Loose Laws in Costa Rica

A U.S.-bound air passenger was found to be carrying nearly $10,000 in counterfeit $100 bills Wednesday, but he was allowed to leave after police confiscated the funny money.

The incident took place at Juan Santamaría airport. The Policía Aeroportuaria of the Fuerza Pública said they found 95 fake bills in the pocket of the 34-year-old traveler. He was identified by the last name of Modia. Police officers sought the expertise of workers at a bank at the airport. Some of the bills had the same serial number, police said.

The man is a U.S. citizen originally from Cuba, police said.

Police could not hold the man or his female companion because there is a flaw in Costa Rica’s law. So although the pair missed their flight, they were allowed to leave later without the bills. They headed to Miami Thursday.

The $9,500 was below the limit that would have required reporting in an international flight if the bills were authentic.


Cost to import or export a pet to Costa Rica

The costs are ever-rising for pet transportation into and out of Costa Rica. It is always less expensive if the pet owner manages the move themselves but not everyone can do this because they are leaving either before or after their pets travel.

You must keep in mind that the most of the reason that costs are high because dogs and cats need to be hand carried through much of their travel. When you have a pet to leave Costa Rica for instance the pet must be carried through security and each check point before being hand-loaded onto the plane. Once your pet arrives at its destination or airport of transfer it must again be transported by airline employees from point A to point B.

Airfare for people is far less than that of pets because we can do our own walking through the airports and change planes without supervision of anyone. Also, people do not need to have someone to clear customs for them as they can do it themselves. We have to walk all over the airport to get through customs but we don’t have to be carried as the pets do.

Another item that contributes to the higher cost for transporting pets to destinations far away is the fact that we put pets on flights that are not too long. The long 12-15 hour flights we will not put a pet on because the time that they are in their kennel can exceed 20 + hours with the time that they have to be at the airport before departure and after arrival at their destination.

Animal travel is regulated by the Animal Welfare Act, USDA and TSA when traveling to or from Costa Rica so the animals are taken good care of along their journey but this is at a cost to the pet owner.


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.


Pets Leaving Costa Rica

Now we talk about pets leaving Costa Rica 🙂

As of February 2009, the TSA in the USA will not allow anyone to book their own pet as cargo coming into the US.  As excess baggage if you are on the same plane, no problem.  But as manifest cargo, you will have a problem as TSA will not allow anyone that is not a known shipper to book a pet into the US on an airline carrier flying into the US.

For this among other reasons, like travel to the US being higher than in years in the past, our moves are up considerably this year.  This past week was a record setting week for pets coming out of Costa Rica.  It seems that 3 families with multiple pets decided to leave all within 3 days with us.

A record week for World Pet Travel was 18 pets out of Costa Rica in 3 days.  Andrea, Jose, Edgar and Mandiel were at their best in these days.  Thank goodness for all the great people with World Pet Travel and those that support them in Costa Rica.


Moving to Europe with Pets

Once you land in Costa Rica, most think that they are going to stay here forever.  Sometimes it doesn’t work out that way and for one reason or another you have to leave.  This is directed at those that are leaving to go to any European country with pets….

Costa Rica is not considered a rabies controlled country as is all of Central and South America.  Because of this, your dog  must undergo a blood test by your veterinarian or ours.  After this is done, the blood is sent off to University of Kansas in the US for the titre test.  It usually takes 3-4 weeks to get these results back, BUT…your pet CANNOT leave the country for 90 days from the date that the blood draw took place.

This is the case for the majority of European countries.  When you are going to England, Ireland, Sweeden or Malta, there is a completely different process.  Your pet MUST go into quarantine for 6 months as these are considered rabies free countries.  There is no way around this.  The only option that you would have is to move to the US for 7 months and do inhome quarantine and testing there.

When going to England, and many other countries, you must acquire and import permit.  There is also special documentation that is required to travel with your pet.  Without this paperwork, your pet can be returned to Costa Rica or if you cannot afford to pay the fare back, your pet WILL be euthanized.

This is why it is so important to work with someone that does this all the time.  So many of the veterinarians in Costa Rica will tell you they know just what needs to be done to get your pet to Europe then the pet is returned because the vet didn’t know what the heck he was talking about.

Don’t make the mistake so many others have made at the cost of losing a loved one.  Contact a local pet transportation specialist to help you with all of the documentation and following of the laws of the country of which you are entering.  They can work together with specialists in the country of which you are going to ease the process for everyone.

In Costa Rica there is one company that does this.  They are members of IPATA (Independent Pet and Animal Transportation Association)  If you are considering a move to Europe, please contact them so that all is done correctly. or you can email to

Check out the website and good luck with moving your animals in and around Europe.


Casino’s in Costa Rica

The Arias (President of Costa Rica) has done a lot of good things for the country in my way of thinking, however not all things are seen as good.

The latest thing to come down from his administration, I do not see as good for the country OR good for tourism.

Arias administration took steps on Thursday to discourage the casino business in Costa Rica.

