Costa Rica – Covid-19 – Immigration update

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Update : October 23th, 2020

Tourists from all U.S. states allowed entry in staggered opening

What is the change?

The Costa Rican government has announced it will welcome all citizens and residents of the United States starting Nov. 1. U.S. citizens and residents from some states are already permitted to enter Costa Rica.

Key Points:

  • Citizens and residents of the United States have been allowed entry in staggered phases depending on their state of residency.
    • Sept. 1: Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Vermont
    • Sept. 15: Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
    • Oct. 1: Arizona, California, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island and Wyoming.
    • Oct. 15: Florida, Georgia and Texas.
    • Nov. 1: All U.S. citizens and residents allowed entry.
  • A driver’s license or other proof of state residency is required before Nov. 1.
  • All tourists will need to present negative test results for COVID-19 taken within 72 hours of boarding and insurance that covers accommodations in case of quarantine and hospitalization in case of illness.
  • Passengers will also be required to fill out digital epidemiological forms.

Since Aug. 1, Costa Rica has allowed entry to foreign nationals from Canada and the European Union. More details on who can travel to Costa Rica are available here.

The change will allow more travelers from the U.S. to visit Costa Rica. Business trips are permitted, provided travelers do not receive compensation. Individuals seeking residency that includes permission to work, however, will need to apply after immigration offices reopen after Dec. 1.

Update : October 1st, 2020

Immigration offices to remain closed, some documents extended

What is the change?

The Costa Rican government has announced that immigration offices will remain closed until Dec. 1, and it will not accept applications for a change in category before that day. The government will extend expiration dates for certain documents.

Key Points:

  • Tourists who are unable to leave due to COVID-19 restrictions and entered the country after Dec. 17, 2019 can stay until March 2, 2021.
  • International documents, like birth certificates, will remain valid until June 1, 2021.
  • Foreign nationals who have expired DIMEX under the temporary or permanent residence category will have valid DIMEX until Jan. 11, 2021.
  • Foreign nationals with a DIMEX who fall under the non-resident category (estancia) will have an extension until Feb. 12, 2021.

Not all permits will be available to be issued at the same time. Certain permits will be available later in a fall. View a detailed list here. Applicants should expect to follow COVID-19 health protocols while at immigration centers.

While immigration offices will remain closed for at least two more months, the extensions will provide some relief for foreign nationals who are unable to leave Costa Rica or whose immigration status will expire soon. The response to the COVID-19 pandemic continues to develop, and Deloitte will provide additional updates as information becomes available.

Update : September 9th, 2020

Commercial flights from some U.S. states announced

What is the change?

The Costa Rican government has announced it will allow air travel from select U.S. states deemed to be low risk of COVID-19. Travelers from these states must still meet other entry requirements.

Key points:

  • As of Sept. 1, travelers from the U.S. states of Connecticut, Maine, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont have been allowed to travel to Costa Rica.
  • Starting Sept. 15, residences of Colorado, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania will also be allowed to travel to Costa Rica.
  • These travelers will need to prove their state of residency with a valid driver’s license or certificate of residence of the respective state.
  • Private flights from these states will also be allowed.
  • Travelers from these states must meet all other entry requirements, including testing negative for COVID-19 between zero and 72 hours before their flight, having travel insurance that covers medical care and filling out a health pass form from the Ministry of Health.

Costa Rica reopened commercial air travel to “safe countries” on Aug. 1. While the change will allow some travelers from the U.S. to visit Costa Rica, travelers should note that only travel for tourist purposes is available at this time; business travel remains suspended.

Update : June 1st, 2020

Travel restrictions extended, immigration offices closed

What is the change?

Costa Rica recently extended the entry restriction until June 15 in a further effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Key Points:

  • Only nationals and foreigners with one of the following legal immigration statuses can enter the country:
    • Permanent residence.
    • Temporary residence.
    • Special category.
    • Non-resident with Estancia subcategory.
    • People who submitted immigration applications before March 18.
  • Those with authorization to enter the country will receive a health order on arrival to comply with a 14-day quarantine. The re-entry restriction for people who leave the country during this period is also extended until June 15.
  • The Immigration Authorities are required to:
    • Extend office closures for customer service and general procedures such as first-time applications, completion of prevention and renewals, etc. until July 18.
    • Approve an extension period to file documents for first-time applications, preventions and appointments until Aug.18.
    • Provide an additional validity period until Sept. 30 for Immigration Identity Documents (DIMEX/cedula) for Temporary and Permanent Residence and Special Categories that expired after Dec. 18, 2019. Beyond that period, immigration laws grant an additional period of three months, with the payment of a fine.
    • Grant an additional term, until Aug. 18 to the DIMEX of those people with the Estancia category, due after March 17. For those receiving the Estancia approval resolution for the first time, this resolution serves as their legal stay document during the COVID-19 crisis.
    • Extend the possibility of staying in the country until Aug.18 for those who entered the country as tourists after Dec. 17.
    • Consular Visas will not be granted or stamped until July 18.
  • The following points apply as well:
    • Foreign nationals entering Costa Rica and who require processing of an immigration category may face delays, as the government could extend the above measures at any time.
    • Resolution notification may be delayed owing to reduced staff at Immigration offices.

Costa Rica restricted travel and limited immigration services the third week of March. New travel restrictions were implemented at the beginning of April and were then extended later that month.

Employers should anticipate significant disruptions to employee mobility and rearrange travel schedules for affected travelers accordingly.

Update : April 23th, 2020

Travel restrictions extended, immigration offices closed

What is the change?

The Costa Rica government recently announced it has extended previous travel restrictions until May 15 and closed immigration offices to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Key points

  • Entry will be denied to tourists and non-resident foreigners. The restriction applies to ports of entry for land, sea and air. Additionally, residence statuses will be revoked for individuals who try to enter the country illegally.
  • Nationals and residents who enter the country will be subject to a 14-day quarantine.
  • Nationals, residents and tourists are all allowed to leave the country, but residents and tourists who do so will not be allowed to return until May 1, 2020, or possibly later.
  • Immigration offices will remain closed through May 15. Customer service and general procedures offices of the Directorate General of Immigration and Foreignness Services are closed through May 17.

An extension until July 17 has been granted for filing first-time documents, prevention documents and appointments. Alternative means, such as the Correos do Costa Rica and Banco de Costa Rica, will be used to process renewals of immigration categories. Technical assessment and filing services will continue functioning. However, in the case additional documentation filing is needed, it will be submitted after May 17. Passport delivery and minors’ exit permit granting will function normally.

The travel restrictions extension and immigration services disruption will impact the movement of people into and out of Costa Rica. Employers should account for affected travelers and rearrange travel schedules accordingly.

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Fatia Bouteiller

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