Sunday, September 27, 2009

Bringing pets To Costa Rica

If you are considering bringing your pets with you to Costa Rica, there are some important documents, rules and regulations that you should be aware of.

For dogs, cats and other small pets you need to prove to both the airlines and Costa Rican customs officers that your animal is without disease. Make sure your animals vaccinations are up to date, and schedule an exam with your veterinarian a couple weeks before your departure date. Have the vet fill out a health certificate stating that the animal is disease-free and has been vaccinated against distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus, and rabies. The rabies vaccination should be more than 30 days but less than a year old, and is needed only for animals that are four months old or older.

If coming from the United States, dogs and cats entering Costa Rica must have a health certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian, and endorsed by a Veterinary Service (VS) veterinarian. The examination for the certificate must be conducted within the two weeks prior to travel to Costa Rica. The Health Certificate does NOT need to be signed by a Notary Public, nor does it have to be authenticated by the Consulate of Costa Rica.

Canadian residents visiting or moving to Costa Rica with their pets also require an International Health Certificate completed and signed by a veterinarian, and certified by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, stating that the pet has all of the required vaccinations. (Please note that the certificate must not be more than three months old.) Once signed and certified, this document must be sent to the General Consulate of Costa Rica in Ottawa for legal purposes. The certification fee is $40 and can be deposited in their bank account. You need to enclose the original as well as a copy of the receipts with the documents.

Once you have arrived in Costa Rica, the customs officer will do a mandatory visual inspection of your pet), and double check the health certificate and authorization from the Costa Rican Health Ministry. Many people claim that they were not asked for documents; however it is best not to take the risk. If everything seems fine you may pass through, although finding a pet-friendly taxi is certainly not an easy task.

If the official decides your pet looks ill or seems infected with disease, or if you are missing any documents, the animal will either be temporarily released to your care or kept in a state kennel for up to 30 days. In the meantime you will have to work out an arrangement either to have the animal shipped back, arrange for the necessary paperwork, or have your animal cared for at a local veterinary hospital.

~ Stephanie Casanova

Friday, September 18, 2009

Required Documents for Costa Rican Weddings

Many engaged couples looking to have their wedding in Costa Rica are not aware of the required documents, rules and regulations pertaining to marriage in this country. For instance, only a Catholic Priest or a Lawyer can marry a couple in Costa Rica, a Protestant Pastor may not. This is a quick guide for those who are wanting to get married in Costa Rica- please note that there are some different rules if one spouse is Costa Rican and the other is not. Visit Tips For Costa Rica for more info on weddings in Costa Rica!

If neither the Bride nor the Groom is Costa Rican:

~ Each person must have a valid passport which does not expire for 6 months, and you must submit two copies of each to your lawyer

~You will need to locate and hire a local attorney to marry you and file your paperwork. If you are being wed at a hotel, the hotel will likely recommend an attorney or hire one for you. If the hotel does locate one, it will likely cost around $500 USD; however if you hire one on your own it will likely cost around $300. If one person’s first language is not Spanish, then a translator must be present and the ceremony must be held in both languages

You will need to give your lawyer the following information approximately one month before the wedding:

~ Full name of both Bride and Groom: first, middle and last. No initials will be accepted

~Passport numbers and nationality

~ Birth dates and places of birth

~ Foreign address

~ Occupation/Profession

~ Marital status certificate - if divorced you will need to provide a copy of the divorce decree. If the Bride has been divorced for less than 12 months, she may need to present a negative pregnancy test to the nearest Costa Rican consulate for authentication.

~ Both the Bride and Grooms Mother and Father’s full name and nationality, the mother’s full name should actually have her maiden name, not married name

~ Parent’s address

Two Witnesses are required to sign the marriage licence. If you are travelling alone, the hotel will most likely provide you with the witnesses. You will need to present the following information about your witnesses to your lawyer at least one month before the wedding:

~Full name, no initials

~Current address

~ Date and place of birth

~ Passport number (copy of passport) and nationality

~ Marital status

*Please Note* In Costa Rica a notary is not solely one who validates signatures. Here, a notary is empowered to make entries directly to a registry and register documents. All notaries are attorneys, however not all attorneys are notaries, so make sure you hire the right person!