In Costa Rica, the government-owned electric and telecommunications company (ICE, pronounced ee-say) is the sole provider of home phone service. In order to acquire a land line in your name, you must be a Costa Rican citizen or have legal residency. After applying for a new phone line, prepare to wait at least 15-22 business days for installation; in reality, wait times can amount to months or even years. Demand for land lines is high in Costa Rica, and since there is only one phone company, supply is often low.
When you purchase a home in Costa Rica, the sale usually includes at least one phone line. In the past, it was possible to transfer a line from one individual to another, but this is no longer possible. Instead, the line will remain in the previous owner’s name and the current owner will pay the bill until he is able to obtain a line in his or her own name. Likewise, rental properties are often rented with a home phone in the owner’s name; the tenant pays the bill and enjoys immediate phone service.
Land line installation costs 20,905 CRC (about $42) and requires a deposit of 9,000 CRC ($18), plus tax. Telephone lines have a basic monthly rate of 3,277 CRC ($6.50) plus a small 911 fee and a 13% tax on the entire bill. Outgoing calls are charged per minute in addition to the basic monthly fee. Within Costa Rica, all calls are considered local; there is no national long distance. Daytime minutes (7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday) cost 4.70 CRC (less than 1¢) per minute; night and weekend minutes (7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Monday through Friday; all day on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays) are charged at 2.30 CRC (less than 1/2¢) per minute. Voicemail, call waiting, and caller ID are provided free of charge.
ICE’s MIDA service offers the option to make international calls from a land line. This service is not automatic and must be activated before use. Note that international service must also be activated in order to receive calls from abroad. Long distance (international) service rates vary by destination country. The United States, Canada, Mexico and U.S. territories belong to Group A, which is billed at $.26 per minute. Other group rates, which cover South and Central America and the rest of the world, range from $0.32 to $1.02 per minute. For clients who spend more than $400 per month on international calls, the MIDA Dorado (MIDA Gold) service offers bulk rate discounts – rates as low as $0.18 per minute to Group A countries.
Non-citizens must fulfill the following requirements to formalize their request for home phone service:
- Be current on all ICE service bills.
- Provide a document that proves your residential address, usually a utility bill.
- Provide documentation of legal residency in Costa Rica, usually your cedula de residencia.
- Provide the electric meter number and the name of the company that provides your electric service.
- Provide the complete name and cedula number of the service beneficiary. (Optional)
Important Phone Numbers:
Auto Accidents: 800 800 8000
AT&T USA Direct: 0-800-0-114-114
Directory Assistance: 1113
ICE Services: 1115
International Operator: 1116
Transit Police: 1117
Telegrams through RACSA: 1023
Report a Power Outage: 1026
Collect Calls: 1175
Consult Phone Bill: 1187
Voicemail (Same phone): 1190
Voicemail (Different phone): 1191
Tourism Information: 1192
Customer Service for ICE Mobile: 1193