August 5, 2021

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Travel Advisory: Costa Rica Announces Nationwide Daily Driving Restrictions. Entry and Exit Requirements for U.S. Citizens.

8 min read

Location: Costa Rica — Level 4 Do Not Travel

Event:  Costa Rica Announces Nationwide Daily Driving Restrictions.  Entry and Exit Requirements for U.S. Citizens.   PLEASE READ ENTIRE MESSAGE.

Travel Alert: U.S. Embassy San Jose (26 April 2021

Costa Rica has confirmed 236,930 cases of COVID-19 as of April 26, 2021.  641 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, 286 of them in intensive care.  Costa Rica has reported 3,136 COVID-19-related deaths since March 2, 2020.

Nationwide Restrictions:

 Costa Rica’s Office of the President has announced that nationwide daily driving restrictions will be reinstated as of Tuesday, April 27, 2021.  See below for a complete list of current COVID-19 related restrictions.

  • As of April 27, 2021, there will be a daily nationwide driving restriction for all vehicles from 9pm to 5am, including Saturday and Sunday.
  • Vehicles with license plates ending in even numbers can circulate on Saturdays between 5am and 9pm. 
  • Vehicles with license plates ending in odd numbers can circulate on Sundays between 5am and 9pm.   
  • Taxis, tourists with proof of hotel and flight reservations, and emergency vehicles are still allowed to circulate at all times.
  • Weekday anti-congestion vehicle restrictions in effect in downtown San Jose prior to Covid-19 have been reinstated.
  • The majority of commercial businesses can remain open 7 days a week from 5:00am to 9:00pm.
  • National Parks may operate at 100% capacity
  • Bars and casinos can operate at 50% capacity
  • Beaches will be open from 5:00am to 6:00pm

Entry Requirements:

U.S. citizens from all 50 U.S. States and Washington, D.C. are allowed to enter Costa Rica via flights from the United States or other countries and at a designated land border crossing points.  Visitors arriving to Costa Rica do not need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test.  Visitors traveling to Costa Rica do need to provide proof of a medical insurance policy to cover any COVID-19 related medical treatment or quarantine lodging while in Costa Rica.  In the case of international insurance, tourists must request from their insurer a certification issued in English or Spanish, noting: 1) the validity of the policy during the dates of visit to Costa Rica, 2) guarantee of coverage for medical expenses in cases of COVID-19 related medical treatment in the amount of 50,000 USD and, 3) minimum coverage of 2,000 USD for extended lodging expenses due to COVID-19 related illness.  It is also possible to purchase a Costa Rican medical insurance policy through the National Insurance Institute (INS) or Sagicor of Costa Rica, covering the duration of your stay in Costa Rica.  Please send an email to seguros@ict.go.cr for questions about insurance coverage or to verify your current insurance policy will be accepted in Costa Rica.  In addition to the coronavirus-related measures, U.S. tourists must also have a valid passport and proof of intent to exit Costa Rica within 90 days.  (To prove intent to exit, U.S. citizens must possess a return ticket or a ticket as proof of when they intend to exit the country, commonly referred to as an outbound exit or onward ticket).  Costa Rica immigration officials have sole authority to determine the duration of stay in Costa Rica.

The Costa Rica Directorate of Migration has announced that Permanent/Temporary Residents of Costa Rica may enter the country via air or land borders regardless of where they are coming from but must present the following documentation: 1) Passport, 2) Valid DIMEX, 3) evidence Caja payments are up to date for each person, and 4) a completed Health Pass (Pase de Salud).  Residency holders who are not up to date on Caja payments will still be allowed to enter Costa Rica but will be required to become current with their payments within 22 days.  Residency holders who are not up to date on Caja payments must also present proof of insurance to cover COVID-19 related hospital and lodging expenses for 22 days.  Permanent/Temporary residents can check the status of their Caja payments by following this link.  U.S. citizens with temporary or permanent residency who enter Costa Rica via a designated land border crossing are no longer issued a sanitary order requiring a 14 day in home quarantine.  For a summary of entry requirements for permanent and temporary residents, please visit this link.

The Ministry of Health has announced that face coverings are mandatory in all indoor settings except when eating, while alone, or in a private home.  All commercial workers who interact with the public are required to wear face coverings as well.  Face shields can be worn, but only if a face covering is worn underneath.  Face coverings are also required at bus stops and aboard all forms of public transportation.  Face coverings can be either surgical or homemade, as long as they cover the nose and mouth.  The Ministry of Health has stated facial coverings should not include venting devices in order to provide maximum protection against COVID-19.

