How to get to Costa Rica

Travellers from the UK will most likely fly into San Jose on the British Airways flight BA2237 that flies from London Gatwick to the Juan Santamaria International airport in San Jose three times a week during high season and twice a week the rest of the year. Indirect routes are available from regional UK airports via Amsterdam and Paris. Other indirect routes are available via the states.  It is also possible to fly into Liberia airport located in Guanacaste via the states.


In Costa Rica the standard voltage is 120V and the standard frequency is 60 Hz. This is typically the same as the US, so US travellers do not usually require a converter or adaptor. The standard voltage in the UK is 230V which means you may require a voltage adaptor for some devices. Nowadays most devices such as mobile phone chargers, USB chargers and laptop chargers are multi voltage which means they will switch automatically to the network voltage. However, some high power devices such as hair dryers don’t usually handle different voltages. Always check the label to see what voltage range the device works within. If you try to use a device with the wrong voltage it will most likely break.

Plugs & Sockets

Costa Rica uses plug and socket types A and B as pictured below. Most universal adapters will cover both types.

Capital City

San Jose

Time difference

6 hours behind GMT


No visas required for visiting Costa Rica as a UK passport holder. On arrival you will be granted entry for up to 3 months as a tourist. You may be asked to provide proof of onward or return travel, details of your accommodation and proof that you have sufficient funds to cover your stay. Your passport needs to be valid up until at least one day after you plan to leave Costa Rica. If you are leaving the country by air you will have to pay a $29 dollar departure tax at the airport before you leave.


US Dollars or Costa Rica Colon?

Costa Rica’s local currency is called the Colon, however US dollars are widely accepted in most businesses, hotels, shops and restaurants. Hotels usually offer to exchange US dollars into Colones but normally round the rate down to around ₡500 for every US$1. However, it is not normally necessary to change US dollars to Colones because when you pay for something in US dollars you normally receive change in Colones, which would be at a fair rate.

The local currency is colones, but US dollars are widely used and accepted in restaurants, hotels, by taxi’s and in supermarkets. If you pay in US dollars it is likely you will get change in colones at a fair exchange rate (usually around 525 colones for 1 US dollar). You would only really need colones for smaller roadside shops or markets. If you need to change some US dollars into colones we recommend you do this at your hotel that will give you a fair rate, rather than the airport where they take a very high commission and give a very bad rate. All major credit and debit cards are accepted and there are many ATM’s in towns and cities.

Obtaining dollars or colones before your trip

There is no reason to change money to Colones in advance, plus it is very unlikely that any US or British bank would have Colones. We recommend taking some cash in $US dollars. Bring $20 bills or smaller as larger denominations are harder to spend due to problems with counterfeiting. We do not recommend changing money at the airport on arrival as you will get a very bad rate.

Obtaining dollars or colones in Costa Rica

ATM’s are widely available in all major towns and cities in Costa Rica. In order to minimize any transaction fees we recommend withdrawing the maximum amount allowed (typically between $US300 – $US500). Try to get rid of any Colones before leaving Costa Rica as you may have trouble changing them back to dollars or pounds after arriving home.


You should confirm with your doctor that all courses and boosters are up to date as recommended for life. For Costa Rica the course or booster that is usually advised is Hepatitis A. Other vaccines to be considered are Diphtheria, Rabies and Tetanus.

There is no risk of yellow fever in Costa Rica, however, a yellow fever vaccination and certificate is required for travellers who are over 9 months old and are arriving from a country that does have a risk of yellow fever or have transited through an airport for more than 12 hours of a country that has risk of yellow fever. This excludes Argentina, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago in South America. This means if you are flying directly from the UK to Costa Rica or arriving from Argentina, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname or Trinidad and Tobago you will not require a yellow fever vaccination or certificate.

Malaria is categorised as low to no risk throughout the country and antimalarial medication is not usually advised.

Disclaimer: All the information we provide here is purely for guidance purposes and we are not medical experts. We always recommend that you make an appointment with your doctor 6-8 weeks before departure who will be able to properly assess your personal medical history, give accurate advice and advise on exactly which immunisations or medical precautions you need to take.

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