A valid passport is required to enter Costa Rica. At the discretion of Costa Rican authorities, travelers are sometimes admitted with a certified copy of their U.S. birth certificate and valid photo I.D. for tourist stays up to 90 days. Additional information on entry requirements may be obtained from the consular section of the Embassy of Costa Rica at 2114 S Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 328-6628, or the nearest consulate in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Denver, Miami, Honolulu, Atlanta, Chicago, New Orleans, Las Vegas, New York, Houston or St. Paul.
Electric current is 110 volts,
60 Hertz. Water is safe to drink in San Jose and
in tourist zones outside
Duty-Free Zones are the mainstay of Costa Rica's export and investment promotion strategy.
The Duty-Free Zones are, by definition, areas of customs and fiscal extra-territoriality. They are facilities designed for realizing economic operations based on importing inputs and raw materials, fabrication, assembly or marketing of products or services for their subsequent export.
Easy operations, tax
incentives, monetary and exchange
facilities, the country's excellent
There are some law incentives such as:
a) Reforestation Incentives.
Trust Certificates which are nominative value titles negotiated to pay
Industrialization Transportation of Raw Material.
b) Law of incentives to industrial production.
An amount of the profits reinvested in the following lines will be considered as part of income taxes:
This law grants fiscal and other incentives to:
Incentives are granted to the following activities:
This law provides a 100% exemption of import duties over machinery, tools, equipment and raw materials, to those business that have been catalogued as "small industries". The number of exemptions per year can not be more than six.
Now for the fun part: Latin Music Orientation 101. You're probably most familiar with Salsa (fast & lively) or Merengue (similar, but doesn't require the skilled feet that Salsa does). There's also Soca, a cross between merengue and reggae, so if you'd like an introduction to these "dances of seduction," this is probably your safest bet. Boleros are slow, Latin love songs; rancheros are the Mexican version of country music; and Reggae is mellow Jamaican music requiring no coordination whatsoever. If you go to listen to live bands, you'll often also hear Nueva Trova (the Costa Rican version of a 60's theme folk music, with environmental and anti-establishment themes), Latin Fusion or jazz. And for dyed-in-the-wool gringos, U.S. pop and rock music is also available.
And one final note: in many bars around town, particularly right after work, you'll get a small plate of appetizers (usually chicken wings, rice & beans, etc.) for free called bocas. Some of the ritzier places have started to charge for their bocas, but most of the other establishments still serve them for free.
Perhaps the best place for you to start is Infinitos because it has three different discos, so you can choose what kind of music you want to listen and/or dance to. La Plaza is nearby, also, so if you don't find what you want at Infinito, you can cross the street and check out what's playing at La Plaza.
Salsa 54 is the place to go not
only for music, but also for the sheer entertainment. Some of
For a bit more relaxed pace,
and for those who like to rub elbows with "artistes," go to the
Chelles is the place to people
watch. This colorful place stays open 24 hours and serves free
Los Balcones has live jazz, folk music and fusion, depending on the night, so come prepared for intelligent conversation and spirits until late into the night.
Most Costa Ricans do not give tips in restaurants and bars, because they are included in the bill, but many foreigners do give them anyway. If you are staying in one place for awhile, tips will certainly enhance your popularity with the service staff.
A wide range of cuisine's from French to Chinese and local dishes can be sampled in Costa Rica. With two oceans serving as sources, seafood is a Costa Rican specialty, as are native dishes such as gallos (open faced tortillas), uniquely spiced and seasoned mashed black beans. Other native specialties are heart or palm, tamales, guacamole and ceviche. Guaro is the national alcoholic drink.
Within the Afro-Caribbean tradition
one must mention the famous dish, "Rice and Beans", a mixture
Here's a tip about nightlife in San Jose: don't go dressed as Joe Tourist. Shorts are frowned upon in some of the discos and clubs, as are beach shoes, running shoes, t-shirts... you get the idea. A nice skirt or pair of pants and a short sleeved top will do the trick. Ticos pride themselves on looking nice at all times, so when in Rome...
Some trails in national parks have been closed because of low numbers of visitors and reported robberies of hikers in the area. Tourists should check with forest rangers for current park conditions.
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to local police and to the U.S. Embassy in San Jose. Travelers may wish to carry a copy of their passport data page and leave the passport, itself, in the hotel safe or other safe location. Useful information on guarding valuables and protecting personal security while traveling abroad is provided in the Department of State pamphlet, "A Safe Trip Abroad." This publication, as well as others, such as "Tips for Travelers to Central and South America," are available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.
January 1 .......................................................................New
The main religion in Costa Rica
is Roman Catholic. Even the tiniest towns have
Public Record Office System: With few exceptions, land ownership must be registered at the Property Department of the Public Record Office. Liens, encumbrances and easements imposed on a recorded property should also be duly registered to have any effect on third parties. To ensure the buyer that he is acquiring land from its legal owner, and that the property is free of mortgages and other kinds of encumbrances, a thorough title search of the public records must be performed as a previous and necessary step for buying real estate.
Legal Procedures in the Deeding and Transfer of Land:
1. Recorded Land: Property duly registered at the Public Record Office.
2. Non-Recorded Land: Property subject to be registered at the Public Record Office which has not been duly recorded.
3. Non-Registerable Land: Property which is not subject to be recorded at the Public Registry by law.
Prior to the signing of the deed, the buyer or his/her attorney are expected to investigate ownership status and encumbrances at the Public Records Office to make sure the seller's title is clear and lien free. The purchase deed, as well as any related liens granted by the purchaser, must be presented by the Notary to be duly registered in the public records. It is also the Notary's duty to complete all recording procedures necessary to provide the title transfer with full efficacy.
