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.


Pet Relocation

Pet relocation is a topic that never gets old.  There is so much to it that the normal pet owners never think about. What is the best airport to send my pets out of? What is the best airlines?  Is it safe to send my pet as cargo?  I’ve heard so many bad things about pet travel, is it safe for Fluffy?

World Pet Travel and their associates have been handling the pet relocation of our clients for almost 10 years now and we know the best options available for anyone trying to arrange pet travel on their own.

We STRONGLY discourage anyone trying to handle an international move on their own.  The laws that surround international pet relocation can be very complex and complicated to someone that is not aware of the all of the details involved.

If you do something wrong, or don’t have the right paperwork and documents when you enter another country, your pet will either be sent back to the country of origin or worse euthenized.  This is why you don’t want to take chances with those that you love.

We are coming upon the busy season now so it gets a little hectic around here but we will get back to you with the details of your pet move as soon as possible if you contact us for help.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Check out Costa Rica

Try it out for awhile before moving to Costa Rica.  So many people contact me ready to move the house the kids and the dogs/cats to Costa Rica without ever visiting the country.  I believe that this is not a good idea for anyone and strongly discourage this as does anyone that has lived here for awhile.

It costs a lot of money to move to Costa Rica, even if you are planning just to come with a suitcase and leave everything else behind for now.  It is far less expensive to come on an extended vacation leaving all of your personal belongings behind until you have had an opportunity to see the country and what it has to offer.

Costa Rica is not for everyone and the majority of people that move down end up moving back to their home country within 2 years or less.  Many don’t make it 6 months before running back home because they can’t deal with the culture, the way of life or the expense of living in what they thought was a cheap place to live.

It is NOT cheap to live in Costa Rica!!!  It costs as much or more to live in Costa Rica than it does to live in the states if you want to maintain the manner in which you were living in the states or your home country.  Housing is expensive, groceries are expensive and if you have children in school, school is beyond expensive in most cases.

Don’t believe everything that you read, this blog included.  Check out Costa Rica for yourself before making the big jump.  You won’t be sorry for taking the time to get to know your way around before moving the kids and Spot.

It can be just as daunting coming alone.  If you think, “it’s just me, what have I got to lose?” The answer to that question is a lot.  You have a lot to lose.  The money that you put into a car, house, residency expenses, deposits etc.  All of this for a place you may decide you can’t live in after 2 months.

Please don’t get me wrong…Costa Rica is a wonderful place to live for SOME PEOPLE.  It is not for everyone.  While my children and I love it like home, my husband has never quite adjusted and prefers the states to the third world ways.  It is not for everyone.  Take your time and CHECK OUT COSTA RICA before making the jump.


Book on Costa Rica

Well…I’m working on it. Actually it is finished. We are now in the process of editing and correcting my mistakes and typo’s. Unfortunately I cannot edit my own work so I am having to rely on the kindness of others to do this for me.

Lots of information in this book. Some of the topics covered are different types of residency in depth, bringing pets in or out of Costa Rica, jobs in Costa Rica, differences in schools, housing options, hiring help, employment laws and so much more.

It’s not too late to add more. It seems like every week I come across another topic that I would like to cover. This is the reason that it has taken so long to finish and I use that word loosely. I might come up with something else tomorrow or get a question that I feel needs to be discussed and it will be added.

Help me out here. Comment on this blog or send me an email to with your questions about Costa Rica and I will try to add on if the subject has not already been addressed.

Sometimes I get so familiar with the answers that I forget the questions.


You CANNOT work in Costa Rica!

You cannot work in Costa Rica unless you have a work permit or the proper type of residency that allows you to do so. You cannot work while living in the country with a Tourist Visa, Rentista Status or Pensionado status. You are actually forbidden to do so by the Costa Rican government. You cannot take the job that a Costa Rican can do. This is the law!!!

Work permits are difficult to impossible to get unless a company is willing to sponsor you. The only companies that do this are large, financially established, well-known by the Costa Rican government. The only people that are approved for permits with these companies are executives for the most part.

If you are living in Costa Rica legally, you can start your own business but you CANNOT work it this business.

There is only one type of visa that allows you to work and live in Costa Rica and that is Permanent Resident Investor Status which gives you all of the rights that a Costa Rican citizen has. This comes with one exception and that is becoming politically involved. You are not permitted to vote in any Costa Rica election but you can work.

You cannot move to Costa Rica and start working. Well you can but if you do, you can get into some serious trouble and will be deported loosing anything that you have bought or business you have established while living in the country.

This has happened to too many Expats to list. Foreigners, usually from North America, come down and buy property or a business and begin working without getting the right paperwork taken care of ie., residency visa. They are caught by immigration, usually because they have upset a Costa Rican in some way. The Costa Rican turns them into immigration and they are kicked out of the country and not allowed to return for 10 years.

You do not want this to happen to you.

