How Much Does it Cost to Ship a Boat to Costa Rica?

Written by Desiree Vilar in Cost of Sailing

The cost to ship a boat to Costa Rica depends mostly on the rates of the shipping company, the size of your boat, and the method of shipping. To give you a better idea of what to expect, let's break down the cost and process of shipping a boat to this location.

Small boats, measuring less than 14 feet, have shipping rates ranging from $300 to $600. Medium-sized boats can be shipped at rates between $1,000 and $2,500. Large boats have shipping rates of around $3,000–$6,000, while for extra-large boats over 50 feet, you can expect to pay $5,000–$12,000 for shipping.

There are two main methods to ship your boat to Costa Rica - via Roll-On/Roll-Off (RoRo) shipping or through container shipping. Let's find out how each differs from the other and what are their pros and cons.


  • The overall cost of transporting your boat from the port of origin to Costa Rica will depend on the costs of the following: transportation fees, loading and unloading fees, customs clearance fees, destination fees, and insurance fees.
  • RoRo shipping is cheaper than container shipping, but container shipping offers more protection and security for your boat.
  • Before transporting your boat, you will need to check that all documentation is up-to-date, all safety standards are met, you have established communication with your shipping company, and you have taken the necessary steps to avoid mildew and mold developing on your boat while in transit.

Breakdown of Cost To Ship a Boat To Costa Rica

The cost of shipping a boat to Costa Rica can vary widely depending on several factors, such as the size of your boat, the shipping option you choose, the distance between the origin and destination, and any additional fees or taxes.

Here is a breakdown of some of the costs you can expect to pay:

Expenses Estimated Cost Range
Transportation to port $500 - $5,000+
Loading and unloading fees $500 - $5,000+
Shipping fees $2,500 - $5,000+
Customs clearance fees $100 - $15,000+
Destination fees $500 - $2,000+
Insurance fees $500 - $5,000+

Boat Shipping Rates Offered By Different Shipping Companies

Below are some of the most popular companies with boat shipping services and their respective rates for different boat sizes:

Boat Size UPS Shipping Rates DHL Shipping Rates FedEx Shipping Rates
Small (less than 14 feet) $300 to $500 $400 to $600 $350 to $550
Medium (14 to 30 feet) $1,000 to $2,000 $1,500 to $2,500 $1,200 to $2,200
Large (30 to 50 feet) $3,000 to $5,000 $4,000 to $6,000 $3,500 to $5,500
Extra-large (over 50 feet) $5,000 to $10,000 $6,000 to $12,000 $5,500 to $11,000

The three main shipping companies that offer boat shipping services to Costa Rica are UPS, DHL, and FedEx. These rates may vary based on the size of your boat, the distance it needs to travel, and the time of year you are shipping it.

The Shipping Rate Will Also Depend On The Selected Shipping Method

There are two main methods to ship your boat to Costa Rica: Roll-On/Roll-Off (RoRo) Shipping and Container Shipping. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages, and they differ in rates as well.

Shipping Option Cost Range Characteristics

Roll-On/Roll-Off (RoRo) Shipping

$2,500 - $5,000+
Lower cost option for shipping boats
The boat is driven onto the shipping vessel
Limited protection from weather and potential damage
Limited availability of shipping ports

Container Shipping

$5,000 - $10,000+
The boat is loaded into a container and secured
Offers more protection from weather and potential damage
More availability of shipping port
More expesnive option for shipping boats

Cost for transporting the boat to the port of origin

This cost includes the fees for transporting your boat from its current location to the port of origin. The cost can vary depending on the distance between your location and the port, and the mode of transportation used such as hiring a trucking company to transport your boat to the port.

Cost for loading and unloading your boat to the shipping vessel

The size of your boat may affect the costs for this one, because the larger the boat, the higher the loading and unloading fees will be. If your boat requires special equipment or handling, such as a crane or forklift, this can also increase the cost of loading and unloading.

