Bird to Costa Rica

In January of 2010 Laurel, Jean Luc’s owner flew down to Costa Rica from California with Jean Luc in cabin thinking that she could arrive in Costa Rica with just a health certificate and a prayer and be let into the country with her bird. She spent the next 24 hours in the airport guarding her bird, protecting him from being euthanized for breaking every country rule for birds allowed to enter Costa Rica. She had not checked with Costa Rica to find out what their regulations were for birds coming into the country and the airlines had not given her a clue when she booked with them either. This is very commonly a problem with airlines.

Once Laurel was allowed to board the plane to come back into the US, Jean Luc was allowed entry back into the States only because she received a letter from the MAG in Costa Rica saying that she had been refused entry into Costa Rica. Without this letter she would not have been allowed entry back into the US.

After arriving in the US, Jean Luc had to go through a substantial amount of blood tests and quarantine. Only after the testing was complete and the documents were in order and approved by both governments was Jean Luc allowed to re-enter Costa Rica.

Before Jean Luc came into the country, Laurel’s home had to be inspected to determine if it was ready for a parrot and whether or not it met the required specs according to the Ministry of Agriculture of Costa Rica. Once the house passed inspection, an importation permit was issued and an import CITES, not necessarily in that order.

Then the final documentation for the US needs to be finalized in the proper time frame as required. Then and only then does Jean Luc fly from California to Costa Rica.

After arrival Jean Luc is inspected by a MAG vet and clears customs. Finally he is delivered to Laurel!! One year since being separated from his mommy!! IT is a sweet reunion.!!


Costa Rica Closed

Is Costa Rica closed for the holidays? This is a question one might ask if trying to do business with one of the government agencies during the end of December or the first week of January in Costa Rica.

Most of the government offices close for the week between Christmas and New Years and many take an extended vacation beginning the 18th of December and not ending until after the 3rd of January.

If you are trying to import a pet you will find that this rule applies to you and the offices that you need to be opened to facilitate your need for an import permit. While some offices will be opened on a skeleton crew they will not be issuing import permits during this time and will only resume this practice after the 3rd of January.

Pets can still leave the country but should not try to enter the country by the proper means or they risk being held by the customs officials for an unlimited period of time.


TSA new ruling

TSA has a new directive that is affecting people and pets departing Costa Rica effective November 8, 2010. This directive states that the airlines cannot accept a pet from an unknown shipper or from someone that does not have a business relationship with them.

This breaks down to mean that only an IPATA or IATA agent can tender a pet to the airlines for flight according to the TSA. Even then the IATA or IPATA agent must have had a business relationship with the pet owner for 30 days. Without this 30 day prior relationship the IPATA/IATA agent cannot tender the pet to the airline according to the TSA.

For more information contact World Pet Travel at or 1-877-889-1131.


Mudslides in Escazu

This month there was a horrible catastrophe that took place in Escazu that needs to be brought to the forefront if you have not already heard about it.

Many humble souls were lost in the mudslides in the middle of the night when the rain brought down much of the mountain in the hills of San Antonio de Escazu. Rescue workers found at least 23 bodies after pounding rain sent mud rushing over 5 homes around 2:00am Thursday morning the 4th of November.

Because of the slides and unsettled land another 2,639 people have sought refuge in 46 shelters.

President Laura Chinchilla declared a state of emergency the following Friday and Saturday and further declared that these days would be national days of mourning.

Schools throughout the country were canceled on Thursday and Friday.


Lost Internet?

Lost Internet? This is the question that often opens up conversation if you have anything to do with the internet or need internet service in Costa Rica on a daily basis. This is not a weekly or once a month occurrence like in the States but a daily question in Costa Rica. The wind blows, we lose internet. The power surges, we lose internet. ICE has a bad hair day, we lose internet. Many different reasons but all the same results, poor internet connectivity for long periods of time. Internet does not go down for minutes at a time but for hours. When it goes down, it REALLY goes down!

