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Things are Progressing

This is an updated version of our August 15th article. This includes the rules established by Decree 42527-MGP-S issued on August 15th, 2020, Circular AJ-1467-08-2020 issued on August 19th, 2020, Decree 42585-MGP-S issued on August 29th,

Good News

This is an updated version of our August 15th article.

This includes the rules established by Decree 42527-MGP-S issued on August 15th, 2020, Circular AJ-1467-08-2020 issued on August 19th, 2020, Decree 42585-MGP-S issued on August 29th, 2020 and Decree N° 42604-MGP-S issued on September 7th. Updates may be added as new rules are published.

General Information:

The Ministry of Health has published a list of 44 authorized countries and 9 US States*. People flying in from one of these authorized countries will be allowed to enter Costa Rica through either the Juan Santamaria or Daniel Oduber airports, as long as they comply with the entry requirements mentioned below.

Only Costa Rican nationals and Residents (people with DIMEX cards) may enter the country regardless of where they are flying in from. They must fly into one of the airports, Juan Santamaria or Daniel Oduber.

Only Costa Rican nationals and Residents may board repatriation flights as well as people previously authorized by the Ministry of Health. Per experience and discussions with Authorities, securing an exception to enter the country is difficult; these requests are rarely approved and are generally based on a matter of vulnerability.

Tourists will not be allowed to board repatriation flights except for foreign nationals related to Costa Rican nationals or Residents. Related to refers to Parents of minor Costa Rican or Resident children, minor children of Costa Rican nationals or Residents, or children of legal age with disabilities, spouses of Costa Rican nationals or Residents, minor siblings of Costa Rican nationals or Residents, or siblings of legal age with disabilities.

Costa Rican nationals or Residents may enter the country through private planes regardless of where they are flying in from. Tourists may only enter through private planes if they are coming in from one of the authorized countries or States and comply with all entry requirements.  Tourists will not be allowed to enter through private flights coming in from non-authorized countries or States, except for foreign nationals related to Costa Rican nationals or Residents. Related to refers to Parents of minor Costa Rican or Resident children, minor children of Costa Rican nationals or Residents, or children of legal age with disabilities, spouses of Costa Rican nationals or Residents, minor siblings of Costa Rican nationals or Residents, or siblings of legal age with disabilities.

Everyone must comply with the entry requirements established, per category. If you do not comply with the entry requirements, you will not be allowed in.

Starting September 1st, travelers coming from New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Connecticut, Maryland, Virginia, and Columbia District will be allowed to enter the country. Then, starting September 15th, travelers coming from Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., Oregon, Wyoming, Arizona, New Mexico, Michigan, Rhode Island, and Colorado will be allowed to enter Costa Rica. Starting October 1st, California and Ohio will be allowed to enter.

The drivers’ license or State ID that evidence that the traveler resides in one of these States will be required to enter, along with the rest of the requirements announced per Decree a few days back and which can be reviewed here. The drivers’ license or State ID will obviously not be required for minor children traveling with their family.

Layovers when entering via air:

The Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT) issued a publication on their FB page stating that foreign nationals coming to Costa Rica from authorized countries or states (in the case they are coming from the US) can have layovers. The trip must start in one of the authorized states or countries, however, layovers in nonauthorized places will be allowed as long as the visitor does not depart the airport and the layover does not exceed 18 hours.

This is good news as it allows more options for people to arrive in the country, contrary to the previous disposition under which people could only arrive by flying in directly from authorized States and countries.

At the moment, neither the Immigration Department (the agency in charge of deciding who comes in and who does not) nor the ICT have issued an official memorandum or decree making this announcement official. We urge people to exercise caution as there is no official confirmation on this matter. Please note that the CR Government does not have a proven record of being consistent with the communications or the implementation of policies.

Entry Requirements per Category:

Foreign nationals related to Costa Rican nationals or Residents

Parents of minor Costa Rican or Resident children, minor children of Costa Rican nationals or Residents, or children of legal age with disabilities, spouses of Costa Rican nationals or Residents, minor siblings of Costa Rican nationals or Residents, or siblings of legal age with disabilities that wish to enter the country as tourists may do so as long as they carry the corresponding birth or marriage certificates that prove the link between the foreign national and the Costa Rican national or Resident. The presence of the Costa Rican national or Resident is no longer required, meaning a foreign national flying in alone, without his or her spouse or Costa Rican child, for example, will be allowed to enter.

In addition, people entering the country based on this family relation may fly in from any country and must present the following documentation:

  1. Valid passport
  2. Round-trip ticket or reservation showing an eventual departure from Costa Rica via air.
  3. Birth or marriage certificates that prove the link between the foreign national and the Costa Rican national or Resident. Costa Rican marriage and birth certificates can be purchased here.
  4. Insurance that covers hospitalization and accommodation in case you require quarantine due to COVID19. None of the Decrees state that if you have a home or are renting a home in Costa Rica, you are exempt from purchasing the mandatory insurance. Therefore, you will need insurance that covers medical expenses and accommodation. Insurance offered by the National Insurance Institute (INS) complies with these exigencies. You may review the INS insurance here. Many expats have reached out asking if it is plausible to avoid the part of the insurance that covers boarding if they have a house or a rental in Costa Rica. We called the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) and received written confirmation on September 1st  stating that this will be possible however, they also clarified that this is not supported by any Decree, Resolution, or Circular. This means that if you wish to enter using proof that you have a home or a rental (it must be for more than 1 month, in your name. It cannot be an Airbnb or similar), we cannot assure you that it will be accepted since this is not supported, in writing, by any current ruling or law. ICT’s written confirmation is not tantamount to a Decree, Resolution or Circular. We know of some people who have already entered this way; however, the situation is so unstable at the airport that we cannot assure you a smooth entry. Ultimately, if the documentation you provide is not enough, you can purchase the insurance upon arrival.
  5. Completed Health Pass. The link for the Health Pass can be found here. The Health Pass must be completed 48 hours prior to entering the country.
  6. Foreign nationals related to Costa Rican nationals will be required to complete a 14-day quarantine period unless they are flying in from one of the authorized countries, can prove that they have been there for the past 14 days, and carry a negative COVID19 test. The only acceptable test is the real-time polymerase chain reaction test, also called PCR-RT for COVID-19. Rapid test kit results, serological tests, or immunity tests will not be accepted as valid. The sample needs to be taken no more than 72 hours before their flight to Costa Rica.
  7. If the foreign national has a restricted nationality (you can read further on the matter here) and requires a visa to enter Costa Rica, he/she will not be allowed to enter unless he/she presents a valid US, EU, or Canadian visa (please refer to the article pertaining to restricted nationalities). This cannot be a transit visa.

Further details on the test, the insurance, and how to complete the Health Pass can be found here.

If you have a specific question regarding the Health Pass, you can reach out to pasedesalud@misalud.go.cr

Costa Rican Nationals and Residents

Costa Rican nationals: May enter the country via air regardless of where they are flying in from and will need to complete the Health Pass.

Costa Rican nationals will need to complete a 14-day quarantine period unless they are flying in from one of the authorized countries, can prove that they have been there for the past 14 days and carry a negative COVID19 test. The only acceptable test is the real-time polymerase chain reaction test, also called PCR-RT for COVID-19. Rapid test kit results, serological tests, or immunity tests will not be accepted as valid. The sample needs to be taken no more than 72 hours before boarding the flight to Costa Rica.

Temporary Residents, Permanent Residents, people with Special Categories or Estancias: May enter the country via air regardless of where they are flying in from and must present the following documentation:

