Travel Alert: Updated Information on September COVID-19 Restrictions and Entry Requirements for U.S. Citizens

Travel Alert

Location: Costa Rica — Level 4: Do Not Travel

Event:  Information on September COVID-19 Restrictions.  Information on Revised Requirements for Entry into Costa Rica and Commercial Flights in September.  PLEASE READ ENTIRE MESSAGE.

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

Costa Rica has confirmed 68,059 cases of COVID-19 as of September 23, 2020.  From September 9-30, Costa Rica is in an “open phase” of COVID-19 related restrictions.  During this time, most commercial establishments can remain open nationwide, including in Orange Alert areas.  Vehicle restrictions based on license plates will also continue during the “open phase” and are standardized throughout Costa Rica.  On weekdays, vehicles with authorized license plate numbers are permitted to drive from 5am to 10pm.  On weekends, vehicles with authorized license plate numbers are permitted to drive from 5am to 8pm.  The border-area driving restrictions, which have typically been more stringent, will not apply in September. Beaches can remain open nationwide from 5am to 2:30pm and National Parks are open nationwide. For an English language summary of which establishments can operate during September, please visit this link.
The Ministry of Health expanded the list of states from which tourists can enter Costa Rica.  Currently, U.S. citizen tourists who are residents of New York, New Jersey, Maine, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Virginia, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico, Michigan and Rhode Island are allowed to enter Costa Rica.  Residents of California will be allowed to enter Costa Rica as of October 1.  Tourists from these states — or from an authorized country, such as Canada — can fly from an authorized state through a non-authorized state (e.g. Florida, Texas) en route to Costa Rica. The maximum layover time in the non-authorized state is 18 hours, and the traveler cannot leave the airport.  Tourists coming from anywhere but the United States must have remained in an authorized country for at least 14 days before travel.
U.S. citizens from authorized states wishing to enter Costa Rica must complete a digital epidemiological health pass, obtain a negative PCR-RT coronavirus test taken within 72 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 or State ID card, that they live in one of the authorized states.  No forms of documentation establishing residency in these select states other than a valid driver’s license or State ID card 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 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.  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 or U.S. States, 2) have proof of stay for the past 14 days in that country or U.S. state, and 3) carry a negative COVID-19 test (PCR-RT) taken no more than 72 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 Costa Rica after December 17, 2019 and who enter until November 30, 2020 can legally remain in the country until March 2, 2021. Immigration control officers will determine the legal length of stay in Costa Rica for all tourists who enter as of December 1, 2020.  Embassy San Jose will report on any forthcoming extensions.  Tourists must carry their passport and foreign driver’s license when driving.  For an English language summary of this information, please follow this link.  The Costa Rica Directorate of Migration has also announced it will begin accepting new applications for residency as of December 1.  For a full transcript of this announcement, please follow this link.  An unofficial English language summary of this announcement can also be found at this link
The Ministry of Health has announced that face coverings are now 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 continue to 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.
United Airlines is now offering regular commercial flights from Newark Liberty Airport (EWR) to Juan Santamaria Airport (SJO) and Daniel Oduber Quiros Airport in Liberia (LIR).  United is also offering daily service from Houston (IAH) to San Jose (SJO) and once weekly service from Houston (IAH) to Liberia (LIR).  For a schedule of flight dates, times, and prices please visit  American Airlines is now offering regular commercial flights between San Jose (SJO) and Dallas (DFW).  American Airlines is also offering regular commercial flights between San Jose (SJO) and Miami (MIA).  For more information on schedule and pricing, please visit
Spirit Airlines is now offering commercial flights between San Jose (SJO) and Ft. Lauderdale (FLL). Please visit for more information on flight schedules and pricing.
Delta Airlines currently plans to begin offering commercial flights between Juan Santamaria Airport (SJO) and Atlanta (ATL) as of November 2.  Delta also plans to offer service from Daniel Obuber Quiros Airport in Liberia (LIR) to Atlanta (ATL) on November 2.  Please visit for more information on flight schedules and pricing.
These commercial flights are open to public booking.  Policies regarding luggage allowances and seating arrangements will be managed by the respective airlines.  Please visit, and,  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 the airlines.
Passengers traveling with pets and Emotional Support or Service Animals will need to consult with United, Spirit, Delta, and American 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.


American, Delta, Spirit, and United 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, Spirit, Delta, and American 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.
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
You can email any additional questions you may have to  We will respond to your email as quickly as possible.