The first decree is that these new restrictions do not apply to hotels that are rated 3 stars or above.  So means that these new laws are only to affect the lower end hotels.  Not real sure why he would target the less expensive hotels and let the higher end, more financially stable  go clear on that one.

The second decree is that a special health permit for casinos will cost $5,000 a year.  That is a LOT of money for a Costa Rican or Costa Rican business if it is run by Costa Rican’s.

The third decree is the government forbids “free” alcoholic drinks in casino’s.  What is a casino if you can’t get free drinks.  Again, what are they thinking???

The fourth decree is that the casino hours are to be 6pm to 2am.  This is going to be a slam for those casino that count on the traffic during the day.

The last proposed decree is the clincher….it suggests that the casino owners and will others will have to donate for psychological help for addicted gamblers.

There are other things mentioned in this proposal like:

put the operation of slot machines under the consumer protection laws and payback of 85% by the casino to players

requires the casino owners to be the same as the owner of the hotel.

brands casinos as places that can encourage prostitution, drug addition and insecurity.

And there is so much more but I can’t cover it all here.  If you have questions about the above proposed decree or how it will affect your life in Costa Rica, email us.


IRS in Costa Rica

IRS Winning friends among local bank officials!
The sign of things to come: Banco Cuscatlan now requires citizens or resident aliens of the United States to fill out a W9 form for personal accounts at the firm’s banks in Costa Rica.

Why?  Because Citigroup bought Grupo Cuscatlan from Corporación UBC Internacional S.A. for $1.51 billion in cash and stock. Grupo Cuscatlan has operations in El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras and Panamá.

Most United States citizens are familiar with a W9 form.  It is an Internal Revenue Service form used to obtain a person’s taxpayer identification number.   In the case of individuals, the identification is the Social Security number.

The purpose of the form is to acquire information from taxpayers for the United States government’s tax collection efforts.  A web version of the form that can be filled out online and printed can be found HERE!

The bank is also requiring account holders to sign a form that states the following:

“The undersigned hereby authorizes Banco Cuscatlan de Costa Rica, S.A. to report, on an annual basis, the information on the account holder and his or her account(s) and any interest earned on such product(s) or account(s) held in Banco Cuscatlan de Costa Rica S.A. to the United States Internal Revenue Service and to withhold any United States tax.”

This is just another scary story of the transparency phantom stalking bank information.

Recently, an expat sold his home in Costa Rica.  He almost put the proceeds of the sale in his Cuscatlan personal account.  There is no capital gains tax in Costa Rica but there is in the United States.  In theory, the bank could withhold money and send it to the United States government as backup withholding to cover taxes due.

If United States expats do not fill out the form, their personal accounts can be closed and/or the bank can withhold as much as 30 percent of any moneys in the accounts.  The deadline for compliance is the end of this January.

Many expats believe their money in Costa Rica is safe from their home country’s tax authorities.  Some countries do not required the payment of taxes on holdings or gains from investments in Costa Rica.  The United States does.  No matter where a United States citizen goes, he or she owes taxes on the money he or she makes on investments.

Many expats from the United States try to hide their gains here by using companies to hold assets.

Some go as far as to use Costa Ricans to hold their stock to hide their profits.  Those that do
have no control over their assets, and some take a beating from white-collar thieves.

This kind of reporting to the United States is just the start.   Cuscatlan is just taking the lead because it is a United States banking institution. GE Consumer Finance purchased 49.99 peercent of BAC San José in May 2005, and since that purchase, the bank has scrutinize accounts very closely.  The bank continues to close many questionable accounts held by expats before the purchase.

HSBC recently purchased Banex.  HSBC Bank USA has close ties with the Costa Rican subsidiary and probably will be requiring the same forms as Cuscatlan very soon.

All these facts mean the accounts once used by expats to hide money in Costa Rica are almost gone.  Most banks, even the ones not mentioned here now, require any new customer to fill out a form or sign an agreement that permits the bank to give information about the account and the account holders to any authority, including the U. S. Internal Revenue Service.

The best practice when living and investing in Costa Rica is to be on the up and up with all ones business dealings.  This includes paying one’s taxes to Costa Rica and the home country.  It makes for a better nights sleep.

By Garland M. Baker
Special to A.M. Costa Rica


Costa Rica Pet Transportation

I am very upset with the information that I have found on Costa Rica websites regarding importing pets to Costa Rica. This information is not only incorrect it will cause your pets to be put into quarantine or put down upon entry into the country.

One very well known website states that the laws importing birds changed in January 2008 and you are now allowed to bring your birds into Costa Rica but you can never take them out. This is completely and totally wrong according to the MAG (Ministry of Agriculture) in Costa Rica who oversees the importation and exportation of birds.