I am sure that some of the larger corporations have better results than those of us relying on ICE for a connection. Those with their own server surely have better service than those of us waiting on ICE to turn on the juice and boost up the power.

Meanwhile we keep asking, “Lost Internet?”


Roach Motel

Be careful where you stay while in La Fortuna!

Recently we took a trip through La Fortuna because the bridge was out going to Playa Coco on the Caldera Highway. We stopped for dinner in a place in La Fortuna next to one of those tourist booths and for some reason took a shine to go in and ask for a hotel recommendation. We knew several of the hotels in the area as we have stayed at many in the past and thought we would just stay with one that we knew to be good again. Since we weren’t looking for a resort atmosphere and only there for a nights stay we thought we would take a shot at whatever the tour guy recommended. This was our first mistake.

He recommended a place called “Pura Vida” How bad could that be with a name that had such a strong name right? Wrong! We went to this place that was just 300 mtrs down the road and part of a chinese restaurant. The owner was very loud and very rude upon check in. This was our second mistake. We should have known better at check in and run before checking in.

Once we got in the rooms it was bad!! We had to leave immediately as I would not stay in the hotel nor let me my kids sleep in these conditions. When we arrived in the rooms I turned down the beds to check out the beds and that was my third mistake.

When we went back to the front desk to get a refund and leave the woman charged us for messing up the towel that was on the bed, for turning down the bed and for turning on the water in the sink so we ended up paying for one room out of the two that we had paid for originally upon check in but at that point we would have paid for both I think just to get out of that horrid place.

Moral to the story, be careful what recommendations you take from the tour guides in those kiosks. No matter how great they make them sound (and he did) they are usually not so great!

Oh and another thing, come to find out, the tour guide was making 20.00 on our reservation. That is a lot of money in Costa Rica. As we were driving away we saw him walking up the street to gather his commission. Can’t say as I would have wanted to be in his shoes that evening for the way that woman was yelling and screaming at us. I can only imagine how she would have lit into him for referring us to her place 🙁


Cows in Costa Rica

If you have ever driven to one of the volcano’s or the back roads to the beach you have probably encountered the cows in Costa Rica.

Imagine driving down the road, minding your own business, listening to your music, talking to your wife, husband, children and all of a sudden cows are running towards your car followed by a man screaming carrying a big long stick. It is a site that words cannot describe but one that you must see at least once in your life to consider it whole 🙂
Now you have cows in front of your car and behind you and you cannot move because cows have overtaken the road and the man with the big still is not making much progress with his yelling and stick waving but it is definitely fun to watch.

If you are lucky you got a picture of this like we did to send it home to your friends because no one is ever going to believe the story with out proof.


Inconsiderate people!

Do you ever just want to shoot people for being inconsiderate? I realize this is a touchy forbidden subject and I may lose some readers for going here but I just can’t keep quiet anymore. Some people just don’t use their heads in everyday life. They are just inconsiderate about things and others have to suffer as a result of this.

When people stomp all over ones feelings in business acting as though they are better than you, arrogant and egotistical in their manner. This is absolutely stupid and pointless and it gets them nowhere but on the bad side of the person they are needing help from. This is a big problem in Costa Rica. So many foreigners come down and act as though they are better than the nationals when in fact they are not. This is NOT the attitude to take with people you are going to be living next door to for years to come.

Mind your manners. Follow the golden rule. Treat others the way that you would want to be treated and you will be treated well in return. Do not degrade or belittle people or point out flaws. It doesn’t help it the situation that you are in and it only hurts the person that you are working with.

Whether you are in the grocery store or having a house built or hiring someone to move your furniture, keep a smile on your face and keep your attitude in check. Remember these people that you have hired work very hard to please you an many other people every day. They really don’t need you to act stupid and arrogant towards them. They have their own set of problems much bigger than you could possibly get your head around and they don’t need your garbage and trash talk on top of that. Be nice! Treat people with respect! I know they are treating you with respect. Just do the same!


