The government of Costa Rica has issued the following regulations regarding the identification of vaccinated tourists and the mandatory QR code to be shown to enter some establishments as of January 8, 2022. However, some establishments will require the QR code as of December 1st, 2021 to operate at 100% capacity.

Starting on January 8th, 2022? All commercial establishments operating with a safety permit (listed at the end of this document), must only admit fully vaccinated individuals, verifiable by a QR code or a printed vaccination certificate. Essential services such as supermarkets, pharmacies, grocery stores and hospitals are exempt from this requirement are the only exceptions. These requirements apply to Costa Rican citizens and foreigners aged 12 and older. The following groups are exempt from the requirement to present proof of vaccination:

1. Minors under 12 years of age

2. People who have a medical condition, duly accredited, which exempts them from vaccination following the policies of the Costa Rica Ministry of Health

What does fully vaccinated mean in Costa Rica? The indicated doses for each vaccine are:

VaccineAlternative name
AstraZeneca/Oxford: 2-dose seriesCovishield Vaxzevria AXD1222 ChAdOx1 ChADOx1_nCoV19India
Pfizer-BioNTech: 2-dose seriesComirnaty BNT162b2 Tozinameran
Moderna: 2-dose seriesSpikevax mRNA-1273
Janssen (Johnson & Johnson): single doseCOVID-19 Vaccine Janssen Johnson & Johnson Ad26.COV2.S

Fully vaccinated is recognized as the total number of doses for each vaccine indicated by the pharmaceutical company, with the final dose having been applied at least 14 days prior to entry. COVID vaccines will be accepted so long as they have been authorized by a Strict Regulatory Authority (e.g. WHO). Cases in which the traveler receives a single dose after having been diagnosed with the SARS-CoV-2 virus will be considered fully vaccinated. In these instances, the vaccination documentation must indicate that it is a 1/1 dose (dose one of one).

Documentation verifying vaccination status in the Health Pass must contain the following information:

a. Full name (consistent with passport)

b. Name of administered vaccine

c. Date of each administered dose

What happens in the case of young people in the United Kingdom who are only allowed to receive one dose, per the order of their health authorities? Each country has its own mechanisms to certify the vaccination status of its nationals. Individuals who can only receive one vaccine (dose one of one), per the instruction of their health authorities, may enter commercial establishments in Costa Rica, provided that their documentation indicates that they have completed their vaccination schedule (i.e., dose one of one).

Can vaccinated tourists present their foreign vaccination card to enter a commercial establishment in Costa Rica? No. Costa Rica is developing a technological solution that will generate the local QR code for tourists. This QR code will be issued to tourists when they submit the documentation supporting their complete vaccination schedule on the Health Pass. QR codes will be generated for tourists before they enter the country starting on November 22, 2021.

What happens if a traveler is unable to get vaccinated in their country and has already booked a flight to Costa Rica? These travelers may enter the country by complying with Costa Rica’s travel insurance policy, which must be valid for at least five days and cover medical expenses and lodging expenses due to COVID-19. However, beginning Jan. 8, 2022, they will not be able to enter commercial establishments that require a QR code to verify proof of vaccination. The list of commercial establishments includes hotels, cabins, and lodging accommodations.

What happens if a tourist family has a hotel reservation booked and the parents are vaccinated, but their 12 and 15-year-old children are not? Beginning Jan. 8, 2022, individuals over 12 years of age must comply with the vaccination requirement in order to enter hotels, cabins or lodging sites. Only children under 12 years of age or individuals with a duly accredited medical condition that prevents them from being vaccinated are exempt from the vaccination requirement.

What should tourists do if they were vaccinated in Costa Rica, but only hold a vaccination card and not a vaccination certificate? Foreigners (non-residents) who were vaccinated in Costa Rica may request that the Ministry of Health create their vaccination document. To do so, they must: Fill out the digital form (Formulario de Solicitud de Documento Oficial Estado de Vacunación de COVID19) located at the end of the page:

https://www.ministeriodesalud.go.cr/index.p hp/vigilancia-de-la-salud/certificado-devacunacion-covid-19

Foreigners can visit the website below to self generate the document, 10 days following the completion of the online form.

https://usuarios.ministeriodesalud.go.cr/

How will international tourists obtain their QR code? Starting November 22nd, 2021, tourists entering the country will receive a specific QR code promptly after their Health Pass (digital epidemiological form) application has been reviewed and approved. They will be able to use their designated QR code to enter commercial establishments (listed at the end of this document).

