Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Revised message regarding increase in violent criminal activity in San Jose area

This message is to alert U.S. citizens residing and traveling in Costa Rica to a small but increasing trend of daytime targeted shootings and other violent criminal acts. While expatriate U.S. citizens were not targeted in the recent shootings, they have previously been the victims of opportunistic crimes.

These attacks reflect a rise in the annual homicide rate in Costa Rica, which increased almost 15 percent between 2013 and 2014 according to OIJ figures in 2015.  In 2015, the annual homicide rate is on pace to increase by an additional 12 percent.  The Regional Security Office (RSO) of the U.S. Embassy assesses that many of the incidents in the metropolitan San Jose area relate to disputes among local organized criminal elements over control of the distribution of narcotics to neighborhoods south and east of the city.

Specific guidance for U.S. citizens:  The U.S. Embassy recommends the following to lower your risk of exposure to violence:

  • Maintain your situational awareness at all times while out and take note of vehicles or individuals that appear    out of place or unusual.
  • As in the United States, take note of the location of entrances, exits, and stairwells in order to facilitate a hasty movement to safety.
  • Do not hesitate to leave a venue if you suspect something unusual is about to happen.
  • Report anything that appears abnormal to the local police by calling 911.

In the event you are present during a violent altercation, you should:

  • Stay low and immediately seek cover behind solid objects or walls.
  • Assess the situation and determine if you can safely move to a more secure location.
  • Quickly check yourself and those with you for injuries.
  • Call 911 to report the incident to Costa Rican authorities once it is safe to do so.

We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Costa Rica enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program(STEP) at www.Travel.State.GovSTEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency.  If you don’t have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

Regularly monitor the State Department’s website, where you can find current Travel Warnings, (including the Travel Warning for Costa Rica if appropriate), Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution.  Read the Country Specific Information for Costa Rica.  For additional information, refer to “A Safe Trip Abroad” on the State Department’s website.

Contact the U.S. embassy or consulate for up-to-date information on travel restrictions.  You can also call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).  Follow us on Twitter andFacebook, and download our freeSmart Traveler iPhone App to have travel information at your fingertips.

The U.S. Embassy/Consulate in San Jose is located at Avenida 0 Calle 120, Rohrmoser, Pavas and is open 0800 – 1630, Monday to Friday, country code 506, 2519-2590.  If you are a U.S. citizen in need of urgent assistance, the emergency number for the U.S. Embassy/Consulate is country code 506, 2220-3127.