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State Department Warning to US Citizens about Costa Rica

17 December 2010 18,192 views 7 Comments

Here is a email sent from the State Department to US citizens wanting information about Costa Rica. There are some really good points in this and people really need to pay attention. Here are some of the good suggestions:

  • use common sense – it is amazing how travelers leave this at home
  • do not be flashy with money or jewelry – leave the gold and diamonds home
  • stay in tourist areas and keep a low profile – do not make a spectacle of yourself and draw attention

If you follow these suggestions, you will have a fun and enjoyable vacation in this beautiful country. Just remember, you need to adapt, it does not need to adapt to you. Costa Rica is a proud country and filled with quality people and are willing to share their homes with strangers as long as common courtesy and respect is shown. It is really such a shame that during the high season, we see the tourists who acts like they are in a circus side show and that they are better than “these people.” When I see this, it really angers me because ticos will pay attention to the rude tourist and not much to the sweet tourists that make the majority of the visits and represents the majority of their originating country.

United States Embassy San Jose
Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Criminal Incidents
September 12, 2013
The U.S. Embassy in San Jose informs U.S. citizens in Costa Rica of two separate criminal incidents in the Escazú area this week: first, a U.S. citizen’s car was broken into while attending an evening event at a local school; second, there was a robbery yesterday in a gated community in the Escazu area.  The robbery occurred during broad daylight when armed thieves locked the neighborhood guard in a bathroom, entered the neighborhood, threatened their way into a home, locked four adults and a child in a room, and stole numerous pricy items from the home.

In light of this recent criminal activity, the embassy reminds all U.S. citizens of the following tips to avoid becoming a victim:

  • Don’t leave any valuables/bags/purses in plain sight in your vehicle, even when just sitting in traffic.  Definitely do not leave anything of value in a parked car.
  • Always use the peephole in your residence doors when someone knocks or rings the bell, and never open your doors to anyone who you do not recognize or have not invited.
  • Avoid public parks at night and other poorly lit areas, and try to avoid going out alone.  If and when you are out alone, please remember to always have a means of communicating with police and emergency services.
  • Use residential alarms, if you have them.

Message for U.S. Citizens: Dengue Fever
August 13, 2013

The U.S. Embassy in San Jose informs U.S. citizens residing in or visiting Costa Rica that the Costa Rican Ministry of Health has declared a health alert due to an increase in dengue fever cases. We recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Costa Rica monitor the Center for Disease Control website, the Costa Rican Ministry of Health website, and local Costa Rican news reports for the most current information.

WHAT IS DENGUE FEVER?
Dengue fever is a mosquito borne viral illness. It is spread by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito which can bite both during the day and at night. This mosquito can bite a person more than once or bite more than one person before finishing its meal. The symptoms of dengue fever usually appear about 5-7 days after the infecting mosquito bite. There is a blood test to diagnose dengue but it is not accurate until almost a week after the symptoms appear. Therefore, anytime you think you have symptoms that might be dengue fever, seek medical attention for an evaluation. In rare cases, ordinary dengue fever can become severe dengue fever (or hemorrhagic dengue fever) which is a serious and potentially life threatening complication.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
The symptoms for ADULTS are very obvious:
• High fever (104 Fahrenheit or above)
• Headache
• Muscle and bone pain
• Sore throat
• Nausea
• Vomiting
• A pinpoint red rash may start on the trunk and spread outward
• Small purplish spots (petechiae) may occur on the extremities
• The illness lasts 7-10 days. The fever is almost never more than 7 days in duration

The symptoms for CHILDREN may be more subtle:
• The temperature may not be as high
• They may be very cranky and irritable
• Vomiting can be more prevalent
If a child or an adult has the more severe form, dengue hemorrhagic fever, the symptoms include, for example; easy and continuous bruising and bleeding, displacement of fluid from the circulatory system to other spaces like the lungs and abdomen, and a subsequent drop in blood pressure and shock. In the severe form of dengue the illness is very obviously serious.

HOW DO YOU TREAT DENGUE FEVER?
Because it is caused by a virus, there is no antibiotic to cure dengue. The treatment is symptomatic – FLUIDS, FLUIDS, FLUIDS rest and Tylenol (acetaminophen, panadol, parcetamol) according topackage instructions for fever and aches. DO NOT use Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), Aspirin, or other NSAIDS (naproxen, Aleve, ketoprofen) if you think you or your child may have dengue. If there is easy and continuous bruising and bleeding, swelling, severe weakness or other signs of severe (hemorrhagic) Dengue Fever, go to the emergency room at once.

