Costa Rica: Providers of rental properties for tourism must complete registration with the ICT

December, 1, 2021


From Dentons Munoz – Legal Team

Costa Rica. In accordance with the Law for the Regulation of Non-Traditional Accommodation through Digital Platforms (Law 9742), the Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT, for its acronym in Spanish) will manage a digital platform where those who offer rental services of properties for tourist purposes, as well as intermediaries or the platforms where these properties are offered (such as Airbnb or real estate offices) must register, as the law has established.

The purpose of this registration is to control the payment of value-added and income taxes as well as provide security to users. Natural and legal persons providing this service, called non-traditional accommodation, must also register as taxpayers with the Directorate General of Taxation and pay taxes for their activity. The platform is public, so anyone can consult it.


The omission of the registration exposes companies and people that provide these services to sanctions by the Tax Administration, the Ministry of Health, the respective municipality and those related to tax evasion established in the norm.


If you require advice on this subject, do not hesitate to contact us.

Christmas 2021 Toys for Tots

As part of the Tres Amigos Realty Group, we are proud to contribute to and promote this worthy cause that is spearheaded annually by Michael Simons, owner broker of the Tres Amigos Group. All donations go directly to purchase toys this holiday season for the less fortunate families in the Papagayo region. 

It is that time of year again – TOYS FOR TOTS IS BAAAACK!

There are so many beautiful children in this country living in poverty and nothing puts a smile on their face like opening a toy for Christmas. 

This last year has been full of challenges and has affected many families in our area, so we need your help more than never. 

We have teamed up with the Guanacaste Veterans Association and will be collecting new and unwrapped toys in our 3 Tres Amigos Realty office locations – Playa Hermosa, Playas del Coco and Playa Panama. 

“Only by giving are you able to receive more than you already have.” Jim Rohn

To find out how to donate, open the Newsletter below.

Toys for Tots 

QR code application to verify vaccination suspended

QCOSTARICA – The QR code application that the Government announced to verify completed vaccination against covid-19 in Costa Rica was suspended due to a very provisional precautionary measure requested by businessmen in the tourism sector, confirmed the National Chamber of Tourism (Canatur).

This means that its application is frozen while the matter is resolved by the merits in the Contentious Administrative Court.

One of the businessmen who raised the appeal in the court also confirmed the brake on the requirement announced by the Government in recent weeks and that vaccination would be mandatory from January 8 to enter shops, museums, hotels, restaurants and gyms, among others.

“In the first instance, we want to make it clear that we are entrepreneurs in the sector but we speak on behalf of other private sectors. We are not anti-vaccines, we believe in safety measures and we are very grateful to the Health authorities and the Minister of Tourism for what they have done. But the resolution was taken without consulting us and our industry is very different from how our sectors work,” said Bary Roberts Strachan, tourism entrepreneur and former vice president of the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (ICT), Costa Rica’s tourism board.

The businessman indicated that the request was filed last Tuesday and the resolution was received at dawn this Saturday.

In the document, part of which the businessman yielded, the judge indicated that: “Consequently, this precautionary request is admitted, for which the IMMEDIATE SUSPENSION of the effects of the resolution of the Ministry of Health MS-DM-8119 IS ORDERED -2021 of October 14, 2021, only insofar as it orders the demonstration of a vaccination scheme through a QR code, which was established as mandatory verification for both the commercial establishments indicated in the indicated resolution, as well as for individuals or users thereof”.

“What happened is that, as they did not consult us and dictate, it began to affect us very strongly with very significant cancellations in response to this requirement. Between October 15 and November 5 when we made the first cut, there were more than US $3 million in cancellations in a few days and only a very few operators in the sector. According to the ICT, 47% of tourist visits received this year have been unvaccinated,” said Roberts Strachan on Saturday.

Fear of affectation

The businessman recalled that in Costa Rica the high season for tourism extends between November and April until the Semana Santa (Easter week) period of each year. A measure such as requiring the QR to enter hotels, restaurants linked to this sector and other activities supposes a “very serious impact on the sector,” he insisted.

Last week, Canatur itself issued a similar alert at a press conference stating that the application of the code to enter establishments could generate a loss of income of about US$600 million during this tourist season.

