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Tourists from anywhere in the world are allowed to visit Costa Rica, provided they meet the standard visa requirements and purchase travel insurance that covers COVID-19 related hospitalization and lodging. US residents can click here to purchase qualifying travel insurance.

We at CRIE would like to assure all our clients that we remain open for business and we are here for you. We created this resource page that we will maintain and keep updated for your benefit during this time. If you have any questions please contact us and we’d be glad to help.

Updated: May 11, 2021
Please note that all information on this page is subject to change at any time. The situation changes on a daily basis.

What Should I Do?

Take Precautions

  • Please stay at home as much as possible if you are elderly or otherwise at risk due to underlying medical conditions.
  • If you go out, take precautions to keep your distance from others (at least 2 meters when possible), avoid crowds, choose outdoor or well-ventilated spaces instead of enclosed ones when possible, wear a mask or face covering where necessary, and be sure to wash your hands with soap and water when you return. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water is not available.

Stay Healthy!

Eating a good diet, doing physical activity, looking after your mental health and that of others can make a big difference in preventing the saturation of medical facilities, whether for it is for COVID-19 or other illnesses. Most COVID-19 hospitalizations are due to co-morbidities that can be greatly improved with a healthy lifestyle.

Help Where You Can

  • NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) and Causes: A local Costa Rican private bank, BAC Credomatic, maintains a web site called Yo Me Uno with a list of local NGOs and causes. Learn more about each NGO and cause, donate, see if any operate in your local area and get in touch to see how you can help. Examples include Lifting Hands, Fundación Lloverá Comida, and Banco de Alimentos (Food Bank).
  • Red Cross (Cruz Roja Costarricense): Many of the first responders of Costa Rica are part of the Red Cross. They receive minimal funding from the central government and need donations to maintain their operations. Due to the Covid-19 crisis their resources have been stretched thin.
  • Banco de Sangre (Blood Bank): Donating blood is a selfless act that can save up to 4 human lives per donation. With hospital rooms and ICU beds filled with patients, the need is greater than ever. Some of the requirements to donate include being between the ages of 18 and 65, being a resident or citizen of CR with up-to-date ID, and weighing at least 52 kg (114 pounds). Please call at 2280-9952 ext.113 for more information and to book an appointment at the blood bank in San José or a local hospital in your area.
  • Caja Solidaria: Several supermarkets and stores such as AutoMercado, Mas x Menos and Walmart offer care packages (food, supplies) with necessities that are given to families who need it most.

Read more about how you should protect yourself and some other commonly asked questions at the World Health Organization’s Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19).

Home Delivery Services

Fortunately, Costa Rica has a wide range of delivery services available, especially in the Greater Metropolitan Area of San José, such as:

Many local farmer’s markets such as Feria Verde and Buena Tierra are also offering weekly delivery and pickup of fresh local produce. Be sure to contact your local store to see if they deliver.

Yellow Alert and Orange Alert Areas

Costa Rica’s emergency commission (Comisión Nacional de Emergencias – CNE) has determined some areas to be in YELLOW ALERT, and other areas to be in ORANGE ALERT, depending on the level of community transmission.

(UDPATED) The following areas of the country are in ORANGE ALERT due to COVID-19 community transmission, as of May 5:

  • San José: Acosta, Alajuelita, Curridabat, Desamparados, Escazú, Goicoechea, León Cortés, Montes de Oca, Moravia, Pérez Zeledón, Puriscal, San José, Santa Ana, Tibás, and Vásquez de Coronado.
  • Alajuela: Atenas, Grecia, Guatuso, Los Chiles, Naranjo, Palmares, Poás, Orotina, San Carlos, San Ramón, Sarchí, and Zarcero.
  • Cartago: Cartago, El Guarco, Jiménez, La Unión, Oreamuno, Paraíso, and Turrialba.
  • Heredia: Barva, Belén, Flores, Heredia, San Isidro, San Pablo, San Rafael, Santa Bárbara, and Santo Domingo.
  • Guanacaste: Bagaces, Carrillo, Liberia, Nandayure, and Santa Cruz.
  • Puntarenas: Buenos Aires, Coto Brus, Esparza, Garabito, Montes de Oro, Osa, Parrita, Puntarenas, and Quepos.
  • Limón: Guácimo, Limón, Matina, Pococí, Siquirres, and Talamanca.

Areas in YELLOW ALERT are all areas in Costa Rica not subject to ORANGE ALERT as listed above.

Temporary Measures: Businesses and Activities

The Costa Rican authorities have taken steps to prevent the spread of the virus with a series of temporary measures for businesses and other activities.

