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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: October 22, 2020
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 If you go out, take precautions to keep your distance from others (at least 2 meters when possible), avoid crowds, 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 get minimal funding from the central government and need donations to continue 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 filling up as of this writing, the need is greater than ever. Some of the requirements to donate include being between the ages of 18 and 65, be a resident or citizen of CR with up-to-date ID, weight 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.

The following areas of the country are in ORANGE ALERT due to COVID-19 community transmission, as of October 21:

  • San José: Alajuelita, Desamparados (except the districts of Frailes and San Cristobal), San José, and Santa Ana.
  • Alajuela: Alajuela (except the district of Sarapiquí) and San Carlos.
  • Cartago: La Unión and Oreamuno.
  • Heredia: Belén, Heredia (except the district of Varablanca), San Isidro, San Pablo, and Santa Bárbara.
  • Guanacaste: La Cruz.
  • Puntarenas: Garabito, Montes de Oro, and the districts of Barranca, Chacarita, El Roble and Puntarenas (central district) in Puntarenas.
  • Limón: Limón, Matina, 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, 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.

ALL areas can open, at 50% capacity:

  • Farmer’s markets, supermarkets, mini markets, corner stores, bakeries, butcher shops, vegetable stands can be open at 50% capacity.
  • 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.
  • National parks, with entry tickets available online or at the park entrance.
  • Animal-themed parks, botanical gardens, hot springs, marine parks (without implying access to beaches or swimming).
  • Beaches and lakes can be open weekdays from 5am-10pm and weekends from 5am-9pm.

ALL areas can open, Monday to Friday 5am-10pm, Saturday and Sunday 5am-9pm, at 50% capacity where applicable:

  • Restaurants, cafés, diners, food trucks, food courts, malls, shops, department stores.
  • Bars and hotel casinos.
  • Event halls with a maximum of 75 people for company or academic events, or a maximum of 30 people 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, livestock auctions.
  • Churches with a maximum of 125 people.

YELLOW ALERT areas can open:

  • Public parks can open at the discretion of the municipality 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.

Vehicle Restriction in ALL areas until October 31:

  • Vehicles can be on the road 5:00am to 10:00pm Monday to Friday, and 5:00am to 9:00pm on Saturday and Sunday, except for the following by license plate number:
  • Vehicles with plate numbers ending in 1 and 2 will NOT be allowed on the road on Mondays.
  • Vehicles with plate numbers ending in 3 and 4 will NOT be allowed on the road on Tuesdays.
  • Vehicles with plate numbers ending in 5 and 6 will NOT be allowed on the road on Wednesdays.
  • Vehicles with plate numbers ending in 7 and 8 will NOT be allowed on the road on Thursdays.
  • Vehicles with plate numbers ending in 9 and 0 will NOT be allowed on the road on Fridays.
  • 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

*AUTHORIZED COUNTRIES FOR ENTRY TO COSTA RICA

  • North America: Canada, Mexico. U.S. residents of Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wyoming and the District of Columbia are also authorized to enter in as tourists. They will need to show proof of residence in those states via a driver’s license or equivalent state ID (except accompanying minors).
  • Central America and the Caribbean: Belize, Canada, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama.
  • South America: Uruguay.
  • Europe: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Vatican City.
  • Asia: China, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan (region), Thailand.
  • Oceania: Australia, New Zealand.

Starting November 1, tourists from anywhere in the world will be allowed to visit Costa Rica, provided they meet the requirements listed below, as well as the usual 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 enter by air only;
  • They arrive from one of the authorized countries*;
  • They can prove that they have spent the last 14 days in the authorized country;
  • They have purchased insurance that covers COVID-19 hospitalization and accommodation (either through an authorized Costa Rican insurance provider or an international policy);
  • They show proof of a negative RT-PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure (NOTE: this requirement will be lifted on October 26); and
  • They complete an epidemiological form online.

For any foreign tourists in the country who have entered on or after December 17, 2019, their tourist visas have been automatically extended until March 2, 2021.

Foreign tourists may drive on their foreign driver’s license until November 18. Please read the press release (in Spanish) — and print a copy to keep in your car! Traffic officers may not always be aware of this decree.

Foreign Nationals Related to Costa Rican Citizens

Foreign nationals who have a first-degree relation to a Costa Rican citizen (spouses of citizens, parents of minor Costa Rican children, minor children of citizens, adult children with disabilities, minor siblings of citizens, or adult siblings with disabilities) may enter as tourists, from ANY country, under these conditions:

  • They enter by air only;
  • They show proof of family link (such as birth certificate or marriage certificate);
  • 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.
  • They will be ordered to self-quarantine for 14 days. Quarantine violators are subject to large fines and potential criminal prosecution. The quarantine requirement can be waived if:
    • They arrive from one of the authorized countries*;
    • They can prove that they have spent the last 14 days in the authorized country; and
    • They show proof of a negative RT-PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure (NOTE: this requirement will be lifted on October 26).

Costa Rican Citizens

Costa Rican citizens cannot be denied entry, but will be ordered to self-quarantine for 14 days. Citizens can avoid the quarantine requirement under the following conditions:

  • They enter by air; and
  • They show proof of a negative RT-PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure (NOTE: this requirement will be lifted on October 26).

Foreign Residents

Foreign residents may return to Costa Rica from ANY country. To enter, they must meet the following conditions:

  • They enter by air only;
  • They have a valid DIMEX card;
  • They show proof that their CCSS status is up to date**; and
  • They complete an epidemiological form online.
  • They will be ordered to self-quarantine for 14 days. The quarantine requirement can be waived if:
    • They arrive from one of the authorized countries*;
    • They can prove that they have spent the last 14 days in the authorized country; and
    • They show proof of a negative RT-PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure (NOTE: this requirement will be lifted on October 26).

**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.

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 plan to reopen most services on September 21, including receiving 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
  • 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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