HOW DO YOU PREVENT DENGUE?
There is no vaccine or preventative medication to decrease your chance of getting dengue fever. The best way to avoid getting sick is to prevent or minimize your exposure to mosquito bites.
Everyone should take basic precautions, such as:
• Always close un-screened doors and windows tightly
• Wear long-sleeve shirts and pants
• Apply DEET containing mosquito repellent according to label instructions. Use DEET insect repellent liberally, both when indoors and outdoors.
• Ensure screen mesh is intact and small enough to prevent entry of mosquitoes
• Eliminate all breeding sites at residences: Remove all standing water from gardens, drains, gutters and any place in or around the house.
• Use larvacide in outdoor laundry areas, especially if your sink contains water open to the air. A good larvacide is Abate.
• Weekly cleaning of the walls of the laundry area with a mixture of Clorox and detergent
For more information on the disease, please visit the Center for Disease Control’s website at Center for Disease Control Website.

For more information on the disease, please visit the Center for Disease Control’s website at Center for Disease Control Website.
We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Costa Rica enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.  STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency.  If you don’t have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
Regularly monitor the State Department’s website at Department of State Website, where you can find current Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution.  Read the Country Specific Information for Costa Rica at Country Specific Information.  For additional information, refer to “A Safe Trip Abroad” on the State Department’s website.
Contact the U.S. embassy or consulate for up-to-date information on travel restrictions.  You can also call 1-888-407-4747toll-free from within the United States and Canada, or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).  Follow us on Twitter at ACS Twitter and Facebook at ACS Facebook, and download our free Smart Traveler iPhone App at Smart Traveler iPhone to have travel information at your fingertips.

Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Demonstrations
June 25, 2013

Large protests are underway throughout downtown San Jose, its surrounding areas, the Caribbean province of Limón, and Santa Cruz, Guanacaste.

At the present time, Second Avenue downtown is closed due to protesters and there are large crowds gathered in front of the Congressional building and the Presidential Palace in Zapote.

Currently, the protests are peaceful in nature, but U.S. citizens are encouraged to avoid these areas when there is an ongoing demonstration and to exercise caution if in the vicinity of demonstrations. Please be advised that there could be further protest activity in other locations as the day progresses.

Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Criminal Incidents
Message: Violence in the Limon Province.
Updated: 03 June 2013

Security Message: violent crime in Limon Province. Within the last few weeks, the Embassy has received additional reports of armed assaults against tourists and other foreign citizens in Limon Province along the Caribbean coast. In light of this situation, the U.S. Embassy advises U.S. citizens living in or visiting that area to remain cautious and vigilant with regard to their personal safety and security.

In the past week, three U.S. citizens and one other foreign visitor were kidnapped at gunpoint and robbed while driving along a rural road near Moin; a Costa Rican companion was killed in the incident. The attackers allegedly placed a log in the road and ambushed the driver when he stopped and attempted to move the log off the road.

In the past four months, three armed robberies of U.S. citizens have occurred in the Puerto Viejo area, in addition to armed invasions of two hotels and one residence. Police in Puerto Viejo have informed the Embassy that they are undertaking active preventative measures to avoid further incidents of this type. Armed robbery continues to be the primary criminal threat facing tourists in the Southern Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica.

Do not resist a robbery attempt. Most criminals have weapons, and most injuries and deaths during robberies result when victims resist. Use the same common sense while traveling in Costa Rica that you would in any high crime area in the United States: do not wear excessive jewelry; do not carry large sums of money, or display cash, ATM/credit cards, or other valuables. Avoid walking at night in most areas of Costa Rica and exercise strong caution during the day.

If you are the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy. Although the investigation and prosecution of a crime are solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed. In Costa Rica the U.S. Embassy can be reached by calling +506 2519-2000.

The U.S. Department of State encourages all U.S. citizens to read its Country Specific Information for Costa Rica or any country to which they are planning a trip at http://www.travel.state.gov and specifically http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1048.html http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1093.html for updated information on travel and security in Costa Rica.
Information can also be obtained from the Department of State by calling +1-888-407-4747 within the United States or by calling +1-202-501-4444 outside the United States. 911 is the emergency line in Costa Rica.

We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Costa Rica enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at https://step.state.gov/step. STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency. You can also download our free Smart Traveler App, available through iTunes and the Android market, to have travel information at your fingertips.

If you don’t have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Follow us on Twitter at https://mobile.twitter.com/travelgov and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/travelgov.

Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Criminal Incidents
March 27, 2013 Security Message:

Increase in Armed Robberies in the Puerto Viejo Within the last few weeks, the Embassy has received increased reports of armed robberies of tourists in the Puerto Viejo area. In light of this situation, the U.S. Embassy advises U.S. citizens living in or visiting the Puerto Viejo area to remain cautious and vigilant with regard to their personal safety and security.

In the past four weeks, three armed robberies of U.S. citizens have occurred in the Puerto Viejo area, in addition to armed invasions of two hotels and one residence. Police in Puerto Viejo have informed the Embassy that they are undertaking active preventative measures to avoid further incidents of this type. Armed robbery continues to be the primary criminal threat facing tourists in the Southern Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica.

Do not resist a robbery attempt. Most criminals have weapons, and most injuries and deaths during robberies result when victims resist. Use the same common sense while traveling in Costa Rica that you would in any high crime area in the United States: do not wear excessive jewelry; do not carry large sums of money, or display cash, ATM/credit cards, or other valuables. Avoid walking at night in most areas of Costa Rica and exercise strong caution during the day.

If you are the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy. Although the investigation and prosecution of a crime are solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed. In Costa Rica the U.S. Embassy can be reached by calling +506 2519-2000.

The U.S. Department of State encourages all U.S. citizens to read its Country Specific Information for Costa Rica or any country to which they are planning a trip at http://www.travel.state.gov and specifically http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1048.html for updated information on travel and security in the Costa Rica.

Information can also be obtained from the Department of State by calling +1-888-407-4747 within the United States or by calling +1-202-501-4444 outside the United States. 911 is the emergency line in Costa Rica.

We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Costa Rica to enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at https://step.state.gov/step. STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency. You can also download our free Smart Traveler App, available through iTunes and the Android market, to have travel information at your fingertips.

Costa Rica – Crime and Safety
December 17, 2010

The U.S. Embassy has issued this message to remind U.S. citizens traveling to and living in Costa Rica that criminal activity in the country has been steadily increasing over the past few years and to urge visitors to be vigilant, especially during the busy holiday season. While approximately one million U.S. citizens safely visit Costa Rica each year, tourists and expatriates are frequently targeted by thieves looking for cash, jewelry, credit cards, electronic items and passports.

It is imperative that travelers understand the potential risks of travel to Costa Rica, how best to avoid dangerous situations, and who to contact if one becomes a crime victim. Common-sense precautions such as visiting only legitimate business and tourist areas during daylight hours, and avoiding areas where prostitution and drug dealing might occur, can help ensure that travel to Costa Rica is safe and enjoyable. U.S. citizens traveling throughout the country should exercise extreme caution in unfamiliar areas and be aware of their surroundings at all times. Many areas of the country are without any law enforcement presence and emergency response is not reliable. In some beach areas there is limited police presence in the day and none at night. Travelers should leave their itinerary with friends and family members not traveling with them, avoid traveling alone, and check with their cellular provider prior to departure to determine whether their cell phone service is capable of roaming on the Costa Rican network (most will not). Do not display expensive-looking jewelry, large amounts of money, or other valuable items. Leave your U.S. passport in your hotel safe or another secure place and carry photocopies of the passport data page and Costa Rican entry stamp on your person. For additional information and guidance please read the Country Specific information Sheet for Costa Rica. American citizens traveling or residing overseas are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy through the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)

For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State’s website , where current Worldwide Caution , Travel Warnings, and Travel Alerts can be found. Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States and Canada, or, for callers from Costa Rica, a regular toll line at 001-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time,
Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). For any emergencies involving U.S. citizens in Costa Rica, please contact the U.S. Embassy which is located in San Jose in Pavas, San Jose, telephone from the United States: 011-506-2519-2000 ext. 2188. For emergencies arising outside normal business hours, U.S. citizens may call (506) 2220-3127 and ask for the duty officer. For non-emergencies, you may also contact the Embassy by e-mail at: ACSSanJose@state.gov .
The Embassy’s internet address is http://sanjose.usembassy.gov.

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7 Comments »

  • Lisa Valencia said:

    My posting here
    Theft Warning!
    This is not a subject the travel agents or tour operators like to discuss, but I feel it is necessary. If you are traveling to a country where there is poverty, there is theft. This is not limited to any particular country, it can happen anywhere. Travelers who are informed and aware can make wiser choices.

