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Money and duty free for Costa Rica

Currency and Money

Currency information

Costa Rican Colón (CRC; symbol ₡) = 100 céntimos. Notes are in denominations of ₡50,000, 20,000, 10,000, 5,000, 2,000 and 1,000. Coins are in denominations of ₡500, 100, 50, 25, 20, 10 and 5. US dollars are also widely accepted.

Credit cards

Diners Club, Mastercard and Visa are all accepted; American Express slightly less so. Many banks will only process MasterCard for cash credits. Cash may be the only form of payment in smaller towns and rural areas but many places will take US dollars, giving change in colónes.


ATMs are common throughout the cities and small towns. They will usually accept foreign cards but in some regions only Visa cards are accepted. Occasionally, paying with credit cards doesn't work for technical reasons. Bringing a good supply of US dollars in cash is advised, as many things such as entrance fees to national parks or meals at restaurants, can be paid for with US dollars.

Travellers cheques

Although travellers can avoid additional exchange rate charges by taking traveller's cheques in US dollars, fewer and fewer businesses in Costa Rica are willing to accept them, and it is better to use the ATM.

Banking hours

State banks Mon-Fri 0900-1500. Private banks Mon-Fri 0800-1600.

Currency restrictions

The import and export of local and foreign currency is limited to the equivalent of US$10,000. Amounts above this must be declared upon arrival.

Currency exchange

Available at banks and bureaux de change. Some hotels may also change money. Additionally, small stores will allow visitors to pay for goods in US dollars and receive change in colónes.

Costa Rica duty free


The following goods may be imported into Costa Rica without incurring customs duty:

• 400 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 500g tobacco.
• 5L of alcoholic beverages (travellers aged over 18 only).
• Goods to the value of up to US$500.

Banned Imports

Food items are generally not allowed to be brought into Costa Rica, in particular fruit, vegetables, dairy products, seeds and plants. Firearms are not permitted.

Banned Exports

It is forbidden under the CITES treaty (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) to remove orchids from Costa Rica, or indeed any wild flora and fauna. Removing animals, dead or alive, is also forbidden, and be very careful when buying carvings or antiques in Costa Rica. Most probably you’ll get freshly handcrafted art, but removing Aztec, Incan or Mayan cultural artefacts from the country is thoroughly illegal, and happens far too often.

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