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US Veterans in Costa Rica

August 21st, 2010

Costa Rica US veterans medical services availableI receive a fair number of inquiries from US veterans who are considering a move to Costa Rica. We also have a fair number of US vets living down here now. I do not have a handle as to exactly how many, but is has to be a few thousand or so with many more coming every year. I know this as I have met many on my private tours.

One vet who has lived here for a while is reader Rick Deahl who asked me if I would like to publish some information regarding medical and hospital services available to United States veterans living here in Costa Rica.

I jumped all over that, and this post is the result. If this topic is of interest to you, read on! I am not a vet, so if I screw up some terms, cut me some slack. If you wish to add information, correct me, please use the comments area at the bottom of this post. I have to admit that I was a bit surprised as to the breadth of the data and services available to vets. At the end of this post, look for a list of all web sites I could find that might be of value to vets living or coming to live in Costa Rica. Also, several links in this post require Adobe Reader be installed on your computer. Adobe Reader can be downloaded here.

Extensive medical benefits are available to vets living here.  By this I mean excellent medical care, access to specialists, hospitalization, prescriptions (either free or at a discount), and varying support services.

While it seems that some other hospitals do have some staff familiar with VA affairs, it appears that one hospital in particular is the best contact point and provider of all the services mentioned above.

Hospital Hotel La Católica (+506-2246-3000) also sometimes known as Clinica Católica is located in the San Jose suburb of Guadalupe. The hospital was known as Clínica Católica for twenty six years and was founded by Franciscan nuns.  Years later, the formal name was changed to Hospital Clínica Católica de la Purísima Concepcion Association or just Hospital Hotel La Católica.

Hospital Hotel La Católica actually has an American Legion office on the premises. The director Jim Young is the man in charge and he can be reached at +506-2246-3509.  He certainly would be a good place to start for gathering more detailed information than I can give in this post. His email is: jey08442[at]aol.com.

In order to receive benefits while living in Costa Rica, a veteran must first join the Foreign Medical Program to receive medical benefits.  Although pre-registration for eligible veterans is not necessary, veterans who are permanently relocating to a country under the FMP Office’s jurisdiction are encouraged to notify the FMP Office upon establishing a permanent foreign mailing address. The FMP registration form can be found here. Details on the FMP program can be downloaded (.PDF) here.

If you are traveling or reside in one of these countries, users may call  the following numbers to contact the FMP Office in Denver, Colorado.


Country Number
USA / Canada (877) 345-8179
Germany 0800-1800-011
Australia 1 800 354 965
Italy 800 782-655
UK 0800-032-7425
Mexico 001-877-345-8179
Japan 00531-13-0871
Costa Rica 0800-013-0759
Spain 900-981-776
Email:   hac.fmp@med.va.gov

The Foreign Medical Program (FMP) is a Department of Veterans (VA) health care benefits program for U.S. veterans with VA rated service-connected conditions that are residing or traveling abroad. Under FMP, VA assumes payment responsibility for certain necessary health care services associated with the treatment of those service-connected conditions.General Program Requirements


The Foreign Medical Program (FMP) is not part of the Medical Benefits Package. You don’t have to be enrolled in the VA health care system to participate.

VA may authorize foreign medical services for veterans only for a VA rated service-connected condition or for a condition that is associated with and aggravated by a VA rated service-connected condition.

This means that disability percentages have no bearing on determining eligibility for FMP medical services.

Additionally, VA may authorize necessary foreign medical services for any condition for a veteran participating in the VA Vocational Rehabilitation Program.

The next thing you will need is all service paperwork. information on how you or a VA dependent can be found here. More information and who can request service records can be found here.

Basically, if you are eligible to receive copies of US military service records, you can must use Form 180 (SF-180). You can use this link to download Form 180.

You will need access to a printer and the Adobe Acrobat Reader software (see link above). The form is a total of 3 pages.

The SF-180 is formatted for letter size paper (8.5″ x 11″).  If your printer can not accommodate this, select “shrink to fit” when the Adobe Acrobat Reader “Print” dialog box appears.

This is also a fillable version of the SF-180. This means that it will allow you to type the needed information directly into the form using your keyboard.  You will then need to print, sign and mail the form.

To return the form to FMP, check out the tables on page 2 of SF 180 for the correct location of the desired record (based on branch of service, dates of separation, and type of record) and send the completed form there. The form may also be faxed.

To send by mail:

National Personnel Records Center

Military Personnel Records

9700 Page Avenue

St. Louis, MO 63132-5100

or by Fax

Our fax number for requesting military records is 314-801-9195.

The Center will respond in writing by U.S. Mail.

Response time?  Depending on the records requested, expect no less than ten days and in some cases, up to four months.


US vets who wish to live or retire in Costa Rica can receive excellent benefits with not a lot of hassle. Once registered, you can be assured of receiving fine medical care.

I hope you US vets find this post of value. I for one, appreciate your service to your country.

Other links and contacts of interest

Rick Deahl who is responsible for suggesting that I  write this post: rsdeal1 [AT} yahoo.com

Veterans Care International a great source of info here in Costa Rica.

American Legion Post 10 Costa Rica

Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS)

GovBenefits.gov is the official benefits website of the U.S. government, with information on over 1,000 benefit and assistance programs.

National Veterans Foundation. More info on FMP, plus their home page provides much more info on vet matters.

VA Info for beneficiaries.

Military Record Requests

54 Responses to “US Veterans in Costa Rica”

  1. Jerry R. Williams on November 28, 2016 12:37 pm

    Two things: 1. I did not come across that Medicare is NOT available outside the U.S. or its dependencies. // 2. more VITAL: Your blog speaks of veterans. There is a VERY important distinction existing within “VETERANS.” There’s military RETIREES who are veterans and eligible for VA benefits BUT ALSO TRICARE BENEFITS WHICH CAN BE OBTAINED IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES. Veterans who are retirees and their immediate families are covered. With no Medicare another primary insurance is necessary.
    SEE; http://www.tricare-overseas.com/

  2. Rick Golden on April 25, 2017 12:53 pm

    Hi, I am new to Costa Rica and need some help with a medical proceedure.
    I am an Army Vet but never used and VA benefits.
    I have a copy of my DD214 but that is all.
    I need a hernia op and not sure of the steps needed to sort it out here.
    Your advice will be appreciated
    Rickm Golden

  3. Mark B Owsiany on July 15, 2017 1:51 pm

    Great information – Thank you!
    Mark B Owsiany
    Former USMC Sgt.

  4. Cecil Southerland on November 28, 2018 5:56 pm

    It appears there is less of a hassle and cost to become
    a resident of Costa Rica and pay the minimal insurance to
    the government. submitted 11/28/2018

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