Travel Guide For U.S. Citizens and Other Tourists Entering Costa Rica

May 12, 2023 in Discover Costa Rica, Discover Costa Ballena, Life in Costa Rica

As of the beginning of September, select tourists from the United States will be permitted to enter Costa Rica with certain stipulations. Tourists have been coming into Costa Rica from the European Union, Canada, parts of Asia and Oceania since the start of August, 2020. To protect the health of their people, the Government of Costa Rica has established sanitary control measures for all passengers upon arrival in the country. 

Select U.S. Citizens Permitted To Enter Costa Rica

As of September 1, 2020, U.S. residents of the states of New York, New Jersey, Maine, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington D.C. may enter Costa Rica as tourists. On September 15, Colorado, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts may enter Costa Rica. Tourists from the U.S. must have a valid driver's license from one of the nine soon-to-be permitted states to prove that they are residents. No other form of documentation proving residency is acceptable for this process at this time. Accompanying minors are not required to have a driver’s license.  

Airlines Flying to Costa Rica

Those who meet the Ministry of Health’s criteria for travel to Costa Rica are able to do so from any commercial designated flight departure point, which currently include Frankfurt, Germany and Madrid, Spain. However, they must demonstrate they have remained at that designated departure point for 14 days prior to their flight. As of September 1, 2020, Commercial flights from the United States to Costa Rica will resume on a limited basis from New York’s JFK and LGA airports, as well as Newark ERW airport. Citizens from States that are approved for entry into Costa Rica may fly indirectly thru non-approved U.S. States as long as they do not leave the airport during their layover.

Stipulations for Tourists Entering Costa Rica

To enter Costa Rica, tourists must complete a digital epidemiological health pass upon entering the country. This involves visiting this website and inputting your individual information. Each passenger must answer this health pass individually for each entry into Costa Rica. If the passenger is a minor or a dependent person, the health pass survey must be completed by the legal guardian. This form can be filled out several times to enter relatives traveling with you. After completing the health pass questionnaire, travelers will receive a QR code and an alphanumeric code that they must carry on their mobile or printed on paper to go through customs. Tourists must also obtain a negative PCR-RT coronavirus test from within 48 hours of their departure from the United States. On September 1st, the time limit will extend to 72 hours. If their tests return negative, tourists and non-residents of Costa Rica do not need to quarantine upon entering Costa Rica. If any tourist is diagnosed with COVID-19 during their trip to Costa Rica, they will receive a quarantine order upon diagnosis, which will be for at least 14 days.  Travel insurance must also be purchased by tourists prior to entering Costa Rica. Travel insurance must be obtained from one of the authorized insurers in Costa Rica, or another international provider that offers coverage for accommodation and medical expenses generated by COVID-19. The travel insurance must cover a minimum of $50,000 USD for medical expenses in cases of COVID-19 in Costa Rica and a minimum of $2,000 USD for extended lodging expenses due to the pandemic. If the purchased international travel insurance doesn’t meet the requirements, the tourist then must purchase travel insurance offered by one of the authorized Costa Rican insurers. Costa Rica’s two sanctioned providers include INS Group and Sagicoa

Residents of Costa Rica Returning To The Country

Costa Rica has changed their entry requirements to now allow Costa Rican residents who left the country after March 25, 2020 to return. Residents of Costa Rica may enter the country regardless of which U.S. state or country they are coming from. They are required to present:

  • Their passport
  • Valid DIMEX
  • Evidence that Caja payments are up to date for each person entering
  • A completed health pass

Costa Rican residents can enter from any country via air and they will be required to quarantine 14 days. If the residents enters from an authorized country, the quarantine requirement is waived as long as they have a negative PCR coronavirus test within 48 hours of the flight (72 hours on September 1) and have been in the departing country for at least 14 days without showing symptoms. 

Testing Positive Or Displaying Symptoms of COVID-19 When Entering Costa Rica

Anyone arriving who displays COVID-19 related symptoms will be tested at the airport. If you are required to get tested for COVID-19 while in Costa Rica, tests are available in select hospitals in San José for a cost of about $100. Results should be available within 48 hours and anyone required to be tested must quarantine until a negative result is obtained. If the person being tested receives a positive result, they will be required to quarantine for 14 days. The Ministry of Health will be following up with all quarantining individuals.

Visa Extensions for Residents and Tourists

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 on their tourist visa until November 18, 2020.

Current Restrictions For Residents and Tourists In Costa Rica

Although Costa Rica continues to see a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases, the government of Costa Rica has implemented a series of measures to curb the number of new infections. These restrictions vary in intensity depending on the designation of each geographic zone.  Areas under Orange Alert are restricted by the type of businesses that are allowed to operate, as well as their hours. There are tighter restrictions on vehicle operating days and hours. In Yellow Alert locations, most businesses are allowed to continue operating, although with restricted hours. Visits to beaches and open-air tourism are allowed with restricted hours. All beaches open from 5am to 2:30pm daily regardless of location. National Parks continue to operate in Yellow and Orange areas throughout the month. All outside, open air activities are allowed.  There are no inter-city or inter-province travel restrictions and no curfew, only driving time and license plate restrictions. The current driving restrictions for Yellow and Orange Alert zones are:

  • Driving is permitted 5 AM to 9 PM Monday through Friday (with the correct license plate)
  • Driving is permitted 5 AM to 7 PM on Saturday and Sunday (with the correct license plate)
  • Monday – Vehicles with last license plate digit ending in 1 and 2 can’t drive.
  • Tuesday: Vehicles with last license plate digit ending in 3 and 4 can’t drive.
  • Wednesday: Vehicles with last license plate digit ending in 5 and 6 can’t drive.
  • Thursday: Vehicles with last license plate digit ending in 7 and 8 can’t drive.
  • Friday: Vehicles with last license plate digit ending in 9 and 0 can’t drive.
  • Saturday: Vehicles with last license plate digit ending in an even number can’t drive
  • Sunday: Vehicles with last license plate digit ending in an odd number can’t drive.
  • Rental cars are exempt from driving restrictions.

Costa Rica’s National Emergency Commission makes frequent updates to their website on business and vehicle restrictions in the different colored zones. The Government of Costa Rica has mandated the use of masks while waiting at bus stops and on public transportation. Masks are also mandated in all public and private establishments, except within your own home or accommodations. 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.

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