“This would have many repercussions, less income and damage to other sectors linked to our activity; I mean all the suppliers who would be hit and in the middle of a serious financial crisis which would put more pressure on the devaluation of the colon against the dollar. That is why the income of these tourists is also critical and also considering all the taxes that the State itself would stop collecting,” he argued.

The Poder Judicial (Judiciary) press office confirmed that the request by Roberts Strachan and other businessmen was submitted after hours earlier in the week but later the case was assigned the file number.

“What follows now from Monday is to transfer it to the Contentious Court area where the precautionary measures are known so that a hearing against the State can be held. This to determine whether or not the measure is maintained. That means it must be resolved in depth whether it is confirmed or not (…),” said Sandra Castro, the Judiciary press spokeswoman.

Castro added that the most provisional measure among others is the one that is presented as follows: it is requested but is not assigned a file number because it does not yet exist (it is not formally open) even when it is issued immediately. This is not appealed until the corresponding procedure is given in the section that sees the requests for precautionary measures where it will be determined whether the suspension is maintained or not,” added the spokeswoman.

Another point of the judge’s resolution says that “In the same way, since it has current effects, but also, given the potential but certain permanence of the effects of this mandatory measure (requirement of a QR code) it was made known through Presidential House communication number CP-1273-2021 dated October 22, 2021, in a precautionary manner, ORDERED to the President of the Republic, the Minister of Health, the Minister of Science, Innovation, Technology and Telecommunications (Micitt), to the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS) and the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), who refrain from carrying out any conduct aimed at the implementation of the QR Code, at a commercial, social, labor, tourist, recreational and/or any other level, until it is resolved by the merits the present matter, in order to safeguard the precautionary judicial protection adopted in this resolution,” the document indicates.

The QR code measure, as announced by the government last month, until this temporary ruling, was set to be implemented voluntarily on December 1 and mandatory on January 8, 2022.

To be clear, the voluntary implementation by businesses allows them to operate at full capacity instead of the 50% capacity until the mandatory.

Also, for clarity, QR coding will not be required for supermarkets, pharmacies and other businesses deemed essential.

The new Costa Rica banknotes

(QCOSTARICA) The Banco Central de Costa Rica (Central Bank) will put into circulation a new denomination of banknotes similar to the material used in the ¢1.000 notes currently in circulation.

The new notes are made of a polymer substrate, a compound similar to plastic, but which makes it recyclable. This material makes the notes more resistant and durable and will allow the material to be reused when they reach their useful life.

The new banknotes will be similar in size, shape and color of the notes currently in circulation, just they will have a different feel. They are ¢20MIL, ¢10MIL, ¢5MIL, and ¢2MIL.

“Although the new banknotes have adjustments in their design and in their structure of security measures to verify their authenticity and combat counterfeiting, they maintain the same characters, motifs, shades and sizes as those currently in circulation,” said the Central Bank.

The new notes will be hitting the streets in “the coming months” according to the Central Bank.

“Once the financial entities conclude the calibration of the banknote processing equipment, ATMs and other devices, necessary tasks for such equipment to recognize the new banknotes, a stage already in process,” the Central Bank said in a statement.

The ¢50MIL is being taken out of circulation. The others will continue in circulation until final withdrawal, a date for this is not yet defined.


Alert:New CDC Requirements for Entry to the United States Beginning November 8, 2021

Subject: Alert:New CDC Requirements for Entry to the United States Beginning November 8, 2021

Travel Alert: U.S. Embassy San Jose (26 October 2021)

Location: Costa Rica — Level 4 Do Not Travel

Event: New CDC requirements beginning November 8, 2021, that all airline passengers traveling to the United States must show proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19, in addition to existing requirement of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days prior to flight.  Unvaccinated U.S. citizens or Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs) must obtain a negative COVID-19 test one day prior to their flight to the United States.  PLEASE READ ENTIRE MESSAGE.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  has announced a new Order for all air passengers traveling to the United States.  Effective November 8, 2021, U.S. citizens and LPRs who are not fully vaccinated will need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within one (1) day before their flight departure. U.S citizens and LPRs who are fully vaccinated will need to present airlines with proof of vaccination and of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three (3) days before their flight.  Both nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs), such as a PCR test, and antigen tests qualify.  This is the same standard for qualifying tests that has applied to the pre-departure testing requirement since January 2021.  Please see the CDC website for more information on being fully vaccinated.

