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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.

14 Comments

  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
    Attorney-at-Law

  3. Avatar
    Nader Hashemi
    July 1, 2020 at 1:34 am — Reply

    I traveled to Costa Rica last November as a USA citizen for a very complicated Dental procedure and I was supposed to go back in March 2020 to finish the job. It has been very late now and I have complication right now and urgently need to see my Doctors back in Costa Rica. Is there any way that Cost Rica Government make exception rule to entry for US Citizens who are in need for medical care. what government entity should I contact and bring my case to ?

    • Jeffrey Zamora
      July 1, 2020 at 9:15 pm — Reply

      Nader,

      Thank you for your question!

      You would have to take it up to the Immigration Department, to determine if you may qualify under exception d. ‘humanitary reasons’, nevertheless in our opinion it is highly unlikely to be approved in your situation.

      Please let us know if we can futher assist you.

      Best regards,

      Jeffrey Zamora
      Attorney-at-Law

  4. Avatar
    Nader H.
    July 1, 2020 at 1:35 am — Reply

    I traveled to Costa Rica last November as a USA citizen for a very complicated Dental procedure and I was supposed to go back in March 2020 to finish the job. It has been very late now and I have complication right now and urgently need to see my Doctors back in Costa Rica. Is there any way that Cost Rica Government make exception rule to entry for US Citizens who are in need for medical care. what government entity should I contact and bring my case to ?

    • Jeffrey Zamora
      July 1, 2020 at 9:16 pm — Reply

      Nader,

      Thank you for your question!

      You would have to take it up to the Immigration Department, to determine if you may qualify under exception d. ‘humanitary reasons’, nevertheless in our opinion it is highly unlikely to be approved in your situation.

      Please let us know if we can futher assist you.

      Best regards,

      Jeffrey Zamora
      Attorney-at-Law

  5. Avatar
    John
    July 1, 2020 at 3:34 pm — Reply

    Thank you for the well written article. My son (U.S. citizen) and his mom (Costa Rican and U.S. citizen) would like to return to Costa Rica during the restricted time. Will my son be able to enter with a passport and birth certificate?

    • Jeffrey Zamora
      July 1, 2020 at 9:41 pm — Reply

      John,

      The first requirement to meet in order to be reconsidered for re-entry is that the foreing national must have left Costa Rica on or before March 25th, 2020 at 11:29 pm.

      Your son would be allowed back in, as long as he is a minor (under 18), that the mother identify herself as a Costa Rican national, bearing the birth certificate, a translation of it in case it is requested, passports, and round trip tickets.

      As this is an exception to the border closure, you should expect the immigration officers to be very picky.

      Please let us know how we may futher assist you.
      Best regards,

      Jeffrey Zamora
      Attorney-at-Law

  6. Avatar
    Thaylor
    July 1, 2020 at 3:49 pm — Reply

    Hello,
    I am a Costa Rican national living in Costa Rica and my wife and daughter are American currently living in Florida due to the border guidelines. They both meet the following requirements – 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. Could someone please contact me as soon as possible? I would like to receive more information on how we can do this.

    • Jeffrey Zamora
      July 1, 2020 at 9:49 pm — Reply

      Thaylor,

      Thank you for reaching out!

      Please note we replied to you directly. Our reply here is for the sake of our readers in general.

      Per Immigration’s latest guidelines, the Costa Rican national must be present, meaning must be travelling with the spouse or child, so that the foreign nationals can enter the country.

      If you are not with your wife and child, they will not be allowed to enter.

      Best regards,
      Jeffrey Zamora
      Attorney-at-Law

      • Avatar
        Phillip
        July 13, 2020 at 4:11 pm — Reply

        The circular “DG-0005-03-2020-AJ” does not list the requirement for the Costa Rican spouse to be accompanied upon entry through Immigration at the airport, can you reference where this “latest guidance” from immigration is documented?

        I had previously been assured by Immigration in Costa Rica my spouse does not have to be present entering Costa Rica.

        • Jeffrey Zamora
          July 16, 2020 at 7:36 pm — Reply

          Phillip,

          Thanks for your question. The Immigration Department issued a document “CIRCULAR DG-018-04-2020-AJ” issued on April 16th, 2020, where they outline this requirement.

          Please find pasted below the link to it.

          file:///C:/Users/jeffr/Downloads/DGME-018-03-2020%20aclaraci%C3%B3n%20circular%20DG-005-04-2020-AJ.pdf

          Please let us know if we can assist you further.

          Best regards.

          Jeffrey Zamora
          Attorney-at-Law

  7. Avatar
    July 2, 2020 at 1:18 am — Reply

    Hello thank you for the article is great information, i want to know if i can get in to Costa Rica, i am from Nicaragua, i have a daugther born in costa rica her mother is from.costa rica as well, my residence is in progress almost 1 year and half, last time i went to costa rica was january 2020, and i am desperate because i havent seen my daugther and women during this period of time, i have call the inmigration customer service number and last time in may they told me i could get in, but when i travel from managua to the border in my own car they said i couldnt pass throu costa rica, so what can i do? I know they are going to open until 1st of august

    • Jeffrey Zamora
      July 3, 2020 at 6:26 pm — Reply

      Giovanni,

      Since you left Costa Rica prior to March 25th, 2020, you may qualify to reenter, according to the exceptions quoted in this article.

      However, in order to be admitted back into Costa Rica, you will have to travel from Nicaragua to Costa Rica along with your Costa Rican wife and daughter, not alone. You should have as much documentation with you for this, susch as birth and marriage certificates, passports, translations of documents if applicable, etc.

      Please let us knos if we can assist you further.

      Best regards,

      Jeffrey Zamora
      Attorney-at-Law

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