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What’s it Like to do Business in Costa Rica (Part 1 of 2)


Eric Liebross

Senior Managing Director of Business Transformation, Auxis

Although nearshoring can be a hugely beneficial practice for corporations large and small, choosing a country to do business in takes many factors into account.

Most people know something about our immediate neighbors, Canada and Mexico, but it looks like the future of nearshoring is slightly further afield, in not too far out of the way countries like Costa Rica. But why? What’s it like to do business in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica Is Ready For Business

Many of you already know about the “fun side” of Costa Rica: the beaches, the surfing, the zip lining, the rainforest and the wild life.  But did you know that Costa Rica has a business “ecosystem” that supports more than 300 multi-national companies?

Besides already having the business and technology infrastructure in place for a wide range of industries, from biotech to consumer products to financial services, Costa Rica’s continually upgrading its practices to attract new businesses. Just this year, the Costa Rican Times announced that old hurdles to starting a business in Costa Rica have been removed. What used to take 77 days now takes, on average, about 24 days — that’s without paying any extra fees to speed up the process. Low-risk businesses, the article notes, can receive approval in as little as a single day.

In addition, the Costa Rica Star reports that the country has already signed a $12 million contract to upgrade the air traffic management systems in its international airport at San Jose. The goals of this upgrade are to improve takeoff and landing coordination, as well as adding advanced meteorological data to help optimize Costa Rica’s airport network functionality. The new system will be Level 3 NAM compliant, making Costa Rica the first country in the world incorporating this advanced protocol in its international airports.

Actively Promoting Costa Rican Businesses

Besides having the infrastructure to support growing businesses, Costa Rica actually works very hard to promote companies operating within their borders through its International Fair Program (IFP). For the last 30 years, the IFP has been a way for Costa Rica to promote both business and commercial tourism to their country. According to the Costa Rica Star, 2014’s IFP featured over 75 businesses across the private sector, a 4.4 percent increase from the year prior.

Throughout the 2014-2015 season, the Costa Rican Board participated in 250 meetings with commercial partners and marketed the fair through 89 media outlets, as well as supporting the season’s events using social media. Events like this are designed specifically to promote Costa Rican businesses to global markets that include the U.S., Canada, Latin America, Europe and Asia-Pacific.

These are some of the reasons that for the past few years, Costa Rica has been ranked the #1 Outsourcing Destination in Latin America, according to the industry advisory firm, Tholon’s .

Meet Your Corporate Costa Rican Neighbors

Dozens of other American companies are already doing business in Costa Rica because of the favorable conditions there. It’s an easy country to work within and has an able workforce already trained and ready to go to work. Amazon is among the companies that operate profitably in the Costa Rican sun, and, according to the Tico Times, experienced another expansion of 400 bilingual customer support workers in 2015.

Other businesses that call Costa Rica their second home include American Standard, AT&T, Bristol Myers Squibb, Coca-Cola, DHL, Dole Food, Heinz, Intel, L.L. Bean, Novartis, Pfizer, Proctor & Gamble, 3M and Wal-Mart. The business culture of Costa Rica is perfect for a wide range of companies, but there’s more than just government spending or technology required for creating a truly ideal business environment. 

In part two of this two-part series, we’ll look at the types of employees companies like yours can expect in Costa Rica. 

Contact us to discuss your current needs and challenges…and why the nearshoring option may be best for your organization.

Written by

Senior Managing Director of Business Transformation, Auxis
Eric brings more than 30 years of experience and a proven track record of success helping CFOs modernize and achieve peak performance in their back office to become more scalable, innovative and strategic oriented. He joined Auxis in 2002 and serves as Senior Managing Director, overseeing all Finance Transformation, Process Automation and Business Process Outsourcing services at Auxis. His areas of expertise include financial operations performance, shared services strategy, organizational and operating model design, process automation (e.g. RPA), and systems integration.