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Costa Rica — Gun Facts, Figures and the Law

StockpilesGun Numbers

Civilian Guns

Number of Privately Owned Firearms

ChartThe estimated total number of guns (both licit and illicit) held by civilians in Costa Rica is

2017: 493,0001
2012: 400,0002 3 4 5

Rate of Civilian Firearm Possession per 100 Population

ChartThe estimated rate of private gun ownership (both licit and illicit) per 100 people in Costa Rica is

2017: 101
2012: 8.62 3 4

Number of Privately Owned Firearms - World Ranking

In a 2007 comparison of the number of privately owned guns in 178 countries, Costa Rica ranked at No. 876

Rate of Privately Owned Firearms per 100 Population - World Ranking

In a 2007 comparison of the rate of private gun ownership in 178 countries, Costa Rica ranked at No. 644

Number of Licensed Firearm Owners

ChartThe number of licensed gun owners in Costa Rica is reported to be

2015: 230,8317
1999: 152,9238

Rate of Licensed Firearm Owners per 100 Population

ChartThe rate of licensed firearm owners per 100 people in Costa Rica is

2015: 4.799
1999: 4.02

Number of Registered Firearms

ChartThe number of registered guns in Costa Rica is reported to be

2017: 235,6311
2016: 235,63110
2015: 230,8317
2011: 206,9123
2006/08: 180,29511 5 12
2005: 149,4234
1998: 149,4233

Rate of Registered Firearms per 100 Population

ChartThe rate of registered guns per 100 people in Costa Rica is

2016: 4.849
2015: 4.79
2011: 4.52
2006/08: 4.16
2005: 3.55
1998: 4.02

Estimated Number of Unregistered and Illicit Firearms

ChartUnregistered and unlawfully held guns cannot be counted,13 but in Costa Rica there are estimated to be

2017: 257,3691
2014: 97,0005

Estimated Rate of Unregistered and Illicit Firearms per 100 Population

Unregistered and unlawfully held guns cannot be counted,13 but in Costa Rica the rate of such firearms per 100 people is estimated to be 2.279

Government Guns

Number of Military Firearms

The defence forces of Costa Rica are reported to have 014 3 15 firearms

Number of Law Enforcement Firearms

Police in Costa Rica are reported to have 17,00016 firearms

ImpactsDeath and Injury

Total Number of Gun Deaths

ChartIn Costa Rica, annual deaths resulting from firearms total

2014: 36117
2013: 315
2012: 29318
2011: 343
2010: 390
2002: 18719 20

Rate of All Gun Deaths per 100,000 People

ChartIn Costa Rica, the annual rate of all gun deaths per 100,000 population is

2014: 7.5917
2013: 6.71
2012: 6.32
2011: 7.49
2010: 8.64
2002: 4.65

Total Number of Male Gun Deaths

ChartIn Costa Rica, annual male deaths resulting from firearms total

2014: 33217
2013: 292
2012: 267
2011: 309
2010: 367

Total Number of Female Gun Deaths

ChartIn Costa Rica, annual female deaths resulting from firearms total

2014: 2917
2013: 23
2012: 26
2011: 34
2010: 23

Homicides (any method)

ChartIn Costa Rica, annual homicides by any means total

2015: 56621
2014: 44317
2013: 368
2012: 361
2011: 438
2010: 485
2009: 52522 19 23 24
2008: 512
2007: 369
2006: 351
2005: 335
2004: 280
2003: 300
2002: 258
2001: 257
2000: 249
1999: 24519
1998: 224
1997: 210
1996: 189
1995: 184

Rate of Homicide per 100,000 People (any method)

ChartIn Costa Rica, the annual rate of homicide by any means per 100,000 population is

2015: 11.7721
2014: 7.5917
2013: 6.71
2012: 6.32
2011: 7.49
2010: 8.64
2009: 11.422 19 23 24
2008: 11.3
2007: 8.3
2006: 8.0
2005: 7.8
2004: 6.6
2003: 7.2
2002: 6.3
2001: 6.4
2000: 6.4
1999: 6.419
1998: 6.0
1997: 5.8
1996: 5.3
1995: 5.3

Male Homicide Victims (any method)

ChartIn Costa Rica, annual male homicides by any means total

2014: 39417
2013: 336
2012: 319
2011: 375
2010: 434

Female Homicide Victims (any method)

