Luis Palacios
Associate Costa Rica
[email protected]

What outdoor activities are allowed under the new Law?

The new Law allows municipalities to issue licenses to sell food and beverages (including alcoholic beverages) in public spaces administered by municipalities, such as:

  • Sidewalks.
  • Parks.
  • Squares.
  • Municipal streets and roads.
  • Other public places defined by the respective municipality.

The authorization only allows placing tables, chairs and any other light furniture that must be removed each day at the end of the commercial activity.

Is ambulant commerce or commerce without a fixed establishment allowed?

No. The Law only allows to grant the permits to those persons who already have a Municipal License on private property adjacent to the public space.

Conditions of licenses for open air commerce

The specific conditions to obtain and hold an outdoor commerce license must be issued by each Municipality within the next 6 months. However, the Law anticipates that the Municipalities must at least specify the following:

  • The guidelines of use of the authorized space.
  • Type of furniture allowed.
  • Fees for open-air commerce.
  • Lighting and signs standards, which must take into account the regulations regarding the prevention of visual pollution.
  • Operating hours. Which must be in accordance with the noise thresholds allowed in each hour.
  • Term for which the license would be granted.
  • Causes of cancellation of the authorization.

Payment of fees for open air commerce

For the use of urban public spaces, the licensees must pay to the respective Municipality a fee, whose amount must be defined by each Municipality by their own further regulations. Such amount shall be calculated based on the square meters of public space licensed.

The Municipalities may define different amounts for different types of parks, squares, sidewalks or municipal roads. However, the amount may not exceed 50% of the amount charged for the commercial license fee.

Conservation and improvement of public spaces

The Law promotes improvement of urban public spaces, since it establishes that the totality of the income generated by the fees for outdoor commerce must be used for the general improvement and security of the public spaces.

In addition, the Law allows licensees to undertake improvements to the public space, provided that they have prior municipal authorization for such works.

Use of spaces in front of public or governmental buildings

Public institutions are authorized to establish public-private partnership agreements with third parties to obtain licenses for outdoor commerce in front of their institutional buildings.

Promotion of outdoor commerce

The Law allows the Municipalities to exempt the collection of fees for outdoor commerce during the first six months after the corresponding municipal regulations have been issued.