Expenses and legal fees derived from these procedures may range from 6-7% of the total amount of the transaction. These costs will be shared by the parties on a 50%-50% basis if they have not agreed otherwise.
Non-Recorded Land: Real estate that fulfills all the requirement the law establishes for legitimate ownership but has never been recorded, may be transferred through a public deed, or even a private contract. It is advisable that the purchase of non-recorded land be performed with the advise and participation of an Attorney at Law.
The transfer of non-recorded land cannot be registered at the Record Office. A judicial procedure is required to obtain authorization to inscribe real estate ownership for the first time in the public records.
Even if the ownership of non-recorded land is valid and has most of the legal effects of a registered title, it lacks the securities that are granted by the Record Office.
Non-Registerable Land: Because of special regulations, some areas are not subject to private ownership. This is the case of most of the beach front property, which is regulated by Law No. 6043 of 2 March 1977 and will be explained in detail later on. Sometimes non-recordable land may be subject to be legally used or possessed by individuals or private companies, either through a concession granted by the Government, or the transfer of legitimate possession by the former possessor.
Requirenents to Land Ownership: Apart from the restrictions established for non-registerable land and other special cases determined by the law, any individual, national or foreign, may legally own land sheltered by our Record Office system. Nonetheless, for legal and economical reasons, it is advisable that the acquisition of real estate is performed through a company.
Recording and Deeding of Beach Front Property in Costa Rica
a) The Public Zone (Zone Publica): 50 meters wide strip of land between the high tide line and the outer line of the "Restricted Zone" (Zone Restringida).
b) The Restricted Zone (Zone Restringida): 150 meters wide strip of land from the inner limit of the Public Zone toward the inland.
No private individual or corporation is allowed to build on or use for private purposes any portion whatsoever of the Public Zone. However, they may obtain a lease concession on the Restricted Zone for private or business use.
Leases on the Restricted Zone are authorized by the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (ICT) and granted by the relevant municipality. Beneficiaries of lease concessions are granted the use, occupation, and possession of the land, including the right to build.
No lease concessions are granted to non-Costa Ricans who have resided in the country less than 5 years, nor to foreign companies, nor to national companies of which 50% or more of its stock is owned by non-Costa Ricans. Lease concessions may be transferred with the previous approval of the municipality and the ICT. They are generally granted for periods of time that range from 5 to 20 years. The lease granting municipality is entitled to charge a small leasing fee. The lessee can apply for an extension of the lease concession at the Municipality. Extensions are normally granted with the previous approval of the ICT.
There are very few exceptions to Law No. 6043 of 2 March 1977. Beach front land that is not regulated by this Law can be found, but it is extremely unusual to have property titles in areas within the restricted 200 meters.
An American investor wishing to acquire a lease concession must do it through a Costa Rican corporation. Land not included in the Public or the Restricted Zones can be purchased individually and with no special restriction or limitation .
Before acquiring a lease concession, the buyer would ask his or her attorney to examine the Municipality Records, verify the seller's ownership status, as well as general tax and leasing dues. A similar procedure applies to the purchase of non-restricted land described above.
Costa Rica's capital will never win any beauty contests. Its architecture is, with a few notable exceptions, bland bordering on ugly. It is noisy and polluted, its streets are potholed and congested. Petty crime like pickpocketing and chain-snatching is a problem that refuses to go away.
So why do so many visitors leave
Costa Rica with such fond memories of San José? Generally speaking,
it's the josefinos (as the city's residents are known) who help to give
the city a character and charm that is not apparent as you negotiate your
first traffic jam on the way to your hotel. Where else in the world can
you ask a sidewalk merchant for directions to a bus stop and have him leave
his stall and walk you three blocks to your bus.
You should definitely make an effort to visit some of the museums. Of the "big three", the Jade Museum is an absolute must. The Costa Rican Museum of Art is housed in the control tower of the old airport and contains an excellent collection of 19th and 20th century paintings and sculpture. Various other galleries around the city showcase the country's thriving contemporary art scene.
Sabana Park is to San Jose what Central Park is to New York, Hyde Park is to London. Built on the site of the old airport, this is the city's playground - a place where you can jog or ride a bike, kick a football, throw a frisbee, feed a duck or two or throw down a blanket and feed yourself with a picnic under the eucalyptus trees. A great place to watch ticos just being ticos.
Closer to the city center, there are a number of other parks which, after a lengthy and expensive beautification campaign by city authorities, are now pleasant places to while away a quiet hour or two. The city's hub is the Plaza de la Cultura, a large paved area between central and second avenues which is a magnet for street performers and pigeons. There's plenty to see and do here. The Costa Rican Tourism Institute's main information office is under the plaza, right next to the famed Gold Museum. Nearby, the outdoor tables of the Gran Hotel's Cafe Parisienne are a great place to have a coffee or something to eat and watch the passing scene. While you're there, wander over and check out the National Theater, San José's loveliest building. Then walk a few blocks north and you are in Barrio Amon, the city's most historic neighborhood where residents and businesses are enthusiastically backing a campaign to restore many of its beautiful Victorian buildings to their turn-of-the-century splendor.