- Labeling Requirements
- Required Documents
- Import Procedures
- Industrial Alcohol
- Tobacco Products
In accordance with Costa Rican regulation NCR 108:1991, the following information must be present on the label, in Spanish:
- Brand name
- Type of alcohol beverage (e.g., rum, white wine, vodka, etc.)
- Alcohol content – must be expressed in percent by volume (% vol.)
- Net content
- Importer’s name and address
- Permit number and code issued by the Ministry of Health, may be abbreviated as "Lie. M.S. No…" and "Cod. No…."
- Country of origin
- Lot Identification Code/Number – must appear on each package, either written in plain language or in code
- Best by or Consume by Date – required only for alcohol beverages with less than 10 percent alcohol by volume
- Ingredients – required only for specialty-type products. The declaration of any food additives is required regardless of the type of product.
- Warning: "El abuso de licor es nocivo para la salud" (Abuse of liquor is detrimental to your health)
Please note that the name of the product, alcohol content, and net contents must be in a prominent location and appear in the same field of vision.
Sticker labels are permitted for imported products, as long as the information above is on the label and the information accurately reflects what appears on the original label.
- Commercial invoice
- Certificate of free sale (must be accompanied by an official translation if document is in any language other than Spanish)
- Bill of lading or Airway bill (depending on the transportation means to be used)
- Copy of the importer’s identification document (passport, ‘cedula’ or legal identification in the case of a business entity)
Importers must register with the Dirección de Registros y Controles (Registration and Control Department) of the Ministry of Health in order to import products into Costa Rica by filling out an application form (Solicitud de Registro de Importador de Alimentos). The form is available electronically on the Ministry of Health’s website.
Imported products must also be registered (also with the Dirección de Registros y Controles) prior to importation. The registration must be renewed every five (5) years.
The following is a list of documents required in order to register your product:
- Registration request form (Formulario de Solicitud de Registro) for an imported product.
- Certificate of Free Sale indicating that the products being exported to Costa Rica have been made according to the food hygiene standards set out in Article 1 of the "Resolution for the Registration and Marketing of Food Products" (Order/Decreto No. 26817-S) and that the label of the product complies with the applicable norm. In addition, this document must state that the product is allowed for free sale and consumption in the country of origin. This document must be authenticated by the Costa Rican consul and countersigned by the Costa Rican Ministry of Foreign Relations. The document may include one or several products and must be less than two years old. If the document is written in a language other than Spanish, it must be accompanied by an official translation.
In the U.S., Certificates of Free Sale for beverage alcohol products are issued by TTB. For more information, please visit our Export Documents page.
- Original label of the product: If the label is in a language other than Spanish, an official translation of the label must also be attached. If the label is printed directly on the container, an original container and a copy of the label must be submitted.
- Payment proof ticket of the registration fee. The fee (as of September 2008) is approximately US $100.00, and must be paid to the National Bank of Costa Rica. An electronic version of the ticket can be found on the Ministry of Health website. This ticket must be signed by the Treasurer’s Office of the Ministry of Health prior to submitting the aforementioned documentation for registration of the product to be imported.
(Please note that importers must utilize the services of an accredited Customs Agent in order to obtain Customs services. Article 33 of the General Customs Law stipulates that Customs agents are the only individuals authorized to provide such services.)
The importer must provide the Customs Agent with the appropriate documentation (please refer to the Required Documents section of this document for more information). The Customs Agent will classify the imported product and determine the type of import permits (if any) that will be required.
Once the necessary permits have been processed, the Customs Agent will complete the Declaración Aduanera de Importación (Customs Import Form) and submit it to the appropriate Customs port of entry.
The Dirección General de Aduanas (General Customs Directorate) uses a random sampling process in physically inspecting imported goods. After the product has been inspected by Customs (if applicable), the Customs Agent should pay any applicable duties. The Customs authorities then provide a copy of the Customs Import Form, with the statement "Levante de Mercancía" (Cleared Product), and the shipment is considered released from Customs custody.
Importers of industrial alcohol products falling within HS code 220720 (denatured alcohol of any alcoholic strength) must obtain an Authorization for the Importation for Chemical Precursors and Substances from the Ministry of Economy, Industry, and Commerce (MEIC).
No permits are required to import processed tobacco products. Unmanufactured tobacco is required to satisfy certain plant health requirements prior to inspection by Customs authorities.
Tobacco packaging must include one of the following health warning statements: "Fumar durante el embarazo perjudica al niño y provoca prematuridad" (Smoking during pregnancy is harmful to the fetus and may provide premature birth), or "Fumar produce cáncer pulmonar, enfermedad cardiaca, y enfisema" (Smoking causes lung cancer, heart disease, and emphysema).
Duties on beer, spirits, and wine products include a 15 percent tariff. There are also various taxes applied to all beverage alcohol products, including a value added tax (VAT) of 13 percent, and a consumption tax of 10 percent. Wines have an additional tax of 60 percent. Beer products have an additional 10 percent IFAM tax and a 5 percent IDA tax. Spirits products also have a 10 percent IFAM tax and an 8 percent IDA tax, as well as an additional 60 percent tax.
There is also a 30 percent tax applied to any goods entering and remaining in the duty-free area of Golfito.
Taxes and tariffs on cigarettes include a 41 percent tariff, a VAT of 13 percent, a consumption tax of 100 percent, and a 2.50 percent IDA tax. There is a 15 percent tariff on cigars, as well as a 13 percent VAT and a 95 percent consumption tax.
There is a tariff rate of 15 percent ad valorem on denatured alcohol products falling under HS code 220720 as well as a 13 percent VAT.
(This information is current as of 9/18/08)
Dirección de Registros y Controles/Ministerio de Salud
Oficina Nacional de Normas y Unidades de Medida/Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Comercio
Dirección General de Aduanas/Ministerio de Hacienda
Embassy of Costa Rica in the U.S.
USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), U.S. Embassy, San Jose
The information in this guide was obtained from external sources, including the websites of various governmental agencies and organizations, direct contact with those agencies and organizations, and from Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Attaché reports. Consequently, the accuracy of this information depends upon the accuracy of the sources.
TTB is not responsible for the content of external websites.
This page was last reviewed on August 17, 2010.