International Calls

How to save money when calling home

International Calls

The advantage of the ancient monopoly of ICE group is that the Costa Rican government wanted to keep telephone costs low and so they are. Get informed about the rates when getting a card.

In order to call home from any phone in Costa Rica, this phone should have the service International call. Make sure that yours has it or that you can contract it. 

Grupe ICE has divided countries over 6 groups, which are as follows:

  • Group A: USA, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Alaska and the US Virgin Islands
  • Group B: South America, Caribbean (except Cuba), South Korea, Japan and Taiwan
  • Group C1: Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Belize and Panama
  • Group C2: Nicaragua
  • Group D: Europe, Singapore, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand
  • Group E: Cuba and the rest of the world

ICE offers several calling options to meet your needs:


This service allows you to make international calls from your home, cellular phone, business or public telephone by calling directly. This is ICE’s most economic way of calling internationally and the minimum charge is one minute. MIDA divides the world in different calling zones and each zone has its own costs. Tariffs may change but by calling International Information at 124 you will find out what the current tariffs are. The prices below are in US$, include taxes and are updated to January 2013. This is the pricing for land lines and mobile phones with contract (postpago):

  • Group A: US$ 0.14/minute
  • Group B: US$ 0.31/minute
  • Group C1: US$ 0.14/ minute 
  • Group C2: US$ 0.32/ minute 
  • Group D: US$ 0.54/minute
  • Group E: US$ 1,02/minute

This is the pricing for calling from a prepaid phone: 

  • Group A: US$ 0.26/minute
  • Group B: US$ 0.44/minute
  • Group C1: US$ 0.32/ minute 
  • Group C2: US$ 0.32/ minute 
  • Group D: US$ 0.54/minute
  • Group E: US$ 1,02/minute

Servicio 09

This is the bilingual operator service. Calling through this service allows you to pay for the call yourself or make a collect call. You can control the cost and time of your phone call by letting the operator know how long or how much you want to spent. If you want to make a call using this service, you have to dial 09 followed by the country code, city code and telephone number of the person you want to call. After having dialled the complete telephone number you will be connected to the operator. Countries are divided into the same groups as with mida, but the costs are higher. You are advised to check the prices by calling 124 before making your actual phone call.The prices below are in US$, include taxes and are updated to January 2013.

  • Group A: US$0,92 the first minute, every additional minute is US$0,14
  • Group B: US$1,37  the first minute, every additional minute is US$0,31
  • Group C1: US$1,20  the first minute, every additional minute is US$0,14
  • Group C2: US$1,20  the first minute, every additional minute is US$0,32
  • Group D: US$1,51  the first minute, every additional minute is US$0,54
  • Group E: US$2,31  the first minute, every additional minute is US$1,02

Servicio 116

This is a bilingual service through an operator. It works 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You call 116 and ask to speak with an operator. Prices are in US$, include taxes and are updated to January 2013. 

  • Group A: US$1,79/3 minutes, every additional minute is US$0,14
  • Group B: US$2,68/3 minutes, every additional minute is US$0,31
  • Group C1: US$2,17/3 minutes, every additional minute is US$0,14
  • Group C2: US$2,17/3 minutes, every additional minute is US$0,32
  • Group D: US$3,24/3 minutes, every additional minute is US$0,54
  • Group E: 4,93$/3 minutos, el minuto adicional es a 1,02$

Pais Directo

This is a direct operator that can be paid with credit card or as collect call. Here you can find some telephone numbers, updated in 2013. These numbers may change any time so you should check them by calling 1024 or in ICE website: 

Argentina telefónica: 00 800 00 540054, 0800 054 1154
Belice: 0 800 5011154
Brasil: 0 8000 551055
Canadá: 0 8000 151161
Chile CTC Mundo: 0 8000 562188
Colombia Telecom: 00 800 22338376
Corea del Sur: 00 800 12348000
El Salvador: 0 8000 441044
España: 0 8000 341034
Estados Unidos MCI: 08000 122222
Francia: 0 8000 331033
Guatemala: 0 800 5021502
Holanda: 0 8000 311111
Honduras: 00 800 50415041
Israel: 800 972 1972
Italia: 0 8000 391039
Japón KDD: 0 8000 811081
México Telmex: 00 800 83563953
Nicaragua: 0 800 5051505
Panamá: 00 800 64726262
Paraguay: 0 800 5951595
Perú: 00 800 46527378
Puerto Rico e Islas Vírgenes: 0 8000 114114
Tepública Dominicana: 00 800 22633836
Taiwan: 0 800 8861886
Uruguay: 00 800 59800598

Calling Cards

There are telephone cards available in Costa Rica but these are all issued by ICE. There are three different telephone cards:

  • Colibrí 197 card (in 500 and 5,000 Colones)
  • Viajera internacional 199 card (in US$10, US$20 and 3,000 Colones)
  • CHIP (which is not a card but a chip, as the name states) in 1,000 and 2,000 Colones. It can only be used in special telephone boxes. 

The Colibrí card is used for domestic calls, the Viajera card is used for international cards and with the CHIP cards both domestic and international calls can be made. CHIP cards can only be used at special CHIP telephone boots.

Further reading

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