Bird to Costa Rica

I write a lot about animals coming into Costa Rica, but this is a subject close to my heart. This past week 3 birds FINALLY made it into Costa Rica after a year of toil and trouble with Costa Rica government issues. They came in last November only to be turned away after being given an import permit and being approved to enter by the government. It was a sad day last November when we had to put those babies back on a plane to the US. It was very scary too because the MAG threatened to euthanize them because they said that their papers were not in order. Again, after giving them permission (in 2 different forms) to come into the country.

About 3 weeks ago a woman brought a parrot into Costa Rica through the passenger terminal without as much as a health certificate. She didn’t have any paperwork whatsoever. Nothing, nada! And the dumb a…. in the US at the airport allowed her to get on the plane with the bird in cabin. (This is so illegal it is not even close to funny). When the bird arrived in the passenger terminal without and documents the woman and bird had a very serious problem. I was called to see if there was anything that I could do but without a health certificate the bird could not even go back on a plane to go back into the US.

There are international laws that protect parrots on the endangered species list from trafficking and this bird was one of those birds. There was no way to prove ownership of the bird, where it came from, where it was born, captive or wild, nothing. This bird, a pet of many years, was taken from the owner at the airport and euthanized, killed, destroyed!

This could have been prevented if the owner had done her due diligence and gotten the proper permits for her bird. This was not the fault of the Costa Rica government in this instance. It was the fault of the owner and the airline for letting her on the plane without any documents.

Getting everything right and in order IS a long, drawn out and expensive process to come into Costa Rica, but THIS is what happens when you don’t follow the laws of the country.

Another client of ours was more fortunate than this woman. She had her CITES permit from the US and her health certificate when she arrived. This was only a small portion of what is required to enter the country but she had enough to keep her baby alive. Laurel was allowed to board the plane and go back to the US with Jean Luc and we are now working on getting her blood tests and documents in order for his safe return in a month or so.

This same rule applies to dogs and cats. DO NOT run the risk of coming into the country without the proper paperwork. Your pet WILL be euthanized!!!! Costa Rica does not fool around with this stuff. It happens more times than the public will ever be aware of.


Pets to Costa Rica

There is MUCH confusion in the past couple of weeks on pets going into Costa Rica and worry that there is a new law in place because pets are being sent to the cargo warehouse rather than being cleared through the passenger terminal.

There is not a new law. This is an old law that the government is now enforcing on pets coming in on their own ticket or airway bill. The customs officials at the airport were not aware that Continental pets were not coming in as excess baggage until a very important woman (wife of someone high up in the government)threw her weight around on the 18th of April and flashed her airway bill at the customs officials demanding her pets.

This upset the customs officials and brought to their attention the fact that Continental was allowing pets to come through the passenger terminal with an airway bill when they should go directly to the cargo facility like all other pets arriving as manifest cargo with their own tickets.

Several meetings took place over the following days and the result of these meetings were that for now, only Continental would be affected by this ruling since all of the other airlines were already following this protocol. All pets arriving on Continental as quickpak on their own ticket (airway bill) will go directly to the cargo facility rather than be released in the passenger terminal as previously allowed.

Now you must acquire an import permit prior to arrival in order for your pet to be released when you arrive. This should be applied for at least 4 days prior to your arrival in Costa Rica through a broker so that your pet does not sit in the customs warehouse for many unnecessary hours unattended.

There will be taxes and customs duties charged as well as fees charged now that were never charged before as a result of the pets coming in through the cargo warehouse. The tax rate is 24.30% of the adjusted value. Pets are automatically insured at $50.00 above the amount shown on the AWB. Value is set at $50-$60 above the amount shown on the AWB and the taxes and costs are based on this amount.

You still must have a current rabies under one year and vaccinations (for a cat FVRCP, for a dog DHLPP) current within one year. Tick and tapeworm treatment prior to arrival as well. All of this must be documented on the APHIS 7001 International Health Certificate and it must be endorsed by the USDA within 10 days of arrival in Costa Rica.

I hope this information helps clear up some of the confusion that is out there about what is now necessary to bring your dog or cat into Costa Rica.