Bonding procedures in Costa Rica

Published 14 years ago, updated 5 years ago

As reported in Cruising Compass 1 October 2009

If you intend to leave your boat in Costa Rica for an extended period of time, you should know this:

“According to the customs office in Golfito (where we are currently bonded):

  1. You automatically get a 90-day permit for the boat.
  2. After that, you must choose to take the boat out of the country for at least 90 days before you can return or go into bond. (They don’t care about you personally, that is an immigration issue).
  3. If you choose to go into bond, it is up to the bonding agent to determine the fee, as there is no fee from customs to go into bond. You may remain in bond for as long as you wish. However, if you want to move the boat you can only do so with special permission for short time frames (less than a week) or by ending the bond.
  4. If you have been in bond for at least 3 months, your boat is treated as if it is out of the country. Thus they will give you another 90-day permit. Once that permit is up I believe you can repeat the bond cycle if you wish.
  5. Extensions are only granted on an emergency basis and they no longer give 90 days, I believe they only give 30 (not 100 percent sure). You have to provide proof of the emergency and jump through some hoops to qualify for the temporary extension.
  6. Many of the marinas tell me that they are trying to get this interpretation changed because although they get business from bonding boats, it chases a lot of boaters out of the country and hurts them in general. But don’t expect any changes soon.

“Authorized Marinas” include the following (north to south):

  • Marina Papagayo (most northern)
  • Marina Puerto Azul (Puntarenas)
  • Marina Los Suenos (Herradura)
  • Marina Somoa del Sur (Golfito)
  • Banana Bay Marina (Golfito)
  • Fish Hook Marina (Golfito)

Also slowly nearing completion:

  • Marina Pez Vela (Quepos)

All of them have websites where you can get contact information and they are in our guide. Occupancy is down this year making space more available, but not necessarily cheaper. There are currently 7 other marina projects in various stages of government approval processes and most of those will probably offer bonding, but you might need to wait a decade or two before they are finished.

Posted by Eric ( on the Southbound Group.

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