Updated Information on Entry Requirements for U.S. Citizens and Holders of Temporary and Permanent Residency in Costa Rica

Travel Alert -August 24, 2020

Location: Costa Rica — Level 4: Do Not Travel

Event:  Updated Information on Entry Requirements from U.S. Citizens and Holders of Temporary and Permanent Residency in Costa Rica.  PLEASE READ ENTIRE MESSAG

Travel Alert: U.S. Embassy San Jose (24 August 2020)


Costa Rica has confirmed 34,463 cases of Corona virus as of August 24, 2020.  The Ministry of Health has announced that as of September 1, 2020, U.S. citizen tourists who are residents of New York, New Jersey, Maine, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Vermont may enter Costa Rica on limited flights departing from select airports in the United States.  U.S. citizen tourists from these states wishing to enter Costa Rica must complete a digital epidemiological health pass, obtain a negative PCR-RT coronavirus test taken within 48 hours of their departure from the United States, and purchase travel insurance that covers accommodation in case of quarantine and medical expenses due to COVID-19.  U.S. tourists must also demonstrate, via a valid driver’s license, that they live in one of the authorized states.  No forms of documentation establishing residency in these six states other than a valid driver’s license will be accepted at this time.  Accompanying minors are not required to have a driver’s license.  For an English language summary of these requirements, please visit this link.  The airlines and departure points for these flights have not yet been announced.

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).  Costa Rican Permanent/Temporary Residents and Costa Rican citizens must complete a 14-day quarantine.  However, the quarantine is waived if 1) arriving from one of a list of authorized countries (the United States is not currently on this list of authorized departure points), 2) have proof of stay for the past 14 days in that country, and 3) carry a negative COVID-19 test (PCR-RT) taken no more than 48 hours before their flight to Costa Rica.  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 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.

Costa Rica’s August COVID-19 measures enter the “open phase” from August 22 to August 31.  During this phase,most businesses can continue to operate normally in both Yellow and Orange Alert zones.  Driving restrictions will continue in areas under both Orange and Yellow alerts; driving is permitted from 5am to 9pm on weekdays and 5am to 7pm on weekends with daily vehicle restrictions based on license plate number.  For 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 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 commercial 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 also offer a commercial repatriation flight from Juan Santamaria Airport (SJO) to Dallas, Texas (DFW) on Thursday August 27.   Please visit www.aa.com 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 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.comwww.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.


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.aspxhttps://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.