If you would like more information on how you can get the right type of residency, please email us.

I want you to know that you can’t just fly in and start working, You CANNOT work in Costa Rica!!!!


Book on Costa Rica

Wow, it has been a long time since I have written anything on the blog. It is because I have been so busy writing my book that will soon be available to all my readers. This book is a condensed version of everything you need to know if you are considering moving or investing in Costa Rica. From residency options to moving and working in Costa Rica. More information that you can find in one place anywhere on the internet.

This is the information that I give to my clients when they are considering moving or investing in Costa Rica and it has helped many make the right choices for their family. It is a detailed book that won’t leave any question as to what type of residency you can qualify for or what type of corporation you need to set up and why.

I hope that Ramiro and I will be able to have this book available soon on the website. Until then, continue to call and write with your questions about Costa Rica.

This book also tells you all you need to know about bringing pets into the country and about the schools that are available so that you can make the right choice for your children.

Keep an eye out, check back, and hopefully within a couple of weeks, the book “What you should know before you invest in or Move to Costa Rica” will be available soon.


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


Deposit Needed

World Pet Travel/Guardian Angels CR and many other pet transporters have encountered problems recently with people contacting us and asking for help with their international moves for their pets.

Just this week Frank and Susana Wheeler from London England, new to Costa Rica, refused to pay for the services that they requested that I have been working on for months in preparation of their pets and their relocation arrangements for housing which they requested me to find them temporary and permanent housing. Since these cats originated in Spain then went onto London and were on their way to Costa Rica there was quite a bit of time and effort put into this move.

Prior to the Wheelers, John and Mary Harding of Phoenix Arizona needed help getting their 13 cats to Costa Rica. After making all of the necessary arrangements with the airlines and customs, the Hardings decided that they did not want to pay WPT for their time or expenses. They would pay for the airline expense but that was it. This has happened 3 times this week and we have been out hundreds of dollars in international phone calls and other expenses involved and will not be reimbursed by these dishonest and cheating people.

For years we have done this at no charge to our client and have never had a problem with our clients following through on their obligation or proceeding with their moves.

As of late, many professional pet transporters including World Pet Travel/Guardian Angels CR have had a problem with people not following through on their move after we and other agents have gone through all the motions setting up the move.

Setting up an international move requires a lot of time, phone calls and contacts with agents and veterinarians in the destination country as well as the departure country. Often times we spend a minimum of 2-3 days pulling everything together for the move with the help of the airlines, other agents and brokers in the country of destination.

After we have made all of the necessary arrangements for this move, including setting up airline reservations and customs arrival requirements, many people have backed out of their obligation to make the move with our company and others. This seems to be a problem across the board with professional pet transporters that work together to insure the safest and most stress-free trip for your pet. If you read our blog, you know that we have been doing this successfully with 100’s of happy clients and 4 legged friends.

Because of this, we will be requiring a deposit from this point forward (February 1, 2008) to work up international moving arrangements for each pet.

World Pet Travel/Guardian Angels CR now requests a deposit of $50.00 per pet to move forward with making the necessary arrangements for your international move.

We are very sorry that it has come to this but at this point, we see no other way to be reimbursed for our expenses when someone backs out of their move at the last minute.

This fee will be credited to your move if you complete your move with us. If you back out at the last minute, your deposit will not be refunded.

Please note pet transportation when handled by a professional pet transporter is tax deductible.


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.


Live & Work Legally in Costa Rica

Obtain your Costa Rican Permanent Resident Investor Status through our Government approved reforestation project.


If the applicant chooses to obtain their Permanent Resident Investor status through this type of project they receive the following benefits:

  1. Application can be made directly to the Immigration department here in Costa Rica or application can be presented to the Costa Rican consul or embassy closest to applicants home.
  2. Application is pre-approved. No additional review or approval required from MINAE (El Ministerio del Ambiente y Energia).
  3. Applicant receives all the rights that a natural born Costa Rican has except can not get politically involved.
  4. If the applicant(s) chooses to work they are not restricted to working in the field of their investment.
  5. Applicant is required to be in Costa Rica only 1 day a year. This 1 day facilitates the renewing of the individuals status.
  6. The time the investor spends in Costa Rica with his legal status is applied towards the time requirement’s in order to obtain a Costa Rican passport. (if desired).


A. Investor receives 1 hectare (2.47 acres) of land registered in his or her name.

B. Investor receives full ownership of the valuable teak trees planted on his or her land.
(1,100 trees at time of planting)

C. Investor receives management contract ensuring the trees and property are maintained to or exceeding standards as outlined by the Costa Rican Forestry engineers.

D. Investor receives full value of the teak timber when harvested.

E. Investor receives right to participate in additional future cycles of replanting / harvesting.

Costs incurred in the processing of the application with Immigration are not borne by the applicant. Legal fees, local documentation and official stamps are included in the investment amount.