Costa Rica Country Guide

Everything you need to know about moving to Costa Rica

How to Safely Relocate Your Pet to Costa Rica

Your pet is a member of the family. Make sure to get them to Costa Rica safely and efficiently.

Moving to Costa Rica with your beloved pet is an exciting adventure, but it requires careful planning and adherence to specific requirements. Ensuring the safety and well-being of your furry friend during the relocation process is paramount. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to safely relocate a pet from the US to Costa Rica:

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Overview of Pet Relocation to Costa Rica

Pets can be brought to Costa Rica from other countries. They must have a “Veterinary Certificate for Costa Rica” completed from a licensed veterinarian, and endorsed by your state’s USDA office or CFIA office in Canada.


All cats and dogs entering the country are required to have current rabies vaccinations, and should be vaccinated more than 30 days before traveling. There is no quarantine requirement. ​

Dogs are required to have the following additional vaccinations: distemper, leptospirosis, parvovirus, and hepatitis. Cats are required to have vaccinations for: feline viral rhinotracheitis, feline leukemia, calicivirus, and panleukopenia. ​ 


There are several options for bringing your pet to Costa Rica:

  1. In-cabin
  2. As baggage
  3. As cargo
  4.  Via private jet


In this guide we will review all of the options, including some tips on how to make the trip as smooth and safe as possible for your furry best friend.

General Preparation and Considerations When Relocating Your Pet to Costa Rica

Before diving into specific requirements, consider these general tips:

  • Consult Your Vet: Start by consulting your veterinarian to discuss your pet’s overall health and suitability for the move. Your vet can advise on vaccinations, microchipping, and other crucial aspects.

  • Pet’s Age and Health: The age and health of your pet will play a significant role in determining their readiness for the journey. Puppies and senior pets might have different requirements.

  • Breed Restrictions: Be aware of any breed-specific regulations in Costa Rica that might affect your pet’s eligibility for entry.

  • Choose a Reputable Pet Transport Service: Consider working with a pet transport company or professional pet travel agent experienced in international relocations. Reach out to [email protected] if you would like recommendations for excellent Costa Rica pet relocators.

Would you like support bringing your pet to Costa Rica?

StartAbroad offers Pet Relocation support

Requirements for Relocating Your Pet to Costa Rica

Before diving into specific requirements, consider these general tips:

  • Health Certificate: To bring your pet into Costa Rica, you’ll need a completed health certificate. The following are the main requirements:
    • Obtain the form from SENASA’s website or from the USDA or CFIA
    • Provide proof of your pet’s good health, relevant vaccinations, and parasite treatment
  • Microchipping: While not required by Costa Rica, you may want to get your pet microchipped before travel.
  • Vaccinations: Ensure your pet is up to date on standard vaccinations such as rabies, distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus, and parainfluenza.
  • Parasite control: Make sure your pet is free from internal and external parasites, including ticks, fleas, and tapeworms. Document the treatments in your pet’s health certificate.
  • Airline and travel crates: Choose a pet-friendly airline with an accommodating pet policy. Ensure the airline-approved travel crate is well-ventilated, spacious, and comfortable for your pet. It should meet International Air Transport Association (IATA) standards.
  • Arrival and customs: Notify Costa Rica’s customs department of your pet’s arrival and present all the required documents at the port of entry.

Options for Relocating Your Pet to Costa Rica

There are several main options for bringing your pet to Costa Rica:

  1. In-cabin: Most airlines allow cats and dogs under 20 lbs to ride in-cabin
  2. As “luggage”: Some airlines (notably Alaska Airlines) allows passengers to check pets as extra baggage 
  3. As cargo: Work with a cargo freight forwarding company to ship a pet to Costa Rica. This is a common option for medium and large-sized dogs.  
  4. Via a land border: For expats driving into the country, this can be an economical option.
  5. In a private plane: By far the most expensive, but most convenient option.
Not sure where to start?

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