Location: Costa Rica — Level 4: Do Not Travel
Event: New Commercial Repatriaion Flights Announced. Information on Current COVID-19 Related Restrictions. PLEASE READ ENTIRE MESSAGE.
Travel Alert: U.S. Embassy San Jose (18 August 2020)
Costa Rica has confirmed 29,643 cases of Corona virus as of August 18, 2020. The Ministry of Health has announced gradual measures for reopening Costa Rica to, air travel. Tourists from designated countries are now able to enter Costa Rica on commercial flights departing from Madrid, Spain and Frankfurt, Germany. According to the Ministry of Health, the list of designated countries and flight departure points will gradually expand over the coming months. All passengers wishing to enter Costa Rica on a flight from a designated departure point will need to present the results of a negative test for COVID-19 taken within the past 48 hours and 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. You can find more specific information regarding this gradual reopening by visiting the U.S. Embassy San Jose website at this link. You can find an English language summary of the current reentry requirements by following this link.
The National Emergency Commission (CNE) has announced Costa Rica’s August COVID-19 measures. These measures include a “closed phase” from August 10 to August 21 and an “open phase” from August 22 to August 31. During the “closed phase,” August 10-21, in cantons under an Orange Alert, Department stores, supermarkets, and other food stores are allowed to operate and sell all products in their inventory from Monday to Friday. Food courts, sodas, coffee shops and restaurants can remain open on these days, though restaurants with bars will only be able to operate the restaurant part of the business. Barbershops and beauty salons can also open on an appointment only basis. On weekends, only essential businesses such as supermarkets, pharmacies, health centers, and food delivery/pickup may operate during this time. In cantons under a Yellow Alert, most businesses can continue to operate normally during this time. Driving restrictions will also continue in areas under both Orange and Yellow alerts but will vary according to license plate number, geographical location, and “phase.” From August 10 through August 21, the “closed phase,” vehicles can operate from 5am to 9pm during the week and 5am to 7pm on weekends but only one day a week and one weekend day based on license plate number. In areas under a Yellow alert, during the entire month of August, driving is permitted from 5am to 10pm on weekdays and 5am to 7pm on weekends with daily vehicle restrictions based on license plate number. From August 22- 30, these same driving restrictions will also apply to all areas under an Orange Alert. As of August 12, the CNE has revised the list of cantons under Orange and Yellow alerts. For a detailed English language summary of these restrictions and a map of the latest Orange and Yellow alert areas, please visit this link.
The Ministry of Health has announced that beaches in areas under a Yellow Alert are now allowed to remain open from 5:00am until 2:30pm. All open-air tourism activities (with sanitary precautions) are also allowed in these areas. The following activities and businesses still cannot operate throughout August: Concerts, public spectacles, fairs (except farmer’s markets), sporting events, expos, conference centers, skate parks and children’s games, amusement parks, bars, nightclubs, casinos.
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, while alone, or in private homes. For more information on this requirement, please follow this link.
The U.S. Embassy has partnered with United Airlines to offer additional commercial repatriation flights during the month of August. United Airlines will operate three commercial repatriation flights each week from Juan Santamaria Airport (SJO) to Houston, Texas (IAH). These flights will take place on Monday, Thursday, and Friday through August 31. United Airlines will not conduct flights from Daniel Oduber Quiros Airport in Liberia during August. Please visit www.United.com for details on pricing and flight times.
Spirit Airlines will also offer an additional commerical repatriation flight from Juan Santamaria Airport (SJO) to Fort Lauderdale, Florida (FLL) on Friday, August 28. Please visit www.spirit.com for details on pricing and flight time.
American Airlines will now also offer commerical repatration flights from Juan Santamaria Airport (SJO) to Dalls, Texas (DFW) on Thursday, August 20 and Thursday August 27. Please visit www.aa.com for details on pricing and fligth 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 Houston, Dallas, and Ft. Lauderdale. Policies regarding luggage allowances and seating arrangements will be managed by United Airlines, American Airlines, and Spirit Airlines. Please visit www.united.com, www.aa.com and www.spirit.com 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 United Airlines, American Airlines, and Spirit Airlines.
Passengers traveling with pets and Emotional Support or Service Animals will need to consult with United Airlines, American Airlines, and Spirit Airlines regarding additional fees and space availability. United Airlines does 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.
IMPORTANT HEALTH INFORMATION FOR PASSENGERS ON ALL OUTBOUND REPATRIATION FLIGHTS:
Spirit, American, 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, American, 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 IAH, Dallas DFW and Fort Lauderdale FLL airports 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, DFW, or FLL. Check with the airport and CBP websites for updates at https://www.fly2houston.com/iah/overview/ , https://www.broward.org/Airport/Pages/default.aspx, https://www.dfwairport.com/, and 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.