Phones & Internet
In Costa Rica, there are no local area codes; the entire country is classified under the country code 506. Both home phones and cellular phones work differently in Costa Rica than in North America. Instead of buying minute-based or unlimited-use plans, customers pay for their consumption only. Under this system, you pay for the calls you make, not those you receive. Cell phones are more expensive to call.
Currently, only Costa Rican citizens and legal residents may apply for traditional cell phone lines, though prepaid cell phones are also available to tourists and non-residents. GSM and 3G lines are supported and available for purchase. For those in the San Jose area, you can also buy prepaid cards at the international airport. SIM cards come in $5, $10 and $20 increments and can be recharged at ICE, Banco Costa Rica, Banco Nacional and the Maxibodega supermarket. Local rates are slightly more expensive than normal lines, at 6 cents per minute during the day and 5 cents at night. Read our cell phone article for more specifics.
Several companies offer cell phone rentals in Costa Rica for around $7-$10 per day, along with weekly and monthly plans with lower rates. Most companies offer a variety of calling plans, some which allow full international service. Travelers should note that most companies require a refundable security deposit of $125-$250 (depending on the brand of telephone).
The public phones in Costa Rica work with local calling cards, international calling cards, and occasionally coins. Coin-operated public phones are becoming less popular though, so purchasing a calling card is highly recommended. You’ll find them at most supermarkets, pharmacies, Internet cafes, and souvenir shops.
Important Phone Numbers:
Auto Accidents: 800 800 8000
AT&T USA Direct: 0-800-0-114-114
Directory Assistance: 1113
ICE Services: 1115
International Operator: 1116
Transit Police: 1117
Telegrams through RACSA: 1023
Report a Power Outage: 1026
Collect Calls: 1175
Consult Phone Bill: 1187
Voicemail (Same phone): 1190
Voicemail (Different phone): 1191
Tourism Information: 1192
Customer Service for ICE Mobile: 11
Costa Rica is a technologically advanced country, and you’ll find Internet cafes on almost every city corner. Most cafes charge 400-600 CRC per hour (roughly $1). Before you go looking for a cafe, keep in mind that your hotel might offer free or discounted Internet access. In addition, many accommodations now offer free wireless Internet in their lobby and rooms.
WiFi hotspots have grown increasingly popular and easy to find, with a huge concentration in the Central Valley. As you walk around town, keep your eyes open – even upscale restaurants will post WiFi Zone stickers on their front doors. Costa Ricans are generally welcoming, so in most restaurants and businesses, buying a cup of coffee entitles you to several hours of Internet usage.