Taking wine to Costa Rica

We are headed to Costa Rica for a week long New Year’s vacation at a private home we have rented. Does anyone have any experience with taking wine into CR?

Thanks in advance for any help.

Hope you have a WineCheck



And if you don’t, get the super stealth black one with the black mini logo so you don’t deal with customs.

(disclaimer, for those who do not know, I’m co-founder of The Wine Check)

Wine is NOT listed as a prohibited item to import into Costa Rica, not sure on any potential limitations and I have not personally brought any with me… but for what it’s worth, seems to be allowed.

I have the old fashion metal cube that was sold a number of years ago with styrofoam inserts for the bottles. I like the winecheck a lot better. Takes up less storage space. I guess I better order one.

I’ve brought wine to Costa Rica a couple of times. I don’t remember the limitations, but I remember that no one checked or asked. As a couple we brought six bottles each time.
Once you are in the country, selection is sparse, unless you are fond of inexpensive Chilean wine.

P Hickner

My husband and I spent 2 weeks in CR just a few months ago for our anniversary. We knew we couldn’t survive that long without good wine, and being as we were going to be in some remote locations, decided to bring in our own wine to drink.
We just stored the bottles in the styro shippers and packed them in our checked luggage(we knew the wine was going to be replaced with coffee on the return trip home). Zero issues flying into the country or carrying the wine around the country to various destinations. As stated above, the wine selections are pretty limited and what they do have(unless it’s South American) is marked up astronomically.

Well I live in Panama, the country right next to CR. You should’ve come here, there’s a lot of wine here and at similar prices to the US, plus we have a dollarized economy.

According to Costa Rica’s customs every tourist is allowed to bring up to 5L in alcoholic beverages tax free. I can only speak about Panama, which is similar, and here they either check or they don’t. Usually most customs agents don’t view wine as alcohol, they’re only looking for whiskey or high alcohol liquor. I think worst case scenario is if they do make a hassle, just pay the tax on it with a made up invoice, but it rarely happens.

Hope this helps.

I wouldn’t give it a second thought, just bring everything you want. In a longshot worst case, you might pay a few bucks duty for it.

I take wine everywhere I travel. Why be somewhere without good wine to drink?


I have to tell many people not to be so scared of bringing more than what is ‘allowed’, as the duty rate is most often so insignificant that when people are told, they literally chuckle.

I’ve been doing it since 1989, never a problem. The Wine Check is a great way to do it!!

Where in Costa Rica are you headed?

I traveled to Costa Rica last month and brought a case of wine in my Wine Check. I checked in the bag as luggage on a direct flight on United from Newark, NJ to Liberia Airport in CR. No problems at all. I believe that you are allowed to bring in 5 liters of wine or spirits per traveler who is at least 18 years of age. I went with my daughter, so the 12 750ml bottles of wine were ok.

Hope you have a great trip!

I have taken wine to Costa Rica several times (most recently last spring)…I’ve always just checked it in a standard 1-case styrofoam shipper. Then collect it in baggage claim. The only wine you can find in Costa Rica is cheap and bad Chilean wine, cheap and slightly better Argentinian wine, and cheap and even slightly better Spanish Rioja, all mass market “grocery store” wines.

One of my favorite house rentals we ever did in Costa Rica was near the town of Nuevo Arenal…on a Macadamia plantation. The house came with 6 horses, stables, and a dedicated stable hand. The town of Nuevo Arenal had mud roads, not terribly suitable for cars, but every business had a wooden “hitching post” in front to tie your horse to. We rode horses from our house though the jungle to town for lunch every day.

I’ve got a 4 bedroom house and a small 4 room hotel in Costa Rica, anybody up for one hell of an offline?

False. I was in a grocery store in Liberia in 2009 and found a 1991 and 1987 Mondavi Reserve under lock and key…in an exposed cage, in a store that was 80 degrees…and there were stains on the label…

Hmm. Yeah…bring your own.

It’s been several since i traveled to Costa Rica with friends and several cases of wine in styro shippers. But if i recall correctly, i was charged duty at 50% of my stated value. But the customs officer has no idea of the value, so if you declare it is worth $5/btl, he may charge you $2.50/btl. Worth the tariff to have decent wine.

Just be sure none of the wine has the original price sticker on it! One year, a friend actually bought a labeler and made up stickers, carefully varying the prices. But i have never had a customs agent question the my declared value, and so that ruse has seemed pointless.

Of course, my recollections may be mixed with other Central American and Caribbean destinations. But in recent years, I have found myself paying duties like the above more often than not.


I drank mostly Imperial beer with ice cubes in it in Costa Rica.

If you are going to Jaco, there is a wine store with a surprising selection- or a t least there was a few years ago. Mostly south american , but things like Don Melchor and similar are available at cheap prices. A few good Rioja and other Spanish wines as well… and the store was well air conditioned. Surprising for sure. Never seen a store similar to that elsewhere, but wasn’t looking wither. I walked in on a fluke and left surprised.

That said, Drinking Imperial beer in costa Rica is a good idea.

We have a house rented in Tamarindo with another family.

You should probably bring some stemware as well. It doesn’t have to be your very best stuff, but something decent.

That is much harder to deal with than the wine --does anyone have a good strategy for carrying glasses? I can put smaller ones in the styro shipper, but then each one costs me a spot for a bottle. I have some plastic ones that are big cab-sized glasses, so those work and are easy to transport, but they’re a big step down from real glasses.