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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.