Copy Your Passport For Everyday Use While In Costa Rica
Do not misinterpret this section. You cannot use a copy of your passport to enter Costa Rica (or to go home)!
While you are in Costa Rica you must carry your original passport or a legible photocopy of the photo and main information page plus the page with the dated entry stamp with you at all times. Especially when you're headed to the beach and don't have any pockets or going out for a day of waterfall rappelling and you know everything is going to get wet, carrying a copy instead of the original is a good idea.
We recommend that you ask for copies to be made at the desk of your first hotel or when you're picking up a rental car. If you're staying in hostels and traveling by bus you'll probably have to find a copy shop. Make sure you get both the photo/information pages and the dated entry stamp page.
For your security you can leave your original passport in the lock box at your hotel and use the copies for identification for immigration checkpoints, traffic stops etc. The copy will also come in handy if you should lose your original passport and need to visit your embassy for a replacement.
Some Businesses Require an Original Passport
Although the copies are accepted by government officials some businesses require you to present your original passport. The two most common are banks and rental car agencies.
The "Photo" Copy
We always carry a waterproof digital camera and have gotten away with showing a photo of our passport pages instead of a Xerox copy. This is not officially acceptable and may result in a lot of hassles (especially if for example your battery is dead and you can't call up the photo...) but if you don't have time to get to a copy shop, snap a couple of photos with your camera or phone and it might be better than nothing if you get stopped.