The Ultimate Guide to Leasing a Cars And Truck in Costa Rica (Upgraded 2024)

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

I enjoy Costa Rica It was the top place I checked out by myself over 15 years earlier and the nation that set me on my nomadic journey. From its spectacular beaches to its rich jungles, this biodiverse country is popular with backpackers, honeymooners, and expats alike. And while it’s little, there’s a lot to see and do You might quickly invest a month and still hardly scratch the surface area.

It’s likewise incredible for road-tripping.

As much as a backpacking bus or hitchhiking experience may at first sound attractive, the truth is that waiting in the hot sun and after that bouncing along rough roadways in an old bus without shocks or air-conditioning is not for the fainthearted. If you desire genuine flexibility to check out, you require a rental cars and truck

To assist you prepare your journey, here’s whatever you require to understand about leasing a cars and truck in Costa Rica.

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Choosing the Right Rental Automobile (and Rental Business)

Before you lease a cars and truck, check out and compare evaluations for cars and truck rental business. While the basic huge business are offered here, there are great deals of regional ones too.

When you have actually limited the list to a selected couple of, request quotes for the kind of car and travel dates that you need. The quote must consist of compulsory third-party insurance coverage, taxes, and any other additional charges, like airport tax. A lot of websites consist of all this information when getting a quote online.

Whether you are scheduling online or straight with a representative, confirm the information of your booking. Crossing time zones might suggest that your rental pickup time or perhaps date is various in Costa Rica than your nation of departure. You will require to verify the time, date, and area of your car’s pickup and drop-off, the car classification, transmission, and protection needed.

Indicate keep in mind when leasing a cars and truck in Costa Rica:

  • A manual transmission might be more affordable than automated and more typical in Costa Rica however need to just be chosen if you can drive a standard transmission.
  • Returning your cars and truck at a location various from where you selected it up will most likely sustain a service charge.
  • A lot of rental business will not ensure a particular make and design within the rental classification.
  • Anticipate to lease for 24-hour durations. Time your pickup and drop-off appropriately.
  • Supply your flight number before you get here, so the business can track your flight.
  • If you have an early flight, think about dropping off the car the night before and utilizing a hotel shuttle bus to the airport.
  • Online travel bureau (OTAs) typically stop working to consist of all charges, so if you reserve through one, make sure to inspect the last cost with the cars and truck rental business, through which the prices might be more transparent.
  • A lot of business now use an online check-in procedure to publish files such as passports and motorist’s licenses to cut time at the counter and get on the roadway quicker.

My go-to rental cars and truck business in Costa Rica is Vamos. You can click on this link to get a quote (You’ll get 5% off simply by utilizing that link).

Reaching the Airport

Both global airports in Costa Rica have cars and truck rental business desks within the structure; nevertheless, the workplaces (where you’ll get your cars and truck) are off-site. They usually have a shuttle bus service to take customers to their workplaces, the majority of which lie within a 10-minute drive of the airport.

Regional hustlers may inform you that your business has actually failed to persuade you to choose a various business that will pay them a commission. Try to find an indication with your business’s logo design and overlook the hustlers.

If your flight is postponed or you miss your connection, get in touch with the business with your brand-new approximated arrival time to prevent having actually the booking canceled as a no-show.

When you come to the rental workplace, the representative will complete any exceptional documentation that has actually not been done online and carry out a lorry evaluation with you. Although the representative will keep in mind existing damage, you need to take images or video of the cars and truck for backup functions.

Your car might not have a complete fuel tank when you select it up, however the fuel gauge level need to be gone to the evaluation type. You will require to return the cars and truck with the exact same fuel level. Although you will not be compensated for a level greater than the one signed up, you will be charged if it is listed below the beginning level.

Returning the Lorry
Validate your drop-off area and time when you get the car. If you are captured in traffic or are postponed for any factor, get in touch with the rental business to prevent a charge. Make certain that your fuel gauge is at the best level, otherwise head to a gasoline station before you drop it off. The business’s agent will examine your car with you and after that process the deposit compensation.

Files Required for Leasing a Cars And Truck in Costa Rica

Here’s whatever you require to lease a cars and truck in Costa Rica:

Motorist’s license— You can utilize your regional motorist’s license throughout the rental duration as long as it is printed in the Latin alphabet. If your license remains in a language that does not utilize the Latin alphabet (e.g., Mandarin, Arabic), a worldwide driving license is needed. Your motorist’s license should stand for the whole of your stay.

It is essential to keep in mind that although a lot of travelers will be provided a 180-day visa when they go into the nation, their motorist’s licenses are just legitimate for 90 days, and they will be needed to leave Costa Rica and go back to lawfully drive once again.

Charge card— You require a legitimate charge card in your name to pay the cars and truck leasing and to put the deposit.

Passport— Your passport must stand throughout of your stay. Lawfully, travelers should bring it with them at all times. The transit cops will wish to see it and your entry visa if you are pulled over.