The laws have not changed since the embargo was put into place in late 2006. The only way to bring your bird into the country is to complete a ridiculous set of tests but the kicker is that you MUST have the flight tendon cut which will prevent your bird from ever being able to fly again. These rules have not changed as of last week. My last conversation with the MAG (the government office that controls the import and export of animals), people that do not meet these requirements will be taken away from the owner and put into quarantine and the owner will never be able to see them again.

None of these sites mention that you must have a CITES permit (CITES stands for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora and more information can be found at . CITES is an international treaty drawn up in 1973 to protect wildlife against over-exploitation, and to prevent international trade from threatening species with extinction.) which is required by both the US government which takes 90 days to acquire (minimum) or the CITES that is required by the CR government. You must also get an export permit from the USDA in addition to the health certificate mentioned before you are permitted to leave the US with a bird on the endangered species list which covers just about all birds but cockatiels’ and parakeets.

This is a very hard lesson for someone that has had their birds for 20+ years and I hate like everything that the people that are running these websites are putting up bad information. They are obviously not looking out for the best interest of the animals but trying to please their readers by telling them what they want to hear.

Another website states in several places on their forum that all you need is a health certificate from your local veterinarian within 3 weeks of your arrival in Costa Rica. This is NOT true!!! You must have a health certificate from a USDA accredited vet then the USDA/APHIS form must be signed and sealed by the state USDA veterinarian. This document is only good for 10 days. If you happen to “slip” by customs with the wrong paperwork you are very lucky but unfortunately all of the MINAE quarantine facilities are overrun with animals that didn’t “slip” by. This same website advises their clients to contact the airlines to get the proper information on shipping your pet. The reservation agents with the airlines do not have knowledge of what is required by each country or Consulate to ship a pet to ANY country. If you talk to 5 different agents, you are guaranteed 5 different answers and NONE of them will be correct. The LAST person that you want to go to for information on shipping your pet is the airlines. Contact the closest USDA office to where you live and they can give you the requirements for shipping your pets to any country if you choose not to use a professional pet transporter.

There are professional pet transporters for a reason. I have offices in the US and Costa Rica and get emails weekly from the different airlines with constant changes and updates on the requirements of the airlines. I am also registered with the USDA as an Intermediate Handler and the TSA as a known shipper as well as a member of IPATA which is an International Association of Pet Transporters. These are very difficult licenses to obtain and you do not get these licenses if you don’t know what you are doing.

If because of the expense involved, you do not want to hire a company like mine, please contact the USDA closest to where you live to get the correct information for shipping your pet in or out of Costa Rica. If you are going to a European Country, you would do better off to hire a pet transporter because there is a lot of hoops to jump through to get an animal from a third world country into any European Country and you need someone well versed and well connected to secure a safe transportation for your pet.


Horse Transportation

Horse Transportation Worldwide

World Pet Travel Horse Transportation Division is dedicated to providing you with the highest quality transport service for your horses at competitive prices.

At World Pet Travel, we pride ourselves on providing you with trouble free transport for your horses from door to door.

Fly Horses on Demand

Most importantly, transport is arranged to suit your own personal requirements. We fly horses on demand. Subject to numbers and preparation requirements, we go when you want to go. And any inquiry you make with us is treated in the strictest confidence.

Veterinary Surgeons

World Pet Travel has close connections with qualified veterinary surgeons and road transport companies. However, you can elect to use your own preferred veterinarian and road transport company. World Pet Travel listens to your requirements and makes every possible effort to meet your needs.

Experienced Grooms

All shipments are accompanied by an Experienced Groom that is both licensed and well equipped to deal with any situation that may arise. All horses receive a high quality head collar and lead rope.

World Pet Travel can send your horses accompanied by a groom to almost any destination in the world from Costa Rica or the United States.

International Destinations

Some international destinations include:

• Costa Rica, Central and South America
• Sydney, Melbourne
• Singapore, Kuala Lumpur
• Tokyo, Sapporo
• Seoul
• Shanghai
• Israel
• Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London
• Bombay, Delhi
• Saudi Arabia

For a large numbers of horses, World Pet Travel can arrange to charter an aircraft for your exclusive use.

Horse Travel Within the Continental United States
Can Also be Provided by Air or Ground Transport.


New Office for Pet Travel

Moving pets around the worldThis is one of our happy clients that made their pet move with World Pet Travel known formerly Guardian Angels CR.

Hurray! Hurray! :) World Pet Travel is now open for business!

After much thought and preparation, we have finally branched out with our pet travel services. We have opened an office in the U.S. to help serve our clients coming from the U.S. make the transition a little smother on both ends. Whether you are coming or going from Costa Rica or anywhere else in the world, our pet transportation services are available to you anywhere worldwide.

We have a new website which will be dedicated to pet relocation which you can link to below or find at We are just in the development stages of the website so give us a little time to make it look as nice as our relocationcr website.

There is a contact page that you can complete to better help us understand your needs and come up with the best solution for you and your pets.

We hope that you will continue to have confidence in our ability to serve you and your pets needs and look forward to hearing from you in the near future.

Angela Passman with Louis Vuitton and Maxine