Frequently asked questions: Costa Rica travel and the coronavirus pandemic

March 25, 2020

We’ve received dozens of questions from readers since Costa Rica declared a State of Emergency in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

This page serves as a resource to answer some of the most common questions about how the spread of COVID-19 will impact Costa Rica travel. It was last updated at: 9:40 a.m. on Wednesday, March 25.

Things may have changed in the time since this was last updated.

How many known cases of coronavirus are in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica has confirmed 177 cases of the novel coronavirus. The cases are in all seven of Costa Rica’s provinces and located in the following cantons:


Of the 177 cases, four are no longer active. Two people have died, and two have recovered.

The Health Ministry provides daily updates on the spread of COVID-19. The Tico Times shares their official numbers as part of our daily coverage of the pandemic.

When and how is Costa Rica limiting international travel?

Costa Rica will not allow entry to foreigners and non-residents starting at 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, March 18. (There are some minor exceptions, such as for diplomats and flight crews.) This ban will last until at least Sunday, April 12 at 11:59 p.m.

Costa Rican citizens and residents entering the country until April 12 will be issued a mandatory 14-day home quarantine. These travelers will be required to undergo a medical check at the airport and complete a form with identifying information, including the home address in which they will self-isolate. The Health Ministry says it may visit or call to ensure people are adhering to the quarantine.

Costa Rica is not restricting citizens, residents or tourists from leaving the country. However, starting Tuesday, March 24, “all foreigners residing [in Costa Rica] or with regular migratory status in the country who leave the national territory will automatically lose their immigration status.”

Authorities continue to advise against nonessential travel. The U.S. State Department says citizens to “avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19.”

“In countries where commercial departure options remain available, U.S. citizens who live in the United States should arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period,” the State Department says.

I’m a tourist currently in Costa Rica. Can I leave?

Yes, you can leave. Costa Rica is not restricting travelers from exiting the country. However, airlines have canceled many flights to and from Costa Rica between March 19 and April 12 (and beyond). Check with your airline to confirm your scheduled flights.

Most airlines have announced flight reductions or suspensions. Click here for more information.

What if I have flights scheduled for after the travel restrictions?

It’s too soon to say. Authorities will assess the situation in the coming weeks and decide whether or not to extend the travel restrictions.

Southwest Airlines has already said that it won’t resume regular operations to Costa Rica until early May, while others — like Avianca and Copa — have suspended all of their international flights for the time being.

What if I have a layover in Costa Rica?

You can transit through Costa Rica’s airports, even if you are not a citizen or resident, between March 19 and April 12. However, you must remain airside (i.e. you cannot leave the airport or clear customs/immigration).

What if I’m in Costa Rica and my tourist visa is expiring?

Foreigners who entered Costa Rica on a tourist visa after December 17, 2019, can legally remain in Costa Rica until May 17, 2020. Click here for more information.

I’m a tourist staying beyond 90 days in Costa Rica. Can I legally drive?

Your foreign driver’s license is valid in Costa Rica for 90 days, starting when you entered the country. Afterward, you cannot legally drive here using the foreign license, even if your tourist visa has been extended as per the previous question.

What is open and what is closed in Costa Rica?

Mass gatherings have been suspended. This includes religious gatherings, concerts and soccer matches. Bars and nightclubs are closed. Gyms, pools and fitness centers are closed until further notice. Schools are closed through mid-April. All National Parks closed starting Monday, March 23, through mid-April.

Costa Rica has closed all beaches, and the National Community Development Office (DINADECO) has ordered that “all community infrastructure owned or managed by a community organization must remain closed.”

Restaurants, stores and farmer’s markets remain open. Public transportation is still running, and hotels are still accepting reservations. (Due to the precipitous drop in tourism, many hotels have decided to close.)

Open establishments must follow strict sanitary guidelines, which include limiting crowds to 50% of a building’s established capacity.

Starting Tuesday, March 24, Costa Rica is imposing restrictions on most driving between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. A list of exceptions is published here.

The Health Ministry has recommended that all citizens and residents remain home when possible.

What if I think I have COVID-19 in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica has set up phone number 1322 to handle calls regarding coronavirus. The number is active 24 hours a day and staffed with emergency operators and health officials. They will instruct you on proper next steps.

Remember: If you have any symptoms of COVID-19 (sore throat, fever, cough, difficulty breathing or other respiratory symptoms), do not leave home, except to get medical attention. Dial 1322 if you have symptoms and recently traveled internationally or may have had contact with someone who has coronavirus.

Dial 911 in an emergency.

 

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