A Note on the Minimum and Optimum Driving Age
Each cars and truck rental business has policies relating to the age of the motorists it guarantees. Lots of do not have an optimum age, however some set a limitation of 70-75 years of ages. The legal age to drive in Costa Rica is 18; nevertheless, a lot of business need that motorists be at least 25. More youthful motorists might have the ability to lease a cars and truck for an extra surcharge and insurance coverage expenses.

Insurance Coverage Protection

Costa Rica has compulsory third-party insurance coverage for cars and truck leasings. It is not possible to get this protection any other method. Examine that this expense is consisted of in your rental quote, as it’s typically excluded, so you might wind up paying more than what you at first believed.

A crash damage waiver (CDW) covers losses from damage to your rental cars and truck. This is lawfully needed when leasing a cars and truck in Costa Rica. A lot of business use numerous tiers of insurance coverage, with numerous deductibles. Lots of occupants choose complete protection for comfort, as then any damage that happens throughout leasing is covered. Some business use extra protection for tires and the windshield (windscreen), as they are not constantly covered by the CDW.

If your charge card service provider has a CDW as a perk, you can waive the internal CDW. Simply keep in mind that you will require to bring a letter that clearly mentions the quantity of protection, that Costa Rica is consisted of in the locations covered, and the last 4 digits of the motorist’s charge card. A copy of the charge card business’s conditions is not typically enough.

One crucial thing to note is that the rental business might hold a deposit for the rental duration, which might be as much as $5,000 USD if the tenant is utilizing their charge card service provider’s CDW. The deposit will be launched at the end of the rental duration. Make certain you have a charge card that can absorb this deposit.

Driving in Costa Rica

Here are a couple of things to remember while driving in Costa Rica:

Speed limitations— Indications remain in kilometers instead of miles, and speed limitations are usually lower than you ‘d anticipate, with a 90 km/h (55 miles per hour) limitation on significant highways. Speed limitations alter with restricted caution in between locations, so remain alert to signs.

Gasoline station— Make certain that you understand if your rental car is sustained by gas or diesel. This details must be on the car evaluation report if you have actually forgotten. Gasoline station are not self-service, so be prepared to request the sort of fuel you require along with the quantity.

If you’re leasing among the EVs that are beginning to form part of fleets in Costa Rica, then prepare your path around the network of charging stations throughout the nation. You can find out more about those here

Navigation— Usage Waze, which is upgraded in genuine time by a passionate group of volunteers, so you know mishaps or other circumstances that might impact your travel time. Google Maps is offered however does not constantly have precise details. It likewise tends to ignore journey times, so you need to take that into factor to consider when preparing your travel plan if you prepare to utilize it.

In spite of Costa Rica’s main address system, which includes calles (roadways that run north-south) and avenidas (opportunities that run west-east), practically all residents offer instructions utilizing landmarks, and couple of can supply instructions utilizing roadway or opportunity numbers. It’s useful to understand that a block is typically referred to as 100 meters.

To contribute to the confusion, a place might utilize landmarks that no longer exist however were understood all right to stay in living memory. So you might be directed to go 600 meters south of the location “where the huge mango tree utilized to be” or to turn left after “the grocery store that utilized to be pink.” The good news is, Waze is a navigation lifesaver, however you may grow to delight in the eccentric tico (Costa Rican) method of discovering locations!

Parking— Constantly park in safe car park, and do not leave belongings in an ignored car, as burglaries can happen.

In the last couple of years, there have actually been cases of the transit cops releasing fines and getting rid of license plates from automobiles parked on yellow lines at popular traveler areas like Manuel Antonio. The headache in this circumstance is that the car can not be driven without plates and should be pulled back to the workplace, where it stays off the roadway up until the cars and truck rental business recovers the plates from the appropriate authority. This is a lengthy and costly treatment, so bear in mind where you park!

Extra Rental Factors To Consider

Lots of cars and truck rental business charge a day-to-day cost for devices or services beyond the fundamental rental expenses. You need to take this into account when budgeting your journey. These can consist of:

Extra motorists— Anticipate to pay a day-to-day rate for each motorist contributed to your rental contract after the primary motorist. ( Vamos Rent-A-Car provides extra motorists without additional expense.) It makes good sense to have at least one extra motorist to share the concern for longer journeys or to take control of if the primary motorist is feeling under the weather condition.

Roofing racks— If you’re taking a trip with a great deal of baggage or surf boards, then leasing a roofing rack at a day-to-day rate might be a service to a confined car interior.

Child or cars and truck seating— If you’re taking a trip with kids, Costa Rican law about seating (see listed below) is strictly implemented. Either bring your own kid seat or lease one at a day-to-day rate from the business.