ChartIn Costa Rica, annual female homicides by any means total

2014: 4917
2013: 32
2012: 42
2011: 63
2010: 51

Gun Homicides

ChartIn Costa Rica, annual firearm homicides total

2014: 30717
2013: 257
2012: 234
2011: 289
2010: 322
2009: 33622
2008: 348
2007: 225
2006: 21822 19 25
2005: 19619 25
2004: 150
2003: 147
2002: 131
2001: 134
1999: 12619
1998: 118
1997: 108
1996: 95
1995: 87

Rate of Gun Homicide per 100,000 People

ChartIn Costa Rica, the annual rate of firearm homicide per 100,000 population is

2014: 6.4617
2013: 5.47
2012: 5.05
2011: 6.31
2010: 7.13
2009: 7.54
2008: 7.92
2007: 5.19
2006: 5.119 19 25 24
2005: 4.519 25 24
2004: 3.5
2003: 3.519 25
2002: 3.2
2001: 3.3
1999: 3.319
1998: 3.2
1997: 3.0
1996: 2.7
1995: 2.5

Proportion of Homicides Committed With a Gun

ChartIn Costa Rica, the percentage of homicides committed with a firearm is reported to be

2013: 68%26
2012: 65%26 22 27
2011: 64%26 22
2010: 66%
2009: 64%22
2008: 68%
2007: 61%
2006: 62%
2005: 58.5%19
2004: 53.6%
2003: 49.0%
2002: 50.8%
2001: 52.1%
1999: 51.4%
1998: 52.7%
1997: 51.4%
1996: 50.3%
1995: 47.3%

Male Gun Homicide Victims

ChartIn Costa Rica, annual male firearm homicides total

2015: 28317
2014: 283
2013: 238
2012: 216
2011: 258
2010: 304

Female Gun Homicide Victims

ChartIn Costa Rica, annual female firearm homicides total

2015: 2417
2014: 24
2013: 19
2012: 18
2011: 31
2010: 18

Suicides (any method)

ChartIn Costa Rica, annual suicides by any means total

2014: 26817
2013: 312
2012: 302
2011: 316
2010: 311
2009: 27928
2008: 262
2007: 272
2006: 30828 29
2005: 27328
2004: 277
2003: 280
2002: 246
2001: 181
2000: 244
1995: 21120

Rate of Suicide per 100,000 People (any method)

ChartIn Costa Rica, the annual rate of suicide by any means per 100,000 population is

2014: 5.6417
2013: 6.64
2012: 6.51
2011: 6.90
2010: 6.89
2009: 6.128
2008: 5.8
2007: 6.128 29
2006: 7.0
2005: 6.3
2004: 6.528
2003: 6.7
2002: 6.0
2001: 4.5
2000: 6.2
1995: 5.0620

Male Suicide Victims (any method)

ChartIn Costa Rica, annual male suicides by any means total

2014: 22317
2013: 273
2012: 260
2011: 263
2010: 268

Female Suicide Victims (any method)

ChartIn Costa Rica, annual female suicides by any means total

2014: 4517
2013: 39
2012: 42
2011: 53
2010: 43

Gun Suicides

ChartIn Costa Rica, annual firearm suicides total

2014: 4317
2013: 50
2012: 5318
2011: 45
2010: 42
2002: 5320

Rate of Gun Suicide per 100,000 People

ChartIn Costa Rica, the annual rate of firearm suicide per 100,000 population is

2014: 0.9017
2013: 1.06
2012: 1.14
2011: 0.98
2010: 0.93
2002: 1.2720

Male Gun Suicide Victims

ChartIn Costa Rica, annual male firearm suicides total

2014: 3917
2013: 48
2012: 47
2011: 43
2010: 40

Female Gun Suicide Victims

ChartIn Costa Rica, annual female firearm suicides total

2014: 417
2013: 2
2012: 6
2011: 2
2010: 2

Unintentional Gun Deaths

ChartIn Costa Rica, annual unintentional shooting deaths total

2014: 417
2013: 2
2012: 218
2011: 3
2010: 2
2002: 320

Rate of Unintentional Gun Death per 100,000 People

ChartIn Costa Rica, the annual rate of unintentional shooting death per 100,000 population is

2014: 0.1517
2013: 0.13
2012: 0.09
2011: 0.13
2010: 0.53
2002: 0.0720

Unintentional Male Gun Deaths

ChartIn Costa Rica, annual unintentional male shooting deaths total

2014: 317
2013: 2
2012: 2
2011: 3
2010: 2

Unintentional Female Gun Deaths

ChartIn Costa Rica, annual unintentional female shooting deaths total

2014: 117
2013: 0
2012: 0
2011: 0
2010: 0

Gun Deaths from Undetermined Cause

ChartIn Costa Rica, annual shooting deaths in which the cause remains undecided total

