Throughout the country not all locations have street addresses, and there are few direction signs, so it is advisable to use a GPS app when you are driving in Costa Rica. 

Driver’s License

Most foreign drivers licenses are authorized for a maximum period of 90 days. 

When renting a vehicle you must check that it is in good condition (brakes, tires, lights, etc.) , and that the insurance contract is clear and complete.

Generally the insurance policy will not cover broken windows or the theft of personal belongings from the vehicle. Therefore you have to read carefully the conditions of the insurance contract and, if necessary, purchase additional insurance. 

Please note: any fines must be paid when the vehicle is returned.

Car Rental Agencies Located at the  Juan Santamaria Airport (Alajuela) :

Budget/Apex (+506) 2436 2000
Alamo (+506) 2242 7700
Dollar (+506) 2443 2078
Economy (+506) 2299 2000 
Enterprise (+506) 2242 7900
Hertz/Firefly (+506) 2221 1818 or (+506) 2258 4343 or (+506) 2430 7707
National  (+506) 2242 7911
Payless (+506) 2430 4647 or (+506) 2256 0101
Solid/NU (+ 506) 2442 6000 or (+506) 2442 9000 

Car Rental Agencies Located at the  Daniel-Oduber-Quirós Airport (Liberia) :

Budget/Apex (+506) 2668 1118
Entreprise (+506) 2242 7900
National (+506) 2242 7911
Greemotion (+506) 2668 1212
Alamo (+506) 2668 1111
AVIS (+506) 2668 1196
Diekcant (+506) 2667 0286
Solid/NU (+ 506) 2442 6000 or (+506) 2442 9000 
SIXT (+506) 2431 3805
Hertz/Firefly (+506) 2668 1048
Adobe (+506) 2667 0608
Payless (+506) 2667 0808 

General (Warnings)

When renting a vehicle in Costa Rica you will be given a price quote that includes a number of optional services, the amounts of which may vary from one rental agency to another.  Because there is no reliable platform in Costa Rica for comparing car rental prices, you will have to check everything yourself.

We recommend that you anticipate renting your vehicle a few months in advance, especially if you plan to travel during the high season. If you contact several car rental agencies, read carefully what is included in your quotes before comparing them.  Not always is the price of insurance indicated in detail on the quote, which may lead to an unpleasant surprise later on. 

The rental price may vary depending on the availability of vehicles, the GPS system, the option for a 2nd driver, and insurance.

Choice of Vehicle

Choose ideally a 4 × 4. Tourist destinations are often far from major highways, and, remember, you may find yourself driving on poorly maintained roads, dirt tracks, and steep slopes. Sometimes you may even need to cross river streams.

Among the 4 × 4 vehicles offered for rental you will often find Suzuki’s: Bego; Grand Vitara; Jimny; and/or Vitara. 

You can also rent a van at Costa Rider Campervan

The insurance

In Costa Rica two forms of insurance are compulsory.

1) Vehicle Insurance: (Premium-Collision without Deductible)

The Collision Damage Waiver (CDW), sometimes called Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) is compulsory, so that the rented vehicle is insured if you have an accident.

In the U.S.A. And Canada several credit cards (VISA Premier for example) cover CDW abroad for a rental of 30 days or less.

If this is the case for your card, you can then refuse the insurance offered by the rental agency by showing a document written in English or Spanish stating that your card offers international insurance coverage.

Most of the time your credit card insurance will not insure glass breakage, punctures, or vandalism, and you will be obliged to take out such insurance from the rental agency.

The clauses of some credit cards specify that insurance for 4 × 4 is not included.  By that they mean that they do not insure Quads (4 × 4).  Such a clause should not prevent you from renting a 4-wheel-drive car.

If your credit card does not cover a 2nd driver, your insurance will not include your companion, so you will have to pay for their insurance separately at the rental agency.

2) Liability Insurance: (Loss and Damage Insurance)

Third Party Liability (TPL) sometimes called SLI, is compulsory civil liability insurance which covers any damages caused by your vehicle to others and / or to the property of others. If you hit a pedestrian or a vehicle and are the subject of legal proceedings, you will not be insured by your credit card. You must purchase this insurance from the rental agency, which will assume the responsibilities for you. This insurance is the most expensive.  It alone can represent 50% to 75% of the rental price. 

The Franchise Acquisition

The car rental deductible is the part of damage not guaranteed by the insurer. It is therefore the amount remaining payable by you when damage to the vehicle is covered by insurance and you are responsible for the claim.

In Costa Rica the deductible will be indicated to you by the rental agencies which will offer you non-compulsory insurance for the repurchase of the deductible.

The Deposit

A deposit is required for an amount ranging from $ 500 to $ 3000 depending on the type of vehicle. You absolutely must have a sum of money equal to or greater than the amount of the deposit available on your credit card at the time you rent the vehicle. The deposit will be returned to you when the vehicle is returned. It is recommended that you use a credit card (not a debit card) for your deposit. Check before leaving that the credit limit linked to your card is sufficient to cover the outstanding amounts + the deposit. In addition, the rental company may require that the credit card used for the reservation be presented when you come to collect the vehicle. 

In the event of an accident

Local legislation requires that vehicles not be moved, even to the side of the road, until the arrival of the “Policia de Tránsito” (+506) 2222 9330 or (+506) 2222 9245 and the public insurer INS “Instituto Nacional de Seguros” (800 800 8000) who will report the accident.

In the event of a serious accident, the driver may be arrested.