Travel Tips

In your carry-on bag it is very important to have:

  • Your passport. It has to be up-to-date, in good standing, and not expire over the next 6 months. Some students have not been able to travel to Costa Rica because their passports were expired or they forgot to bring it!

  • Your airplane ticket or electronic reservation information.

  • The emergency phone number provided by CPI in the confirmation of your program, the physical address of CPI, and your accommodation information. These are especially important to have if your luggage is lost in order to provide the airline with an address to deliver this to.

  • Your money. Remember to make copies of your credit cards. In Costa Rica, Visa and MasterCard are mostly accepted while other credit cards sometimes are not. Before you leave your home country, please inform your bank and credit card company that you are traveling abroad. That way, when charges from Costa Rica start showing up on your bank statement they do not assume your card has been stolen.

  • A pen to complete the customs and immigration forms.

  • Extra clothes in case your luggage is lost

When you arrive to the Juan Santamaria International airport (San Jose) follow this process:

  • After disembarking the airplane, you need to first pass the immigration counters to have your passport stamped

  • Take your luggage off of the carrousel and proceed to customs where your luggage might be opened for inspection or not.

  • Once you pass through customs, please exit the building to meet the CPI driver that will give you an information package. Some travel agencies are allowed inside the airport to pick up their passengers but in CPI’s case, this is not possible. For this reason the CPI driver is outside the building on the main sidewalk waiting for you. The driver will have a shirt with CPI’s logo and name on it, as well as be holding a sign with the same information. On this page you will find photos of the drivers that most frequently go to the airport for our students.

  • You may take a cart to put your luggage on from the baggage claim area, you may exit with this if you prefer. A porter may offer to take your baggage for you too. If you use his service, he’ll expect a tip.

  • Sometimes there are many people in the airport and if you are unable to find the driver, we recommend that you look for a public telephone and call the emergency number that is given in the confirmation of you arrival. Sometimes there are people or “pirate” taxi drivers that will try to convince you to go with them and they usually charge very high prices. Don’t pay attention to them and wait for our driver or contact us.

  • There are also people that may offer you the use of their cellular phones to make a call and once the call finishes they will ask you to pay for the call. If you use one of their cellular phones, ask them to give you the phone to speak directly with the CPI representative.

  • Finally, it is important to remember that if your luggage does not appear or is lost and it has been more than 45 minutes since your arrival to the airport, we suggest that you leave for a moment to look for the CPI driver to advise him that you have arrived; with this situation have complete confidence that the driver will wait the necessary time you need.


For your first weekend in the country we recommend that you purchase colones at the airport from which you depart. However, the exchange rates are usually low and therefore we recommend exchanging only about US$30-US$50. On the first Monday, after your arrival, you will be able to exchange money in any of the banks in the area. The banks in Costa Rica are open from Monday to Friday.

This advice is primarily so that your arrival to Costa Rica is more comfortable and secure.

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