Horses to Costa Rica

Andrea and Natacha with Angel Bass taking a quick break after her bath at La Carrana Quarantine facility in La Sabana, Costa Rica.

Angel and Wizard’s adventure began in San Diego, California in mid-November when they were transported down to Miami by trailer. They had to do a brief quarantine in Miami as well as a series of blood testing in order to be permitted to enter Costa Rica.

Once all of the test results were returned and the health certificate was completed to meet Costa Rica standards, the MAG issued an import permit and Angel and Wizard were permitted to enter the country.

After the flight arrived in San Jose the horses were transported to La Carrana in La Sabana by trailer to their private stalls where they are boarded until the MAG does a blood test (the same one that was done in the US) and the results come back negative (again). This usually takes about 10-14 days then the horses will be released to go to their new home in Guanacaste. World Pet Travel transports the horses to Guanacaste once they have been released by the MAG and reunites them with their owner Cindy. They will be together before Christmas 🙂


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.


Kiara traveled from Mexico to Costa Rica

Kiara traveled from Mexico to Costa Rica on Friday to be reunited with her family Sadalgo. She was held up in customs when the computers went down for longer than we would have liked but Andrea spent the day with her walking her every couple of hours and seeing that she had food and water. She was kept comfortable during her stay at Juan Santa Maria terminal warehouse while she was forced to wait for the computers to come back on.

Unfortunately with the computers down Costa Rica customs cannot do anything so we must wait for the system to come back up. This can take anywhere from a couple of hours to 24. Fortunately most times it is usually back up within the same day and pets don’t have to spend the night in the customs warehouse.

Kiara finally made it to her family around 7:00 pm on Friday night. They were very happy to see her as you can see from the family portrait we were fortunate enough to get. Another happy family reunion!


Tica System Down

Words you don’t want to hear when there are pets coming into Costa Rica. When World Pet Travel or anyone else has pets coming into Costa Rica you do NOT want to hear are “Tica system is down”. What this means is that your pets are not going anywhere. They cannot clear customs when the system is down. It cannot be done manually or the old fashioned way like it used to be done. It MUST be done with the TICA system and if the system is down it does not get done.

Pets will sit in the customs warehouse all day when they arrive at 8:00 or 9:00 in the morning because the system is down waiting for the system to come up again. There have even been cases where the animals have had to stay overnight in the customs warehouse until the following morning because the system did not come up the same day that the animals came in.

Makes the old slow way of doing things seem so much better at times. AT least then you didn’t have to worry about computers going down and everything coming to a screeching halt.


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.


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.


Moving to Costa Rica With Pets

I have written about this many times before but some things bear repeating time and time again 🙂 . There is so much bad information out there!!! Just this weekend I learned of another poor animal dying because someone received BAD information, information they received from an airline.

This poor cat came into Costa Rica last week from Canada. After many hours in flight and many more unnecessary hours in the customs warehouse because the paperwork was not in order. The cat was finally released to the owner but it was too late. The cat was severely dehydrated. It was rushed to the veterinarian but passed away the following day.

ALL pets coming as manifest cargo MUST have an import permit!!!  This permit must be applied for 4 business days prior to the pet arriving with the Senasa.  In order to apply, the Senasa must have a copy of the pets vaccination records.  Any pet over 3 months old must have a current rabies vaccination that is under one year.  No exceptions under any circumstances to this rabies law.  No puppies under 3 months and no dogs with rabies over one year old will be permitted entry into the country.

The permit cannot be applied for by an individual.  It must be applied for through a broker and there is a process that must be followed.  The original is held by the agency that is clearing the pet through customs.  The owner cannot do this themselves without the pet spending much unnecessary time sitting on pallets in the customs warehouse.

This is only a brief outline of some of what you need to know when moving to Costa Rica with pets.  For more information, contact our pet moving division at World Pet Travel.

You can read of some of their moves at testimonials and you can also learn here how to contact them directly.


Birds to Costa Rica

So you want to bring your beloved bird with you to Costa Rica?  Do you know what all is involved in this endeavor?  Lots of paperwork and permissions from your home country and Costa Rica’s government agency’s.

This month we brought in a bird from Honduras.  Birds from Central and South America are not permitted entry to Costa Rica but we did it and Phoenix is with her mother on the Pacific Coast, both very happy.

If you are coming out of the United States, you must first get the permission of the US Fish & Wildlife Agency in the form of what they call a CITES permit.  This is the first step towards getting your bird OUT of the US.  You must then get a CITES from the Costa Rican Ministry of Agriculture and approval from the MINAE.

After you have all of this, you must get your bird to Costa Rica within 30 days of the issuance of the Costa Rican CITES or your window of opportunity is gone.

This is not a process that is simple by any means.  You must know who to talk to and truthfully, have a little pull with them or it never gets done.

This year so far, we have brought 4 birds into the country.  We are now working on 3 more.

Do NOT try to bring your bird with you on the plane as it WILL be taken away from you when you arrive at the airport in San Jose and you might never see your bird again.


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.