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Come sail away: Rules for private flights and yachts entering Costa Rica

September 4, 2020

September marks the long-awaited return of commercial flights from the United States to Costa Rica, but the new month has also opened other avenues for prospective visitors to the Central American country.

As of September 1, private flights and yachts are allowed to enter Costa Rica, with some caveats. Here are the details:

Costa Rica Accepting Private Flights

Private flights from the United States are allowed to enter Costa Rica, “given that their size and nature means they present a much lower epidemiological risk,” according to the Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT).

Tourists arriving on private flights must meet the same requirements as those coming on commercial flights:

  • Complete the Health Pass form, available at https://salud.go.cr.
  • Obtain a negative RT-PCR test result; the sample must have been taken within 72 hours of departure to Costa Rica.
  • Purchase travel insurance that covers COVID-19-related medical and lodging expenses.
  • Come from an approved state or country, unless authorized otherwise.

Tourists wishing to come to Costa Rica via a private flight from a state or country that is not authorized must receive prior approval from the Health Ministry and the General Directorate of Migration and Foreigners (DGME).

The ICT says anyone can request a special-case exception by contacting the Health Ministry and DGME with the following information:

  • Full names of the passengers.
  • Nationalities and ages.
  • Legible copy of the biographical page of the passport of each of the passengers.
  • Date of arrival, arrival airport, and flight origin.
  • Strategic reason for admission (investment review, property in Costa Rica, humanitarian reasons, etc.).

More information via the ICT and via La Gaceta.

DGME told us that they don’t handle these requests directly; we’ve been told travelers should contact seguros@ict.go.cr with the above information.

Yachts and sailboats

Tourists can also enter Costa Rica on yachts or sailboats, regardless of their port of departure.

Visitors still need to complete the Health Pass and obtain insurance. In addition, they’ll have to complete a form specific to ships (“Zarpe Internacional de Embarcaciones”).

While recommended, a negative PCR coronavirus test is not required for tourists entering Costa Rica on yachts or sailboats.

If passengers don’t obtain a negative PCR test from within 72 hours of departure, or if they set sail from a state/country that is not authorized by Costa Rica, they will receive an isolation order for 14 days minus the number of days they’ve been at sea. 

To enter Costa Rica in this manner, yachts and sailboats must dock in an authorized marina: Golfito, Los Sueños, Pez Vela, Banana Bay or Papagayo.

Official documentation of entry criteria

Circular AJ-1467-08-2020, published in La Gaceta, provides official documentation of who is allowed to enter Costa Rica and whether they will be issued a sanitary (quarantine) order.

Click here to download the PDF, and scroll to Page 18 for the chart.

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