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When can I drive? Breaking down Costa Rica’s newly updated vehicular restrictions

June 4, 2020

When can you drive in Costa Rica? The answer is complicated.

Costa Rica is enforcing nationwide driving restrictions until at least June 19 to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The country has also announced regional driving restrictions that begin on Wednesday, June 3. The following cantons have regional driving restrictions:

  • Abangares, Cañas, Guácimo, Guatuso, La Cruz, Los Chiles, Pococí, Río Cuarto, San Carlos, San Ramón, Sarapiquí, Siquirres and Upala.

For specific information about those cantons, scroll down to the end of this article.

Nationwide driving restrictions in Costa Rica

The following restrictions are being enforced nationwide.

Nationwide daytime driving restrictions

The following weekday vehicular restrictions are enforced between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m.:

  • Mondays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 1 and 2 cannot drive. Vehicles with license plates ending in all other numbers can transit freely.
  • Tuesdays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 3 and 4 cannot drive. Vehicles with license plates ending in all other numbers can transit freely.
  • Wednesdays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 5 and 6 cannot drive. Vehicles with license plates ending in all other numbers can transit freely.
  • Thursdays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 7 and 8 cannot drive. Vehicles with license plates ending in all other numbers can transit freely.
  • Fridays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 9 and 0 cannot drive. Vehicles with license plates ending in all other numbers can transit freely.

The following weekend vehicular restrictions are enforced between 5 a.m. and 7 p.m.: 

  • Saturdays: Vehicles with license plates ending in even numbers cannot drive. Vehicles with license plates ending in an odd number can drive to establishments that have been permitted to operate by the Health Ministry (e.g. supermarkets, pharmacies, gyms, health centers, hotels).
  • Sundays: Vehicles with license plates ending in odd numbers cannot drive. Vehicles with license plates ending in an even number can drive to establishments that have been permitted to operate by the Health Ministry.

Drivers who violate these restrictions will be fined 110,000 colones (about $195).

Nationwide nighttime driving restrictions

A total vehicular restriction — with a few exceptions — is enforced nationwide every night.

On weeknights (Monday-Friday), the nighttime restriction is from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. the following morning. On Saturday and Sunday, the nighttime restriction is from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. the following morning

The full list of valid exceptions for nighttime driving are enumerated here. They include people transiting to work or to a health center. (Proof must be provided.)

Public transportation

Public transportation, including buses and trains, can operate with some capacity limits. Taxis can continue to operate at all hours of every day.

Regional driving restrictions

On June 3, Costa Rica began enforcing regional nighttime driving restrictions. These are in addition to the national measures and are meant to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

In the following cantons, weeknight driving is not allowed from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. until further notice:

  • Guatuso
  • La Cruz
  • Los Chiles
  • Río Cuarto
  • Upala

In the following cantons, weeknight driving is not allowed in the specified districts from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. until further notice:

  • Guácimo: Restrictions apply to district of Duacarí only.
  • Pococí: Restrictions apply to districts of Cariari, Colorado, La Colonia, La Rita and Roxana.
  • San Carlos: Restrictions apply to districts of Aguas Zarcas, Cutris, Pital, Pocosol and Venecia only.
  • Sarapiquí: Restrictions apply to districts of Llanuras del Gaspar and Curuña only.
  • Siquirres: Restrictions apply to districts of Pacuarito and Reventazón only.

In the following cantons, weeknight driving is not allowed in the specified districts from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. for two weeks beginning on Thursday, June 4:

  • Abangares: Restrictions apply to the district of Las Juntas.
  • Cañas: Restrictions apply to the districts of Cañas and Bebedero.
  • Los Chiles: Restrictions apply to the district of Los Chiles.
  • Pococí: Restrictions apply to the district of Cariari.
  • San Ramón: Restrictions apply to the district of Peñas Blancas.

Note that transit on all sectors of Route 1 (General Cañas Highway), Route 142 (Cañas – Tilarán – La Fortuna) and Route 6 (Cañas – Upala) is subject to the more lenient nationwide restrictions.

This story was last updated on June 4 at 1:30 p.m. 

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