Welcome to the Quarterly U.S. Citizen Newsletter

Welcome to the Quarterly U.S. Citizen Newsletter - July 2023

Stay up to date on key topics important to the U.S. citizen community in Costa Rica


Introducing the U.S. Citizen Services Navigator:

Need to contact the U.S. Embassy? Please use our U.S. Citizens Services Navigator to schedule an appointment or contact us. This is the most efficient and fastest way to reach the American Citizen Services unit


Beach Safety

Swimming areas at some popular beaches around Costa Rica can have dangerous rip currents. Some beaches lack lifeguards or warnings of unsafe conditions. U.S. citizens have died in Costa Rica due to these dangers. Check the Costa Rica Tourism Institute (ICT) website, or with your hotel or relevant tour operator to request current information on local swimming and surf conditions. Please be aware that the Costa Rica Tourism Institute confirms that there are trained lifeguards at the following beaches:

Pacific Coast:

  • Manuel Antonio Beach Caldera Beach
  • Esterillos Oeste Beach
  • Bahia Ballena Beach
  • Ventanas Beach
  • Tamarindo Beach

Caribbean Coast:

  • Cocles Beach
  • Manzanillo Beach
  • Negra Beach (Limon)

Crime and Security

We recommend that all tourists download the OIJ CR Safe app (Download for Apple or Google Play), which has information on security tips and information on how to contact the OIJ police.

oij cr safe

Be sure to adopt safe and smart habits to avoid becoming a victim of a crime.  Here are some protective measures you can take:

  • When you don’t need it, keep your passport in a safe place, like a hotel safe or your home, and carry only a copy (the photo page and the page containing the Costa Rica entry stamp).
  • Carry on paper the name and phone number of your hotel, as well as the phone number of the U.S. Embassy (2519-2000).
  • Stay alert: crowded tourist attractions and resort areas popular with foreign tourists are also common venues for criminal activities.
  • Steer clear of deserted properties or undeveloped land.
  • Reduce risk by keeping valuables out of sight, not wearing jewelry, and traveling in groups.
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash, jewelry, or expensive photographic equipment.
  • Avoid responding in kind to verbal harassment.
  • Avoid responding to road rage incidents.
  • Do not store valuables in a car’s trunk or glove compartment.
  • Do not engage in a physical confrontation with criminals.
  • No personal property is worth your life – if a criminal is willing to use force to take your property, give it to them.
  • Immediately report any suspicious activity to police. If you become a victim of sexual assault, please contact the Embassy immediately.

Screwworm Outbreak Puts Dogs at Risk

On July 14, Costa Rica confirmed the first case of new world screwworm in 23 years near the Paso Canoas border crossing.  Since then, SENASA (the Costa Rican animal health authority) has established periodic checkpoints along the InterAmerican Highway heading North.  If you are traveling with your dog and see a SENASA checkpoint, please do your part and stop to allow Costa Rican veterinarians to quickly evaluate your pet.  These checkpoints are designed to prevent screwworm from spreading and putting additional animals at risk.

If your dog has open wounds or other indications of screwworm, please contact your veterinarian and / or the local SENASA office immediately.  Please do not transport your animal if you suspect infection.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will permit the importation to the U.S. of pet dogs from Costa Rica as long as they are accompanied by a certificate signed by a veterinary stating that the animal has been inspected for screwworm within 5 days prior to shipment to the United States and the animal is either free from screwworm OR was found to be infested with screwworm, held in quarantine, and treated until free from screwworm prior to leaving the region. If an accredited veterinarian performs the screwworm examination and issues the certificate, it must be countersigned by a SENASA veterinary official prior to export (please allow up to 2-days for SENASA to countersign). Please note this new requirement does not currently apply to cats or other animals not listed above.

This requirement is in addition to the normal animal health requirements to transport a pet from Costa Rica to the United States.  If you have questions regarding the application of this new requirement to dogs, please consult the APHIS website.

Voting Abroad

Whether you’re a first-time voter or have already received ballots and voted absentee in past elections, you must complete a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) each year to participate in elections as an overseas absentee voter.

U.S. citizens abroad can receive an absentee ballot by email, fax, or internet download, depending on the state they are eligible to vote in. For more information about how to vote abroad please visit our website.

americans can vote

Adult Passport Renewals

Renew your passport through the mail! Be sure to take advantage of the DS-82 passport application mail-in program where you can pay the DS-82 passport renewal fee online and avoid traveling to the Embassy. For more information follow these easy steps.

Interested in Serving as a Citizen Liaison Volunteer?

We are growing our team of Citizen Liaison Volunteers (CLV) to ensure that we are able to communicate as effectively as possible with U.S. citizens in the event of an emergency. We are looking for volunteers to serve as CLVs in various regions of Costa Rica. If you or someone you know may be interested, or you just want to learn more – let us know!

CLVs are private citizens who help the Embassy help U.S. citizens in need. They assist travelers in distress, help us track down missing U.S. citizens, and, in the event of a natural disaster or other emergency, help us locate other American citizens so we can help get them to safety. Most often, however, CLVs are called on to be our “eyes and ears” in the community, providing valuable feedback on what life is like for ordinary U.S. citizens living in Costa Rica. CLVs are usually American citizens who are longer-term residents of Costa Rica. Please note that this is a voluntary position.

If you would like to be a CLV, please provide us with your full name, date of birth, passport number, and your contact details via email at ACSSanJose@state.gov. Once you notify us of your interest, we’ll get back to you with more information and further instructions.  We are particularly looking for CLVs in Quepos, Golfo Dulce (including Drake Bay), Santa Theresa, Limon province (outside of Puerto Viejo/Manzanilla), Alajuela province, northern Guanacaste province (including Liberia), and southern Puntarenas.  CLVs in smaller cities and rural areas are uniquely important because those can be the hardest places for us to reach in an emergency.