Exit Requirements: 

Effective January 26, all airline passengers to the United States ages two years and older must provide a negative ​COVID-19 viral test taken within three calendar days of flight departure from Costa Rica.  Alternatively, travelers to the U.S. may provide documentation from a licensed health care provider of having recovered from COVID-19 in the 90 days preceding travel.  Check the CDC website for additional information and Frequently Asked Questions.  For more information on these requirements and a list of ​COVID-19 testing locations in Costa Rica, please visit the U.S. Embassy San Jose COVID-19 information page at https://cr.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information/

Costa Rica’s Directorate for Migration has also announced that persons intending to cross from Costa Rica into Nicaragua via a designated land border crossing must present evidence of a negative COVID-19 test taken with 72 hours of their intended border crossing.  For more information on this requirement visit this link.  For more information on these requirements and a list of ​COVID-19 testing locations in Costa Rica, please visit the U.S. Embassy San Jose COVID-19 information page at  https://cr.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information/

Tourist Visa Extension: 

Costa Rica’s Directorate of Migration has announced that visas for tourists who entered Costa Rica between December 17, 2019 and November 30, 2020 have been extended until June 2, 2021.  Tourists seeking the extension are required to purchase a medical insurance policy to cover any COVID-19 related medical treatment or quarantine lodging in Costa Rica for the duration of their stay (or the visa extension expiration date of June 2).  The policy must guarantee coverage for medical expenses in cases of COVID-19 related medical treatment in the amount of 50,000 USD and minimum coverage of 2,000 USD for extended lodging expenses due to COVID-19 related illness.  It is possible to purchase an international policy or purchase a Costa Rican insurance policy through the National Insurance Institute (INS) or Sagicor of Costa Rica.  Tourists must also email seguros@ict.go.cr with confirmation of purchase of the insurance coverage in order to receive the visa extension.  Tourists who remain in Costa Rica without purchasing the required insurance and submitting proof of purchase to seguros@ict.go.cr can be deported from Costa Rica and banned from reentry for up to five years.  According to the Directorate’s announcement, this will be the final extension of these tourist visas.  Visit this link for an unofficial English language translation of this announcement or call 1311 for more information.

This visa extension DOES NOT apply to tourists who entered Costa Rica as of or after December 1, 2020.  Tourists in this category seeking an extension must submit an application to https://servicios.migracion.go.cr/Citas/Account or call 1311 for more information and to set up an appointment to request an extension.  Visit this link for an unofficial translation of the requirements for these requirements.

AIRLINE OPERATIONS:

Multiple airlines are now offering regular commercials flights between multiple cities in the United States and both Juan Santamaria Airport in San Jose (SJO) and Daniel Oduber Quiros Airport in Liberia (LIR).  Please check with the individual airlines for scheduling and prices.  For a complete list of all airlines operating in Costa Rica, visit the airport websites at https://sjoairport.com/en/reporte-operaciones/ and https://www.liberiacrairport.com/airlineinformation-liberia-airport.

Passengers traveling with pets and Emotional Support or Service Animals will need to consult with the airline directly regarding additional fees and space availability.   Proper documentation and veterinary certificates will be required.  Please visit the airline websites for more information.  For more information on requirements for pets to enter the United States, please click on  this link.

IMPORTANT HEALTH INFORMATION FOR PASSENGERS ON ALL OUTBOUND FLIGHTS:

U.S. airlines currently require all passengers to wear face coverings during the check-in process and for the duration of the flight.  Health regulations for boarding the U.S bound flights will be managed according to Costa Rica Ministry of Health guidelines.  At this time that includes medical personnel monitoring passenger lines for people with COVID-19 symptoms and asking passengers with symptoms to self-identify.    Health regulations for arrival at U.S. airports are managed by the airport and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) under guidance from CDC and state health officials.  Check with the airport and CBP websites for updates.  https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/coronavirus.

All passengers will be subject to Costa Rica immigration and customs laws and airline policies.  The U.S. Embassy is not able to intervene if people are stopped for violations or do not meet airline regulations.  U.S. Citizens must have valid passports to enter the United States.  If you do not have a valid U.S. passport, please email ACSsanjose@state.gov immediately to apply for an Emergency Passport.  Foreign national passengers must possess an official travel document from their country of nationality and permission to approach a United States port of entry such as a legal permanent resident card, U.S. visa, or Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) pre-approval.  For more information on U.S. entry follow this link:  https://www.cbp.gov/travel.

For information on requesting an emergency visa application appointment call 4000-1976, or visit: www.ustraveldocs.com/cr/cr-niv-expeditedappointment.asp. Note that foreign nationals seeking visas must qualify for a nonimmigrant visa under applicable laws, and that per U.S. Presidential Proclamation, most foreign nationals who have been in areas of highest COVID-19 incidence within the past 14 days must be refused embarkation to the United States. See complete details at www.ustraveldocs.com/cr.

The U.S. Embassy will continue to monitor traffic and travel restrictions associated with COVID-19 preventative measures.  Please be sure you are enrolled in the Safe Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel.html to receive the latest updates.  You can also find updated information on the U.S. Embassy website at https://cr.usembassy.gov/.

You can email any additional questions you may have to  ACSSANJOSE@state.gov .  We will respond to your email as quickly as possible.

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