Is taxi Cheap in Costa Rica? How much do the taxi cost!

When I investigate the Taxi topic on the internet, I often stumble upon this question, and the answer is not that simple, I will try to explain to you why in the next paragraphs.

Costa Rica Taxis fares are not cheap nor expensive, it just fair. Analyzing the price of taxis fares for 100 cities around the world, we find that the average price is $2.57 for the first Km and $1.13 for the next Km. For a 5 Km ride, you will have to pay around $7-$8. In Costa Rica for the same trip, you will pay $5-$8, depending on the type of taxi you take, so we can conclude that the price is a bit lower or equal than the average price around the world.

The Taxi Fare System in Costa Rica

Taximeter with printer

The price of taxi fare in Costa Rica is the result of comprehensive studies on the cost of the variables involved. Expert mathematical actuaries calculate fares, and it includes all necessary car insurance, salaries, social contributions and retirement for the drivers, maintenance, gas, and oil changes, and a reasonable earning to the owner, to have a quality, clean, safe service.

There is a special law, the number 7969, created to regulate the paid transportation of people, and two different government offices, the ARESEP who establish fares and the Public Transportation Office at MOPT, that gives operating permission to every unit, and a driver license to every taxi driver.

The market is regulated by the number of concessions they give, according to the size of the market, the price, and other features. Getting unwanted pirate services is a variation that affects the level of earnings of the concessionaires, and that affects the quality of the service.

Here are the rates for Red taxi service, and an estimate in US Dollars, considering the dollar rate exchange at ¢594 per US$1 on June 03 2019. Prices may vary on time not only for exchange rate changes but because of taxis fares changes as well. This price is only a reference.

ItemFare in CRC colonsFare estimated in US$
Sedan (Regular)
First Km¢645$1.08
Variable Km.¢615$1.04
Waiting Hour¢3750$6.31 or $0.10 by min.
Delay Hour¢6140$10.34 or $0.17 by min
Disability Person Unit
First Km¢645$1.08
Variable Km.¢585$0.98
Waiting Hour¢3855$6.49 or $0.11 by min.
Deleay Hour¢5890$9.92 or $0.16 by min.
Rural Type Unit
First Km¢645$1.08
Variable Km. ¢640$1.08
Waiting Hour ¢3920$6.60 or $0.11 by min.
Deleay Hour ¢6445$10.85 or $0.18 by min.

To understand the table you need to know that first Km is the fare of the first kilometer, then you add up the variable Km according to the rest of the kilometers, and then, you have to add the Delay Hour, that is the time you spend wasted on traffic. The waiting hour is a fare the driver charge if they have to wait for you.

Prices of Orange taxi service is a bit higher, due to special considerations. You can read about this in our article, Costa Rica Taxis. An Illustrated Guide. Here are the rates for Orange airport taxi service and an estimate in US Dollars, considering the dollar rate exchange at ¢594 per US$1 on June 03, 2019. Prices may also vary on time not only for exchange rate changes but because of taxis fares changes as well. Again, this is only a reference.

ItemFare in CRC colonsFare estimated in US$
Sedan (Regular)
First Km¢955$1.61
Variable Km.¢815$1.37
Waiting Hour¢3805$6.40. or $0.11 by min.
Delay Hour¢8080$13.60 or $0.23 by min
First Km¢955$1.61
Variable Km.¢930$1.56
Waiting Hour¢4380$7.37 or $0.12 by min.
Deleay Hour¢9335$15.72 or $0.26 by min.

Cost of Gas, Labor, and taxes

Gas prices per liter on the world vary from $0.14 in Sudan or $0.29 in Iran to $2.18 in Hong Kong or $1.97 in Monaco or Norway. In Costa Rica, the price is $1.17, the same as Brazil. However, Nicaragua, right next to Costa Rica, the price is $1.05 and Panamá, the other side of Costa Rica, is even lower, the price is $0.85. We in Costa Rica consider the cost of Gasoline a bit higher than what it should be. Source

We pay 53% of taxes over gasoline and 39% of fees over diesel. Prices of Car parts is something else since we spend 42% of taxes. Additionally, you have to consider the cost of labor. The minimum salary is around $6000 a year, not much, but you have to add about 50% of social contributions and retirement plans.

Costa Rica, in general, is an expensive country, among other reasons, because we decide to protect around 25% of our land in national parks, we give free education for over one million of our young students, and have universal social health care with complicated surgeries. That, with a significant state of social assistance, make Costa Rica an expensive country, in a search for social peace, and the pursuit of happiness.

Quality of Service

Taxi cars, at least Red and Orange type, have to be no higher than ten years old, with air conditioner although just a few red taxi drivers will turn it on. Probably all orange will. They have to keep the car clean, and it is a nonsmoking area, drivers are supposed to be cleaned. Orange taxi drivers have to dress uniforms, the taxi meter is now digital, and can not be altered, and have a printed ticket with the information for the unit and the service.

Orange taxi drivers have to talk some English, Our units have free WiFi, and our drivers give complimentary water bottles. All taxis have insurance that covers, in full, your civil liability for injury or death of third parties and damage to the property of third parties.

Luggage considerations

At the airport, you have two choices, depending on the number of persons you are traveling with, and/or the luggage number and size. If you are going with two other persons, and with one suitcase and one handbag each one, you will probably be ok but tight with a regular sedan. If your group is higher than three and up to eight, you will have to take a microbus.

If you are traveling with a surfboard, you will probably have to take a microbus, depending on the size of your board, or if you are two but with lots of luggage. Taxis do not have racks for boards or other pieces of luggage on the roof of the car.

Frequently ask questions

How much is a taxi from SJO to Downtown: Price from SJO to downtown is about $30 to $35, depending on the part of the city you are going, the type of taxi you take, sedan for up to three persons or microbus, for up to 8 persons. The price will also depend on the hour you make it, on the rush hour prices will be a little higher, around 10%. The ride will take from 20 to 30 minutes, and it is 15 to 20 kilometers average, 10 to 13 miles. You can make a reservation online on our Website and fix the price. Click Here.

Do taxis in Costa Rica take credit cards: At the airport, all orange airport taxis will accept credit cards, including American Express. The red taxis are a different story. Not all red taxis accept credit cards and those who do, probably will not receive American Express. It is always better if you ask first.

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