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The strong ties between Costa Rica and Canada

In honor of Canadian airlines returning to Costa Rica starting in October, let’s review the strong relationships between our nation and the Great White North:


Canada and Costa Rica enjoy strong and diverse bilateral relations. The two countries share similar views in many areas, including human rights, rule of law, security and free trade, as well as views on regional and international issues raised in multilateral institutions.

In Costa Rica, Canada is represented by the Embassy of Canada in San Jose which opened in 1961. Costa Rica is represented in Canada by an Embassy in Ottawa, a consulate in Toronto and an Honorary Consulate in Vancouver.

Canada supports Costa Rica’s security efforts through GAC’s Anti-Crime Capacity Building Program (ACCBP). Since 2009, GAC has provided nearly $8 million in security programming to Costa Rica through the ACCBP, with bilateral or regional projects focused on tackling illicit drugs, corruption, human trafficking and migrant smuggling, crime prevention, security sector reform and proceeds of crime (including money laundering).

The Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program (ELAP) provides short-term scholarship opportunities for students from Latin America and the Caribbean to study or conduct research in Canada. The program is notably predicated on Canadian and Costa Rican institutional linkages which facilitate the creation of scholarship opportunities. These academic agreements help foster research collaboration and student exchanges.

There are nearly 10,000 Canadian residents in Costa Rica, including dual nationals, and tens of thousands of Canadians travel to Costa Rica every year. In 2019, nearly 220,000 Canadian tourists entered Costa Rica via the country’s international airports.

A Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Canada and the Government of the Republic of Costa Rica Concerning Youth Mobility, signed in 2010, enables youth ages 18-35 to travel and work in each other’s country for up to two years.

Costa Rica is Canada’s largest trading partner in Central America. Bilateral merchandise trade reached $675 million in 2017. Merchandise exports totaled $159 million in 2017 and imports from Costa Rica totaled $516 million. Canadian exports consisted primarily of grain products, machinery, electrical machinery, and vegetables, while primary import products included fruits and nuts, electrical machinery, and medical instruments.

The entry into force of the Canada-Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement (CCRFTA) in 2002 enabled the development of trade relations between the two countries. Parallel agreements on environment and labor cooperation were also signed at that time. One of the main objectives of the CCRFTA is to create new business opportunities for both countries.

An open skies-type Air Transport Agreement between Canada and Costa Rica entered into force in April 2012. This Agreement allows any airline from Canada or Costa Rica to operate as frequently as desired between both countries and via any point in third countries.

In 2012, Costa Rica expressed its desire to join the OECD, which Canada supported. Costa Rica became the 38th member country of the OECD in May 2021.


Facts sourced from the Government of Canada and the Government of Costa Rica.

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