Shooting in Costa Rica

Key information for your next project

What to know about Costa Rica

Tropical and subtropical with a dry season from December to April, transitional months in May and November, rainy season June to October. In the Caribbean Coast due to hurricane season in the north, the best summer months are in September and October.
Where is Costa Rica located
Costa Rica is in the middle of the Americas, in Central America. With Panama on our south border and Nicaragua on our northern border and with Caribbean Sea and North Pacific Ocean on our coasts. Our strategic location means that direct flights from Miami are 3 hours in length and from Los Angeles 5 hours. Also we are easy to reach during business hours as we are in CST during the winter and in Mountain Time during summer.
Costa Rica’s political situation
It is a democratic country without an army since 1948, so a very peaceful country
Interesting Facts
The city of San José became the third city in the world and the first in Latin America to have public lighting in 1884. According to International Living magazine, our health system is one of the best in the world. Costa Rica has a Universal Health system that is free for all citizens and lawful residents and basic general education is obligatory and free. As per Costa Rica’s Law, anyone you hire needs to be insured (even if it’s a temporary job for a few hours), everyone needs to have Workers Insurance (Crew members, Talent, Drivers etc.). For that reason, Local Production companies will include coverage as part of their services and they will be under their Insurance Policy.
VISA to shoot in Costa Rica:
VISAS are not required for citizens of the United States of America, Canada or the EU. Other nationalities are subject to VISAS on a case by case basis. Regardless of the VISA requirement, any visitor will need a valid passport with at least 6 months before expiration, a round trip ticket and immigration officials might require you to show that you have sufficient funds at hand for the length of the trip.
If there is the need to import any specific equipment, no ATA carnets apply in Costa Rica. To process an import permit we will need a copy of the passport of the person bringing in the equipment, the flight itinerary and a complete list of equipment with serial numbers. With this information we can process an import permit with the Film Commission and it gets signed by the Film Commissioner and sent to the adequate Customs officials. This takes about 5 working days.
Film Crew and talent
Costa Rica has a small pool of local directors, directors of photography and stills photographers. Our key crew of professionals are of a great standard and most are fluent English and Spanish speakers. Talent in Costa Rica is non-union. Day rates and buyouts are very competive. Costa Rica offers mainly International Latin talent and smaller amounts of African Americans and Asians. There is a big ex-pat community from USA that are usually looking to be in commercials. There are a couple of good casting agencies in Costa Rica. If required, bringing in foreign talent is easy.
The country is 9,700 square miles (51,100 sq. km) about the size of Vermont in the U.S. or Bosnia and Herzegovina in Europe. It has 0.03%of the earth’s surface and it contains almost 6% of the world’s biodiversity. 25.6% of the territory is protected in National Parks and Reserves, this includes: islands and beaches, rainforests and dry forest, active and inactive volcanoes, hot springs, caves, river canyons and waterfalls.
Travel Distances with in Costa Rica
Logistically the distances to travel from one point to another works great since you can basically shoot in a Beach at the Pacific Ocean with a drive of less than 2 hours or shoot in the Caribbean Beach in 3 ½ hour drive. It has outstanding surf, like Pavones that has the longest left in the world.
Location Permits
Permits can take 7 to 15 days to process.
Costa Rican population
Ethnicity is made up of 94% whites, 3% African-American, 1% American, 1% Chinese and 1% Others. Talent rates & buyouts are one of the most competitive in the market.
Tax Incentives
For TV Commercials the country does not have any tax incentives; it is a cost-efficient option compared to other countries that offer a similarly impressive level of film infrastructure, pristine locations and safe conditions. The topography of the country allows different types of locations and rich biodiversity with very small travel times between them. There are countries that offer the same, but you would have to travel 12 hours by car or take flights to get there. There is no incentive to cover that expense. Labor costs are quite competitive. All of these helps to make Costa Rica a very competitive location to shoot your next project.