COVID-19 Information

Last updated: 5/20/202

 ***    Effective December 6, 2021, all airline passengers to the United States ages two years and older, regardless of vaccination status or citizenship, must provide a negative COVID-19 viral test taken within one calendar day of travel.  Alternatively, travelers to the United States 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 https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

Exemptions will be considered on an extremely limited basis.  Please visit the CDC webpages for more information about exemptions and the requirement for proof of negative COVID-19 test or recovery from COVID-19 for all air passengers arriving in the United States.

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 Exemption from predeparture testing requirement; and/or Exemption for requirement for proof of being fully vaccinated:

  1. Indicate type of exemption being requested: Predeparture testing requirement; and/or Exemption for requirement for proof of being fully vaccinated.
  2. Name (family name/surname, given name), passport number and country
  3. Cell phone number including country code of passenger or head of household if family unit
  4. Email address of passenger or head of household if family unit
  5. U.S. destination address
    1. Is U.S. destination home address?
  6. Flight itinerary, including any connecting flights.
    1. Airline
    2. Flight #
    3. Departure airport and date of departure
    4. Arrival airport and date of arrival
  7. Vaccination status (indicate if fully vaccinated or unvaccinated.  If fully vaccinated, provide the below information).
    1. Fully vaccinated
      1. Name of vaccine product (or products if a combination)
      2. Date of first dose
      3. Date of second dose (if a two-dose series)
      4. PDF or photograph of vaccination record
    2. NOT Fully Vaccinated
  8. Purpose of travel to the United States (provide a brief explanation of why urgent travel is needed now and how travel will contribute to health and safety of passenger(s))
  9. As applicable:
    1. Justification for humanitarian exception for testing requirement (e.g., no testing available where passenger is located)
    2. Justification for humanitarian or emergency exception to providing proof of being fully vaccinated (e.g., vaccine availability, passenger ineligible for vaccination at location, insufficient time to become fully vaccinated)
  10. Documentation to support justification for exception if provided (e.g., medical records or orders for medical evacuation)
  11. Information regarding any other solutions that were sought prior to application (e.g., flight changes, testing en route, assistance in obtaining testing/vaccination etc.)

 Country-Specific Information:

  • Costa Rica has a total of 877,533 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since May 17, 2020. 307 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 and 38 patients are in intensive care. 8,472 COVID-19 deaths have been recorded and 848,035 people have been cleared as recovered; however, this figure typically lags several weeks behind actual figures.
  • Essential services are open. Public transportation is operating at normal capacity though the number of standing passengers allowed on buses has been limited to 20. Facial coverings are no longer mandatory. However, private entities may require them. Please check local information about use of facial coverings because requirements vary. This includes the use of facial coverings at bus stops and on all forms of public transportation. According to prior guidance, 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 24 hours? Yes
    • Results for COVID 19 tests conducted in San Jose and the Greater Metropolitan Area (GAM) are generally available within 24. 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 properly licenses testing locations.  (Please note, the Embassy has received reports of unlicensed businesses offering COVID-19 tests.  Passengers presenting tests from unlicensed locations could be denied boarding, required to pay a fine, and retest prior to departing Costa Rica)
  • 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.
  • Laboratorio Echandi is offering COVID-19 rapid antigen testing onsite at Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) in San Jose and Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport in Liberia (LIR). Passengers should plan to arrive at least four hours prior to their flights and must present airline tickets at the time of testing. Follow this link for additional information.
  • Costa Rica’s Ministry of Health does not currently accept the results of at home self-administered or proctor administered COVID-19 tests.
  • 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.
  • Please note the Ministry of Health will issue a sanitary quarantine order to any person receiving a positive COVID-19 test.  The Ministry of Health has stated this order cannot be appealed, even if subsequent test results taken during the mandatory quarantine are negative for COVID-19.
  • Please also note the recently revised CDC recommendation of a 5-day quarantine period is only applicable in the United States.  It does not apply in Costa Rica.
  • 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:

Visit the FDA’s website to learn more about FDA-approved vaccines in the United States. The U.S. 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.

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.
    • U.S. citizens from all 50 states and Washington, D.C. can enter Costa Rica via designated land border crossing sites.
    • Travelers to Costa Rica are not required to show proof of vaccination status or proof of a medical insurance policy to cover COVID-19 related illness.
    • Costa Rican Immigration officials have sole authority to determine the length of stay for tourists entering Costa Rica.  Tourist seeking to extend their stay beyond the date indicated by immigration officials must contact the Directorate General for Migration.  More information can be found at this link.  Tourists are not able to extend their stay in Costa Rica beyond 90 days. 
  • S. tourists must also have a valid passport and proof of intent to exit Costa Rica within 90 days. (To prove intent to exit, U.S. citizens must possess a return ticket or a ticket as proof of when they intend to exit the country, commonly referred to as an outbound exit or onward ticket).
    • Persons wishing to travel to Nicaragua from one of Costa Rica’s designated land border crossing sites must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 72 hours prior to the border crossing.  Please see COVID-19 testing locations for more information on where to obtain a test.
  • Is a negative COVID-19 test (PCR and/or serology) required for entry into Costa Rica? No 
  • Are health screening procedures in place at airports and other ports of entry? NO  

Movement Restrictions:

  • Is a curfew in place? No
  • The weekday daytime driving restrictions now apply ONLY within the circunvalacion area in San Jose.
    • The are currently no nationwide nighttime vehicle restrictions.
  • Costa Rica’s National Emergency Commission (CNE) frequently announces updates regarding driving restrictions as well as the areas under Orange or Yellow Alert.
  • Are there restrictions on intercity or interstate travel? No

Quarantine Information:

  • Are U.S. citizens required to quarantine upon entry? No
    • Tourists testing positive for COVID-19 while in Costa Rica will be issued a sanitary quarantine order.
    • The length of sanitary quarantine orders will depend on the severity of the infection.  They are typically issued for 7 – 14 days.  Tourists who are issued a sanitary order must secure lodging for the duration of the quarantine.
    • The Ministry of Health has stated this sanitary order cannot be appealed, even if subsequent test results taken during the mandatory quarantine are negative for COVID-19.
    • Please also note the recently revised CDC recommendation of a 5-day quarantine period is only applicable in the United States.  It does not apply in Costa Rica.  Only Costa Rica’s Ministry of Health has the authority to determine the length of quarantine for persons who test positive in Costa Rica.
    • Tourists complying with a valid sanitary order will not be penalized for overstaying their visa.
  • Costa Rica’s Ministry of Health does not currently accept the results of at home self-administered or proctor administered COVID-19 tests. 

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 violate 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 Citizens Services section is open 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: