COVID-19 Information

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COVID-19 Information

Last updated: 02/23/2021 

  • Effective January 26, all airline passengers to the United States ages two years and older must provide a negative Covid-19 viral test taken within three calendar days of flight departure from Costa Rica.  Alternatively, travelers to the U.S. may provide documentation from a licensed health care provider of having recovered from COVID-19 in the 90 days preceding travel.  Check the CDC website for additional information and Frequently Asked Questions 
  • Waivers to the testing requirement may be granted by the CDC on an extremely limited basis when extraordinary emergency travel (like an emergency medical evacuation) must occur to preserve someone’s health and safety, and testing cannot be completed before travel.  There are no waivers available for individuals who test positive for COVID-19. Individuals – or air carriers seeking to allow boarding by potentially qualifying individuals – who believe they meet the criteria for a waiver should contact the U.S. Embassy San Jose at CDCWaiverSanJose@state.gov  and provide the information below.  The U.S. Embassy will then submit the request to the CDC for consideration.

 The following information must be provided for each passenger seeking a CDC waiver:

  1. Name (family name/surname, given name), passport number and country
  2. Cell phone number including country code of passenger or head of household if family unit
  3. Email address of passenger or head of household if family unit
  4. U.S. destination address
    1. Is U.S. destination home address?
  5. Departure date
  6. Flight itinerary
  7. Name of submitting entity if different from passenger
  8. Name of company submitting on behalf of passenger(s) (if applicable)
  9. Name of point of contact submitting on behalf of passenger(s) (if applicable)
  10. Phone and email address for POC submitting waiver request on behalf of passenger(s) (if applicable)
  11. Purpose of travel to the U.S. (provide brief explanation of why urgent travel is needed and how travel will contribute to health and safety of passengers(s))
  12. Justification for testing waiver (e.g. no testing available, impact on health and safety)
  13. Documentation to support justification for test waiver, if available (e.g. medical records or orders for medical evacuation) 

Country-Specific Information:

  • Costa Rica has a total of 203,097 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since March 2, 2020.  270 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 and 144 patients are in intensive care.  2,785 COVID-19 deaths have been recorded and 173,591 people have been cleared as recovered; however, this figure typically lags several weeks behind actual figures.
  • Essential services are open. Public transportation and hospitals are operating at normal capacity.  Facial coverings are required in all public spaces and in all indoor settings except when eating, while alone, or in a private home.  The use of facial coverings is also mandatory at bus stops and on all forms of public transportation.  Face shields can continue to be worn, but only if a face covering is worn underneath.  Face coverings can be either surgical or homemade if they cover the nose and mouth.  The Ministry of Health has stated facial coverings should not include venting devices to provide maximum protection against COVID-19. 

COVID-19 Testing:

  • Are PCR tests available for U.S. citizens in Costa Rica? Yes
  • If so, are test results reliably available within 72 hours? Yes
    • Results for COVID 19 tests conducted in San Jose and the Greater Metropolitan Area (GAM) are generally available within 24-48 hours. Tests conducted outside of the GAM, including in remote and costal locations, may take longer to process.  It is important to ask the testing facility for the expected date of results when scheduling an appointment.
  • Testing is available at medical facilities across Costa Rica.  Follow this link for a complete list of locations.
  • Hospital Metropolitano, Clinica Biblica, Laboratorio Echandi and a growing number of private laboratories on the list of government approved labs are now offering Covid-19 antigen tests for travelers.  Proof of international travel is required.  The results of these tests are available within a few hours.  Customers must check with individual labs for testing availability, pricing and length of time for a result.
  • Test results are generally delivered via email.
  • Testing is paid for by the individual.
  • While most testing locations do not require a doctor’s referral, many do require an appointment.  Most locations accept appointments via telephone.
  • Costa Rica’s Ministry of Health recommends travelers consider testing needs when planning travel and make appointments for testing immediately upon arrival in Costa Rica.
  • Airlines will review COVID-19 test results for passengers either during the airline security question process or when they speak to an agent at the counter.  Passengers attempting to leave Costa Rica without valid proof of negative COVID-19 test results or documentation from a licensed health care provider of having recovered from COVID-19 in the 90 days preceding travel will not be allowed to board the plane.      

