Thursday 30 November 2023

Canada recommends its citizens a ‘high degree of caution’ when visiting Costa Rica due to insecurity

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30 November 2023 - At The Banks - Source: BCCR

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QCOSTARICA — The Government of Canada issued an alert to its citizens who are traveling or planning to visit Costa Rica, given the wave of violence currently being experienced in the country.

The travel advice issued on November 3, 2023, can be found at the website.

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The publication for residents of Canada recommends ‘exercising a high degree of caution’ and gives specific suggestions for areas such as San José, the Central Pacific and the Southern Caribbean.

Flora Ayub, executive director of the Costa Rican Chamber of Hotels (CCH), expressed her concern about this news, taking into account the beginning of the high season for tourism.

Ella Ayub highlighted that Canadian tourism is very important for the country.

According to the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (ICT) – Costa Rican Tourism Board -, between January and September of this year, the country received more than 170,000 tourists from Canada.

From the website:

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Risk level: Costa Rica – Exercise a high degree of caution in Costa Rica due to crime.

Safety and security: Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching, occurs frequently. Tourists are common targets for theft because they are perceived as being wealthy.

Crime against property, such as house burglary, theft from cars, and vehicle theft, is frequent. Passport theft is also extremely common and increases in frequency during the peak tourist seasons, from November to May and from July to August.

Thieves often work in teams, in which one thief diverts the victims’ attention while the other snatches their possessions. Thefts commonly occur:

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  • in popular tourist areas, including viewpoints
  • on buses, on trains, in bus and train stations as well as in airport terminals
    in hotel lobbies
  • at restaurants, including on patios located near streets

While you’re in Costa Rica:

  • ensure that your belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times
  • carry your passport, including the Costa Rican entry stamp received at the immigration entry point
  • avoid showing signs of affluence or wearing expensive jewellery
  • avoid carrying large sums of cash or unnecessary valuables
  • avoid isolated or deserted areas
  • avoid walking alone at night
  • be aware of your surroundings, particularly in crowded and tourist areas
  • be extra cautious when withdrawing cash from ATMs

Canadians driving in Costa Rica

This a reminder that you can drive with a valid Canadian driver’s license in Costa Rica for up to 90 days (3 months) from your arrival date, even if you are granted a longer, typically now up to 180 days (6 months).  You must also carry your passport when driving in the country. Photocopies are not acceptable.

Costa Rica’s traffic laws have not been updated to reflect the immigration service’s longer stay decision.

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