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ftz importing regulations
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Free Trade Zone Importing Regulations

Free Trade Zone Importing Regulations

Below you will find a brief description of the processes and regulations that all products or goods you import via a Free Trade Zone must go through in Costa Rica.

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Import Requirements:

1. Products/goods must be registered in Costa Rica at the Health Department of Costa Rica (Ministerio de Salud) and/or the Agricultural and Animal Control Department (Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganaderia).

2. Import permits (if required)

Arrival of Goods:

Imported goods may not be entered legally until the shipment has arrived within the limits of the port of entry and delivery of the merchandise has been authorized by Costa Rican Customs. You will be required to hire a Customs broker to interface between Costa Rican Customs and you. Customs entry papers may usually be presented before the merchandise arrives.

A Customs broker is an individual or company, regulated by the laws of Costa Rica, that assists - for a fee - importers and exporters in passing their merchandise through Customs and providing the proper paper work and payments.

Most Customs brokers will require the following documents in order to assist you:

  • Bill of Lading

  • A Commercial Invoice

  • Photocopy of your Costa Rican Identification Card, passport, or tax identification number

Costa Rican Customs does not notify you or your Custom broker of the arrival of your shipment. Your carrier must notify you of the arrival of your shipment at the first point of arrival. Then, you must make your own arrangements so that your customs broker is immediately informed and he or she files to clear your shipment from Customs.

Entry of Goods:

To make or file a customs entry, your Customs broker requires:

  • A bill of lading as evidence of the consignee's right to make entry

  • A commercial invoice, obtained from the seller, which shows the value and description of the merchandise

  • Packing lists, if appropriate, and other documents necessary to determine whether the merchandise may be admitted

When the entry is filed, Customs determines the tariff classification, and requests your customs broker to show all the required import permits (if necessary) and to pay any estimated customs duty.

Customs Examination of Goods:

Customs examination of goods may take place on the docks, at container stations, cargo terminals or at Customs warehouses. Customs Examination is required to determine proper classification, appraisal and customs duties due for the goods. Customs, at its own discretion or at random, will decide what type of examination your products will require.

There can be three types of examinations:

  • A physical examination where a Customs Inspector and your customs broker - you may also attend - will start physically examining your products to ensure that is properly labeled indicating the name of the country of origin and the ultimate purchaser in Costa Rica; that the products are correctly invoiced; that the shipment does not contain prohibited articles; that the quantity of goods invoiced matches with the quantity of goods that were shipped.

  • A document examination where a Customs inspector looks at your documents and ensures that they are all in order.

  • A liquidation examination where the Customs inspector appraises the merchandise and determines Customs duties you have to pay and ensures that they are paid.

Customs Liquidation of Goods:

When all the information has been acquired, including the Customs examination report and import permits submitted by your Customs broker, a final determination of duty is made and your Customs broker will be required to pay such duty on your behalf.

Once the Customs duty is paid, Customs will release your products and your Customs broker will inform you that you can pick up your shipment at a specific Customs Office. 

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