COVID-19 Vaccination Information:

  • Has the government of Costa Rica approved a COVID-19 vaccine for use? Yes
  • The United States Government does not plan to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to private U.S. citizens overseas.  Please follow host country developments and guidelines for COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Costa Rica’s Ministry of Health has announced that COVID-19 vaccinations are currently only available to Costa Rican citizens and holders of permanent and temporary residency.  Tourists in Costa Rica will not receive the vaccine through the public-health system and must wait for it to become available via private means.  There is currently no information regarding when COVID-19 vaccinations will become available via private means.
  • The link for the Ministry of Health’s webpage is: https://www.ministeriodesalud.go.cr/
  • Costa Rica’s Social Security System (CAJA) has set up a coronavirus hotline (dial 1322) for more information on vaccination options.
  • Information from the CDC regarding COVID-19 vaccinations. 

Entry and Exit Requirements:

  • Are U.S. citizens permitted to enter? Yes
    • U.S. citizens from all 50 states and Washington, D.C. can enter Costa Rica via air on flights departing from the United States.
    • Visitors traveling to Costa Rica will need to provide proof of a medical insurance policy to cover any COVID-19 related medical treatment or quarantine lodging while in Costa Rica.  In the case of international insurance, tourists must request from their insurer a certification issued in English or Spanish, noting: 1) the validity of the policy during the dates of visit to Costa Rica, 2) guarantee of coverage for medicals expenses in cases of COVID-19 related medical treatment in the amount of 50,000 USD and, 3) minimum coverage of 2,000 USD for extended lodging expenses due to COVID-19 related illness.  It is also possible to purchase a Costa Rican medical insurance policy through the National Insurance Institute (INS) or Sagicor of Costa Rica, covering the duration of your stay in Costa Rica.
    • Costa Rican Immigration officials have sole authority to determine the length of stay for tourists entering Costa Rica.  Immigration officials are currently limiting the duration of stay to correspond with coverage dates provided by the COVID-19 medical insurance.  Tourists are not able to extend their stay while in Costa Rica.  Those seeking to extend their stay will be required to exit the country and purchase additional COVID-19 medical insurance prior to reentry. 
    • All visitors must also complete an online Health Pass (pasa de Salud) 48 hours prior to travel to Costa Rica.  The Health Pass can be found at https://salud.go.cr.
    • In addition to the coronavirus-related measures, U.S. tourists must also have a valid passport and proof of intent to exit Costa Rica within 90 days.
    • U.S. citizens with permanent or temporary Costa Rican residency may also enter Costa Rica via air or through authorized land border crossings and must present the following documentation: 1) passport, 2) Valid DIMEX, 3) evidence Caja payments are up to date for each person entering, and 4) a completed Health Pass (Pase de Salud).  U.S. citizens with residency in Costa Rica who are not up to date with Caja payments will still be allowed to enter but will be required to become up to date with all payments within 22 days.  Persons in this category must also purchase health insurance to cover the cost of any COVID-19 treatment or lodging for the 22-day grace period.
    • U.S. citizens with temporary or permanent residency who enter Costa Rica via a designated land border crossing will receive a sanitary order requiring a 14 day in home quarantine.
  • Is a negative COVID-19 test (PCR and/or serology) required for entry into Costa Rica? No 
    • U.S. citizen tourists wishing to enter Costa Rica are not required to present the results of a negative PCR test for CV-19.  However, all U.S. citizen tourist must complete an epidemiological Health Pass and provide proof of health insurance to cover any medical treatment and quarantine lodging related to COVID-19 illnesses while in Costa Rica.
  • Are health screening procedures in place at airports and other ports of entry? Yes
  • Travelers entering Costa Rica are required to fill out digital epidemiological forms, which are available in multiple languages.  Any arrival displaying COVID-19 related symptoms will be tested at the airport.  The Ministry of Health will follow up with all quarantining individuals.
  • 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 have the sole authority to determine the legal length of stay in Costa Rica for all tourists who enter as of December 1, 2020.
  • The Public Works Transport Ministry (MOPT) has announced that tourists who entered Costa Rica between December 17, 2019 and November 30, 2020, will be allowed to use a foreign driver’s license to operate a vehicle until March 2, 2021. Tourist entering Costa Rica as of December 1, 2020 can legally drive in Costa Rica using a foreign driver’s license for up to three months after their date of arrival. Tourist in both categories should also have a copy of their passport photo page and entry stamp for Costa Rica with them while driving.  The grace period for obtaining a Costa Rican driver’s license extended to U.S. citizens with temporary and permanent residency in Costa Rica since March 2020 expired on November 18.  Holders of temporary or permanent residency are no longer able to drive with a foreign license.  The full text of this announcement can be found at this link.  An unofficial English translation of this announcement can be found at this link.   Appointments to obtain a Costa Rican driver’s license can be found at this link.  

