Logistic and forwarding services in Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Capital City
San José

5 Mio.

National languages

Colon (CRC)

Gross national product (GNP)
USD 50.5 Mrd.

GNP per person
USD 10’568

Financial exports to Switzerland
CHF 69.2 Mio.

Financial imports from Switzerland
CHF 95.71 Mio.

Bilateral relations Switzerland–Costa Rica

Known as the “Switzerland of Central America” thanks to its political stability and the relative prosperity of its economy, Costa Rica has for many years enjoyed good diplomatic and trade relations with the Confederation.

Economic cooperation

Costa Rica is Switzerland’s second biggest trading partner in Latin America. In 2015, Switzerland imported CHF 104.17 million in goods from Costa Rica. This mainly included agricultural products and optical and medical instruments. A total of CHF 84.23 million worth of goods, mainly pharmaceutical products, optical and medical instruments and machinery were exported to Costa Rica. At the end of 2015, direct investment from Switzerland in Costa Rica stood at CHF 572 million and Swiss companies employed about 1,900 people in the country. An investment protection agreement was signed in 2000, setting out the conditions for economic cooperation between the two countries. After ratification by both countries, the agreement entered into force in 2002. In March 2006, a double taxation agreement was signed, although this still needs to be renegotiated to adapt it to the clause on mutual assistance in tax matters under the OECD standards. In 2014 the free trade agreement came into force between EFTA and the Central American States, of which Costa Rica is a member.


Business language

Spanish, English to a lesser degree.

Dimensions and weights

Metric system.


National currency Costa Rica Colón (C) = 100 céntimos (c).
ISO code: CRC

Customs tariff

Harmonised system.

Import control

Liberalisation of imports to Costa Rica.
However, there are still a number of restrictions and bans on import. Registration and approval from the Ministry of Health (Ministerio de Salud – MINSA) must be obtained for a number of groups of goods such as pharmaceutical products, cosmetics and certain chemicals. Special import provisions also apply for vehicles.
Import licences are valid for 5 years.
It is fundamentally the Central Bank of Costa Rica (Banco Central de Costa Rica) that is responsible for monitoring the foreign currency market. The foreign currencies required for imports must be requested from the Central Bank by the importer with the submission of all accompanying documents.
Standard VAT rate: 13%

Terms of payment and tenders

Sight draft to be redeemed on arrival of the goods is standard. Payments in advance are also standard for machine deliveries. Payments against irrevocable letters of credit or on the basis of documents against payment are also recommended. In the case of debt collection the fee is 1% of the collection amount up to 5.000 USD, 0.5% above this amount. Invoices predominantly in USD, sometimes also in EUR, CIF tenders are possible.

Designations of origin

No special origin/labelling obligations are known but the indication of the country of origin (“Swiss”) is advisable.


Standard marking. There are special regulations on the labelling of pharmaceuticals, fertilisers and pesticides, hazardous substances and veterinary products.


Robust, weatherproof packaging.
Use of the IPPC standard ISPM no. 15.

Product samples

Samples are generally subject to customs duties even if they have no retail value.

Shipping and accompanying documents

Standard and for:

a) Commercial invoices, 4 copies, uncertified, in Spanish, with certain information (indication of the weight using the metric system, exact value of the goods, country of origin, value in EUR, final amount additionally in USD etc.) and in particular the following declaration signed in a legally valid manner by the sender:

“El suscrito (nombre completo), calidades (mayor, estado civil, cédula No., vecino de …), declaro bajo fe de juramento y conociendo las sanciones establecidas en el Código Penal, referidas al delito de Falso Testimonio que la presente factura es original y coresponde a la importacíon por mi realizada, y el precio anotado en ella es real y exato”.

b) Order bills of lading permitted, notify address required. Ship: 3 commercial invoices in Spanish, bills of lading without certification.

c) 3 packing lists with precise information about the dimensions.

d) Net and gross weight of the goods and the packages.

e) Declarations of origin, 2 copies. As the origin, indicate “Swiss” in the case of Swiss goods, or “European Union” for goods originating from UE.

f) Postal packages up to 20 kg: 1 international dispatch note, 1 customs declaration in Spanish/English.

g) Proof of preferential status:

EUR.1 (issued by the customs office)

Declaration of origin on the invoice

– for each exporter up to a value of EUR 6.000

“Authorised exporters” with no limit in value, wording of the declaration of origin: “The exporter of the products covered by this document (customs authorization No …) (1) declares that, except where otherwise clearly indicated, these products are of … (2) preferential origin”. If the declaration on the invoice is made by an authorised exporter, the permit number of the authorised exporter should be entered under (1). If the declaration on the invoice is not made by an authorised exporter, the words in brackets can be left out or the gap left empty. (2) The origin of the products must be indicated. If the statement on the invoice relates in full or in part to products originating in Ceuta and Melilla, the exporter must make the short description “CM” clearly visible.