Summary and Exceptions to the non-entry rule

Last week I had the pleasure of participating in a live chat with La Voz de Guanacaste regarding the current measures in place concerning our borders and their impact on the expat community.

I rewatched the video to make sure I did not contribute to any “fake news” by providing incorrect or confusing information and so wanted to publish the following summary to clarify a few points.

It is essential to state that the information we publish comes from an analysis of the Decrees, rules, notices, circulares, etc. meaning official documents the Government publishes.

A summary of where we are today

Costa Rican borders are closed until June 15th, 2020 at 23:59. The date may be extended, if authorities deem it necessary. It is to be expected that the date will be reevaluated.

Until our borders reopen, only Residents and people with Estancias, Special Categories, applications in progress, etc., meaning anyone with legal immigration status, may enter the country as a result of the COVID19 crisis. There are exceptions to the rule. We will review these below in much more detail.

Now, anyone who enters during this period (meaning from mid-March onwards) will be obliged to complete a 14 natural days quarantine period at home. Failure to comply with this sanitary measure may result in fines and penalties.

Foreign nationals with Residency, Estancias, Special Categories, applications in progress, etc., that depart between March 25th at 23:59 and until our borders reopen will NOT BE ALLOWED to re-enter until the borders reopen. Essential to state that the Decree says March 25th, not March 24th as some news outlets have reported.

While travelling is discouraged at this time, Residents who depart between March 25th and until borders reopen will not lose their status. They will simply see a denial of re-entry entered in the system. However, this denial will be lifted once the situation settles down.

People will only see their status cancelled if they try to depart or enter the country through an unauthorized port of entry.

Exceptions to the non-entry rule

There are exceptions to the rule of no-entry, per Decree, which include diplomats and their families, transportation workers, crew, etc. However, there are two documents issued by Immigration (CIRCULAR DG-0005-03-2020-AJ and CIRCULAR AJ-0706-04-2020-ABM-JM) including exceptions for a. non-Residents whose children are Costa Rican minors (the children’s birth certificates will be required), b. non-Residents married to Costa Rican nationals (the marriage certificate will be required) c. minor children whose parents are Costa Rican or Residents or Diplomats (the birth certificates will be required), and d. humanitarian reasons to be determined, by approval, by Immigration. These exceptions will be applied if the person complies with the normal entry requirement, per their nationality.

There is little information on how exception d. can be requested. It is for exceptional and grave situations only and its approval remains at the discretion of the Authority.

Important to clarify that the Ciculares cited do not state that a foreign national who meets any of the exception criteria is free to depart and enter as they please. Keep in mind that if you leave from March 25th, 2020 at 23:59 and until the borders reopen, you will not be allowed back, even if you are a Resident, a Special Category or Estancia holder, a person with an application in progress, etc.

We cannot assure that if you fit any of the aforementioned exceptions that the arrival and entry will be easy as these are times of uncertainty, constant changes in the rules and a lot of misinformation. However, we wanted to let the community know the most up to date information.

If you classify for any of these exceptions, please reach out to us and we will be happy to analyze your circumstances.


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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
    May 15, 2020 at 7:38 pm — Reply

    Hello! I am in process of residency, with my application filed over 2 years ago — and still waiting a decision . Also I am a farmer and would like to go back to the farm and produce healthy organic food for the people of Costa Rica. I have a ticket for June 17 arrival. Do you foresee any issues with this?

  2. Jeffrey Zamora
    May 21, 2020 at 4:08 pm — Reply

    Hello Deepa,

    Thank you for your comment and question!

    It is unfortunate how long your residency process has taken. Hopefully, it will be approved soon.

    Currently the border is set to reopen on June 16th, 2020.

    Should the border closure be extended (it may happen, as it has been extended twice already) you will be allowed into Costa if you had left the country before 11:59 pm of March 25th, 2020.

    Please let us know if there is anything else we can assist you with.

    Best regards,

    Jeffrey Zamora

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