Movement Restrictions:

  • Is a curfew in place? No
    • Costa Rica’s National Emergency Commission has announced series of national COVID-19 related restrictions for February 2021.
  • As of February 8, 2021, nationwide weekday vehicle restrictions have been rescinded (pre-COVID 19 congestion restrictions will still apply in San Jose). Nationwide weekend driving restrictions based on license plate number from 10:00pm until 5:00am will continue, however, and are standardized throughout Costa Rica.   (Taxi’s, tourists with proof of hotel reservations, and emergency vehicles are still allowed to circulate.  Public transportation will operate as well).
  • As of February 1, 2021, the majority of commercial businesses can remain open 7 days a week from 5:00am to 10:00pm.
    • National Parks may operate at 100% capacity
    • Bars and casinos can operate at 50% capacity
    • Beaches will be open from 5:00am to 6:00pm
    • Costa Rica’s National Emergency Commission (CNE) frequently announces updates regarding driving restrictions as well as the areas under Orange or Yellow Alert.
    • For the most up-to-date information, please review the U.S. Embassy’s Mascot Messages at this link: https://cr.usembassy.gov/category/messages-for-us-citizens/
  • Are there restrictions on intercity or interstate travel? No
    • There are no restrictions for intercity or interstate travel; however, nationwide driving restrictions based on license plate number are in effect.

Quarantine Information:

  • Are U.S. citizens required to quarantine? No
    • If any tourist is diagnosed with COVID-19 during their trip to Costa Rica, they will receive a sanitary quarantine order upon arrival.
    • Tourists testing positive for COVID-19 while in Costa Rica will be issued a sanitary quarantine order.
    • Sanitary quarantine orders will be issued from 10 to 14 days depending on the severity of the infection.  Tourists who are issued a sanitary order must secure lodging for the duration of the quarantine.
    • Tourists complying with a valid sanitary order will not be penalized for overstaying their visa.

Transportation Options:

  • Are commercial flights operating? Yes
    • Commercial flights are operating from select cities in the United States.  Please check individual airline website for more information.
  • Is public transportation operating? Yes
    • The Government of Costa Rica has mandated the use of facial coverings while waiting at bus stops and on public transportation.

Fines for Non-Compliance:

  • Any individuals who violates a mandated sanitary order or restriction will be subject to a fine between 450,200 to 2,300,000 colones depending on the violation.

Consular Operations:

  • The American Citizen Services section has opened a LIMITED NUMBER of appointments for routine services to include accepting applications and renewals for full validity U.S. passports, Consular Reports of Birth Abroad, notary services, and applications for social security numbers.  Please visit the U.S. Embassy website at https://cr.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/ to see the next available appointments for passports, CRBA, and notary services.  Please email the Federal Benefits Unit (FBU) at FBU.CostaRica@ssa.gov to schedule an appointment to apply for a social security number. 
  • We are currently unable to provide routine in-person services for U.S. citizens.  This includes welfare and whereabouts visits, prison visits, and outreach to U.S. citizen communities across Costa Rica.  U.S. citizens with emergencies may contact acssanjose@state.gov or call +506-2519-2590 during business hours and +506-2519-2000 after hours.
  • The U.S. Embassy San Jose suspended routine consular and visa services on March 18, 2020 due to COVID-19.  Visa applicants with urgent matters and immediate travel, can follow the guidance provided at https://www.ustraveldocs.com/cr/cr-niv-expeditedappointment.asp to request an emergency appointment.

Local Resources:

  • Costa Rican sources for useful COVID-19 related information:

Other links: