Information before a student internship in Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Costa Rica, or officially the Republic of Costa Rica, which translated to English means: Rich Coast. The Country is located in Central America on the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. It borders on the North with Nicaragua and on the South with Panama. Costa Rica is divided into 7 provinces.

Population

4,857,274 inhabitants in 2016 (ranked 123rd)

Area

51,100 km2(ranked 126th)

Capital

San José

Currency

The local currency is called Colón. 530₡ is equal to 1$. You can pay with U.S dollars, which are widely accepted in the notes not larger than 50$ and 100$. It is common to see the prices of the hotels, tours and some restaurants listed in dollars. The VAT, or Impuesto de valor agregado, amounts to 13% in Costa Rica. The VAT is always included in the announced rates. Tipping in Costa Ricans restaurants is optional, all restaurants are adding 10% gratuity to the bills.

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Weather

It has a diverse landform, from coastal plains to the craggy mountains. The Costa Rican highest peak which is in the Chirripó National Park is called Cerro Chirripo – and 3. 810m high. Costa Rica has an equatorial climate.

On the Caribbean Coast the winds bring rainfalls from the Sea all year round, about 2000-6000mm per year. In contrast on the Pacific side the rainfall is lower, about 1000-2000mm. The highest amount of rain lasts from May to December. The dry season is in the months of January, February, March and April. In the centre of the country the temperatures can be described rather as a temperate. Atlantic Coast of Costa Rica is tropical, hot and the humidity is high. During the rainy season it’s rain everyday, nonetheless the rain appears once per day, usually in the afternoons and its short downpour, the rest of the day is sunny. The climate on the coast of the Pacific is tropical and it is very hot especially during the rainfall period, the rainfall is very intensive especially on the southern side of the Pacific Coast.

San Jose is located in the centre of the country where the climate is tolerable comparing with the costs of the country, where the level of humidity is very high. The temperature persists at 27°C and seldom the temperature drops below 13°C. It is said that in the heart of the country, in the centre you can experience eternal spring. It is possible that in the mountains the temperature difference between day and night can be noticeable. The best weather in San Jose is between the months January-March when the level of the rainfall is the lowest and the temperatures oscillates between 25°C-27°C. In April the rainfall appears, and the level of the rain is about 290mm per month. Since May to November the average temperature is 24°C, in October forecasts show 30 days of rain. In those months it is the worst to visit the Capital. In December the level of the rainfall is reduced and the maximum temperature reaches 24°C.

The best times for going to Costa Rica

The best period for exploring Costa Rica is the dry season between December and April. This is the time when in the country many cultural events taking place. Do not forget that those months are also the busiest one in Costa Rica, due to celebrating, Christmas, New Year eve and Semana Santa – Easter week. Nevertheless, during the rainy season which is starting from May and lasting till beginning of November, the prices of the hotels are affordable. During this period you can enjoy your time on the Pacific Coast where the weather is good.

Tourist Seasons in Costa Rica:

  • Low Season : May to October.
  • High Season : April and November.
  • Very high Season : December to March

Time Difference

UTC –6 has only one-time zone, there is no daylight saving time, the UTC off set is the same all year long. The time difference between i.e. Costa Rica and London is 7h and between Panama and Central European countries it is 8h difference.

Phone and Internet

It is possible to use your mobile phone in Costa Rica. From the main phone providers I.C.E., Movistar, Claro. You can for example purchase a SIM Card for less than 4 € 42 and easily communicate via WhatsApp, Facetime, Messenger etc.

For international calls:

– From the UK to Costa Rica: 00 + 506 + city code + number of the correspondent.
– From Costa Rica to the UK: 00 + 44 + number of the correspondent.

For emergencies dial 911. The number allows you to contact police, firefighters and ambulances throughout Costa Rica from a mobile phone.

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Entry Requirements for Costa Rica

Republic of Costa Rica allows tourists from EU to stay in the country for 90 days without a VISA. It is sufficient to hold a European Passport which must be valid min. 1 day beyond the day that you arrive to Costa Rica. Nonetheless it is better to hold a valid document during the whole period of your stay in Costa Rica. Too see if you are required the VISA, contact the Embassy of Costa Rica in your country or visit Costa Rican’s immigration and naturalization office. When entering Costa Rica as a tourist you are not allowed to undertake a paid activity. When immigrating as a tourist without a working Visa you can only do an unpaid internship. For all paid activities/remunerated internships a Visa is mandatory. The Visa must be requested from the Costa Rican’s Embassy in your country prior to your departure.

Warning: In case of entering Costa Rica through the US it is mandatory to have an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization). The registration for the Travel Authorization can be made online via their website. The ESTA registration costs 14USD (11€71) and is valid for 2 years. It is recommended to register for the ESTA at least 72h before the departure (Minimum response time). If purchasing the ESTA at the airport through an agency the costs amount to 50 Euros.

Useful information

Edificio Centro Colón,
Paseo Colón and Streets 38 and 40
Apartado 815 – 1007
San Jose
Costa Rica

Tel: (506) 2258-2025
E-mail: ukin.costarica@fco.gov.uk

Website: https://www.gov.uk/world/organisations/british-embassy-in-costa-rica

Local Information

Stay tuned about exhibitions, concerts and events, local restaurants and transportation and start feeling like a local in no time through these helpful and free apps: Costarriquenismos, Viva el Menu, Off the Grid Traveler, Magic Seaweed, iOverland. For more information about these apps follow this link.

Homesick? Find Compatriots/Expats in Costa Rica

join Facebook groups of travelers and expats in Costa Rica.

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