Travel Advisory – U.S. Embassy, Costa Rica

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Level 3: Reconsider Travel

Event:  Information on COVID-19 Restrictions for December 31-January 31.  Information on Requirements for Entry into Costa Rica.  PLEASE READ ENTIRE MESSAGE.

Costa Rica has confirmed 161,942 cases of COVID-19 as of December 23, 2020. 634 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, 239 of them in intensive care. Costa Rica has reported 2,065 COVID-19-related deaths since March 2, 2020.  

Nationwide Restrictions:

The National Emergency Commission has announced a series of nationwide COVID-19 restrictions which will begin on December 31, 2020.  For an unofficial English language translation of these restrictions, follow this link.

  • On December 31, there will be a nationwide vehicle restriction from 7:00pm until 5:00am on January 1, 2021.  (Taxi’s, tourists with proof of hotel reservations, and emergency vehicles are still allowed to circulate.  Public transportation will operate as well).  Commercial businesses must also close at 7pm on New Year’s Eve, except those deemed essential (supermarkets, medical centers, delivery services, and hotels).   
  • January 1-3 there will be a nationwide vehicle restriction from 8:00pm until 5:00am.  (The above exceptions will continue to apply during these dates).  Commercial businesses must also close at 8:00pm on these dates, except for those deemed essential (supermarkets, medical centers, delivery services, and hotels).
  • January 4-31: Monday to Friday: A nationwide night time vehicle restriction will be in place from 10:00pm to 5:00am.  On Saturday and Sundays, vehicles are restricted by license plate and a nationwide night time vehicle restriction will be in place from 9:00pm to 5:00am.  (Taxi’s, tourists with proof of hotel reservations, and emergency vehicles are exempt from these restrictions.  Public transportation will operate as well).
    • Saturdays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 1,3,5,7,9 cannot drive.
    • Sundays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 0,2,4,6,8 cannot drive.
  • January 4-17: Beaches will be open only from 5:00am until 2:30pm.  Bars and casinos must limit capacity to 25%, and National Parks must limit capacity to 50%.

From December 23 to December 30, most commercial establishments can remain open nationwide, including in Orange Alert areas.  Vehicle restrictions based on license plates will also continue and are standardized throughout Costa Rica.  On weekdays, vehicles with authorized license plate numbers are permitted to drive from 5:00am to 10:00pm.  On weekends, all vehicles can circulate from 5:00am to 9:00pm.  Beaches can remain open nationwide from 5:00am to 10:00pm Monday through Friday, and from 5:00am to 9:00pm on Saturday and Sunday.  National Parks are also open nationwide.  For an interactive map of the areas under Orange and Yellow alert, please visit this link.

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.  Visitors arriving to Costa Rica do not need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test.   Visitors traveling to Costa Rica 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.  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.

The Costa Rica Directorate of Migration has announced that Permanent/Temporary Residents of Costa Rica may enter the country via air 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.  U.S. citizens with temporary or permanent residency who enter Costa Rica via a designated land border crossing will receive 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 Costa Rica Directorate of Migration has announced that tourists who entered Costa Rica between December 17, 2019 and November 30, 2020, can legally remain in the country until March 2, 2021.  Immigration control officers have the sole authority to determine the legal length of stay in Costa Rica for all tourists who enter as of December 1, 2020.  The Public Works Transport Ministry (MORT) has announced that tourists who entered Costa Rica between December 17, 2019 and November 30, 2020, are allowed to use a foreign driver’s license to operate a vehicle until March 2, 2021.  Tourists entering Costa Rica as of December 1, 2020 can legally drive in Costa Rica using a foreign driver’s license for up to three months after their date of arrival.  

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.

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. 

Source: U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica

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35410cookie-checkTravel Advisory – U.S. Embassy, Costa Rica