Much interest continues to be shown about the rules and regulations regarding bringing pets into Costa Rica. The following from Livingabroadin.com will answer many questions and help clarify the procedure. In this case, dogs and cats.
For dogs and cats and other small pets, you’ll need to prove to both the airlines and Costa Rica customs officers that your animal is healthy. Schedule an exam with your local veterinarian a week or two before your departure date—the vet should fill out a health certificate stating that the animal is disease-free and has been vaccinated against distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus, and rabies. The rabies vaccination is supposed to be more than 30 days but less than a year old, and is necessary only for animals 4 months or older. The health certificate should then be endorsed by a Veterinary Service (VS) veterinarian, but need not be notarized. The Costa Rican consulate says the examination for the certificate must be conducted within the two weeks prior to travel to Costa Rica, though anecdotal evidence suggests that a certificate up to 30 days old will do the trick.
Pet owners also need to get authorization from the Costa Rican Health Ministry; go through your nearest Costa Rica consulate or embassy to obtain this permission.
When you arrive in Costa Rica, the customs officer will do a visual inspection of your pet (for which you will be charged US$1), and look over the health certificate and the authorization from the Costa Rican Health Ministry. If all is in order, you’re through, and can find a pet-friendly taxi (not an easy task) and stuff your Irish wolfhound in the backseat. Some people traveling with pets report that they weren’t even asked for their documents, but you can’t count on encountering such relaxed attitudes yourself.
If you’re missing any documents or the officer decides your pet looks ill and might transmit disease, the animal will either be temporarily released to your care (kind of like being out on bail) or (if the official decides there’s a real health risk) kept in a state kennel for up to 30 days, until you work out what to do next—arrange for the necessary paperwork, or contact a local vet if your animal needs care.
Photo By: Petteri Sulonen