Bringing Pets to Costa Rica
Whether you’ve decided to move permanently to Costa Rica, or to just visit for a greater part of the year, your pets are like family, and you don’t want to leave them behind. You’ll both miss each other, and you may not wish to bentrust their care to a stranger. It’s actually easier than you think to bring your dog or cat to Costa Rica. Why leave them at home, sad in your absence, when you can bring them with you? With a small amount of preparation and documentation, you can bring your dog or cat with your to Costa Rica.
Be sure to check for all documentation required in advance, as there is usually a two week window where you’ll need to get all tasks done, and to be aware of any fees required.
You’ll first need to get a health certificate from your pet’s veterinarian. It will then need to be endorsed by a veterinarian (VS—Veterinary Service) who works for the USDA—US Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
To find these veterinarians, you’ll need to find the local office that is in your state. You may visit the APHIS(1) website to find these listings, and then the “Travel with my Pet” link.
The vet will examine your dog or cat to be free of infectious illness, and to be declared healthy. This visit must be done within two weeks of the departure date. Cats must be vaccinated against rabies, while dogs have a more extensive list, including rabies, distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, etc. If dogs and cats are over three months of age, they must have current vaccinations.
Your vet will use the International Certificate APHIS Form 7001 for small animals. It will need to be written in duplicate. You do not require a Notary Public Stamp for it, nor for a Costa Rica Consular office stamp.
If you’re bringing animals into Costa Rica for resale, you’ll need an Import Permit, but if you’re bringing your pet in, as long as they will reside with you, you do not need this permit. Be sure to clip your pet’s rabies vaccination certificate to the rest of the forms. When you enter Costa Rica these documents will be examined, and possibly your pet as well.
If you wish to return to the USA from Costa Rica, you’ll need to visit a vet in Costa Rica. They’ll be able to provide the required certificates. This will require stamps and a fee, but involves only a one stop trip.
While the process may seem a bit cumbersome at first, it’s more than worth it to be able to bring your beloved pet with you to Costa Rica, and back home again too. Once you’ve gone through the routine once or twice, it’ll become a part of your process for moving between both countries, and be easier the next time round.
Source: 1. https://www.aphis.usda.gov/wps/portal/aphis/home/