Travel Alert: Ministry of Health Announces New Restrictions For Greater Metropolitian Area (10 July 2020)

Location: Costa Rica — Level 4: Do Not Travel

Event: Ministry of Health Announces New Restrictions of Movement for Greater Metropolitan Area.  Information on Available Repatriation Flights. PLEASE READ ENTIRE MESSAGE.

Travel Alert: U.S. Embassy San Jose(10 July 2020)

Costa Rica has confirmed 6845 cases of Corona virus as of July 9, 2020.  On July 10, The Ministry of Health announced new restrictions for Costa Rica’s Greater Metropolitan Area (GMA).  As of Saturday July 11, several cantons in and around San Jose will be included under the Orange Alert.  In regions under the Orange Alert, there will be a near-total weekday vehicular restriction in force 24 hours a day.  People in regions under the Orange alert will only be allowed to drive to essential services and only according to a schedule of vehicle license plate numbers.  On weekends, there is a total nighttime driving restriction from 5:00pm to 5:00am.  During the day, 5:00am to 5:00pm, people can drive for essential services based on license plate numbers.  Vehicles with license plates ending in ODD numbers can drive to essential services on Saturday.  Vehicles with license plates ending in EVEN numbers can drive to essential services on Sundays.  Public transport will continue operating at 20% capacity; taxis can continue operating without restrictions.  This new restrictions will last until at least July 20.  All areas under a “Yellow Alert” (i.e. any location not listed under an Orange Alert) remain in Phase 3.  In those locations, most businesses can remain open during the week and on weekends; religious ceremonies are permitted; and beaches are open from 5-9:30 a.m. daily.  For an English language summary of this announcement please follow this link.

The Costa Rica Directorate of Migration has announced that tourists who entered the country after December 17, 2019 have been granted an extension of stay until November 18, 2020.  The Ministry of Health has announced the border closure will be extended until August 1, 2020.  Minister of Health Salas stated that as of August 1, foreigners from countries that have “controlled the spread of the coronavirus” will be allowed to enter Costa Rica.  The Minister did not state which countries would be included among this list but stated an announcement would be forthcoming.  For an English language summary of this announcement, please follow this link.  All commercial workers who interact with the public are now required to wear face coverings or shields.  The general public is also required to wear facial coverings in many circumstances including on public transport, in public offices, in theaters and churches, and at restaurants, except when eating.  For more information on this requirement, please follow this link.

The U.S. Embassy in San Jose and the U.S. State Department have coordinated with Spirit Airlines to offer commercial repatriation flights from Juan Santamaria Airport (SJO) in San Jose, Costa Rica, to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida (FLL) on Wednesday, July 15, Wednesday July 22, and Wednesday July 29.  These flights will depart SJO at 1:00pm and arrive at FLL at 6:10pm.  Please visit for more information.

United Airlines will now offer daily commercial repatriation flights from Juan Santamaria Airport (SJO) in San Jose, Costa Rica to Houston, Texas (IAH) through July 31. These flights will take place once daily on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday through July 31.  Please visit for details on pricing and flight times.  

United Airlines has added one flight a week from Daniel Oduber Quiros Airport in Liberia (LIR) to Houston (IAH).  These flights will take place on July 17, July 24, and July 31.  Please visit for details on pricing and flight times.     

These flights are open to public booking but seats are limited.  The U.S. Embassy is not able to assist with arranging onward travel from Ft. Lauderdale or Houston.  Policies regarding luggage allowances and seating arrangements will be managed by Spirit and United Airlines. Please visit or for further information regarding availability and connections.  The cost of these flights will be based on the passenger’s final destinations.  These prices are set by Spirit and United Airlines.

Passengers traveling with pets and Emotional Support or Service Animals will need to consult with Spirit or United Airlines regarding additional fees and space availability.  Spirit and United Airlines do not allow pets to travel as cargo.  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.


Spirit and United 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 United and Spirit 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 Houston’s IAH airport and Ft. Lauderdale’s FLL airport are managed by the airport and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) under guidance from CDC and state health officials.  At this time there are no specific measures in place at IAH and FLL.  Check with the airport and CBP websites for updates at and

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 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:

For information on requesting an emergency visa application appointment call 4000-1976, or visit: 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

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 to receive the latest updates.  You can also find updated information on the U.S. Embassy website at

Please be aware that foreigners will not be allowed to enter Costa Rica until after current border restrictions are lifted.  People with residency status who depart Costa Rica at this time will not be allowed to re-enter Costa Rica using their residency status until the emergency period is lifted by the Government of Costa Rica.

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