Note that under the shared responsibility model, individual municipalities may limit or close any of these activities based on their own criteria.

ALL areas can open:

  • Home delivery services, car rentals, bike rentals, gas stations, government agency offices, pay parking lots, lottery ticket vendors.
  • Medical centers (clinics, pharmacies, doctor’s offices, diagnostics centers, emergency services, optical stores, natural wellness stores, mobile medical services etc), veterinarians and drugstores.
  • Daycare centers, and centers for vulnerable persons.
  • Hotels can be open at 100% capacity (UPDATED: 75% capacity for hotels with 100 or more rooms, starting May 13), with a 50% capacity limit in common areas such as restaurant, pool, and gym.
  • Workplaces not facing the public (offices, call centers, factories) can be open, but work from home is encouraged where possible.
  • National parks, with entry tickets available online or at the park entrance. (UPDATED: 50% capacity starting May 13, with the exception of Volcán Poás).

ALL areas can open, at 50% capacity:

  • Farmer’s markets, supermarkets, mini markets, corner stores, bakeries, butcher shops, vegetable stands. 
  • Agricultural shops, aquarium shops, florists, hygiene product shops and laundry services.
  • Parts stores and repair shops for vehicles, motors, bicycles, agricultural and industrial machinery, locksmiths, glass shops, oil and lube shops, car washes, vehicle technical revision (RTV).
  • Government agency service platforms, financial institutions, call centers, funeral homes.
  • Beauty salons, barber shops, pet grooming.
  • Animal-themed parks, botanical gardens, hot springs, marine parks (without implying access to beaches or swimming).

ALL areas can open, 7 days a week 5am-9pm, at 50% capacity where applicable:

  • Restaurants, cafés, diners, food trucks, food courts, malls, shops, department stores.
  • Bars (UPDATED: 25% capacity starting May 13) and hotel casinos
  • Event halls with a maximum of 300 people (UPDATED: 150 people starting May 13) for company or academic events, or a maximum of 75 people (UPDATED: 30 people starting May 13) for social events.
  • Museums, cinemas and theaters (with the exception of Teatro Nacional and Teatro Mélico Salazar).
  • Non-contact sporting facilities, art and dance academies, gyms, swim schools, shooting ranges, driving schools, livestock auctions.
  • Places of worship, with a maximum of 300 people (UPDATED: 200 people starting May 13) where spaces allow.
  • Beaches and lakes, subject to ICT approval of municipal protocols. (Beaches and lakes may only be open from 5am to 6pm)
  • Public parks can open at the discretion of the municipality (ORANGE ALERT areas must have a Prevention Plan in place).
  • Open air exercise and calisthenics areas (“open air gyms”) in public parks can open in municipalities with a Prevention Plan in place.

CLOSED in ALL areas until further notice:

  • Concerts, public events, fairs, bullfighting, “topes,” sporting events with spectators, community celebrations.
  • Mass entertainment activities in malls and other commercial centers, conventions, commercial expositions.
  • Art and cinema festivals, namely: Festival Internacional de Cine, Festival Nacional de las Artes.
  • Teatro Popular Mélico Salazar, Teatro Nacional (except for guided tours).
  • Playgrounds, skate parks and similar activities.
  • Parque Diversiones.
  • Parque Viva (except for races without spectators, and drive-through cinema).
  • Public recreational pools (such as Ojo de Agua).
  • Religious events and processions.

Please see the complete list here (in Spanish).

Temporary Measures: Vehicle Restrictions

The Costa Rican authorities have taken steps to prevent the spread of the virus with a temporary plate number based restriction on the circulation of motor vehicles.

Nationwide Vehicle Restriction:

  • Vehicles can be on the road 5am to 9pm, except for the following by license plate number:
  • Vehicles with plate numbers ending in odd numbers (1, 3, 5, 7, 9) will not be allowed on the road on Saturdays.
  • Vehicles with plate numbers ending in even numbers (2, 4, 6, 8, 0) will not be allowed on the road on Sundays.
  • Vehicles with plate numbers ending in the following numbers will not be allowed on the road on weekdays:
    • Mondays: plate numbers ending in 1 and 2
    • Tuesdays: plate numbers ending in 3 and 4
    • Wednesdays: plate numbers ending in 5 and 6
    • Thursdays: plate numbers ending in 7 and 8
    • Fridays: plate numbers ending in 9 and 0
  • A certain number of exceptions are in place for essential purposes such as commuting (with a specifically formatted letter of exception), official use, delivery services, emergencies and more. Please see here for details (in Spanish).

