Bringing Dogs to Costa Rica

dog.jpgLooking for some advice about traveling with dogs to Costa Rica? If you have spent any time researching this online, you have no doubt discovered that there are no concrete answers anywhere online. When you do find reliable information about bring your dogs to Costa Rica it probably contradicts something else you read earlier. So, how do you know what you need to do to bring your dog with you to Costa Rica?

Side Note

Please be aware that the information below about bringing dogs to Costa Rica is from my own personal experience. Im not sure if we legally or technically did everything we needed to do to bring dogs from the US to Costa Rica, but what we did do worked.

We spent hours calling embassies, talking to the USDA, and getting information from the airline. This is the information we acquired and I hope it helps answer your question about bringing your dogs to Costa Rica.


Every airline has different rules and cost about flying with pets. So your best bet is to get as much information from your airline as possible. I suggest that you look up as much information on the airlines website as possible. Once you have done this, I would call the airline to confirm this information.

Once you have your tickets, call the airline back and double check that your flight allows dogs to be checked as baggage. You will also want to double check the crate size restrictions. Some of the extra large kennels wont fit in all planes.




It is also a good idea to call the airline and let them know you will be bring a dog as checked baggage or in the cabin. Many planes have limited room for dogs and this room is on a first come first serve basis.


When looking at crate/kennels at you local pet store, its very easy to find ones that are airline friendly. Most will say somewhere on the information booklet that the crate is airline friendly. Some of the requirements for airline kennels include:

  • Ventilation on both sides and the back
  • A ¾ inch lip around the kennel that can be used for lifting
  • Contain some type of bedding, either shredded paper or towels, to absorb any “accidents.”
  • Not collapsible
  • The dog must be able to stand up and turn around in the kennel
  • Not be made entirely of welded mesh, wire mesh, wicker, cardboard or collapsible materials.
  • Display feeding instructions and food, if applicable. These instructions should be affixed to the top of the kennel, along with shipper and consignee information.

Health Requirements

Finding out what paperwork you need to bring your dog in Costa Rica is a bit overwhelming. Different airlines and embassy sites say different things. many of which seem to contradict each other. Based on my experience, the only things you need to bring your dog from the US to Costa Rica is a certificate of good health and proof of 1 year rabies vaccination.


Any USDA certified vet will have and know how to fill out the certificate for of good health. If they dont, find another one, this is the most important form.

As for the rabies certificate, they say that the certificate must be at least 30 days old before entering the country. My dog had their 1 year rabies shout about a week before we left, but it had a 3 year shot about a year ago. Costa Rica says they don’t honor the 3 year shot, but I didn’t seem to have any problem.


I know from experience how nice it would be to have someone to answer your questions on this topic, so I am here to help. Feel free to email me or leave a comment with your question about traveling with pets. I will do my best to answer the question based on my personal experience. If I don’t know the answer, I will ask others here in Costa Rica who have traveled with pets.

20 thoughts on “Bringing Dogs to Costa Rica

  • Heidi

    Did you have to quarentine your pet in Costa Rica and/or pay a fee to bring your pet into the country?

  • Sayward Ayre

    I will be driving into costa rica with my dog. Same requirements driving in? Veterinary certificate and proof of 1 year rabies vaccination? That’s all? thank you.

  • Lynne

    I want to take my smal dog(Shih Tzu) with me to Costa Rica for 3 months.None of the airlines will take him because he is a flat nosed dog,& they have trouble beathing.Do you know of any airlines that wil take him?Any help will be appreciated

  • Eloise

    We want to go to Costa Rica for a month and if we have the Vet’s certificate and the proof of rabies vaccination and we get in all right can we also get back to the USA?

  • Edelgard

    I will return to CR with my CR small dog after a 4 month stay in the USA

    I have the offical CR papers and shoots for her

    no one at the LA imigration did look at itin August 2008

    when returning to CR in January will the original papers from July 2008 from CR be good enough??

    my dog has 10 pounds and could fly in the cabin on TACA without problems

    thanks for taking the time to have an answer for me – best wishes – Edelgard

  • Rochelle


    I am driving from North Carolina to Buenos Aires, and will be taking my dog along with me. I would like to know what certifications I need to go from Nicaragua to Costa Rica. All of the info online pertains to U.S. to Costa Rica travel, so it is a bit confusing. Any information your friends in Costa Rica have would be a big help!


  • June Von

    Hi, we are thinking of bringing our 2 shih tzu with us to costa rica for about a week. I have already travelled with them to Europe and around the USA, and I have good vet that takes care of all the paper work for us in the past. My concern is their health while in costa rica, so what I would like to know if is it safe to walk around the streets? do i have to worry about stray dogs attacking them, etc? I’m just worried they might get sick from bugs and insect bites, etc.
    I have no problem while in Europe, and this is my first travel to central america. thanks.

  • Catrina


    I am wondering if the dogs are quarantined in Costa Rica upon arrival? Also what do you have to do to get them back to the states? same thing?

    Thank you,

  • Ann Bekooy

    I can’t seem to find any information from Canadians travelling with dogs to Costa Rica. Do the same rules apply? How long is the quarantine period? Where will the dog be quarantined? in San Jose? How much does it cost?
    Thank You

  • darbi

    i know what i have to do to get my dog there,as far as international health papers go, but do i need to contact Costa Rica(the dept of argicultue) to inform them that we are coming? I have had some conflicting answers on this question. please help

  • Daved Brosche Post author

    I can tell you from recent first hand expereince, all you need to do to get the dog in the country is have a recent 1 year rabies shot and a health certificate from a USDA vet. Thats it. You dont need to call anyone in either country. You do need to call your airline and check about blackout dates for pets and let them know you are bringing a dog and find out what is required by them.

  • John

    I was also curious on how it works if i want to bring my dog back to the US after a weeks stay in costa rica. Do i have to quarentine him in costa rica before i bring him back?

  • Clara

    HI! my question is the same as others above:

    Are quarantined in Costa Rica upon arrival? Also what do you have to do to get them back to the states? same thing?

    Thank you!!!


  • Kattia

    What if the dog is a puppy and she just have the rabbies few days before flying?

  • denise abrams

    am going to Costa rica for a few months..seems pretty straight forward for paper work getting into..what about the return what does the US require for bringing your pet back into the US from foreign countries.
    denise abrams
    please respond to email address above

  • Katie

    My husband and I are planning a trip to Costa Rica to visit his parents. We wanted to surprise them with a puppy that they have been wanting. The liter that we were looking at would only be about 6 weeks old when we go. Do you know if this is allowed since they will not have their 1 year rabies vaccine since the puppy would not yet be a year old?

  • ilsy

    am going to Costa rica for a few months..seems pretty straight forward for paper work getting into..what about the return what does the US require for bringing your pet back into the US from foreign countries.

  • scott

    hi… i am bringing my ridgeback to cosat rica for a couple years… he is not full sized but pretty big… i got all the importation information but i am wondering what i will do when i arrive in San Jose airport, i dont have a liscence… is it going to be impossible to find a taxi that will take us..? i will also need to keep his big kennel with me or in storage somehow….
    i have traveled with my dog in india for a couple years and it was pretty difficult but we always found taxi vans and even the trains aloud us…
    just wondering if you knew any kind of service… we need to get to Mal Pais… thank you very much… scott

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