Any foreign visitor aged 18 or older with a valid driver's license from his or her country can drive a car in Costa Rica for 90 days. However, many rent a car companies require that you be older. Proof of entry to the country is required for a police officer to accept a foreign license, so always carry your passport when you drive. Costa Rica uses the metric system, and all road signs showing distances are in kilometers (1.6 km = 1 mile). The speed limit on a highway is 100 km/h. In urban areas the maximum speed varies from 40 to 60 km/h.
Safety belts are required by law. Road conditions vary, and are normally bad by international standards. Bumps and holes are often present with no adequate warning. Traffic in San José during weekdays is very heavy. Streets in downtown are narrow. Gas stations with 24 hour service, tire repair and snacks are widely present in urban areas. Rural areas normally have adequate gas supplies, although not on a 24 hour schedule. Unleaded gasoline is available, it is called "Super". Normal gasoline is leaded.
Many destinations require off-road vehicles, especially during the rainy season. Road conditions vary, so always ask your car rental / hire agency about current conditions. Minimum insurance from the state controlled insurance monopoly is required by law regardless of what other insurance you may carry. All circulating vehicles must be insured against personal injury to third parties by law, but there is no need to insure against material damages to other cars. This means there are lots of drivers out there without insurance to cover the cost of a crash. Not having insurance can be a very expensive decision, even if it's not your fault. You can purchase extra insurance, or it is possible that your credit card my give you additional coverage.
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