Driving is the best way to see the Costa Rica areas at own pace. Foreign visitors may drive with their valid driver licenses (issued at least one year previously) and International driving permits for three months after the entry date into the country.

The main road traffic rules:

  • Traffic moves on the right side of the road.
  • The minimum driving age is 18.
  • It is not permitted to drive on beaches and voids all insurance.
  • The permitted blood alcohol level is 0.05.
  • It is mandatory to wear seatbelts for drivers and passengers in the front and rear seats.
  • The Collision coverage and Liability coverage insurance are mandatory in Costa Rica for all drivers.
  • The speed limit in the city is 40-60 km/h (25-37 mph), outside cities 80-100km/h (50-62 mph), near schools and hospitals – 25 km/h (15 mph).
  • It is not permitted to turn right on red lights.
  • It is not permitted to talk on a cell phone while driving.
  • Drivers must carry their driver licenses all the time when driving.
  • Throwing garbage from the vehicle is illegal.
  •  It is not permitted to drive a vehicle with an altered engine.
  • Over-taking on the right-hand side is not allowed.
  • It is required to keep safe following distances.
  • Children under 12 may not travel on the front seat. Baby seats and Booster seats are obligatory for them.  Babies under 12
    months and weighing less than 10 kg must be transported in a rear-facing child seat.

Additional information:

  • In Costa Rica, road signs are displayed in Spanish. There are many STOP, DANGER, and WINDING ROAD signs.
  • The road condition varies. Animals, slow moving or broken down vehicles are common on many roads.
  • As in Costa Rica, there are many gravel and dirt roads, 4 wheel drive vehicles are helpful.  
  • It is recommended to avoid driving at night and driving and parking in poorly lit areas. Car doors should be locked at all times and windows shut.
  • If a vehicle is involved in an accident, its driver must do not move his vehicle and wait a police officer arrives.
  • If a driver is fined, he must should pay at the nearest state owned bank and give a copy of the receipt to the rental car company. The driver should not give money directly to the police officer.
  • In Costa Rica, there are some toll roads; the most used is the road from San Jose to Caldera.
  • As a rule, to rent a car a driver must be 21 year of age. Some hire car companies require 25 years as a minimum driving age.
  • Traffic police can stop any driver for speeding or not wearing a seatbelt.
  • Foreign visitors, who are going to drive in Costa Rico, are required to purchase temporary insurance for a minimum of one month.
  • It is obligatory to carry a valid driver license and car title, a vehicle registration and insurance cards.
  • During the rainy season many roads turn into mud.
  • It is recommended do not stop for hitchhikers.
  • The law allows police officers to perform alcohol test any driver.
  • Bridges in Costa Rica can be very narrow and many do not have guardrails.
  • The police phone number is 911.

Costa Rica Traffic Signs

 Driving Overseas - Short Information