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More information about Costa Rica is available on the Costa Rica Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.


The United States established diplomatic relations with Costa Rica in 1851, following Costa Rica’s independence from Spain and the later dissolution of a federation of Central American states.  A strong democracy of more than five million people with deep ties to the United States, Costa Rica is an important, committed partner on key U.S. priorities in the region, including security, democracy and human rights, governance, economic prosperity, climate change, and addressing root causes of irregular migration and migration management.

Costa Rica has an attractive trade and investment climate and remains one of the strongest and most reliable voices in Latin America on human rights and the rule of law.  The country has been a key partner in the fight against transnational crime and drug trafficking.  Since 2020, Costa Rica has been the number one transshipment point for cocaine headed from South America to the United States and Europe, leading to increased crime and related corruption.  Costa Rica has welcomed migrants and refugees, mostly from Nicaragua, and is also a transit country for regional and extracontinental migration.

Costa Rica is a major destination for U.S. retirees and tourists.  Approximately 120,000 private U.S. citizens, including many retirees, reside in the country.  In 2022, almost 1.3 million U.S. citizens, representing 55 percent of all foreign travelers, visited Costa Rica.

The United States and Costa Rica continue to collaborate to combat the trafficking of Costa Rican antiquities into the United States and to broaden our bilateral engagement on cultural heritage issues under a Cultural Property Agreement signed in January 2021.

U.S. Migration Policy Towards Costa Rica and the Region

Costa Rica was the first Latin American country to sign a migration arrangement committing to work with the United States and other countries to collectively manage migration in the region.  Additionally, during the Ninth Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, the Government of Costa Rica publicly endorsed the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection, which commits states to protecting the safety and dignity of all migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and stateless persons, regardless of their migratory status and acknowledges that addressing irregular migration requires a regional approach.  The U.S. Strategy to Address the Root Causes of Migration and the U.S. Collaborative Migration Management strategy are the principal frameworks guiding U.S. diplomatic efforts and foreign assistance across Central America.  These strategies support Costa Rica in addressing the challenges it faces as both a destination and transit country for migrants and refugees.  Costa Rica is also a member country to the Regional Conference on Migration (RCM) and has previously held a leadership role as President Pro Tempore.

The United States works closely with the international community to assist countries like Costa Rica that are destination and transit countries for refugees and migrants.  Since FY 2018, the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) provided more than $57 million in humanitarian assistance through international organization and NGO partners to meet urgent and lifesaving needs for refugees, asylum seekers, and vulnerable migrants in Costa Rica.  PRM programs also support host communities and contribute to asylum and migration management capacity-building efforts for the Government of Costa Rica.

Since 2016, Costa Rica has supported regional efforts to resettle particularly vulnerable refugee applicants from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras through a Protection Transfer Arrangement (PTA), a tripartite memorandum of understanding between the Government of Costa Rica, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).  Approximately 500 refugees have been resettled to the United States through this mechanism to date.  In April 2022, UNHCR began to refer Nicaraguans from Costa Rica to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for possible resettlement in the United States.  Between April 2022 and the launch of the Safe Mobility Initiative in June 2023, UNHCR referred more than 1,000 Nicaraguans to the program.

U.S. Assistance to Costa Rica

Beyond migration, U.S. assistance to Costa Rica helps counter drug trafficking and transnational crime, supports economic development, improves governance, and contributes to security in Central America.  Since FY 2018, the Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) allocated over $347 million in bilateral, regional, and humanitarian assistance for Costa Rica.  A safe, prosperous Costa Rica contributes to regional stability and leads directly to a safer, prosperous United States.

The United States works hand in hand with a wide range of Costa Rican government agencies and nongovernmental organizations to help secure Costa Rica’s borders, professionalize its police, strengthen its judicial sector, improve its corrections system, and empower at-risk youth and other vulnerable populations.

U.S. embassy programs promote entrepreneurship, economic inclusion, women’s empowerment, renewable energy, and energy efficiency.

The State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) works closely with Costa Rican security partners to build capacity and assist disadvantaged communities.  Through cooperation and assistance from INL and other law enforcement agencies, Costa Rica confronts its drug trafficking problem by intercepting and confiscating illicit drugs.  Narcotics seizures by the Costa Rican government hit new records in 2020 and 2021, with 72.7 and 71.1 metric tons seized respectively, though seizures declined in 2022 to 54.3 metric tons.  Since FY 2018, the Department of State allocated over $269 million in bilateral and regional security assistance to strengthen and modernize Costa Rica’s security forces, improve local security throughout the country, reduce the influence of corruption, and enhance the justice sector’s ability to investigate and prosecute transnational criminals.  This assistance includes equipment donations, training, and technical assistance that enhance Costa Rica’s capacity to confront the growing threat of organized crime and narcotrafficking.  INL programs also support preventive policing strategies that create communities resilient to crime and provide licit alternatives for vulnerable communities and at-risk youth.

Bilateral Economic Relations

The United States and Costa Rica are parties to the U.S.-Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), which aims to facilitate trade and investment and further regional integration by eliminating tariffs, opening markets, reducing barriers to services, and promoting transparency.

The United States is Costa Rica’s largest trading partner, accounting for approximately 40 percent of its imports and exports.  Total (two-way) trade in goods between the United States and Costa Rica totaled $17.2 billion in 2022.  The United States also represents the largest source of tourism and foreign direct investment to Costa Rica.  According to the Costa Rican Central Bank, U.S. foreign direct investment stock in Costa Rica was $2.2 billion in 2022.  U.S. exports to Costa Rica include petroleum products, electrical machinery, optical and medical instruments, machinery, and plastics.  U.S. imports from Costa Rica include medical devices, pineapples, bananas, and coffee.

The embassy supports education, English classes, and entrepreneurship in Costa Rica.  Programs include the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE), Young Leaders in the Americas Initiative (YLAI), and English-language programming to bolster inclusive economic and workforce development in support of mutual prosperity goals.

Costa Rica is historically the top destination within the Western Hemisphere for Gilman Scholars – outstanding U.S. undergraduate students with high financial need – to study and intern abroad.  Exchange programs that send Costa Rican students and scholars to the United States include the following:  Fulbright Scholar, Fulbright Student, Study of the U.S. Institute (SUSI), and the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship.

The embassy supports three American Spaces as well as EducationUSA advising in Costa Rica to support outreach to Costa Rican audiences and promotion of U.S. higher education opportunities for Costa Rican students.

Costa Rica’s Membership in International Organizations

Costa Rica and the United States belong to several of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, Organization of American States, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, and World Trade Organization.  In May 2021, the United States and other members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) welcomed Costa Rica as the OECD’s 38th member state, the result of a multiyear effort by Costa Rica to align its economic policies with OECD recommendations.

Bilateral Representation

Principal U.S. embassy officials are listed in the Department’s Key Officers List.

Costa Rica maintains an embassy  in the United States at 2114 S Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20008 (tel. 202-480-2200).

More information about Costa Rica is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:

CIA World Factbook Costa Rica Page 
U.S. Embassy
History of U.S. Relations With Costa Rica
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Countries Page 
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics International Offices Page 
Travel Information
Human Rights Report: Costa Rica 2020
Investment Climate Statements: Costa Rica

U.S. Department of State

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