Travel Alert: Government Announces Plan to Gradually Reopen Costa Rica to Tourists (23 July 2020)

Travel Alert

Location: Costa Rica — Level 4: Do Not Travel

Event: Government Announces Plan to Gradually Reopen Costa Rica to Tourists.  Information on Repatriation Flights.  PLEASE READ ENTIRE MESSAGE.

Travel Alert: U.S. Embassy San Jose(23 July 2020)

Costa Rica has confirmed 13,129 cases of Corona virus as of July 23, 2020.  On July 23, the Government of Costa Rica announced a plan to gradually reopen Costa Rica to tourists.  As of August 1, tourists on flights originating from Frankfurt, Germany and Madrid, Spain will be received at San Jose’s Juan Santamaria International Airport.  All passengers wishing to enter Costa Rica from one of these flights will need to present the results of a negative test for COVID-19 taken within the past 48 hours, purchase insurance which covers accommodations in case of quarantine and hospitalization in case of acute illness.  Passengers will also be required to fill out digital epidemiological forms which will be available in multiple languages.  As of now, there is no announced date for when commercial flights from the United States will be allowed to enter Costa Rica.  The U.S. Embassy will continue working with airlines to provide commercial repatriation flights.  The schedule for commercial repatriation flights to the United States in August is still pending and will be posted to the U.S. Embassy website and circulated via Mascot message as soon as the information is available.  The Ministry of Health also announced that as of August 1, beaches in areas under a Yellow Alert will be allowed to remain open from 5:00am until 2:30pm.  All open air tourism activities (with sanitary precautions) will also be allowed in these areas.   

Most of the Greater Metropolitan Area (GMA) to include San Jose remains under an Orange Alert.  In areas under an Orange Alert, daytime driving is allowed from 5:00am to 5:00pm Monday through Sunday.  However, daily vehicle restrictions based on license plate numbers remain in effect.  In areas under an Orange Alert, essential services are allowed to operate but must limit customer capacity to 50 percent.  Food delivery services are allowed to operate as well.  Public transportation has resumed normal operations nationwide.  These measures will be in effect through July 31, 2020.  All areas under a “Yellow Alert” (i.e. any location not listed under an Orange Alert) remain in Phase 3.  In these 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 (as noted above, beaches in Yellow Alert areas may remain open from 5:00am to 2:30pm as of August 1).  All bars and nightclubs must remain closed.  For an English language summary of this announcement and a map of the areas under Orange and Yellow alerts, 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 grace period for drivers who are in the country as tourists has also been extended until November 18, 2020.  Tourists must carry their passport and foreign driver’s license when driving.  All commercial workers who interact with the public are now required to wear face coverings or shields, and face shields are required for everyone indoors except when eating or in private homes.  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 a commercial repatriation flight from Juan Santamaria Airport (SJO) in San Jose, Costa Rica, to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida (FLL) on Wednesday July 29.  This flight 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 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.