Costa Rican seating laws for kids are based either on age or weight/height:

  • Rear-facing infant seat: Needed for kids less than a years of age and under 22 pounds (10 kg)
  • Kid seat: For those as much as 4 years of ages or less than 40 pounds (18 kg) and under 3′ 7″
  • Car seat: For those 5 to 12 years of ages, 40 pounds or more, and still under 4′ 9″
  • Safety belt: For those 4′ 9″ or taller or over the age of 12

Wi-Fi— Stay linked throughout your journey without paying extortionate roaming charges by utilizing a Mi-Fi (mobile Wi-Fi) gadget from your rental business. It’s typically quickly adequate to publish your newest vacay pictures onto Instagram, link to your Spotify road-trip playlists, and browse with Waze, however downloading films is most likely excessive to anticipate. Web protection in Costa Rica is broad, however do not rely on it if you are taking a trip off the beaten track.

Mishaps— If you are associated with a traffic mishap, check that nobody is harmed then transfer to safety off the roadway. Do stagnate the car. Call the transit cops and your insurer. You need to likewise call your cars and truck rental service provider to examine if the cars and truck can be driven, if a mechanic is needed onsite or if the cars and truck requires to be exchanged and pulled. The car can be moved as soon as the transit cops permit.

Crossing the Border— Rental automobiles can not be required to surrounding nations ( Nicaragua or Panama) due to insurance coverage limitations. If you wish to go to those locations, you can set up to drop off your rental car at the border and reserve a cars and truck to be provided as soon as you have actually crossed it.

11 Driving Tips for Costa Rica

A car driving on a dirt road in the shadow of Arenal volcano in Costa Rica
1. Keep a close eye on speed limitation indications, as this can alter rapidly within a brief range.

2. You’re leasing a cars and truck, not a boat, so withstand the temptation to drive through rivers (even if the residents are doing so). Insurance coverage are voided if the car is driven through any body of water. And the electronic parts of contemporary automobiles are most likely to experience costly damage in water.

3. On a comparable note, it is unlawful to park on the beach. This is to secure wildlife, such as turtles. Even if residents are doing it, discover a protected parking area rather.

4. Motorists in the other lane might flash their lights as they are coming towards you. This is typically a caution that there are transit cops ahead or that there’s an upcoming barrier.

5. Speed bumps might be huge and might be unmarked. Stay vigilant.

6. Bridges might be one lane, so you require to try to find signs that shows which instructions has top priority.

7. If driving a manual-transmission car, modification equipments when driving downhill, and do not ride the brakes otherwise the pads might get too hot.

8. Usage care while driving at night. Roadways are typically improperly lit, and bicyclists or pedestrians might utilize the roadway edge in locations where there’s no walkway. Strategy to come to your location by sundown or around 5:30 pm. Keep your eyes peeled for sloths or other wildlife crossing the roadway.

9. If you’re taking a trip beyond the Central Valley or the most gone to traveler areas like Jaco, lease an SUV for the greater clearance that the car provides. For more rural locations, a 4 × 4 might be needed, particularly in the rainy season. Do not hesitate to ask your cars and truck rental service provider for guidance on the very best car for your travel plan.

10. Blowouts are not typically covered by internal or charge card policies. If you get a blowout, a regional garage can typically repair it for less than $20 USD.

11. If you are pulled over by the transit cops, you need to provide your motorist’s license, passport, and the documentation offered by the cars and truck rental business. Traffic tickets can be released by authorities, however the payment can just be made in a bank or through your cars and truck rental business. Ought to a policeman ask you for money, call the cops straight or your cars and truck rental business for support. Do not pay any kickbacks.

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Costa Rica is a stunning nation and among my preferred locations in Central America. To guarantee you take advantage of your see and leave the beaten course, lease a cars and truck. You’ll have more flexibility and versatility, and have the ability to check out beyond the basic traveler websites. I can’t advise it enough!

Click on this link to get a quote from Vamos Rent-A-Car. You’ll get an automated 5% off simply by utilizing this link!

Reserve Your Journey to Costa Rica: Logistical Advice

Reserve Your Flight
Usage Skyscanner to discover a low-cost flight. They are my preferred online search engine due to the fact that they browse sites and airline companies around the world so you constantly understand no stone is left unturned!

Reserve Your Lodging
You can reserve your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the most significant stock and finest offers. If you wish to remain someplace aside from a hostel, usage Booking.com as they regularly return the most affordable rates for guesthouses and low-cost hotels. My preferred locations to remain are:

Do Not Forget Travel Insurance Coverage
Travel insurance coverage will secure you versus health problem, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s detailed security in case anything fails. I never ever go on a journey without it as I have actually needed to utilize it often times in the past. My preferred business that use the very best service and worth are:

Trying To Find the very best Business to Conserve Cash With?
Have A Look At my resource page for the very best business to utilize when you take a trip. I note all the ones I utilize to conserve cash when I’m on the roadway. They will conserve you cash when you take a trip too.

Desired More Details on Costa Rica?
Make sure to visit our robust location guide on Costa Rica for much more preparation ideas!

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