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: 12/17/2018
Costa Rica 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. The country enjoys over 179% cell-phone penetration, a high level of educational attainment (99% literacy rate), and a tradition of political stability.

E-commerce has excellent potential in Costa Rica. “Black Friday” in Costa Rica began in 2010 and continues to be very popular among Costa Rican consumers.  E-commerce has spurred the creation of companies that transport merchandise from U.S. retailers to local markets. Delivery times vary depending on the merchandise, and all products imported are subject to local import duties and such as labeling and registration. E-commerce within the country remains an unexploited opportunity; customers still tend to purchase directly from retail locations.

Wish.com, a Chinese website offering low prices and direct shipping to Costa Rican households, has recently become very successful in Costa Rica.  The Costa Rican Postal Service (Correos de Costa Rica), has opened new office to deal with a backlog of deliveries due to the overwhelming amount of orders received from Asia.
In 2018 Amazon started shipping directly to Costa Rica, leading many Costa Ricans to bypass the Miami-based PO Box services, saving some money and time.

Costa Rica recently passed legislation paving the way for the use of digital signatures and certificates. More companies are obtaining digital signatures; they are still not yet commonly used. The CAFTA-related Intellectual Property Rights law is expected to improve enforcement of Internet-related copyrights. Recent studies have indicated that Internet access still lags in rural areas.  ICE (Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad), the government-owned electricity and telecommunications company, is the primary Internet service provider (ISP). In contrast to the relatively open ISP market throughout the rest of the Central America, ICE dominates in Costa Rica.

Under CAFTA, Internet service has been opened up to competition, but internet speeds are still very low, with the average broadband speed being 3.2 Mb/s, compared 12.6 Mb/s in the U.S.

The following is a list of companies’ currently 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.
 
According to Costa Rica’s Superintendence of Telecommunications (Sutel), there are an estimated 474,000 subscription users of (land) Internet services in Costa Rica, representing only about 10.4% of the total population. The wireless fixed internet service decreased 22 % between 2014 and 2015 (latest figures available). This decrease in internet service can be explained by the increasing influence of mobile devices.

The cost today of an 8 Mbps connection is roughly US$40 per month in Costa Rica, provided by the government institution (ICE).  This figure contrasts prices across international markets, where fiber optics of up to 100 Mbps can cost as little as US$15 per month. The private sector continues to offer services via the Internet in addition to the usual sales channels. Costa Rican public and private banks offer their clients a variety of services through the Internet. There are several websites specializing in marketing products and services via the Internet that have recently emerged. The Apple Store now is operating in Costa Rica, along with Netflix.  Several consumer trading sites, including Mercado Libre (subsidiary of eBay), Clasificados, Rematico.com, Craig’s List Costa Rica, and Locompreaqui.com. The Costa Rican government has also invested in the new system Mer-Link, an e-bidding website enabling the government to bid on private goods and services. 
 
eCommerce Web Resources:
Banco Nacional
Buscomi
Citibank Costa Rica
Clasificados
CR Autos
Craigslist Costa Rica
ICT (Costa Rica Tourism Institute)
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