  1. Valid passport
  2. Valid DIMEX card or, if expired after December 18, 2019 we would suggest carrying a copy of Resolution N° DJUR-0105-07-2020-JM that has extended the validity of the cards until January 11, 2021 for Residents and Special Categories and until February 12, 2021 for Estancias that expired after March 17, 2020.
  3. People with Permanent Residency that have expired DIMEX cards can still enter using that card.
  4. Prove that the CAJA is up to date or that you hold valid insurance with a minimum coverage of 22 days. This applies to every person trying to enter, including Resident spouses and children. Please note:
    • Regarding CAJA – If your spouse is the main applicant and he/she is registered in CAJA and pays every month, that does not mean that the dependents’ CAJAs are up to date. They can appear as suspended in the system. You can check the system here and carry a print-out, per person, of the results along with the payment receipt of the CAJA payment. If you are entering in September, you can carry the payment receipt for September.
    • Regarding Insurance – If your CAJA is not up to date, you will have the option of securing insurance with a minimum coverage of 22 days. Insurance offered by the National Insurance Institute (INS) complies with the exigencies demanded by Costa Rican Authorities. You may review the INS insurance here. Many expats have reached out asking if it is plausible to avoid the part of the insurance that covers boarding if they have a house or a rental in Costa Rica. We called the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) and received written confirmation on September 1st  stating that this will be possible however, they also clarified that this is not supported by any Decree, Resolution, or Circular. This means that if you wish to enter using proof that you have a home or a rental (it must be for more than 1 month, in your name. It cannot be an Airbnb or similar), we cannot assure you that it will be accepted since this is not supported, in writing, by any current ruling or law. ICT’s written confirmation is not tantamount to a Decree, Resolution or Circular. We know of some people who have already entered this way; however, the situation is so unstable at the airport that we cannot assure you a smooth entry. Ultimately, if the documentation you provide is not enough, you can purchase the insurance upon arrival.
    • Residents who enter using Insurance and not CAJA, will have these 22 days to visit the corresponding CAJA/EBAIS/Clinic to get their CAJA up to date. The Immigration Police will be in charge of supervising that Residents comply with this obligation.
  5. Completed Health Pass. The link for the Health Pass can be found here. The Health Pass must be completed 48 hours prior to entering the country.
  6. Temporary Residents, Permanent Residents, people with Special Categories, or Estancias will need to complete a 14-day quarantine period unless they are flying in from one of the authorized countries, can prove that they have been there for the past 14 days and carry a negative COVID19 test. The only acceptable test is the real-time polymerase chain reaction test, also called PCR-RT for COVID-19. Rapid test kit results, serological tests, or immunity tests will not be accepted as valid. The sample needs to be taken no more than 72 hours before their flight to Costa Rica.

Further details on the test, and how to complete the Health Pass can be found here. If you have a specific question regarding the Health Pass, you can reach out to pasedesalud@misalud.go.cr

Entry-bans will not apply for Residents who comply with the requirements mentioned above. Residents will be notified of an entry ban upon departure, but if they comply with the requirements mentioned above, that entry ban will be lifted and the person will be allowed to enter.

Tourists, people with applications in progress, and approved Residencies that are yet to process their DIMEX cards

The rules for tourists, people with applications in progress (meaning people who have a process filed at Immigration) and people with approved Residencies that were notified of the approval of their status and are yet to secure their DIMEX card (securing the DIMEX is the last stage of the Residency process that is completed in-country), aside from what has been mentioned about foreign nationals related to Costa Rican nationals or Residents, have not changed.

Therefore, tourists, people with applications in progress, and approved Residencies that are yet to process their DIMEX cards may enter the country as long as they comply with the following:

