Driving in Costa Rica can be significantly different from driving in most parts of the US, so it’s important to know some road rules before you start your journey. We have compiled a guide with useful tips so that when you pick up your rental car you will be confident behind the wheel.
Rules and Regulations
- Drive on the right and overtake on the left.
- Passing on the right is not allowed
- All occupants of the vehicle should wear seat belts.
- Child’s seats are required for children under 12 or smaller than 1.45m
- Driving under the influence of alcohol is taken seriously. Driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of over 0.50 is considered under the influence.
- The use of mobile phones whilst driving is prohibited.
- Yellow lines denote areas where you are not allowed to pass
- Driving on beaches is strictly prohibited everywhere, except when there is no other path connecting two towns.
|In school and hospital zones:||25 km/h (16 mph)|
|Within city limits:||40 km/h (25 mph)|
|Outside city limits:||60 km/h (37 mph)|
|Highway/Freeway:||120 km/h (75 mph)|
- If you are involved in an accident, always wait until a police officer arrives. Do not move your vehicle. The officer will prepare a report. You may also report the accident by calling 911 or 800-0123456.
- Do not drive through or park your car in poorly lit areas. Never leave your car on the street; always park it in a safe parking lot. Do not leave any belongings in the car where they are visible.
- Keep your car doors locked at all times. If you are driving in downtown San José, keep the windows shut.
- When driving in Costa Rica you will notice that often there are no street signs, often no street lights, no addresses, and no numbering systems. Addresses in Costa Rica are in terms of location from a known landmark i.e. a church, cemetery, or major company. Make sure you have a GPS.
- Due to the lack of street lights, you should drive with extra care and caution when driving at night and only drive at night if necessary.
- Roads can be in bad condition with large potholes, so be aware when driving. The rainy season wreaks havoc on Costa Rica’s roads—landslides, flooding, and erosion are not uncommon. In many rural areas, gravel or dirt roads are common.
- Gas stations (bombas) in Costa Rica can be difficult to find although there are many. If you are running low on fuel make sure you know where the nearest gas station is before you start your journey.
- Watch out when driving on the highways as pedestrians and animals use or cross the highways everywhere. The highways around San José are especially notorious for people crossing the road anywhere.
- Take extra care when driving in the mountains as domestic and wild animals often choose to sleep on the paved highway. This is not prevalent along the coast highway, but always use caution especially when your vision is limited.
- Many large trucks and buses, along with an assortment of older vehicles (usually pickup trucks), travel the highways at speeds well below the posted limit, especially in the mountains.
Rent a Car in Costa Rica with SIXT
When you choose to rent with us you can be sure to get top service at affordable rates. Our branches in Liberia and San José allow you to see the natural wonders of Costa Rica conveniently. And if you still have questions about driving in Costa Rica, our branch staff are happy to help.