Describes how widely e-Commerce is used, the primary sectors that sell through e-commerce, and how much product/service in each sector is sold through e-commerce versus brick-and-mortar retail. Includes what a company needs to know to take advantage of e-commerce in the local market and , reputable, prominent B2B websites.
Last Published: 7/31/2017
Ecommerce continues to increase in Costa Rica, a country that has led the region in telecommunications network development and information technology initiatives. There is great potential for Costa Rica to increase its use of the internet and e-commerce as well as the new 4G structure. The country already enjoys over 156% cell-phone penetration, a high level of educational attainment (99% literacy rate), and a tradition of political stability.

Ecommerce has excellent potential in Costa Rica. “Black Friday” in Costa Rica began in 2010. Thousands of buyers still take advantage of the day and purchase online from virtual stores in the United States.  E-commerce has spurred the creation of companies where consumers can purchase merchandise from U.S. retailers and transport it to the local market. Delivery times may vary depending on the merchandise and all products imported are subject to local import duties and the local custom regulations on labeling and registration if applicable. E-commerce within the country is an unexploited opportunity since customers still prefer to purchase directly at retail locations.

The latest trend in ecommerce purchases is buying from wish.com, a Chinese website offering low prices and sent directly to Costa Rican households.  The Costa Rican Postal Service (Correos de Costa Rica), has a backlog of deliveries due to the overwhelming amount of orders received during the last months.

The country passed legislation paving the way for the use digital signatures and certificates. More companies are obtaining digital signatures; they are still not yet commonly used.

The CAFTA-related Intellectual Property Rights law might improve enforcement of Internet-related works. Recent studies have indicated that Internet access still lags in rural areas.  The local market is still dominated by ICE (Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad: the government-owned electricity and telecommunications company) as the main Internet service provider (ISP). This is a contrast to the relatively open ISP market in the rest of the region. Under CAFTA, Internet service has been opened up to competition, but internet speeds are still very low, with the average broadband 3.2 Mb/s as opposed to 12.6 Mb/s in the U.S.

At the present time, the following is a list of companies’ offering ISP service:
  • Almafamat de Costa Rica S.A.
  • Anditel International AI, S.A.
  • Blue Sat Servicios Administrados de Telecomunicaciones S.A.
  • Cable Arenal del Lago S.A.
  • Cable Caribe S.A.
  • Cable Visión de Costa Rica CVCR, S.A.
  • Cable Zarcero S.A (Mega Cable)
  • Call My Way S.A.
  • Claro Costa Rica CR
  • Cooperativa de Electrificación Rural de Guanacaste R.L. (COOPEGUANACASTE) Cooperativa de Electrificación Rural de San Carlos R.L. (Coopelesca R.L.)
  • Cooperativa de Electrificación Rural Los Santos R.L (COOPESANTOS R.L)
  • E-Diay S.A.
  • Empresa de Servicios Públicos de Heredia (ESPH)
  • GT Guatuso Trust INC. S.A.
  • IBW Comunicaciones S.A. (JAPI)
  • Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad
  • Millicom Cable Costa Rica, S.A. (TIGO)
  • Netsys C.R. S.A.
  • OBCR Orange Business Costa Rica S.A.
  • Radiográfica Costarricense S.A.
  • Red Punto Com Technologies S.A.
  • Redes Inalámbricas de C.R. (REICO)
  • San Carlos Wireless S.A.
  • Telecable Económico T.V.E. S.A.
  • Telefónica de Costa Rica TC S.A.
  • Televisora de Costa Rica S.A. (Cabletica)
  • Xarxes Networking S.R.L.
Access to Internet was influenced by use of mobile devices. According to the Costa Rica’s Superintendence of Telecommunications (Sutel), internet penetration reached 151% by the end of 2013.  According to the latest available statistics, Costa Rica had a total of 3.5 million people using Internet services through mobile devices or smartphones in 2013. 
According to the Sutel there are estimated 474,000 subscriptions users of (land) Internet services in Costa Rica, representing only about 10.4% of the total population. The wireless fixed internet service experienced a -22 % decrease between 2014 and 2015 (latest figures available).

The cost today of an 8 Mbps connection is roughly US$40 per month in Costa Rica and provided by the government institution (ICE).  The price contrasts with the cost in the international markets, where fiber optics of up to 100 Mbps can cost of US$15 per month.

The private sector continues to increase its use of e-commerce in Costa Rica. Local companies commonly have the capability to offer services via the Internet in addition to the usual sales channels. The Costa Rican public and private banks offer their clients a variety of services through the Internet. There are a number of websites specializing in marketing products and services via the internet that have emerged.  As  well as consumer trading sites, including Mercado Libre, a subsidiary of eBay, Clasificados, Rematico.com, Craig List Costa Rica and Locompreaqui.com. The Costa Rican government invested in the new system Mer-Link, an e-bidding website, developed by the South Korean Government.  The Apple Store is operating in Costa Rica, as well as the Netflix on-demand video store.

eCommerce Web Resources
Banco Nacional
Buscomi
Cine Express        
Citibank Costa Rica
Clasificados
CR Autos
Craigslist Costa Rica
ICT (Costa Rica Tourism Institute)
Lo Compre Aquí
Mercado Libre (eBay)
Rematico
Scotiabank Costa Rica

Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.



Costa Rica eCommerce Industry Trade Development and Promotion eCommerce