  1. You must be flying in from one of the authorized countries.
  2. You must be able to evidence that you have been in one of the authorized countries for at least 14 days. Immigration has not provided a list of what sorts of documents they will review but documents could include passport stamps, Hotel bills, Airbnb receipts, etc. OR, if flying in from one of the authorized US States, you will need your State ID or drivers’ license. Only Residents of these States that can provide ID will be allowed to travel. The ID shall be uploaded when completing the Health Pass.
  3. You will need a negative COVID19 test. The only acceptable test is the real-time polymerase chain reaction test, also called PCR-RT for COVID-19. Rapid test kit results, serological tests, or immunity tests will not be accepted as valid. The sample needs to be taken no more than 72 hours before your flight to Costa Rica.
  4. You will need insurance that covers hospitalization and accommodation in case you require quarantine due to COVID19. None of the Decrees state that if you have a home or are renting a home in Costa Rica, you are exempt from purchasing the mandatory insurance. Therefore, you will need insurance that covers medical expenses and accommodation. Insurance offered by the National Insurance Institute (INS) complies with these exigencies. You may review the INS insurance here. Many expats have reached out asking if it is plausible to avoid the part of the insurance that covers boarding if they have a house or a rental in Costa Rica. We called the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) and received written confirmation on September 1st  stating that this will be possible however, they also clarified that this is not supported by any Decree, Resolution, or Circular. This means that if you wish to enter using proof that you have a home or a rental (it must be for more than 1 month, in your name. It cannot be an Airbnb or similar), we cannot assure you that it will be accepted since this is not supported, in writing, by any current ruling or law. ICT’s written confirmation is not tantamount to a Decree, Resolution or Circular. We know of some people who have already entered this way; however, the situation is so unstable at the airport that we cannot assure you a smooth entry. Ultimately, if the documentation you provide is not enough, you can purchase the insurance upon arrival.
  5. Valid passport.
  6. Round-trip ticket or reservation showing an eventual departure from Costa Rica via air.
  7. You will need to complete your Health Pass. The link for the Health Pass can be found here. The Health Pass must be completed 48 hours prior to entering the country.
  8. If the foreign national has a restricted nationality (you can read further on the matter here) and requires a visa to enter Costa Rica, he/she will not be allowed to enter unless he/she presents a valid US, EU, or Canadian visa (please refer to the article pertaining to restricted nationalities). This cannot be a transit visa.

Further details on the test, the insurance, and how to complete the Health Pass can be found here. If you have a specific question regarding the Health Pass, you can reach out to pasedesalud@misalud.go.cr

Tourists and people with applications in progress will not be required to complete the 14-day quarantine period.

Any Resident, person with Special Category, Estancia, tourists, people with applications in progress and approved Residencies that are yet to process their DIMEX cards that do not comply with the requirements set upon in the law will not be allowed to enter. Immigration is not making exceptions.

Tourists may also enter via a yacht or sailboat, solely for tourism purposes. The yacht or sailboat must dock in one of the country’s authorized marinas. People coming in via sea will require the insurance, the Health Pass, the international boarding document in order to determine the country they are coming from, and the date of the last boarding. People coming in via sea will be required to complete the 14-day quarantine. However, if the foreign national’s trip originated in one of the authorized countries and no stop or layover was made, the quarantine request will not be imposed. 

Any COVID19 test must be in English or Spanish. Any international insurance policy must also be presented in either English or Spanish.

Other Matters

While may expats, mainly home and business owners have reached out demanding that they are also considered, this is yet to be taken into consideration. If you are a home or business owner but did not secure Residency, you are deemed a tourist and as such will need to comply with the requirements set upon in the law for entry.

As mentioned in our latest article here (Efforts done so far), we continue to work with Authorities to advocate for the expat community. As you can see from this week’s news, things are progressing. Even the Constitutional Authority sided with us, as it ruled in our favor.

We are also advocating for people with applications in and approved Residencies that are yet to process their DIMEX cards as they have been placed in a tough situation.

 

Authorized Countries

*1. Australia 2. Canada 3. Swiss Confederation 4. Vatican State 5. Grand Duchy of Luxembourg 6. Ireland 7. Japan 8. New Zealand 9. Principality of Liechtenstein 10. Principality of Monaco 11. Kingdom of Belgium 12. Kingdom of Denmark 13. Kingdom of Spain 14. Kingdom of the Netherlands 15. Kingdom of Norway 16. Kingdom of Sweden 17. Kingdom of Thailand 18. United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 19. Czech Republic 20. Cyprus 21. Republic of Austria 22. Republic of Bulgaria 23. Republic of Korea 24. Republic of Croatia 25. Republic of Slovenia 26. Republic of Estonia 27. Republic of Finland 28. Republic of Hungary 29. Republic of Iceland 30. Republic of Latvia 31. Republic of Lithuania 32. Republic of Malta 33. Republic of Poland 34. Republic of San Marino 35. Republic of Singapore 36. Slovak Republic 37. Federal Republic of Germany 38. French Republic 39. Hellenic Republic (Greece) 40. Italian Republic 41. The Oriental Republic of Uruguay 42. People’s Republic of China 43. Portuguese Republic 44. Romania

Starting October 1st: 45. Jamaica 46. Mexico.

