Important: Foreign Nationals Who Leave Costa Rica During the COVID-19 Crisis Will Lose Their Status

At 12:54 Monday, March 23, 2020, the President announced that any foreign national that leaves the country during the COVID-19 crisis will lose their status.

This applies to any Temporary or Permanent Resident, Special Categories, etc. and people with applications in progress. If you are interested in keeping your Immigration status, please do not depart the country.

The President did not inform when this restriction will be lifted, and we will inform the community as soon as the information becomes available.

Therefore, in summary, if you depart the country between now and until a date to be announced, you will lose your status. We will publish more once the Decree or Resolution stating this is published.

This measure is not retroactive, it does not apply to people who have already departed or will depart today. This applies to people who leave starting March 24, 2020, onwards, until the date (yet to be announced) the Government establishes.

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The Author

Irene Brenes

Irene Brenes

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.


  1. Avatar
    John Reid
    March 24, 2020 at 3:03 pm — Reply

    I understand this is meant to dicourage travel. As a permanent resident it will certainly make me think twice!

    But do I have this right: if a permanent resident left the country two weeks ago, say, spending their time in a coronavirus hotspot, he keeps his status and is now free to return to CR? If so, it seems that the new policy misses the intended mark by a long way.

    Simpler and more sensible would be to decree that only CR citizens may enter the country for now. Then if I leave the country I can’t return till the crisis is over – fair enough (well, not really!).

    But what on earth would supposedly be achieved by completely cancelling my status? This seems quite discriminatory.

  2. Avatar
    Steve Pratt
    March 24, 2020 at 3:04 pm — Reply

    That is greatly disturbing. That sounds like the heavy hand of tyranny. Will the Costa Rican government one day decide to take all assets from foreigners and just kick them out?

    Someone help me to see the wisdom in this? Why do I want to abandon my property there and NEVER go back?

    • Marianela Sánchez
      March 25, 2020 at 4:38 pm — Reply

      As you know, Nicaragua is not taking measures to deal with the COVID19 crisis. This idea of preventing any foreign national with Residency or any other category from leaving is an effort to reduce the coming and going mainly from Nicaragua particularly since Easter Week is coming up.

      This is evidently a temporary measure that, as far as I know, has never occurred before. I suppose that our Government is doing what it can, even if this measure is not the best way to go about it, to contain the situation, particularly after seeing our neighboring country’s reaction to the crisis. If Costa Rica managed to control the spread of the virus but had numerous Nicaraguans entering and departing from a country where measures are not being taken, spread will continue to occur.

      That is, as far as we know and per what Authorities have mentioned, the reasoning behind this severe measure we do not support. You can read a little more about what we are doing about it here:

  3. Avatar
    Patricia Docsh
    March 26, 2020 at 8:37 pm — Reply

    It seems another reason to try to keep residents, either temporary or permanent, in Costa Rica, is to gain some financial stability.

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