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10 Things You Need To Know About Volunteering In Costa Rica


Want to know how to volunteer in Costa Rica? We’re here to make it easy and affordable to travel to this special part of Central America and give back to the local community. To help you on your journey, I’ve created this cheat sheet with everything you need to know about how to volunteer in Costa Rica with IVHQ.

10 things you need to know about volunteering in Costa Rica

Do I need a visa to enter Costa Rica?

Most nationalities can obtain a 90 day tourist stamp in their passport upon arrival to Costa Rica. IVHQ programs fall under tourism which means you do not need to arrange a volunteer visa to travel to Costa Rica, these can be costly and time consuming. In order to obtain the stamp you’ll just need to state tourism as your reason for travel and immigration will stamp your passport. If you are staying for over 90 days you can easily go to a neighbouring country such as Panama or Nicaragua for a few days and then obtain another 90 day stamp when re-entering Costa Rica.

When should I pay my registration fee to secure my spot on the program?

There is no specific deadline in which you need to register to secure your spot on the program. We recommend registering either once you are sure of your plans or 60 days prior to your start date. It’s always best to register sooner rather than later so the program doesn’t fill to capacity before you have had a change to secure your spot.

It’s also important to keep in mind that your program fees are due 30 days prior to your program start date.

It’s okay if you apply for your program with only a couple of weeks to go, you’ll just need to register and then pay your program fees promptly.

When should I book my flights and how much will they cost?

It’s important to secure your spot on the program before booking your flights. We recommend shopping around for flight deals on different sites and popping down to your local travel agent. This will give you a good idea of what your flights will cost. Once you have registered for the program you can request a flight quote via your MyIVHQ profile. Our specialised flights team will get back to you within 1 working day.

When should I arrive and depart for my program?

You’ll need to arrive into San Jose no later than the day before their program start date. This night of accommodation is included in your program fee and you will have your program orientation on the Sunday afternoon or Monday morning. Your last day of volunteering is a Friday and check out is at 11am on Saturday. It is no problem if you would like to arrive earlier or later than these dates. Extra nights of accommodation can be arranged and paid for with the local team in Costa Rica.

I want to volunteer with my friends, can be stay in the same accommodation and go to the same placement?

Absolutely! You’ll all need to submit separate applications and reference each other’s names under the “are you volunteering with a friend, family member or group” section so we can link for your files and place and accommodate you together. If you would like to do different projects we can still accommodate you together provided they are both San Jose based projects. The Eco-Agriculture Conservation and Turtle Conservation are located out of San Jose.

Can I make changes to my application?

Your Program Manager can easily make changes to your application for you, this means you don’t need to submit a whole new application. If you need to make any changes, send your Program Manager an email, they will be happy to chat through your options and update your application. You can change everything from your start date, duration, project and destination.

How much spending money will I need?

That is really up to you! We recommend budgeting around US$100 per week for lunches, public transport and other weekly expenses. It’s wise to plan a budget before you depart, that way you will be able to keep track of your spending when you arrive.

Do I need a criminal background check and how do I get one?

All volunteers over the age of 18 need to bring a criminal background check with them for their program orientation. You can head down to your local police station and they will be able to issue you a background check. If you’re on the move and can’t get to your local police station you may be able to get a criminal background check online, head over to the IVHQ Criminal Background Checks page for more information.

What can I do in my free time?

Costa Rica has a wide range of cultural, adventure and tourism options for you to fill your free time with. These include zip lining in Monteverde, a trip to Manuel Antonio National Park and coffee plantation tours. A great place to start is by checking out the Costa Rica Travel and Tours page. Once you have registered for the program you will be put in touch with a local travel agent in Costa Rica. You are welcome to book a range of tours and trips through them either before you depart for Costa Rica or once you have arrived.

When will I find out my exact accommodation and placement?

The local team in Costa Rica will draw up a placement and accommodation schedule for you closer to the time of your program start date. Your schedule is not finalized until you have arrived in Costa Rica and discussed this with the local team. The local team in Costa Rica will place you according to where the most need for help is at the time of your program. If you have any preferences for your accommodation or placement please be sure to note these on your application.

If you’re ready to secure you spot on an IVHQ program, log to register, or apply if you haven’t already!

How to get started

Pick a destination + project and apply for free
Meet your personal volunteer travel expert
Pay the Registration Fee to secure your place and upgrade your MyIVHQ account
Get ready to volunteer abroad, we’ll support you every step of the way!