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Drinking and Driving

Do not drink and drive! It is a serious criminal offense driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It is illegal and you can go to jail.

Cell Phones, Navigation Aids, etc:

When renting a car in Costa Rica, a cell phone will be provided, which is included in the rental rates. This way you can stay connected with your hotel and the rental car agency in case you suffer any inconvenience. You can contact the rental car agency to inquire about things as simple as directions to a destination. Keep in mind you might experience momentary service reliability, intermittent signal or signal loss while you are traveling through certain regions.

The use of a cell phone, smartphone, personal digital assistant, GPS or mp3 player while driving in Costa Rica is prohibited when operating a motor vehicle. This also applies when stopped at a traffic light or stop sign, the only time a device can be used, is when the vehicle is parked in a safe location and the car is turned off.

Drivers may use a hands-free (Bluetooth) device for voice communication through a smartphone The driver must not use any screen based aid to navigation (or entertainment) while on the road. You must pull completely off away from traffic. (It makes sense really; after all, you are not allowed to drive down the road with a map on the steering wheel). DVD players and screen-based devices other than those directly needed to operate the car must be positioned so the driver cannot see them. However, in reality, the police rarely have anything to do with this law. .

Driving Age

The legal driving age in Costa Rica is 18 for residents, however, you must be 21 or over to drive as a visitor in the country. To rent a vehicle you must be 25 or over and rental car companies will have a surcharge for younger drivers. Remember that you will also require a credit card to rent a vehicle.

Seat Belts

Costa Rican seat belt laws require that all passengers in a vehicle (front and back) wear a seatbelt at all times.


If you are involved in an accident in Costa Rica, DO NOT MOVE THE VEHICLE. Call 911 and your rental car company immediately to report the accident and do not move the car until police arrive and advise you to do so. While you are waiting for help to arrive be sure to write down information regarding the other driver`s license plate numbers, phone numbers and take pictures.

Using Indicators

Tractor trailers in Costa Rica will often drive really slow on the main highways (usually two lanes of traffic, one in each direction) and will use their left turn signal to notify drivers behind them that it is safe to pass. Always use caution.


Overtaking in Costa Rica can only be done safely on the left-hand side of the car you wish to pass. Take care when overtaking - allow more space between you and the car in front so you can see further down the road ahead. However, be aware that other drivers might not use the same caution and you will likely come across people passing on curves and uphill where it can be very dangerous.


Dipped headlights should be used in poor daytime visibility. Motorcycles must use dipped headlights during the day at all times.


It is prohibited to carry children in your arms.

No one less than 12 years of age can sit in the front unless they use a device approved for this purpose.

Children under twelve years must use an approved restraint system suitable for their height and weight and must always be placed in the back seat.