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Entering Costa Rica during COVID


Update June 30, 2020: Our borders will remain closed until August 01, 2020 (this date may be extended and may not apply to all travelers). 


In the past few weeks, we have received many questions and seen various posts on the Facebook groups regarding the possibility of entering Costa Rica during the COVID crisis, whilst the borders are technically closed.

It is important to understand that these are crazy times. Immigration issues Decrees, Resolutions and Circulares constantly and it is a challenge to keep up.

However, this is a summary of what we know to be true:

1. Borders are closed until June 30, 2020. This date may be extended.

2. Until our borders reopen, only Costa Rican nationals, Residents and people with Estancias, Special Categories, applications in progress, etc., meaning anyone with legal immigration status, may enter the country. There are exceptions to the rule. Exceptions include: a. diplomats b. minor non-Costa Rican children born to Costa Rican parents, diplomats, or foreign nationals with a valid immigration status. This applies if the minor child is travelling along with the parent c. Spouses of Costa Rican nationals. This applies if the Costa Rican national is travelling with the spouse. d Parents of minor Costa Rican children. This applies if the minor child is travelling with the parent.

3. The Resolutions do mention an exception for humanitarian reasons however, this is reserved solely for situations of irrefutable and special vulnerability. Unfortunately, people who have businesses, houses or family in Costa Rica who do not meet the entry requirements discussed, will not be considered for an exception. There is no procedure on how to request the exception based on humanitarian reasons and per the information at hand from people who have reached out to Immigration to request this, getting a response takes time and the experience has not been positive.

4. Foreign nationals with Residency, Estancias, Special Categories, applications in progress, people mentioned in the exceptions above, etc., that depart from March 25th at 23:59 onwards will NOT BE ALLOWED to re-enter until the borders reopen. Essential to state that the Decree says March 25th, not March 24th as other news outlets have reported.

5. People who do depart after March 25th, 2020 at 23:59 will be informed that an entry ban will be entered into the system and that it will be lifted until borders reopen. We have already had clients confirm that this has happened to them. They were properly warned.

6. Your Residency, Estancia, application in progress, etc. will not be cancelled if you leave the country. Whilst the President stated this and the message has been replicated in several news conferences, it is not true. We have the Decree and a written confirmation from Immigration explaining that the President’s message came as a result of a misinterpretation of the current rule.

7. There is a lot of confusion. If you call Immigration they tell you one thing, if you read the Decrees, Resolutions, and Circulares they say something else, Embassies and Consulates say another thing. However, it is best to stick to the written rules and avoid inconveniences.

8. It is not surprising to hear from people who have recently entered the country that people who should not have been let in may have entered due to the commotion. However, the rules are published, and taking a risk may result in the denial of entry.

9. If you do meet the requirements to enter the country, upon arrival you will be asked to complete a 14 natural day quarantine period at home. This means staying at home, without visits to the supermarket, shops, etc.

Hopefully, things will soon start to return to normal (whatever normal may look like these days). In the meantime, we will continue to publish information that we have verified to be correct.

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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 Comment

  1. Avatar
    Daniel Sheehan
    June 20, 2020 at 3:20 am — Reply

    THANK-YOU IRENE BRENES for your written articles and efforts.
    Panama does allow their foreign pensionados and rentistas to leave and re-enter with a 14 day quarantine upon re-entering.
    Many Costa Rica pensionados and rentistas have urgent necessity to travel from the airport for a short time outside Costa Rica and return , with a 14 day quarantine. We wish and hope Costa Rica would treat their foreign pensionados and rentistas the same as Panama does and allow travel with the 14 day quarantine upon returning

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