Tourists from the United States: hang onto your passports. Apparently, they’re more likely to go missing in Costa Rica than anywhere else in the world.
According to U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Elaine Samson, more lost and stolen U.S. passports are reported in Costa Rica than in any other consular district.
And while some consular districts are smaller than Costa Rica or have a smaller number of tourists or foreign residents, Costa Rica’s U.S. passport replacement rates exceed even those of Paris, which has five million U.S. tourists per year compared to approximately 800,000 last year in Costa Rica.
The embassy received reports of 1,600 lost or stolen passports in 2005. (There’s no way for the embassy to accurately differentiate between the two categories, Samson told The Tico Times.)
Partially in response to rising passport theft rates, visitors from any country are not required to carry their passports with them when they travel within the country, as of 2004. The U.S. Embassy was among the institutions that lobbied for the change (TT, Nov. 5, 2004).
Non-resident foreigners must, however, carry a photocopy of their passports at all times, and authorities reserve the right to accompany a tourist to his or her hotel to view the original if necessary.