What data protection standards does the QR code meet in Costa Rica? The QR code to be implemented in Costa Rica follows the European Commission format. The QR data includes:

1. Personal data: name and date of birth

2. Encrypted: vaccination information

3. Security data: unique ID, security information, country of issuance and the electronic seal of the Ministry of Health of Costa Rica (institutional certified digital signature)

Will unvaccinated tourists be able to enter the country beginning Jan. 8, 2022? Yes. Tourists who are not fully vaccinated, or who have vaccines that have not been recognized by the World Health Organization, will be able to enter the country and stay with family, friends or in their own homes. They must complete the Health Pass and purchase a travel policy that covers COVID-19 care and quarantine, if they are over 18 years of age. However, they will not be able to enter commercial establishments (listed at the end of this document) that require full vaccination, except for the established exceptions (essential services such as supermarkets, pharmacies, grocery stores and hospitals are exempt from this requirement). Those exempt from the requirement to present a QR code are:

1. Minors under 12 years of age

2. People who have a medical condition, duly accredited, which exempts them from vaccination following the policies of the Costa Rica Ministry of Health

Will unvaccinated minors under 12 years of age be allowed to enter commercial establishments beginning January 8th, 2022? Yes, Costa Rica only requires full vaccination starting at age 12. Unvaccinated minors under 12 years of age will be allowed to enter commercial establishments (listed at the end of this document).

Will the Health Pass still be required to enter Costa Rica? Yes, the Health Pass (digital epidemiological form) will remain a requirement. A QR code will be generated once staff reviews and approves the Health Pass application.

Can tourists use a rapid antigen test before entering a commercial establishment in lieu of a vaccination certificate? No. Commercial establishments (listed at the end of this document) must only admit fully vaccinated clientele beginning January 8th, 2022, except for the established exceptions. Those exempt from the requirement to present a QR code or vaccination certificate are:

1. Minors under 12 years of age

2. People who have a medical condition, duly accredited, which exempts them from vaccination following the policies of the Costa Rica Ministry of Health

What is the transition period from December 1st, 2021 to January 7th, 2022? Commercial establishments are permitted to operate under two models:

  1. Fully Vaccinated Model (100% Capacity) Hotels, restaurants, bars, casinos, stores, museums, art and dance academies, gyms, pools, and adventure tourism may operate at 100% capacity if all of their clientele aged 12 and older are fully vaccinated. This must be verified through a QR code or a printed vaccination certificate.
  2. Unvaccinated Model (50% Capacity) If unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated individuals are admitted, the capacity must be adjusted to 50%. Hotels will have to limit the use of common areas to 50% (room occupancy will not vary). All establishments must visibly display identification indicating the type of model that they are operating under (listed at the end of this document).

Which adventure activities are required to admit fully vaccinated people verifiable by a QR code or a printed vaccination certificate? All adventure activities must only admit individuals with a complete vaccination schedule, including the following:

• Terrestrial activities such as: Hiking, mountain biking, trekking, horseback riding tours.

• In-air activities such as: Ballooning (hot air balloons), paragliding.

• Aquatic activities such as: rafting, scuba diving, tubing, kayaking, parasailing.

• Activities with cables and ropes such as: Climbing, bungee jumping, rapelling, zip-lining, canyoning, via ferrata, spelunking (caving), high ropes, pendulum (Tarzan swing).

• Motorized activities such as: use of quad-cycles, motorcycles, boats, jet-skis.

Can tourists who have recovered from COVID-19 enter Costa Rica? Each country has its own mechanism to verify the vaccination status of foreigners. This evidence must be presented by the foreigner via the Health Pass. This covers recovered travelers whose health authority has applied a single dose of COVID-19 vaccine. This is reflected in their vaccination document as a 1/1 dose (dose one of one). All vaccines approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization will be accepted.

Commercial establishments with safety permits that will require a verifiable QR code or printed vaccination certificate for entry beginning January 8th, 2022.

  1. Restaurants, sodas, cafeterias and food courts, food trucks
  2. Bars and casinos
  3. General stores, department stores and shopping malls
  4. Museums
  5. Fitness centers
  6. Hotels, cabins or lodging establishments
  7. Spas
  8. Activities, organizations or congregations in places of worship, with more than 500 people. Events that do not exceed this capacity will not require a certificate, but must apply the current measures for physical distancing of 1.8 meters, with up to 500 people
  9. Event rooms for business, academic or social activities
  10. Adventure tourism
  11. Theaters, cinemas, art and dance academies, and establishments for artistic activities
  12. Sports facilities

QR codes are not mandatory for establishments and activities that are not mentioned above.

Note:  The purpose of the present publication is to provide general information on the updates for Immigration regulations in Costa Rica and it is not intended to be legal advice as such. In case more specific information is required regarding these topics, please Cordero & Cordero Abogados at info@corderoabogados.com or visit our web page at www.corderoabogados.com

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