COVID-19 Information

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COVID-19 Information

Last updated: 05/11/2021 

  • 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 271,478 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since March 2, 2020.  1,280 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 and 466 patients are in intensive care.  3,430 COVID-19 deaths have been recorded and 214,788 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.  Hospitals are currently operating with limited capacity due to a surge in CV-19 infection numbers.  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 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.)
  • 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.
  • Echandi Labs is now offering COVID-19 testing at Daniel Obuder Quiros International Airport in Liberia (LIR). Passengers can receive either a PCR-RT or rapid antigen test.  Passengers must present airline tickets at the time of testing.
  • 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 10–14-day 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 10–14-day mandatory quarantine are negative for COVID-19.
  • 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. (Please note that most U.S. airlines require a person receiving a positive CV-19 test result to undergo a 14-day quarantine prior to boarding an airline in accordance with CDC guidelines).         

COVID-19 Vaccination Information:

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.
    • 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.  Please send an email to seguros@ict.go.cr for questions about insurance coverage or to verify your current insurance policy will be accepted 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.  Tourist seeking to extend their stay beyond the date indicated by immigration officials must contact the Migracion Call Center at 1311.  Tourists are not able to extend their stay in Costa Rica beyond 90 days. 
    • 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. (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).
    • 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.   Permanent/Temporary residents can check the status of their Caja payments by following this link.
    • 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 
    • 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 between December 17, 2019 and November 30, 2020 can legally remain in the country until June 1, 2021.  However, tourists in this category must purchase medical insurance to cover any potential COVID-19 medical treatment or quarantine lodging for the duration of their stay (or the visa extension expiration date of June 1).  The policy must guarantee coverage for medical expenses in cases of COVID-19 related medical treatment in the amount of 50,000 USD and minimum coverage of 2,000 USD for extended lodging expenses due to COVID-19 related illness.  It is possible to purchase an international policy or purchase a Costa Rican insurance policy through the National Insurance Institute (INS) or Sagicor of Costa Rica.  Tourists must also email seguros@ict.go.cr with confirmation of purchase of the insurance coverage to receive the visa extension.  Tourists in this category who remain in Costa Rica past March 2, 2021 without purchasing the required insurance and submitting proof of purchase to seguros@ict.go.cr  can be deported from Costa Rica and banned from reentry for up to five years.  Call 1311 for more information.
  •  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.
  • Tourist entering Costa Rica after of December 17, 2019 can legally drive in Costa Rica using a foreign driver’s license until June 1, 2021. All tourists currently entering Costa Rica can drive on a foreign driver’s license for the length stay up to 90 days.  Tourist should have a copy of their passport photo page and entry stamp for Costa Rica with them while driving.  On March 4, 2021, Costa Rica’s Public Works and Transport Ministry announced that the grace period for obtaining a Costa Rican driver’s license extended to U.S. citizens with temporary and permanent residency in Costa Rica has been extended for six months.  The full text 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
  • From May 11 to May 31, the vast majority of businesses can operate (with some capacity restrictions) from 5am until 9pm.
  • National Parks will be open from 5am to 6pm but may only operate at 50% capacity
  • Beaches will be open from 5:00am to 6:00pm
  • From May 11 through May 31, a daytime vehicle restriction based on license plate numbers will be enforced nationwide between the hours of 5:00am and 9:00pm.  For an unofficial English translation of this announcement, follow this link.  Taxis, tourists with proof of hotel and flight reservations, and emergency vehicles are still allowed to circulate at all times.
    • Monday: Vehicles with license plates ending in 1 and 2 cannot circulate
    • Tuesday: Vehicles with license plates ending in 3 and 4 cannot circulate
    • Wednesday: Vehicles with license plates ending in 5 and 6 cannot circulate
    • Thursday: Vehicles with license plates ending in 7 and 8 cannot circulate
    • Friday: Vehicles with license plates ending in 9 and 0 cannot circulate
    • Saturday: Vehicles with plates ending in odd numbers cannot circulate.
  • Sunday: Vehicles with license plates ending in even numbers cannot circulate
    • 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.
    • The Ministry of Health has stated this sanitary order cannot be appealed, even if subsequent test results taken during the 10–14-day mandatory quarantine are negative for COVID-19.
    • Please note that most U.S. airlines require a person receiving a positive CV-19 test result to undergo a 14-day quarantine prior to boarding an airline in accordance with CDC guidelines.
    • 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 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 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.

 

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