Costa Rica

Connecting Costa Rica to the world

MSC has been helping customers to ship cargo to and from the Costa Rica since 2003.

Contact our  team to request a quote, book or find out more about our local services



Original BL is mandatory in Costa Rica, customs authorities do not accept/allow telex release, eBL neither SWB.

Original BL must be presented to the agency if printed outside, or customer may request at booking stage to “Print BL at destination”.

“To order” BL is accepted, only if the name of the real consignee is indicated as Notify party. 

All cargoes must be consigned to a Company located on Costa Rica, duly registered and with a valid Tax ID.

Vehicle Letter

All vehicles must comply with the requirements of IMDG code Special Provision 961, have been completely drained of fuel and run until stalled.

Batteries are disconnected and taped backed and properly secured to prevent movement in any direction.

No undeclared hazardous materials are containerized, secured to or stowed in vehicles.

Vehicles are properly secured into the container to prevent movement in any direction.


Paybac System

The Paybac system works between MSC and Bac San Jose bank, it allows the customer to apply their online payments of their invoices outstanding.

This tool allows:

  • Select the preferred payment method 
  • Check the open items in their balance account
  • View the historical information about their payments
  • Function of approval control

What is the customer registration process?

You need complete a pre-registration with following information:

  • Company name
  • ID company
  • Address 
  • Phone numbers
  • Customer´s email

After filling the form, the Bank will send an email with the user & password, the purpose is the registration process be completed.

Which advantages does it offer to the customer?

  • Manage your own access in Paybac
  • You can include more than one invoice in each payment
  • Authorize a third party to do their payments
  • Payment could be from any account bank

MSC have better control in collection by easily identifying payment´s owner

Link to access Paybac:

Questions about Payback?
Contact our CR team.


Container’s release 

How do you get their containers release?

When the customer receives the arrival notification, the Invoicing Team will do the invoices of the costs related to the cargo.

The invoices notification is an automatic process, according to the emails posted in the customer´s information, any change in the information you must contact the Commercial Team.

The payment of the invoices outstanding thru the Paybac system and you must share the receipt to the email:

The Finance Team will confirm the payment and they will send the authorization of the cargo release.

Questions about containers release?
Contact our CR team.

Guarantee Deposit

What is the guarantee deposit?
It is a fee that the customers pay to cover additional costs in the operations of their containers.

Who apply to pay this cost?
This cost must be paid new customers or no regular customers with MSC.

What is the rate of this cost?

The fee is $1.000 by container.

What is the process of guarantee refund?

When the empty container is return to the depot, you must send the completed file “Customer Information” and the receipt of the guarantee payment to the mail:

The finance team process the guarantee refund according the information received.

How long does the guarantee refund take?
The process takes two weeks.

Questions about Guarantee Deposit?

Contact our CR team.


A new regulation for a safer supply chain.

What is VGM?

Verified Gross Mass or VGM refers to the exact, verified weight of a packed container. For safety reasons, vessel operators can only load a container if its weight has been verified.

In line with SOLAS (Safety of Lives at Sea) regulations, all marine terminals in CR are now allowed to use their certified scales to record Verified Gross Mass (VGM) of shipments. 

What do I need to include in my VGM instructions?

You must include the following on all VGM instructions: 

  • Booking or Bill of Lading (BL) number 
  • Container number 
  • VGM + weight measurement unit in kgs. 
  • Responsible Party Name
  • Digital signature of the authorised signatory 

How can I submit my VGM instructions?

MyMSC (Free of Charge) 

Guidelines for submitting your VGM instructions

MSC must receive a Shipper-Verified Gross Mass (VGM) before cut-off.  
The noncompliance with this declaration, may cause that cargo is not loaded on planned vessel, generating extra charges which will be customer responsibility.  

MSC admin fees and costs 

Late VGM Submission Fee: 50 USD per container. 

Questions about VGM?

Contact our Export team

Disputes Invoices

What is the process of Dispute of the invoices?

If you aren’t agreed with the invoices related to the cargo, you can request a double check of the invoices received.

 The process starts with an email to:, with the email subject: Dispute + Invoice Number and the complete file 
“Dispute Form”.

The MSC team check all disputes and communicate the resolution about it.
Questions about Disputes- Invoices?
Contact our CR team.

Letter of Indemnity

What is an LOI?
A LOI (Letter of Indemnity) is required when an original Bill of Lading is lost or destroyed. It can be completed by shipper at the Port of Loading, or by the consignee at the Port of Discharge.
The LOI requires 200% of the commercial value of the cargo plus Ocean Freight to be guaranteed either through bank or MSC’s Insurance company.
MSC’s global LOI requirements are set out by our Geneva headquarters. The LOI must be completed as per these instructions for a duplicate Bill of Lading to be issued.

For plants transportation, a LOI is required, which must be signed before booking request. For more details, please contact our Export team  

Weight limitation

The official weight limitation in Costa Rica is of 21.5 metric tons payload for both 20' and 40' equipment plus container tare. Any cargo weights exceeding this limit has to be trucked on try-axle chassis which has an additional cost of USD.200 per container.

Extra costs or fines related to overweight cargoes and/or imbalance (cargo weight shifting) must be assumed by the respective client.

Forbidden Goods

Used tires
Used batteries
Wet green leather
Salted leather
Complete list of agrochemical products prohibited in Costa Rica available at myMSC 


Customs process for import cargo:

All import cargo to Costa Rica must be designated to a customs regimen (consignee's choice).
Customer has within 8 days to designate the cargo to a customs regimen, if this is not done before deadline, a fine of USD 200.00 per day will be applied (Article #145, Costa Rica customs regulation).

Note that if after 15 days of cargo arrival, customs regimen has still not been assigned, cargo will be declared abandoned by our local authorities without the possibility to recover it. 

If consignee does not have the Original BL, the only option to avoid cargo to be declared abandoned is moving it to a warehouse under customs custody. Cargo can be storage meanwhile Original BL is provided to consignee (no more than one year).

Once consignee transmits the customs declaration (DUA), to move the container to a warehouse, the only way to pick up the cargo is with the Original BL.

Once customs declaration (DUA) is approved, the assigned trucking company has 72 hours to move the cargo to the warehouse. If container movement is not done within this period of time, a fine of $500.00 will be applied.
If the company relapses on this failure, license may be revoked by Customs Authorities.

BL consignee party can only be changed if DUA has not been transmitted. If the declaration has been already transmitted to customs, it is impossible for us to do any change/amendment on the BL.

The shipping line has no right to hold a cargo in this condition, it is legally impossible, as the cargo is always under customs control.

To Customs, the legally responsible party of the cargo is the consignee, that is why if the cargo should be returned, procedure must be done by consignee or a third party to which the BL and the DUA has to be endorsed. By no mean, shipping line can take control over the cargo.  Additionally:
3rd party will be in charge of the customs process and the payment of all costs involved.

As the container is not linked with the cargo, there is no problem to return empty the container in order to stop paying demurrages and storages at port.

Questions about Customs?

Contact our Team

BL Parties

Consignee and notify must be a Costa Rican company.

For any cargoes, including household goods and/or personal effects, it is not allowed to show a physical person as consignee, therefore shipment must be consigned to the agency/forwarder/NVOCC who will handle the import processes on behalf of the owner of the goods. BL must read (full name of the person + jointly and severally with + full name of the agency, FFW or company).

Demurrages and/or extra costs incurred due to non-compliance with this requirement will be under POL responsibility which will have to absorb the costs.

Seal Policy

With Immediate Effect, High Security Bolt Seal (HSS) must be applied on all full containers in order to minimize the risk of unauthorized access of material and / or persons.

For all shipments, the first seal to be declared on the BL, is the High Security Bolt Seal, any other seal such as shipper's seal, warehouse seal, etc, must come afterwards.

None symbols or special characters usage is allowed. Please make sure seal declaration does not contain dots, hyphen, comma, asterisks, etc are, since those are not allowed.

Costa Rica agency will start applying an “Incorrect Seal fee” fine to all those containers that arrive without a without High Security Bolt Seal (HSS), which is compliant with the latest ISO regulation (plastic and cable seals are not accepted).

Such fees will not limit the merchant liability or any expenses whatsoever and howsoever arising, caused by the merchants use of seal which does not comply with this provision.

Part Load BL

When a part load BL belongs to the same customer (cnee), BL rating remains in a single BL.

If part load BLs are consigned to different customers, each BL must have its own rate, which must be the proration of main rate.

Important: Part load BLs "To Order of" or with a Bank as consignee, are not allowed.

Hazardous Cargo

A complete list of agrochemical products prohibited in Costa Rica is available at myMSC

Cargo Description

Description of cargo must include number of packages, type of packaging, if different types of packages all must be specific and quantified in separate lines as multiple cargo (HHG + car + vehicle (motorcycles, jet sky, truck, etc). The total packages must match this count. Common, technical and/or commercial names of products is needed. Total gross and net weights must be indicated.

All vehicle, trucks, motorcycles, boats or any type of motor transportation must be manifested in the BL together with the VIN and Serial Number in separate lines as multiple cargo with corresponding weight for each line. If VIN and Serial Number are not manifested there is a fine of USD 500 due to customs requirements.

For SOC containers, the unit must be manifested, not on a separate line as multiple cargo, but as a line on the cargo description (last part) indicating its corresponding weight. If the unit is not manifested, it cannot be declared and a fine of USD 500.00 will be applied when request is sent to customs authorities.

All description of cargo must be in SPANISH. If we must freely translate, we cannot be hold responsible for any mistakes and consequences thereof.

As per Customs regulation there are no restrictions to use "bulk" as package type, however, if used, total package quantity must equal to weight. Applies for package type BLK (General Bulk) - DBK (Dry Bulk) - LBK (Liquid Bulk).

Contact our Team

BL Freight and Charges 

BL and manifest must be freighted with clear breakdown of charges for proper invoicing for the agency invoicing purposes.

Originals may be issued "freight as agreement" if so, required by shipper. However, customs authorities request bill of lading freighted for customs clearance of the cargo

S.O.C. (Shipper Own Containers)

S.O.C. (Shipper Own Containers).  According to Custom Regulations. Shipper Own containers (SOC) can stay 180 days at Costa Rica as temporally Import. They must be either exported FULL of evacuated within this period   Plus, if the consignee wants/needs to keep the unit at Costa Rica after this period time, the cntr(s) must be declared as merchandise in order to clear it from Customs. The Unit (SOC) must pay duties/taxes according to its CIF value. If the container is not declared as Merchandise prior to customs manifest a fine of US$500 will be imposed by Customs Authority.

Detention, Demurrage in Costa Rica

What is detention?
Detention is the charge applicable, after the free time expires, for the use of the carrier’s export container. This charge applies since container is gated out empty from depot till it is returned empty/full to port/depot.     

What is demurrage?
Demurrage is the charge applicable, after the free time expires, , for the use of the carrier’s import container. This charge applies since container is discharged from import vessel till it is returned empty to port/depot.     
In case of a demurrage dispute, email (email subject: Dispute + Invoice Number + BL Number), describing the reasons for your dispute and the supports. . 
Questions about detention, demurrage charges?
Contact our CR team.

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Last update: 2024-07-17T12:44:00