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Calling to and from Costa Rica

2 December 2010 9,648 views 4 Comments

When calling Costa Rica from outside the country you must use the country-code which is 011. Because the United States and Canada use a country code 001 many people get confused about calling to and from Costa Rica.

Just be sure about this. If you are calling Costa Rica you must add the country code 011. If you are INSIDE Costa Rica and calling the United States or Canada, you must dial 001 and then your normal long distance number.

The area code for Costa Rica is 506 for the entire country but in 2008 ICE added an additional number to the exchange to prevent adding a new area code within the country. This means if you are calling a landline in Costa Rica, you must always add a 2 whether you are inside or outside the country. When calling a cellular phone, you must add an 8 in front of the exchange. This is only important if you are using an old directory for calling a person or business. Nowadays most people advertise and publish their telephone numbers with the correct numerical addition.

When inside the country, you do not need to dial the area code like back home since the whole country is on the same code but calling across the country does result in toll charges or additional costs, so do not be fooled by the lack of dialing a area code.

ICE sells calling cards labeled 197 or 199 calling cards. They are issued in various denominations but the 199 is dedicated for international calling and has different languages to help when calling. The 197 can be used to call international but is mainly sold for use inside Costa Rica. It is a good idea to have both and they are not costly. A 197 card can be brought for 1000 colones and will last a long time when used for in country calls. Calling cells phones in Costa Rica whether from outside or inside costs more per minute so be aware of that when using the 197 cards.

The typical calling set up looks like this when calling Costa Rica:

International code (011)+ Costa Rica code (506) + eight digit phone number

example for landline: 011 + 506 + 2643-5555

example for cellphone: 011 + 506 + 8319-5555

Since Costa Rica uses the same exchange system as most developed countrys you need begin a call on a private line by dialing the country code + your destinations regular long distance number. For example to call Chicago from Costa Rica on a private line, you would dial 001-312-555-1234

When you are using a ICE calling card, follow the direction on the back of the card to access international lines then the above example applies.

If you have questions or need help with calls inside Costa Rica, you can send us a email by using our contact form

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  • Walt said:

    We have use cell phones( i-phone). What do our kids dial from the U.S.
    to our cell phone in Costa Rica?

  • Editor (author) said:

    If you are using a local SIM card, the provider should have given you the phone number and then when someone is calling you from outside Costa Rica, they must add a 011-506-1234-1234 would be the number format to use, of course replacing the final 8 digits with your cell number.

    We hope this helps

  • Jason said:

    So if I was in Costa Rica calling my Hotel I would dial 2###-#### and to dial a friend’s local sim card cell phone from my local sim card cellphone I would dial 8###-####?

  • Editor (author) said:

    That is correct: local land lines uses 2###-#### and now cellphone are different since there are more providers but in general it is 8###-#### MoviStar uses 6###-#### but usually the person giving you the phone number would tell you. Most numbers are updated on the internet and in local advertising.

    The 199 and 197 cards are pre-paid cards. Usually 199 is for calling out of the country e.g. Costa Rica to Norway but can be used to call local phones too.

    197 is a pre-paid used to call within Costa Rica

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