All children between the ages of 2 and 17 are required to take a pre-departure COVID-19 test.  If a child is not fully vaccinated and traveling with a fully vaccinated adult, they can show proof of a negative viral test from a sample taken within three days before departure (consistent with the timeline for fully vaccinated adults).  If an unvaccinated child is traveling alone or with unvaccinated adults, they will have to show proof of a negative viral test from a sample taken within one day of departure.  While children under 2 years of age are exempt from the testing requirement, CDC recommends a pre-departure test for these children whenever possible.

Also, effective November 8, 2021, all nonimmigrant, non-citizen air travelers to the United States will be required to be fully vaccinated and to provide proof of vaccination status prior to boarding an airplane to the United States.  The current requirement of proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three (3) days before a flight will remain in place.

Exceptions to this policy will be extremely limited.  Details on exceptions and waivers due to humanitarian concerns are available at Non-U.S. citizen, Non-U.S. immigrants: Air Travel to the United States | CDC.

Both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals who are fully vaccinated should travel with proof of their vaccination status to provide to their airline prior to departure to the United States.  That proof of vaccination should be a paper or digital record issued by an official source and should include the traveler’s name and date of birth, as well as the vaccine product and date(s) of administration for all doses the traveler received.  CDC has determined that for purposes of travel to the United States, vaccines accepted will include FDA approved or authorized and World Health Organization (WHO) emergency use listed (EUL) vaccines.  Please visit the CDC information Annex for more information describing what vaccines qualify people as fully vaccinated

For additional information, please visit the CDC’s FAQs, which includes answers to questions about the requirement for proof of negative COVID-19 test or recovery from COVID-19 for all air passengers arriving in the United States.  Additional information on these requirements can also be found on Travel.State.Gov. 


U.S. Embassy San Jose
[email protected]    

Costa Rica vaccine mandate: What we know

This story was updated on October 23 to include information of Costa Rica’s vaccine transition period – Tico Times – Thanks to Alejandro Zuniga

Costa Rica has delayed its vaccine mandate until January 8, 2022, and established a transition period that begins in December.

As of December 1, commercial establishments may choose to operate at 100% capacity, welcoming only vaccinated guests, or they can operate at 50% capacity with no vaccination requirement.

Beginning January 8, most commercial establishments must require proof vaccination.

New vaccine transition period

Starting December 1: Hotels, restaurants, bars, casinos, shops, museums, art and dance academies, gyms, spas and adventure tourism may operate at 100% capacity if all their clientele over 12 years of age have the complete vaccination scheme. The above must be verified through the QR code or the printed vaccination certificate.

If unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people are admitted, the capacity must be adjusted to 50%. The hotels will have to limit the use of common spaces to the same 50% (the occupancy of the rooms will not vary).

All establishments must have a visible identification on the outside that shows the mode of operation of the business.

“These provisions seek a balance between the need to protect health and life with sanitary measures and, on the other hand, stimulate greater economic activity and promote the employment that Costa Ricans need,” said Augustin Castro, Communications Minister.

Costa Rica vaccine QR code

As of December 1, individuals will show their vaccine status by using a QR code that will be embedded in Costa Rica’s digital vaccine certificate. The QR code will not require an ongoing internet connection and can be printed or displayed via a cell phone.

Which venues will require vaccination?

As of January 8, vaccines will be required to enter: Restaurants and food courts; bars and casinos; stores and commercial centers; museums; gyms; hotels; worship sites; event halls; adventure tourism activities; theaters and cinemas; sporting events.

Vaccines will NOT be required to enter supermarkets, pharmacies, hospitals, banks, and other services deemed essential. While we don’t have a full list of what constitutes an “essential” business that would not require a vaccine, the government has in the past classified the following as essential:

Supermarkets Suppliers Delivery services
Pharmacies Bakeries Agricultural supplies
Medical centers Butchers Veterinarians and hygiene
Pulperías Vegetable stores Banks
Funeral homes Farmer’s markets  

To whom does the vaccine requirement apply?

