In a matter of months, non-traditional hosting and their intermediation through digital platforms will be regulated by new rules.

This is established by a bill – promoted by PUSC legislator Pablo Heriberto Abarca – approved in first debate by the Legislative Assembly last Thursday.

The bill, if approved in second and final debate and signed into law, will regulate the provision of tourist services for the rental of homes, apartments, villas, chalets, bungalows, rooms, for example, be they to nationals or foreigners – and the digital platforms which mediate between users and owners (service provides).

The bill sets out rights and obligations to users, service providers and marketers, such as Airbnb, among others.

What are those rules?

Following is a summary of the main contents of the approved text, which could be subject to changes when the bill is table in the legislature for discussion and voting in the second and final debate on Thursday (September 5).

The users of the services:

  • Uses should expect to receive sufficient, truthful information, in an accessible, understandable, effective, objective, unambiguous and complete format about the price, conditions and characteristics of the services offered.
  • Receive proof of payment.
  • Receive service according to the contract.
  • Access the services and free entry and permanence without any discrimination based on nationality, ethnicity, gender, religion, disability, opinion or other personal or social circumstance, and receive treatment in accordance with the respect for the dignity of the person.
  • Have security conditions for their physical integrity and their assets, and receive from the service provider accessible information about any risk that may arise from the normal use of the facilities, resources or services.
  • Enjoy the tranquility and privacy in the terms established in current legislation and be informed of any short-term inconvenience that may alter the tranquility and rest.
  • Able to make complaints and claims in the competent authorities and to the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT).
  • Have their personal data protected.
  • Respect the rules of use.
  • Pay the price of the service contracted at the place, time and manner agreed upon.
  • Comply with the reservation and respect the agreed date of departure.
  • Make responsible use of the goods that are part of the service.
  • Take responsibility for any damage caused to the facilities and breach of agreements.

The service providers:

  • Register as a service provider with the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (ICT). This is expected to be a simplified digital registration that will be made available by the ICT and not demand more requirements than those commonly required by commercial or intermediary companies.
  • Obtain the Tourism Sustainability Certificate granted by the ICT, as long as they meet all the conditions required for it.
  • Access the tourism promotion activities of the ICT.
  • Register with the General Directorate of Taxation (of the Ministry of Finance) as a taxpayer for the payment of sales and income taxes established by law.
  • Issue digital invoice (factura digital) broken down with the services provided, in accordance with the agreed to prices.
  • Offer a product suitable tourism service.
  • Ensure the safety, tranquility, comfort and privacy of users.
  • Allow free access and permanence to users, with no restrictions other than those established by law and any condominium regulations that apply.
  • Do not generate abusive clauses in contracts.

According to the text, the ICT will create a digital registry of service providers and another of the commercialization companies or service intermediaries, ie Airbnb.

The bill is expected to pass in the second and final debate on Thursday, which then requires the signature of the President and the publication in the official government newsletter, La Gaceta.

The law will be in effect six months after its publication in La Gaceta, that could be as early as the end of next week.