning the Automobile
Verify your drop-off location and time if you choose up the automobile. In case you are caught in site visitors or are delayed for any motive, contact the rental firm to keep away from a penalty. Guarantee that your gasoline gauge is on the proper stage, or else head to a gasoline station earlier than you drop it off. The corporate’s consultant will examine your automobile with you after which course of the deposit reimbursement.

Paperwork Wanted for Renting a Automotive in Costa Rica

Right here’s every part it is advisable to lease a automotive in Costa Rica:

Driver’s license – You should utilize your native driver’s license in the course of 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 global driving license is required. Your driver’s license should be legitimate for the whole lot of your keep.

You will need to be aware 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 go away Costa Rica and return to legally drive once more.

Bank card – You want a sound bank card in your title to pay the automotive rental and to put the deposit.

Passport – Your passport must be legitimate throughout your keep. Legally, vacationers should carry it with them always. The transit police will need to see it and your entry visa in case you are pulled over.

A Observe on the Minimal and Most Driving Age
Every automotive rental firm has insurance policies relating to the age of the drivers it insures. Many don’t have a most age, however some set a restrict of 70-75 years previous. The authorized age to drive in Costa Rica is eighteen; nevertheless, most firms require that drivers be a minimum of 25. Youthful drivers might be able to lease a automotive for an extra surcharge and insurance coverage prices.

Insurance coverage Protection

Costa Rica has necessary third-party insurance coverage for automotive leases. It isn’t potential to acquire this protection another method. Test that this value is included in your rental quote, because it’s usually overlooked, so chances are you’ll find yourself paying greater than what you initially thought.

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

In case your bank card supplier has a CDW as a perk, you’ll be able to waive the in-house CDW. Simply be aware that you will want to deliver 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 duplicate of the bank card firm’s phrases and situations is just not often adequate.

One necessary factor to notice is that the rental firm might 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. Be sure you have a bank card that may soak up this residue.

Driving in Costa Rica

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

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

Gasoline stations – Just remember to know in case your rental automobile is fueled by gasoline or diesel. This info must be on the automobile inspection report when you’ve forgotten. Gasoline stations are usually not self-service, so be ready to ask for the sort of gasoline you want in addition to the quantity.

In the event you’re renting one of many EVs which might be beginning to kind a part of fleets in Costa Rica, then plan your route across the community of charging stations throughout the nation. You’ll be able to 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 obtainable however doesn’t all the time have correct info. It additionally tends to underestimate journey instances, so you need to take that into consideration when planning your itinerary when you plan to make use of it.

Regardless of Costa Rica’s official tackle 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 street 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 might use landmarks that not exist however had been identified effectively sufficient to stay in residing reminiscence. So chances are 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) method of discovering locations!

Parking – All the time park in safe parking heaps, and don’t go away valuables in an unattended automobile, as break-ins can happen.

In the previous few years, there have been circumstances of the transit police issuing fines and eradicating license plates from autos parked on yellow traces at standard vacationer spots like Manuel Antonio. The headache on this state of affairs is that the automobile can’t be pushed with out plates and should be towed again to the workplace, the place it stays off the street till the automotive rental firm reclaims the plates from the related authority. It is a time-consuming and costly process, so be aware of the place you park!

Extra Rental Concerns

Many automotive rental firms cost a every day value for tools or companies past the essential rental prices. It’s best to take this into consideration when budgeting your journey. These can embrace:

Extra drivers – Anticipate to pay a every day price for every driver added to your rental settlement after the principle driver. (Vamos Hire-A-Automotive gives further drivers with out further value.) It is sensible to have a minimum of 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 – In the event you’re touring with a whole lot of baggage or surfboards, then renting a roof rack at a every day price could also be an answer to a cramped automobile inside.

Child or automotive seating – In the event you’re touring with kids, Costa Rican legislation about seating (see under) is strictly enforced. Both deliver your individual youngster seat or lease one at a every day price from the corporate.

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

  • Rear-facing child seat: Required for youngsters lower than a 12 months previous and underneath 22 lbs (10 kg)
  • Little one seat: For these as much as 4 years previous or lower than 40 lbs (18 kg) and underneath 3’7”
  • Booster seat: For these 5 to 12 years previous, 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 by utilizing a Mi-Fi (cell Wi-Fi) system 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 count on. Web protection in Costa Rica is huge, however don’t rely on it in case you are touring off the crushed monitor.

Accidents – In case you are concerned in a site visitors accident, test that nobody is damage then transfer to security off the street. Don’t transfer the automobile. Name the transit police and your insurance coverage firm. You must also name your automotive rental supplier to evaluate if the automotive may be pushed, if a mechanic is required onsite or if the automotive must be exchanged and towed. The automobile may be moved as soon as the transit police give permission.

Crossing the Border – Rental autos can’t be taken to neighboring nations (Nicaragua or Panama) because of insurance coverage restrictions. If you wish to go to these locations, you’ll be able to organize to drop off your rental automobile on the border and reserve a automotive 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. Preserve an in depth eye on velocity restrict indicators, as this could change rapidly inside a brief distance.

2. You’re renting a automotive, 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 automobile is pushed by way of any physique of water. And the digital elements of contemporary autos are more likely to expertise costly harm in water.

3. On the same be aware, it’s unlawful to park on the seaside. That is to guard wildlife, comparable to turtles. Even when locals are doing it, discover a safe parking zone as a substitute.

4. Drivers within the different lane might 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. Velocity bumps could also be huge and might be unmarked. Keep vigilant.

6. Bridges could also be one lane, so it is advisable to search for signage that signifies which route has precedence.

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

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

9. In the event you’re touring outdoors of the Central Valley or probably the most visited vacationer spots like Jaco, lease an SUV for the upper clearance that the automobile gives. For extra rural locations, a 4×4 could also be required, particularly within the wet season. Be at liberty to ask your automotive rental supplier for recommendation on the perfect automobile in your itinerary.

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

11. In case you are pulled over by the transit police, you need to current your driver’s license, passport, and the paperwork offered by the automotive rental firm. Visitors tickets may be issued by officers, however the cost can solely be made in a financial institution or by way of your automotive rental firm. Ought to a police officer ask you for money, name the police straight or your automotive rental firm for help. Don’t pay any bribes.


Costa Rica is a good looking nation and one in every of my favourite locations in Central America. To make sure you benefit from your go to and get off the crushed path, lease a automotive. You’ll have extra freedom and suppleness, and have the ability to discover past the usual vacationer websites. I can’t suggest it sufficient!

Click on right here to get a quote from Vamos Hire-A-Automotive. You’ll get an automated 5% off simply by utilizing this hyperlink!

Guide Your Journey to Costa Rica: Logistical Ideas and Tips

Guide 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!

Guide Your Lodging
You’ll be able to guide your hostel with Hostelworld as they’ve the most important stock and finest offers. If you wish to keep someplace aside from a hostel, use Reserving.com as they constantly return the most affordable charges for guesthouses and low cost motels. 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 fallacious. I by no means go on a visit with out it as I’ve had to make use of it many instances previously. My favourite firms that provide the perfect service and worth are:

Searching for the Greatest Corporations to Save Cash With?
Take a look at my useful resource web page for the perfect firms to make use of if you journey. I checklist all those I take advantage of to save cash after I’m on the street. They are going to prevent cash if you journey too.

Need Extra Data on Costa Rica?
You should definitely go to our sturdy vacation spot information on Costa Rica for much more planning ideas!



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