COVID-19 Restrictions and Entry Requirements for U.S. Citizens

Travel Alert: U.S. Embassy San Jose (4  September 2020)
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 Repatriation Flights in September PLEASE READ ENTIRE MESSAGE.

Costa Rica has confirmed 45,680 cases of Corona virus as of September 4, 2020. The National Emergency Commission (CNE) has announced the COVID-19 related measures for September. From August 31 through September 8, the “transition phase,” many commercial businesses in Orange Alert areas must remain closed. Exceptions include: supermarkets, hardware stores, delivery services, vehicle repairs, stores in general, restaurants and beauty salons. The “transition phase” does not impact businesses operating in Yellow Alert areas. In Yellow Alert areas, most commercial establishments can operate normally from August 31 through September 30. From September 9 through September 30, the “open phase,” most commercial establishments can remain open nationwide, including in Orange Alert areas. For an English language summary of what establishments can operate during September, please visit this link.

Vehicle restrictions based on license plates will also continue in September and will be 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 will remain open nationwide from 5am to 2:30pm regardless of the phase. National Parks will also remain open nationwide regardless of phase. For an English language summary of these restrictions, please visit this link.

The Ministry of Health expanded the list of states from which tourists can enter Costa Rica. As of September 1, 2020, U.S. citizen tourists who are residents of New York, New Jersey, Maine, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia may enter Costa Rica. As of September 15, residents from Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Colorado will also be allowed to enter Costa Rica. As of September 1, U.S. tourists from authorized states can arrive to Costa Rica via a flight with a layover in a non-authorized state or country. For example, a Colorado resident can fly from Denver to Houston to Costa Rica, as long as they do not exit the airport in Houston.

The Ministry of Health has also modified entry requirements from U.S. citizen tourists. As of September 1, 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). 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, 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 72 hours before their flight to Costa Rica. For a summary of entry requirements for permanent and temporary residents, please visit this link.

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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.

The U.S. Embassy has partnered with United Airlines to offer additional commercial repatriation flights during the month of September. 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 September 30. Please visit www.United.com for details on pricing and flight times.

United Airlines will also offer regular commercial flights from Newark Liberty Airport (ERW) to Juan Santamaria Airport (SJO) and Daniel Oduber Quiros Airport in Liberia (LIR) during the month of September. For a schedule of flight dates, times, and prices please visit www.united.com.

The U.S. Embassy has also partnered with American Airlines to offer commercial repatriation flights from Juan Santamaria Airport (SJO) to Miami, Florida during September. These flights will take place on September 10, September 17, September 24, and October 1. Please visit www.aa.com for details on pricing and flight times.

American Airlines is also offering several weekly regular commerical flights between San Jose, Costa Rica, Dallas, Texas, and Miami, Florida. These flights stopover in Dallas, Texas between Miami and San Jose. For more information on schedule and pricing, please visit www.aa.com.

These commercial repatriation 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 and Miami.   Policies regarding luggage allowances and seating arrangements will be managed by United Airlines and American Airlines.  Please visit www.united.com and www.aa.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 and American Airlines.

Passengers traveling with pets and Emotional Support or Service Animals will need to consult with United Airlines and American 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.

IMPORTANT HEALTH INFORMATION FOR PASSENGERS ON ALL OUTBOUND REPATRIATION FLIGHTS:

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, 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 Houston IAH and Miami MIA 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 or MIA.  Check with the airport and CBP websites for updates. 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.