Home » Cars » Car Rental in Costa Rica

Car Rental in Costa Rica

The search above is provided by DiscoverCars.com, World's Best Car Rental Booking Website of 2022.

If you want to be sure to get the best possible deal, we recommend checking also QEEQ.COM, one of the fastest-growing online car rental platforms worldwide, listing over 7 million rental cars in around 200 countries.

Renting a Car in Costa Rica

When visiting Costa Rica, renting a car can give you the freedom to explore the country at your own pace. However, it’s important to understand the local driving laws and requirements before hitting the road.

Driving Laws and Requirements

In Costa Rica, you must be at least 21 years old to rent a car, and some rental companies may have a minimum age requirement of 25. You will also need a valid driver’s license from your home country, as well as a major credit card for the deposit.

It’s important to familiarize yourself with Costa Rica’s driving laws, including speed limits, seat belt requirements, and blood alcohol limits. Additionally, be aware that driving conditions in Costa Rica may be different from what you are used to, so it’s important to exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings.

Choosing the Right Car

When renting a car in Costa Rica, consider the type of vehicle that will best suit your needs. If you plan to explore the country’s rugged terrain, a 4×4 vehicle may be necessary. If you will be doing a lot of city driving, a smaller, more fuel-efficient car may be a better option.

Be sure to consider factors such as fuel efficiency, size, and comfort when choosing a rental car. Additionally, consider any additional features you may need, such as a GPS or car seats for children.

Booking Your Rental Car

When booking your rental car in Costa Rica, be sure to compare prices from different rental companies to find the best deal. It’s also important to read the fine print and understand the terms and conditions of the rental agreement, including insurance coverage and any additional fees.

Consider booking your rental car in advance to ensure that you have the best selection of vehicles and to secure the best price. Additionally, be sure to communicate any special requests or requirements to the rental company before arriving to pick up your car.

Renting a car in Costa Rica can be a convenient and enjoyable way to explore the country. By understanding the local driving laws and requirements, choosing the right car for your needs, and booking your rental in advance, you can ensure a smooth and enjoyable driving experience during your visit to Costa Rica.

Rental Requirements

Age Limits

To rent a car in Costa Rica, the minimum age requirement is typically 21 years old, although some rental companies may require drivers to be at least 25 years old. There is usually no maximum age limit for renting a car.

Driving License Requirements

A valid driver’s license from your home country is required to rent a car in Costa Rica. If your driver’s license is not in Spanish, you may also need to present an International Driving Permit (IDP). Additionally, some rental companies may require you to have held your driver’s license for a minimum of one or two years.


In addition to a valid driver’s license and, if necessary, an International Driving Permit, you will also need to present a valid passport and a credit card in the name of the primary driver for security deposit purposes. Some rental companies may have specific documentation requirements, so it’s best to check with your chosen rental agency beforehand.

Insurance Information

When renting a car in Costa Rica, it’s important to understand the insurance options available to you.

Basic Insurance

The basic insurance typically included in your rental package may consist of Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) and Theft Protection. CDW covers damage to the rental vehicle in the event of a collision, while Theft Protection provides coverage in case the car is stolen.

Additional Insurance

In addition to the basic insurance, you may have the option to purchase additional coverage such as Personal Accident Insurance, which provides medical coverage for you and your passengers in the event of an accident, and Supplemental Liability Insurance, which offers increased liability coverage in case of damages to third parties.

Insurance Tips

For travelers renting a car in Costa Rica, it’s advisable to check their existing travel insurance policies to see if they offer any coverage for rental cars. It’s also important to thoroughly review the terms and conditions of the insurance offered by the rental company to fully understand what is covered and any potential limitations.

Local Driving Laws and Regulations in Costa Rica

General Traffic Rules

Driving Side: In Costa Rica, driving is on the right side of the road.
Speed Limits: The speed limit is typically 25-30 mph in urban areas, 55 mph on rural roads, and 62 mph on highways.
Other Useful Info: Speed limits are strictly enforced, and fines for speeding can be steep.

Overtaking and Lane Usage

Overtaking Rules: Overtaking is allowed on the left side, and it is important to use caution and signal clearly.
Lane Discipline: Costa Rica follows the ‘keep right except to overtake’ rule on multi-lane roads.
Other Useful Info: Be aware of slow-moving vehicles and animals on rural roads.

Seat Belt and Child Safety

Seat Belt Laws: Seat belts are mandatory for all passengers in the vehicle, and child seats are required for children under 12 years old.
Child Safety: Children under 12 years old or under 4 feet 9 inches tall must use a child safety seat.
Other Useful Info: Failure to comply with seat belt and child safety laws can result in fines.

Use of Mobile Phones

Mobile Phone Restrictions: The use of mobile devices while driving is prohibited, unless using a hands-free system.
Other Useful Info: Violating this law can result in fines and points on your license.

Alcohol and Driving

Legal Blood Alcohol Limits: The legal blood alcohol limit is 0.05% for regular drivers and 0.00% for drivers with less than three years of experience.
Zero Tolerance Policies: There are stricter rules for drivers with less than three years of experience.
Other Useful Info: Penalties for driving under the influence can include fines, license suspension, and even jail time.

Tolls and Charges

Toll Roads: There are several toll roads in Costa Rica, and payment is typically in local currency or USD.
Congestion Charges: There are no urban congestion charges in Costa Rica.
Other Useful Info: Some rental vehicles may come with a toll transponder for convenience.

Roundabouts and Intersections

Navigating Roundabouts: Roundabouts are common in Costa Rica, and drivers inside the roundabout have the right of way.
Intersection Rules: Traffic signals and signs must be obeyed, and right of way is typically given to the vehicle on the right.
Other Useful Info: Exercise caution at intersections, as traffic can be unpredictable.

Headlight and Windshield Wiper Laws

Headlight Usage: Headlights must be used at night and in rainy conditions.
Windshield Wiper Rule: It is required to use headlights when using windshield wipers.
Other Useful Info: It is common for weather conditions to change quickly, so be prepared to use headlights and wipers as needed.

Emergency Vehicles

Right of Way for Emergency Vehicles: When an emergency vehicle is approaching with lights and sirens, pull over to the right and stop.
Other Useful Info: Failure to yield to emergency vehicles can result in fines.

Driving Tips for Costa Rica

Road Conditions

Costa Rica has a variety of road conditions, ranging from well-maintained highways to rough, unpaved roads in more rural areas. It’s important to be prepared for different types of terrain and be cautious when driving on less-developed roads.

Urban vs. Rural Driving

In urban areas like San Jose, drivers can expect heavy traffic and more aggressive driving styles. In rural areas, roads may be less maintained and more challenging to navigate. It’s important to adjust your driving style based on the location and be aware of your surroundings at all times.

Navigational Tips

Using a GPS or maps can be extremely helpful when driving in Costa Rica, especially in more remote areas. However, it’s important to have a backup plan in case of signal loss or technical issues. Familiarize yourself with your route and have a general understanding of where you are going before hitting the road.

Other Useful Tips

– Be aware of local traffic laws and regulations.
– Keep an eye out for wildlife crossing the roads, especially in rural areas.
– Consider renting a 4×4 vehicle for better maneuverability on rough terrain.
– Take caution when driving at night, as visibility may be limited in some areas.

Roadside Assistance and Emergency Procedures

Breakdown Procedures:

If you find yourself in a breakdown situation while driving a rented car in Costa Rica, the first thing to do is to safely pull over to the side of the road. Turn on your hazard lights to alert other drivers. Contact the rental company immediately to inform them of the situation. Follow their instructions on what to do next, whether that be waiting for roadside assistance or arranging for a replacement vehicle.

Emergency Services:

It’s important to have the contact numbers for emergency services readily available while driving in Costa Rica. The police can be reached by dialing 911, while the ambulance services can be reached by dialing 128. Additionally, most rental companies provide a dedicated hotline for roadside assistance, so make sure to have that number on hand as well.

Rental Company Policies:

Most reputable car rental companies in Costa Rica offer 24/7 roadside assistance as part of their service. This means that no matter the time of day or night, help is just a phone call away. In the event that the rental car needs to be towed, the company will arrange for a tow truck to transport the vehicle to a nearby service center for repairs. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the specific policies of the rental company you choose, so you know exactly what support is available to you in case of an emergency.

Where can you Rent a Car in Costa Rica?

You can browse all the city locations below, sorted alphabetically. Use Ctrl+F (or Cmd+F on a Mac) to quickly find the one you want to explore.