Everyone ages 12 and older will need proof of vaccination to enter the indicated venues or participate in the indicated activities. This includes citizens, residents and foreign tourists.

Remember there is a separate mandate that requires public workers in Costa Rica to be vaccinated against Covid-19. This applies to workers and not guests. (In other words: Staff at public hospitals need to be vaccinated, but you don’t need to be vaccinated to go to the hospital.)

Do I need to be vaccinated to enter Costa Rica?

You do not need to be vaccinated to enter Costa Rica. However, as of January 8, you will be unable to participate in many activities or enter many businesses unless you are vaccinated.

Do tourists need to be vaccinated?

According to Outlier Legal: Tourists will use their Health Pass (the form used to enter the country) and a copy of their vaccination card to enter businesses. Only those who are fully vaccinated will be able to enter these places.

In other words, tourists who got vaccinated abroad do not need the vaccine certificate QR code. They will instead use a different QR code — the one on the Health Pass, which has been a requirement to enter Costa Rica for more than a year.

Effectively, the only change for vaccinated tourists is that they should keep their Health Pass and a copy of their vaccine certificate handy throughout their visit to Costa Rica.

How do I get my vaccine certificate QR code?

The vaccine certificate with the QR code will be available to the public on November 8, 2021. Here’s how to get it if you are a citizen or a resident:

If you already have a vaccine certificate

As of November 8, people who have already received a vaccine certificate from Costa Rica should visit and enter the assigned PIN. (This information will be shared via email.) In turn, the vaccination certificate will be updated with the new QR code and security standards. Those who have forgotten or misplaced their PIN can retrieve it on the same website.

If you don’t have a vaccine certificate

Those who completed their two-dose vaccination schedule in Costa Rica more than 8 days ago and have not received a Covid-19 vaccination certificate via email can request it at the following link:

The issuance of the certificate takes an average of 10 business days.

On November 8, the individual can update their vaccine certificate to include the QR code following the steps indicated above.

If you got vaccinated abroad

Costa Ricans who got vaccinated abroad should submit a sworn declaration to the Health Ministry in order to receive their vaccine certificate (and, as of November 8, the QR code). The declaration should include: copies of the foreign vaccine card, a Spanish translation (if applicable; this does not need to be an official translation), and the Health Pass used to enter Costa Rica.

These requests for certification of vaccines placed outside Costa Rica may take longer than 10 business days, taking into account the review of the documentation submitted.

Blue Zone Costa Rica: Living Longer, Living Better

Thanks Special Places of Costa Rica for this excellent article! If you visit the Playas del Coco area you can explore the mountains of Costa Rica very quickly with a rental car or tour guide.  Well worth the time to take a break from the beach.  Not only the Peninsula but the Rincon de La Vieja mountain are is magical as well and is only one hour drive from sea level to 800 meters plus above sea level.  HD

The secret to living a long, happy life may be found in the mountains of Costa Rica.  Specifically, the rural landscapes of the Nicoya Peninsula, where people have some of the longest lifespans in the world. That’s why this part of Costa Rica is designated a Blue Zone, the term used for just five areas of the world where people live extraordinarily long and vibrant lives.

Once you get off the beaten path in Costa Rica and away from the paved roads, mammoth tourist resorts and bright lights, you’ll begin to understand why this place is so special. Traveling deeper into the green valleys and higher into the lush hills, you’ll begin feeling the carefree lifestyle and suddenly realize you’re in another world.

A lush valley near Nicoya, Costa Rica, one of 5 recognized blue zones in the world - brought to you by
The longest-lived people in the Nicoya Peninsula tend to live in rural mountain settings.

It’s a place where monkeys, parrots and iguanas live in tandem with the human population. The wildlife howls and caws at the crack of dawn. It’s a natural alarm clock that rouses the locals to brew their coffee and begin the day’s labors.