2014: 717
2013: 6
2012: 418
2011: 6
2010: 24
2000: 1020

Rate of Gun Death from Undetermined Cause per 100,000 People

ChartIn Costa Rica, the annual rate of unknown-cause shooting deaths per 100,000 population is

2012: 0.099
2010: 0.11
2000: 0.2420

Male Gun Deaths from Undetermined Cause

ChartIn Costa Rica, annual male shooting deaths in which the cause remains undecided total

2014: 717
2013: 4
2012: 2
2011: 5
2010: 21

Female Gun Deaths from Undetermined Cause

ChartIn Costa Rica, annual female shooting deaths in which the cause remains undecided total

2014: 017
2013: 2
2012: 2
2011: 1
2010: 3

ProductionGun Industry

Regulation of Firearm Makers

In Costa Rica, the manufacture of small arms, ammunition and/or their components is permitted only if the maker holds a valid licence,30 31 32 33 34 but is not conducted in practice35

TransfersGun Trade and Trafficking

Firearm Exports

In Costa Rica, firearm and ammunition exports are limited by transfer control law30 36 31 37 33 38 39 40

Small Arms Exports (US$) - Customs

The annual value of small arms and ammunition exports from Costa Rica is reported by Customs to be US$33641 (2011)

Firearm Imports

In Costa Rica, firearm and ammunition imports are limited by transfer control law30 31 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 33 38 50 39 40

Small Arms Imports (US$) - Customs

The annual value of small arms and ammunition imports to Costa Rica is reported by Customs to be US$3,619,98041 (2011)

Smuggling Guns and Ammunition

Reports suggest that the level of firearm and ammunition smuggling in Costa Rica is moderate8

Regulation of Arms Brokers

In Costa Rica, the activities of arms brokers and transfer intermediaries are specifically regulated by law51

End User Certificates

Customs regulations in Costa Rica include36 38 certification of the intended end user of any small arms or ammunition transfer, and/or a written declaration of its intended end use

MeasuresGun Regulation

Firearm Regulation - Guiding Policy

The regulation of guns in Costa Rica is categorised as restrictive52

Firearm Law

Guiding gun control legislation in Costa Rica includes the Arms and Explosives Law No. 7530 of 1995,53 34 its Regulation of 2013,54 the Regulation for the Administration, Use, and Control of Firearms by the Ministry of Public Works and Transport,55 the Agreement No. 180 of 2014 on the Import of Firearms Similar to Prohibited Firearms,56 the Agreement No. 112 of 2015,57 as amended by Agreement No. 122,58 the Circular No. 147 of 2012 on Reducing the Number of Arms Belonging to the State59 and the Directive No. 0 of 201260

Firearm Regulation Authority

Guns in Costa Rica are regulated by the Ministry of Public Security, the Armaments Directorate, the Arms Registry, the National Arsenal, and the Arms and Explosives Control Department61 62 63 64 65

Right to Possess Firearms

In Costa Rica, the right to private gun ownership is not guaranteed by law66 67 68 69 60

Restricted Firearms and Ammunition

In Costa Rica, civilians are not allowed to possess automatic firearms, machine guns, sub-machine guns, as well as rifles and semi-automatic carbines whose magazine can hold more than ten rounds (except rimfire cartridges), silencers and armour-piercing, tracer, explosive and incendiary ammunition70 71

Regulation of Automatic Weapons

In Costa Rica, private possession of fully automatic weapons is prohibited70 71 72 27

Regulation of Semiautomatic Assault Weapons

In Costa Rica, private possession of semi-automatic assault weapons is permitted under licence,73 74 with some exceptions70

Regulation of Handguns

In Costa Rica, private possession of handguns (pistols and revolvers) is permitted under licence,73 74 75 27 with some exceptions70 71

Law Regulates Long Guns

In Costa Rica, civilian possession of rifles and shotguns is regulated by law73 74 70 71 75 27

Gun Ownership and Possession

In Costa Rica, only licensed gun owners76 69 77 78 79 33 80 27 may lawfully acquire, possess or transfer a firearm or ammunition

Genuine Reason Required for Firearm Possession

Applicants for a gun owner’s licence in Costa Rica are required to establish a genuine reason to possess a firearm, for example personal protection,68 69 81 82 security,58 57 hunting, sports shooting78 83 and collection79

