Tuesday 3 October 2023

10 points to Costa Rica’s migratory situation in the face of COVID-19

In the last six months Costa Rica has unleashed a series of measures to slow down and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the country

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03 October 2023 - At The Banks - Source: BCCR

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(QCOSTARICA) Since last March 6, when the first case of positive case for Coronavirus was reported in Costa Rica, unleashed was a series of measures in both public and private institutions, from which the immigration service undoubtedly did not escape.

Today, we want to do a review:

  1. The Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería (DGME) – Costa Rica’s immigration service, closed its doors on March 18, 2020, as a measure to slow down and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

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    During the same month of March, the closure of Costa Rica’s borders – land, air and sea – was decreed, restricting the entry of foreigners, including those with recognized migratory staus (residents), in addition, residents who left the country after March 25, 2020, would be subject to an entry impediment (cannot re-enter the country) while border closures remain in place.

  3. With the closure of the immigration offices, the validity periods of the Documentos de Identidad Migratorios para Extranjeros (DIMEX) – residency cedula – about to expire were extended to September 18, 2020, when immigration was expected to open its doors to the public again.

The date was subsequently extended to October 18. On Friday, September 18, it was extended once again, now until January 11th, 2021.  Residents (with the possible exception of rentista and pensionado) can renew their residency at the Banco de Costa Rica (BCR) or Correos de Costa Rica (Post Office).

A resident who does not renew on time will be required to pay a fine, however, the fine will not be enforced up to January 2021.

The reception of new requests of any kind was paralyzed and the date to resume this service today is not clear.

The explanatory note on the by our friends at Outlier Legal Services can be found here.

  1. Tourists who entered the country after December 17, 2019 (and until October 31st, 2020), may legally remain in Costa Rica until March 2nd, 2021. This is an automatic extension.

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    On August 1, with the re-opening of the air and sea borders, residents, even if they left the country after March 25 and have the impediment, can re-enter the country by air or sea.

Those who have a home, a car, a business, or deem themselves to reside in Costa Rica without a DIMEX (residency status) are tourists and NOT residents as per immigration policies.

  1. On September 1, Costa Rica opened is air and sea borders to tourists from the United States. At first, only nine States were authorized, then expanded to 12, and now is up to 20.

Residents of the States of New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Massachusetts, Washington, Oregon, Wyoming, Arizona, New Mexico, Michigan, Rhode Island, California (October 1) and Washington D.C., have been authorized.

Tourists from the authorized States must provide residency proof in the way of a State driver’s license or State ID.

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Also in September, tourists from authorized States may arrive in the country even if they stop at an unauthorized destination, as long as they do not leave the airport, as long as the flight begins in their state of residence.

For example, a New Jersey resident who boards the plane at the Newark airport and makes a layover of LESS than 18 hours in another state, ie Florida or Texas or country ie Panama will be able to enter the Costa Rica.

7.  Tourists authorized to enter Costa Rica also include residents of Canada, the European Union (Schengen zone), the United Kingdom (UK), Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Thailand, South Korea, China, Singapore and Uruguay.

Tourists from non-authorized countries will have to quarantine in one of the authorized countries for at least 14 days prior to travel to Costa Rica.

To enter Costa Rica, tourists are required to:

  1. The land borders with Nicaragua (Peñas Blancas and Tablilla) and Panama (Paso Canoas and Sixaola) remain restricted, entry is only permitted of Costa Rican nationals, however, anyone can leave the country if the other side is open.

In addition, Costa Rica immigration will require a negative COVID test to leave for Nicaragua.

  1. Among the limited range of services that are being provided normally by the immigration service are the issuance of passports (via BCR or Correos), exit permits for minors and certifications of migratory movements.

However, due to the restricted access and hours, expect delays in obtaining the documents.

  1. After more than six months of closure and before the opening of the DGME in the medium term, doubts arise around the migratory situation of hundreds of foreigners in our country or who are still waiting to enter.

The foregoing is not to be construed as legal advice and is valid as at the time of publication, Tuesday, September 22, 2020, 8:28 am Costa Rica time.

While the Q will try to answer your general questions (email us), for questions to your specific situation we recommend contacting services like Outlier Legal or if you Spanish is good and have patience, lots of it, the immigration service directly by calling 1311 (from within Costa Rica), or through www.migracion.go.cr.



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"Rico" is the crazy mind behind the Q media websites, a series of online magazines where everything is Q! In these times of new normal, stay at home. Stay safe. Stay healthy.

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