Two oxen yoked to a decorative cart while their owner sits and takes a break - brought to you by
People in the Blue Zone don’t necessarily go to the gym, but they get moderate exercise every day working and walking.

It’s like stepping back in time. Saddled horses are hitched to posts outside the small shops and bars. Farmers still use oxcarts more than a century after they became antiquated in most other countries. Pastures are dotted with cows and goats, and families enjoy meals in small, simple homes. It’s far removed from the stresses of modern life. Relax, amigo, you’ve arrived in Blue Zone Costa Rica.

What makes an area a Blue Zone?

“Blue Zones” is a term coined by National Geographic’s David Buettner, who led a team of scientists to discover why people in some areas of the planet live longer and healthier lives than the rest of us.

A world map showing the 5 Blue Zones - brought to you by
The five Blue Zones of the world.

They narrowed their findings to five regions, all in totally different countries and all with varying factors that led to the locals’ good health. The research led to the best-selling 2008 book, The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest.

What are the world’s Blue Zones?

The five Blue Zones of the world are:

  • Sardinia, Italy. Wine and laughter contribute to the longest male lifespan on earth.
  • Loma Linda, California. The healthy vegan diet of a community of Seventh-day Adventists here contributes to a lifespan 10 years longer than the average lifespan in the U.S.
  • Okinawa, Japan. Japanese dedication to family and friends fosters the longest female lifespan on the planet.
  • Ikaria, Greece. One in three people live into their 90s and are almost free of dementia.
  • Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica. Men over the age of 60 are seven times more likely to reach the 100-year mark than the global average.

What part of Costa Rica is a Blue Zone?

Costa Rica’s Blue Zone is located in the central part of the northwestern Nicoya Peninsula. Specifically, it includes the cantons of Hojancha, Nandayure, Carrillo, Santa Cruz and Nicoya. Well-known towns in these cantons include Playas del CocoFlamingo, Tamarindo, Nosara and Sámara – yet the natives who live extraordinarily long lives typically live in rural and mountain communities and not in these beachfront tourist destinations.

An interesting looking old man in a ratty cap that looks like he has stories to tell - brought to you by Special Places of Costa Rica
Costa Rica’s Blue Zone is known for people of remarkable longevity.

Since its designation as a Blue Zone, the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica has drawn the interest of scientists, nutritionists and anthropologists, and anyone else looking to unlock the secrets of vitality from the far-flung areas in countries with the highest longevity rates. Why is Nicoya, Costa Rica, a Blue Zone? Why is Costa Rica’s life expectancy so high? It has a lot to do with three basic principles: diet, lifestyle and sense of purpose.

Nicoya Peninsula Blue Zone diet

What do people eat in the Blue Zones? The Costa Rica Blue Zone diet is mainly natural, unprocessed wholesome foods such as squash, rice, beans, and corn. Much of the food is still homegrown and homemade – such as tortillas, gallo pinto, plantains and tropical fruits, with meat thrown in just a few times a week.

Rice, beans, cheese, fried plantains is another version of Gallo Pinto, a staple in the Costa Rican Blue Zone - brought to you by Special Places of Costa Rica
Gallo pinto (rice and beans) with eggs is a breakfast staple throughout Costa Rica.

Families tend to eat larger meals at lunchtime and lighter meals early in the evening. The food is low in added sugar, and there are few processed snacks. Studies have linked diets that are lower in calories to longer lifespans. You can find some Blue Zone Costa Rica recipes here. 

The water may also affect longevity in this region. The water of the Nicoya Peninsula is high in calcium and magnesium, contributing to low osteoporosis rates and low rates of heart disease.

Nicoya Peninsula Blue Zone lifestyle

The people of the Nicoya Peninsula Blue Zone value hard work. The daily routine often consists of household chores and manual labor – physical exercise that keeps seniors fit and healthy – and out of hospitals and old age homes.

A man carries his board as he walks to the surf at Playa Grande, Costa Rica - brought to you by Special Places Management Rentals & Sales
Getting some sun by spending time outdoors every day appears to be one of the keys to longevity in the Blue Zone.