    I live on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. Robberies have increased so we have formed citizens groups who work with the police and the public for prevention of crime and help for the victims. Private guards have been hired to patrol the beaches and the streets. Fortunately physical harm is rare, but often valued possessions left vulnerable are nabbed. There are things you can do to protect yourself:

    RULES FOR DAY OUTINGS:

    1. DO NOT CARRY ANYTHING YOU DO NOT IMMEDIATELY NEED!
    I cannot emphasize this enough. When you are on an outing, whether it be the beach or a bike ride:
    a. Take only the money you may need to spend – no more.
    b. Do not carry your passport. It is legal and wise to carry a copy which shows your entry stamp.
    c. Do not carry a backpack or purse, it attracts criminals as they imagine what valuables you might have inside. Use clothes with pockets and take a pocket sized camera.
    d. When you go to the beach, take no more than a towel, water bottle, sunscreen and a book. I use a crappy looking beach bag to carry it all.
    Do your picture taking on a different occasion and return the camera to your hotel before you go to swim.

    2. Avoid isolated areas at night. I never walk the beach alone at night but I am comfortable going anywhere on the beach in the day time – because I do not bring valuables.

    3. Don’t leave anything of value in sight, in your unoccupied car. A rental car with a trunk is preferable.

    4. Always lock doors, shutters, windows, do not leave anything vulnerable – even for a few minutes.

    If you follow these simple rules when on an outing, you can forget about theft and just have fun

  • Sanbuenaventuraman said:

    Gringos who move to Costa Rica to live full time should have a special alarm system installed in their cars. A flick of the switch under the seat provides a loud blast with all lights flashing. The robber wouldn’t know where the switch is. Never drive at night.
    Have a gun inside your home, if you qualify to own one in Costa Rica, even a rifle. Just tell the authorities you need it for snakes.
    Carry a knife, and learn how to use it, and don’t be afraid to use it.
    Be careful not to make Tico friends and invite them to your home.
    Be friendly with the locals at all times, but don’t allow them to become regular visitors. A Tico can be a wonderful and trusting person, but the people he associates with could invade your home once he makes them aware of what you have, such as a nice TV etc. Don’t be a big headed Yankee, do not flaunt your wealth, wave-smile and keep walking. Don’t drive around in a Hummer, buy a low profile car with a dull colour, and never speed. If you hire a Tico to work around your home be sure to pay them daily, and have them sign for the money given to them. Don’t rip workers off, give them at least half the minimum wage paid in the US. Never ever raise your voice at anyone you hire to work around your house. If you do not like their work, let them go by saying you can no longer afford their services.
    Don’t buy expensive electronics, not only is the climate hard on such equiptment, but if it is stolen you won’t cry as much. Bottom line: Ticos are mostly great people, but they do resent Americans living in their country, as their presense drives up prices on everything, making life harder for the locals.

  • Terri said:

    Great information! Travelers will benefit from your advice. Yes, there are those arrogant tourist that may act like fools but locals should keep in mind that some of these tourists are not wealthy, therefore may have picked this area because if the relatively lower costs to them. The animosity of tourists driving up the costs for the locals is understandable and unfortunately, a fact of life. Even in the US, some of our beloved small coastal communities have become tourist areas, raising the cost of everything from everyday goods to real estate. sometimes there are more jobs available within this spreading tourist industry but we can’t afford to live near the work place because of the high rental prices…even for a little shack or mobile home! So local Costa Rica residents are not the only ones feeling the sting of tourists. It is also felt here along all our warmer shores in the US too.

  • Alice said:

    These pieces of advise are very good and people should practice them. These do not just pertain to Costa Rica, but anywhere, and they go back many years. Probably more years than any of you have been born. I’m an old lady who has seen a lot and would suggest subscribing to the warnings in the previous posts. Do so and you’ll have a lovely trip.

    An example I can cite: we were in Nassau about forty-five years ago and way back then warned not to go to the native section at night. You see it’s as old as time. We are from New York City which we got out of about forty years ago. Yes, we are very aware that you find bad eggs everywhere, but be vigilant, aware of your surroundings and who is around you, do not be loud or flaunt yourself and all should be golden.

  • Patty said:

    what is a Tico, is it hard to apply for a pistol permit

  • ANILKUMAR YESODHARAN said:

    Its faike or real please sent a reaply immediatiley.

  • Editor (author) said:

    We do not post fake content on our site. This information is disseminated from the US State Department and can be found on their Costa Rica Embassy site here: http://costarica.usembassy.gov/service/mesages-for-u/security-messages/protest/criminal-incidents.html

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