We are finding out the Costa Rica is very big on bureaucracy and paperwork. In Nicaragua I could purchase generic xanax and ambien over the counter…in fact the xanax was under the glass of the front counter. Not sure the rules on those drugs in Costa Rica but I can tell you that supplements are very strictly managed.
I ordered 4 supplements which I can easily purchase at Natural Grocers and most any health food store. I used eVitamins, an online store with a good reputation that knows how to ship to Costa Rica and what can be shipped…or so they said. They apparently didn’t include the itemized invoice which was easily remedied.
Finding where the package was held was not easy and took several attempts. I have actually seen my package and have a photo of the items AND paid my import fees. But I have to get permission from the Minister of Health to get the supplements. That required a trip to a different place.
Once I got to the Ministerial de Salud building and finally got to the right office I was given a form to complete which wanted to know what the products were for and found out that I need a prescription from the doctor which is less than 3 months old! (And I had to write a short letter requesting that I get approval to receive the items.)
I got the RX in less than a day and made another trip to the Ministerial de Salud (I tried to see if I could just fax the papers/forms but couldn’t get anywhere with that…may have been partly a limitation of my Spanish but I don’t really think so since the word “fax” is the same in English and Spanish).
At this point in time I paid a little over $50 for shipping from the US, $70 plus tip and lunch for almost all day use of a driver I met via Uber, and about half that again for the second trip with one more trip needed. It takes 1-30 days to get approval (as of 6/6 I am on day 8). I could pay for one way of the fare for someone to fly here from Houston and bring things to me!
I could let the package be returned to the US; I’ve been able to get a couple of the products (Bach Rescue Sleep spray and a lesser strength Vitamin D-3) at a local GNC store but that doesn’t help with the other two products, one of which has been prescribed for me by 2 different physicians over the last 6 or 7 years so I know I need it and I am now out of it.
So if you are thinking about coming to visit, let me know; I’d love for you be bring me some products. I’ll happily reimburse you and promise not to take up much luggage space. Of course if you are reading this blog I’d probably love for you to come visit anyway.
Will other countries be different? Who knows? I haven’t been successful in finding out rules in advance for a given country. Stay tuned…