Mandatory Face Mask Requirement

The Costa Rican authorities have taken steps to prevent the spread of the virus with a temporary face mask ordinance. Face masks are required at all locations with a health permit.

Persons required to wear a face mask:

  • Anyone serving the public.
  • Passengers and drivers in any public transport such as bus, train or taxi, bus or train stations, and waiting at bus stops and taxi stands.
  • All persons at places of worship, churchgoers and officiators alike.
  • Cinemas and theaters, except when eating or drinking.
  • Visitors to health centers, jails, prisons, substance abuse centers and centers that work with high risk populations.
  • Anyone taking care of the elderly and those with disabilities, especially at shelters, care homes and other such centers.
  • Customers at banks and financial institutions, public and private.
  • Customers at supermarkets and shops.
  • Anyone in an enclosed space, except when eating or drinking. This does not include private homes or places where there is only 1 person, unaccompanied.
  • TV hosts can remove their face mask when they are at least 3 meters away from any production equipment or any other persons on set.
  • In the case of gyms or other similar establishments, face masks must be work by trainers and staff. Customers do not need to wear a mask, but a special type of mask that is meant for physical activity is recommended.
  • Persons who work at call centers who are sharing cubicles or open work spaces.

Borders, Tourists, and Foreign Residents

Since November 1, 2020, tourists from anywhere in the world are allowed to visit Costa Rica, provided they meet the requirements listed below, as well as the standard requirements (passport validity, visa if required, proof of return or onward travel).

Tourists

Foreign tourists are allowed to enter Costa Rica under these conditions:

  • They have purchased insurance that covers COVID-19 hospitalization and accommodation, either through an authorized Costa Rican insurance provider or an international policy; and
  • They complete an epidemiological form online.

US residents can click here to purchase qualifying travel insurance.

Foreign tourists in the country who have entered on or after December 17, 2019 can have their tourist visas extended up to June 1, 2021. In order to validate your visa extension, you must purchase travel insurance that covers COVID-19 hospitalization and accommodation, and send the proof of policy to [email protected] Please read the relevant immigration post here (in Spanish).

Foreign tourists who have entered on or after December 17, 2019 may drive on their foreign driver’s license until June 1, 2021, provided their tourist visa is valid. Please read the resolution from MOPT (PDF, in Spanish) — and print a copy to keep in your car! Traffic officers, insurance companies, and rental car companies may not be properly informed.

Foreign Residents

Foreign residents returning to Costa Rica must meet the following conditions:

  • They have a valid DIMEX card;
  • They show proof that their CCSS status is up to date**; and
  • They complete an epidemiological form online.

**If residents are unable to get their CCSS status up to date prior to arrival, they can instead purchase insurance that covers COVID-19 hospitalization and accommodation through an authorized Costa Rican insurance provider, valid for at least 22 days. During these 22 days, they must get their CCSS status up to date. Upon arrival, they will receive an administrative warning from immigration police on their record, to reinforce this requirement.

Prospective Costa Rican residents with an open immigration file pending resolution may drive on their foreign driver’s license until September 30, 2021, provided they show their passport and proof of immigration file (“hoja de trámite”). Please read the resolution from MOPT (PDF, in Spanish) — and print a copy to keep in your car! Traffic officers, insurance companies, and rental car companies may not be properly informed.

Costa Rican Citizens

Costa Rican citizens cannot be denied entry, but must complete an epidemiological form online.

What Do I Do If I Suspect I Have COVID-19?

If you have been in close contact with someone who was confirmed to have COVID-19, or you are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 infection, stay home and call 1322 first for information and instructions.

If it’s an emergency (for example, if you’re having trouble breathing) call 9-1-1.

Where to Get Up to Date Information About COVID-19 in Costa Rica

Here are the most authoritative and up-to-date sources of information for the COVID-19 outbreak in Costa Rica:

Ministerio de Salud. We suggest following their Facebook page for updates.
Casa Presidencial. We suggest following their Facebook page for updates.
Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS). We suggest following their Facebook page for updates.

Beware of Misinformation! Many of us are passing around misinformation on social media and text messages. This may be well-intentioned, but beware any information without references is totally suspect and may hurt you and others!

What Services Are Available from CRIE?

Costa Rica immigration offices have reopened services in a limited fashion, by appointment only. CRIE can assist you in preparing new residency applications. Additionally, there are some services that we can provide at CRIE as of this writing, including:

  • Citizenships / Naturalizations
  • CCSS registration
  • Bank account opening
  • Fingerprint appointments
  • Criminal record checks from USA and Canada
  • Renewals of most residencies
  • Legal services through our network of independent attorneys and public notaries

Please contact us for assistance or more information.

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