Minimum Age for Firearm Possession

The minimum age for gun ownership in Costa Rica is 18 years to possess and carry, or 14 years for hunting and target shooting while under the immediate supervision of an appropriately licensed adult84 85 86 87

Gun Owner Background Checks

An applicant for a firearm licence in Costa Rica must pass a background check which considers criminal,84 85 88 89 90 58 addiction,82 and mental health85 91 92 93 94 60 27 records

Reference Required for Firearm Licence

In Costa Rica, third party character references for each gun licence applicant are not required95

Partner to be Advised or Interviewed

In Costa Rica, licensing authorities are not required95 to conduct interviews with, or to advise an applicant's spouse, partner, or next of kin before issuing a gun licence

Domestic Violence and Firearms

Where a past history, or apprehended likelihood of family violence exists, the law in Costa Rica stipulates82 that a gun licence should be denied or revoked

Firearm Safety Training

In Costa Rica, an understanding of firearm safety and the law, tested in a theoretical and/or practical training course is required96 97 94 98 99 90 34 for a firearm licence

Gun Owner Licensing Period

In Costa Rica, gun owners must re-apply and re-qualify for their firearm licence every year, only for a special licence to carry a firearm for self-defence69

Licensing Records

In Costa Rica, authorities maintain a record76 96 88 91 100 101 102 34 of individual civilians licensed to acquire, possess, sell or transfer a firearm or ammunition

Limit on Number of Guns

Licensed firearm owners in Costa Rica are permitted to possess no more than three firearms intended for personal protection, but there is no limit on firearms for hunting and target shooting76 103 82 104 80

Limit on Quantity, Type of Ammunition

Licensed firearm owners in Costa Rica are permitted to possess any quantity of ammunition95 80

Firearm Registration

Civilian Gun Registration

In Costa Rica, the law requires76 96 97 101 34 105 88 that a record of the acquisition, possession and transfer of each privately held firearm be retained in an official register

Gun Dealer Record Keeping

In Costa Rica, licensed firearm dealers are required106 107 108 80 to keep a record of each firearm or ammunition purchase, sale or transfer on behalf of a regulating authority

State-Owned Firearm Records

In Costa Rica, State agencies are required61 109 110 111 112 105 113 to maintain records of the storage and movement of all firearms and ammunition under their control

Gun Sales and Transfers

Regulation of Private Gun Sales

In Costa Rica, the private sale and transfer of firearms is prohibited unless registered by the Arms and Explosives Control Department108 101 82

Regulation of Dealer Gun Sales

In Costa Rica, dealing in firearms by way of business without a valid gun dealer’s licence is unlawful30 114 31 115 100 32 50

Background Checks for Private Gun Sales

The buyer of a firearm in a private sale in Costa Rica is obliged82 to pass official background checks before taking possession

Background Checks for Dealer Gun Sales

The buyer of a firearm from a licensed gun dealer in Costa Rica is obliged82 106 to pass official background checks before taking possession

Waiting Period for Gun Possession

In Costa Rica, the minimum wait for a lawful firearm purchase to be completed is undetermined95

Regulation of Gun Shows

In Costa Rica, gun shows and temporary firearm dealing events are not regulated95 in law

Storage and Transport of Guns and Ammunition

Firearm and Ammunition Storage Regulations - Private

Firearm regulations in Costa Rica include68 116 written specifications for the lawful safe storage of private firearms and ammunition by licensed gun owners

Firearm and Ammunition Storage Regulations - Dealer

Firearm regulations in Costa Rica include114 117 118 50 written specifications for the lawful safe storage of firearms and ammunition by licensed arms dealers

Firearm and Ammunition Storage Regulations - Government

Government regulations in Costa Rica include113 119 written specifications for the lawful safe storage of firearms and ammunition by state entities

Firearm and Ammunition Transport Regulations

Regulations in Costa Rica include48 written specifications for the lawful safe storage of firearms and ammunition while in transit

Marking and Tracing Guns and Ammunition

Firearm Marking

In Costa Rica, a unique identifying mark on each firearm is required by law96 120 111

Firearm Tracing

In Costa Rica, state authorities carry out88 121 122 recognised arms tracing and tracking procedures

Ballistic Record of Firearms and Ammunition

In Costa Rica, the ballistic characteristics of each civilian firearm and its ammunition are not80 88 72 recorded in a register

Carrying Guns

Law Regulates Firearms in Public

In Costa Rica, carrying a gun in a public place is regulated by law69 81 77 90 89 92 33 27