Cost of transporting your boat from the origin to the destination

Usually, if you are transporting a small boat, it may be possible to ship it via containerized shipping, which can be more cost-effective than other methods. However, larger boats may require specialized shipping services such as roll-on/roll-off (RoRo) or lift-on/lift-off (LoLo) shipping, which can be more expensive.

Cost for customs clearance

These costs may include import duties, taxes, and fees charged by the Costa Rican government, as well as fees charged by the shipping company and customs broker. Import duties and taxes are typically based on the value of the boat and its intended use.

For example, if your boat is valued at $50,000 and the taxes and duties are 30%, the customs clearance fees can be around $15,000. Customs brokers can help navigate the complex customs clearance process and may charge a fee for their services.

Costs involved at the port of destination

This includes the fees for services needed at the port of destination, such as storage, delivery, or inspection. As your boat arrives in Costa Rica, it may need to be inspected by customs officials or other authorities. For this reason, you can expect to pay inspection fees as well.

If you need to store your boat at the port of destination for any length of time, you may be charged storage fees. However, if you need it delivered to a specific location in Costa Rica, you may need to pay delivery fees.

If your boat is not picked up from the port of destination within a certain timeframe, they may also charge you demurrage fees.

Cost of insurance coverage

This cost includes the fees for insuring your boat during the shipping process. If you're shipping a high-value boat, you may want to consider purchasing comprehensive coverage that includes protection against damage, theft, and other risks.

Additionally, you may need to consider the cost of marine insurance, which is designed to protect your boat during transit and while it's in port. o know what basic boat insurance must include, read this article.

RoRo shipping is the most affordable shipping option

RoRo shipping is the cheapest way to ship your boat to Costa Rica. This method involves driving your boat onto a specialized vessel, which is then transported to Costa Rica.

This is ideal for those who are looking for a cost-effective solution and don't mind a longer transit time. However, RoRo shipping is not door-to-door, which means you will need to arrange for transportation to and from the port.

Container shipping offers more protection

Container shipping is a more expensive option, but it offers more protection for your boat during transit. Your boat will be loaded into a container, which is then transported to Costa Rica.

This method is ideal for those who are looking for a more secure option and want their boat to arrive in the same condition it left. Container shipping is also door-to-door, which means you won't need to arrange for transportation to and from the port.

Preparations Before Shipping A Boat To Costa Rica

Ready the documentation and permits

To import a boat to Costa Rica, you will need to obtain several documents and permits. These include:

  • Proof of ownership: You must provide documentation that proves you are the owner of the boat.
  • Bill of sale: You will need to provide a bill of sale that includes the purchase price of the boat.
  • Customs declaration: You must fill out a customs declaration that includes details about the boat, such as its make and model.
  • Import permit: You will need to obtain an import permit from the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE). This permit requires a detailed description of the boat and its specifications, as well as proof of ownership and a bill of sale.

Always consider checking if all the paperwork is up to date and that you have copies of everything.

Check if all safety standards are met

Boats imported into Costa Rica must meet certain safety standards. These standards are in place to ensure the safety of passengers and crew members. Some of the safety standards that must be met include:

  • Life jackets: The boat must have an adequate number of life jackets for all passengers and crew members.
  • Fire extinguishers: The boat must have fire extinguishers that are in good working condition.
  • Navigation lights: The boat must have working navigation lights that are visible from a distance.
  • Sound signaling device: The boat must have a sound signaling device, such as a horn or whistle, that can be heard from a distance.

For a more complete list, you can visit this article: Ultimate Guide to Required Safety Equipment on a Boat

Some other necessary steps to ensure that your boat arrives in Costa Rica safely include:

Establishing communication with the shipping company

You need to communicate with the shipping company to make sure that everything is in order. Provide the shipping company with all the necessary information, such as the boat's dimensions, weight, and any special requirements.

Take extra steps to prevent mold and mildew

Mold and mildew can be a problem when shipping a boat. To prevent this, you need to make sure that your boat is clean and dry before shipping.

Remove any standing water, and clean the boat thoroughly. You can also use a mold and mildew prevention product to keep your boat mold-free during transport. Additionally, you can also consider shrink-wrapping your boat.

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