There is MUCH confusion in the past couple of weeks on pets going into Costa Rica and worry that there is a new law in place because pets are being sent to the cargo warehouse rather than being cleared through the passenger terminal. Many people who purchase properties in Costa Rica bring their pets with them during long stays. Therefore, this is something that everyone who has a pet needs to understand.
There is not a new law. This is an old law that the government is now enforcing on pets coming in on their own ticket or airway bill. The customs officials at the airport were not aware that Continental pets were not coming in as excess baggage until a very important woman (wife of someone high up in the government)threw her weight around on the 18th of April and flashed her airway bill at the customs officials demanding her pets.
This upset the customs officials and brought to their attention the fact that Continental was allowing pets to come through the passenger terminal with an airway bill when they should go directly to the cargo facility like all other pets arriving as manifest cargo with their own tickets.
Several meetings took place over the following days and the result of these meetings were that for now, only Continental would be affected by this ruling since all of the other airlines were already following this protocol. All pets arriving on Continental as quickpak on their own ticket (airway bill) will go directly to the cargo facility rather than be released in the passenger terminal as previously allowed.
Now you must acquire an import permit prior to arrival in order for your pet to be released when you arrive. This should be applied for at least 4 days prior to your arrival in Costa Rica through a broker so that your pet does not sit in the customs warehouse for many unnecessary hours unattended.
There will be taxes and customs duties charged as well as fees charged now that were never charged before as a result of the pets coming in through the cargo warehouse. The tax rate is 24.30% of the adjusted value. Pets are automatically insured at $50.00 above the amount shown on the AWB. Value is set at $50-$60 above the amount shown on the AWB and the taxes and costs are based on this amount.
You still must have a current rabies under one year and vaccinations (for a cat FVRCP, for a dog DHLPP) current within one year. Tick and tapeworm treatment prior to arrival as well. All of this must be documented on the APHIS 7001 International Health Certificate and it must be endorsed by the USDA within 10 days of arrival in Costa Rica.
I hope this information helps clear up some of the confusion that is out there about what is now required to travel with your dog or cat to Costa Rica.