Carrying Guns Openly in Public

In Costa Rica, carrying a firearm in plain view in a public place is prohibited123

Carrying Hidden Handguns in Public

In Costa Rica, carrying a concealed firearm in a public place is allowed, subject to a valid permit123 69 77

Gun Free Zones

In Costa Rica, private guns are prohibited in State facilities, public institutions, health and educational institutions, and in demonstrations or public meetings124

Penalty for Illicit Firearm Possession

In Costa Rica, the maximum penalty for unlawful possession of a firearm125 is three years in prison126 127

Collection, Amnesty and Destruction Programmes

Authorities in Costa Rica are known to have128 129 11 130 65 131 implemented voluntary firearm surrender schemes, and/or weapon seizure programmes in order to reduce the number of illicit firearms in circulation

Firearms Surrendered and Seized

ChartIn Costa Rica, the number of firearms voluntarily surrendered, bought back or seized by authorities is reported to be

2015: 1,711132
2014: 1,960
2013: 1,834133
2012: 2,037134
2011: 2,291
2010/14: 38,000135 136 137 10
2010: 2,453138
2009: 3,333139
2006/08: 14,38211
2004: 3,241140 130
2003: 1,002140
2002: 1,047

Small Arms Destroyed

ChartIn Costa Rica, the number of firearms destroyed following amnesty, collection and seizure programmes is reported to be

2015: 656141
2013: 9,000137
2010/14: 32,000135
2006/08: 10,97411

Destruction and Disposal Policy

In Costa Rica, it is not state policy142 143 144 145 129 80 to destroy surplus, collected and seized firearms rather than return them to the secondary arms market

MeasuresInternational Controls

Regional Agreements

Central American Integration System

As a member of the Central American Integration System (SICA), Costa Rica is party to the 2007 Central American Programme on Small Arms Control and the Code of Conduct of Central American States on the Transfer of Arms, Ammunition, Explosives and Other Related Material146

Organization of American States

On 14 November 1997, as a member of the Organisation of American States (OAS), Costa Rica adopted the Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Explosives, Ammunition and Other Related Materials (CIFTA), a legally binding multilateral treaty of which the OAS is depository. The CIFTA Convention has since been signed and ratified147 148 by Costa Rica

Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development

The Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development, a diplomatic initiative aimed at addressing the interrelations between armed violence and development, was signed in 2006149 by Costa Rica.

Arms Trade Treaty

The Arms Trade Treaty has been signed and ratified150 by Costa Rica

United Nations Firearms Protocol

The United Nations Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition has been signed and ratified151 by Costa Rica

United Nations Small Arms Programme of Action UNPoA

UNPoA Commitment

On 21 July 2001, Costa Rica committed to a consensus decision of the United Nations to adopt, support and implement the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects152

UNPoA Implementation Monitor Score

In its UN small arms Programme of Action Implementation Monitor (PoAIM Phase 1), the Small Arms Survey scored Costa Rica against its commitments to the PoA, then ranked it at No. 115153 154 155 156 among 159 Member States

UNPoA National Reporting

Under the terms of its 2001 commitment to the United Nations small arms Programme of Action, Costa Rica has submitted one or more national reports157 158 on its implementation of the UNPoA

UNPoA National Point of Contact

In Costa Rica, a National Point of Contact to deal with issues relating to the UNPoA has been designated159 158

UNPoA National Coordinating Body

In Costa Rica, a National Coordinating Body to deal with issues relating to the UNPoA has been designated159

UNPoA Civil Society Involvement and Support

In National Reports of Costa Rica submitted to the UN from 2001 to 2010, a history of substantive cooperation with civil society in support of UNPoA activities was apparent160

UNPoA International Assistance – Donor

Funds for UNPoA implementation have not been donated158 by Costa Rica to other UN Member States

UNPoA International Assistance – Recipient

Funds for UNPoA implementation have been provided158 to Costa Rica by other UN Member States

United Nations Small Arms Register

According to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, Costa Rica has not declared161 its small arms exports in one or more annual National Reports on Arms Exports.

United Nations Membership

In the UN List of Member States, Costa Rica has been a Member State of the United Nations since 1945162

Wassenaar Arrangement

The Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls and Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies does not list163 Costa Rica as a Participating State

BackgroundCountry Profile

Conflict Profile

For a profile of conflict in Costa Rica, select the Link icon to open an external web page from the UCDP Conflict Encyclopedia at Uppsala University

Global Peace Index

To see where Costa Rica ranks, select the Link icon to open an external web page at the Global Peace Index


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