US States: Starting September 1st, travelers coming from New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Connecticut, Maryland, Virginia, and Columbia District will be allowed to enter the country. Then, starting September 15th, travelers coming from Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., Oregon, Wyoming, Arizona, New Mexico, Michigan, Rhode Island, and Colorado will be allowed to enter Costa Rica. Starting October 1st, California, and Ohio will be allowed to enter.

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ibrenes@outlierlegal.com

Attorney with more than 10 years of experience in customer service, team management and team building at an international level. Has worked immigration cases in various countries, including Costa Rica, Colombia and Panama.

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16 COMMENTS
  • Avatar
    Walter Freeman August 15, 2020

    If a legal resident were to leave Costa Rica now would a re-entry ban be entered against him/her?

    • rafavalverde
      rafavalverde August 16, 2020

      Walter,

      Currently there is not a ban for residents. You can leave and return as long as you comply with the requirements.

  • Avatar
    John Newton August 16, 2020

    What happens to the perpetual tourists once the borders are open to say Panama? How can they show a Covic test result to get back into Costa Rica if they are only in Panama for a day?, plus they would have to buy insurance etc. I guess this will result in many perpetual tourists going back to their home country as they do not qualify for any statuses in Costa Rica. I am not a perpetual tourist but I’m curious.

    • Rafael Valverde
      Rafael Valverde August 23, 2020

      John,

      This situation has not been addressed, and thus we cannot speculate. We have to wait and see what happens.

  • Avatar
    Laura August 17, 2020

    I am a student living here in Costa Rica with a Student VISA. It was previously stated that if I were to leave Costa Rica to go back home to the US, I would loose my student Visa. Is this still standing? Where can I call to find out legitimate information on this. I’ve been searching everywhere online and I’m at a dead end.

  • Avatar
    David Williams August 18, 2020

    I guess the decree represents good news for limited people.
    Certainly not for any kind of reopening to tourism.
    The 48 hr PCR testing requirement is almost impossible. As long as this caveat is in place there will be very limited travel to Costa Rica even from “authorized” countries as test results can take 5-7 days for results.

    • Rafael Valverde
      Rafael Valverde August 23, 2020

      David,

      You are correct, it is intended to be limited.

  • Avatar
    Alda Arias August 22, 2020

    Thank you for all this wonderful information. Now that borders have partially opened up to include a few US states, can one extrapolate that the same overall rules applied to arrivals from the “Authorized Countries” apply to those 5 states.? if I’m a tourist and are arriving with a Costa Rican I will need the insurance and negative PCR-RT covid test and the Costa Rican just the negative PCR-RT test and that way neither will need quarantine, correct?

    • Rafael Valverde
      Rafael Valverde August 23, 2020

      Ada,

      Thank you for your message. You are correct, if you have a COVID test you will not need to quarantine.

  • Avatar
    Joshua Williment August 24, 2020

    I am a toursist from Canada.

    We have 0 access to RAPID tests here all the results take 48 to get. If we do that test and are denied, are we allowed to quartine for 14 days?

    • Rafael Valverde
      Rafael Valverde August 30, 2020

      Joshua,

      As a tourist, you do not have the option to do quarantine. You must have the test.

  • Avatar
    Jesse September 6, 2020

    I am a US citizen living in a state not currently on the allowed list who has a Costa Rican child (minor). Would I have to travel with him in order to qualify for the repatriation exemption? He is currently in Costa Rica.

    • Rafael Valverde
      Rafael Valverde September 23, 2020

      Jesse,

      Correct, you need to travel with the child in order to meet the exception.

  • Avatar
    Chanel September 14, 2020

    What happens if a “perpetual tourist” with a minor CR citizen leaves and comes back?

    • Rafael Valverde
      Rafael Valverde September 23, 2020

      Chanel,

      Apparently, according to the regulations, the “perpetual tourist” will be allowed reentry.

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