And don’t forget the sun. It’s clear and sunny almost every day during the dry season (December-May) and many people live outdoor lifestyles. They work, eat and relax outside. This is in stark contrast to North American lifestyles where people spend the vast majority of time in their homes, schools and offices. Exposure to the sun in healthy intervals is a natural source of vitamin D, which helps with heart and bone health. Another Costa Rica plus.

Nicoya Peninsula Blue Zone sense of purpose

Family, friends and community are the most important aspects of life. Many people walk to visit neighbors and often live with extended family. They listen, laugh and connect. It’s a sense of purpose in life that they call plan de vida, or “reason to live.” It’s what keeps many of the elderly working, active and contributing to the community.

An opulent church sanctuary in a larger Costa Rican town - brought to you by Special Places Management Rentals & Sales
A spiritual life, in addition to a sense of purpose and community, are other factors found in all the Blue Zones.

Faith in a higher power is also cited as a factor that leads to long lives. Many Costa Ricans are religious (mainly Catholic), and researchers say that a spiritual life and a connection to the divine are elements that may play a role in longevity.

Blue Zone Costa Rica: final thoughts

Why are Costa Ricans so healthy? It’s this low-stress, natural and healthy environment that makes this such a remarkable and relaxing place to visit. Of course, just visiting the Nicoya Peninsula won’t make you healthier or help you live to 100, but tourists often say they can feel the stress leave their bodies as soon as they arrive. Maybe that’s why the Costa Rica Blue Zone is such a popular location for retreats centered on well-being, yoga, mindfulness and health.

Make this magical area your next destination and explore and discover the long-life secrets of the Nicoya Peninsula Blue Zone.

QR Code FAQ – UPDATE OCT 14, 2021

After the announcement of the QR Code mandate and other COVID updates yesterday, we have received several questions. We have sent several clarification requests to the Ministry of Health, and they have answered all of them, we understand the urgency and our team is committed to share everything we know as soon as the official information is sent to us.

This is a short, straight-to-the-point article to go over what we know so far, and if you have any other question please leave it in the comments, and we will consult with the government if needed. We kindly ask you to keep the conversation respectful.

First, we would like to clarify that there is a lot of misleading  and false information being shared on social media. Unfortunately this is the norm when it comes to topics related to the pandemic. Our goal here at Outlier Legal News is to contribute by sharing trustworthy data, that is why we only work with official sources, and we attend the COVID press conferences.

We appreciate your patience while we are gathering reports, translating and connecting the dots before we post. We are also very grateful with those sharing our content, we see you Tico Times and every single one of you.

Guidelines confirmed by the Ministry of Health

Underage Tourists
  • Everyone over 12 years of age will use QR Code to enter to the established places.
Those who are in the process of getting DIMEX (vaccinated abroad)
  • They have to follow the same process of getting the vaccine card certified by the Ministry of Health, and sending the documents to their email.
  • The process remains the same, regardless if you are Costa Rican or foreign in the process of getting your residency.
Those who are in the process of getting DIMEX (vaccinated in Costa Rica)
  • They can request the QR Code online, and with it, they will be able to access all places.
Unvaccinated tourists
  • They can enter the country with medical insurance.
  • They won’t be able to access to the places where the QR code is mandatory.
Vaccinated tourists
  • They can enter the country with the Health Pass.
  • They will be able to access places where the QR code is mandatory, once they complete the form online.

Places where the QR Code is mandatory

  1. Restaurants, sodas, cafeterias and food courts and food trucks.
  2. Bars and casinos.
  3. General stores (supermarkets and grocery stores are exempt from QR code), department stores and shopping centers.
  4. Museums.
  5. Fitness centers.
  6. Hotels, cabins or accommodation establishments.
  7. Spas.
  8. Activities, organizations or congregations in places of worship.
  9. Event rooms for business, academic or social activities.
  10. Adventure tourism.
  11. Theaters, cinemas, art and dance academies.
  12. Establishments for sports and cultural / artistic activities

We asked about AirBnBs, but the statement from the Ministry just says “hotels, cabins or accommodation establishments” we can assume AirBnB is an accommodation establishment then.

Find here our blog from yesterday, which includes the vehicle restriction and the details from the press conference. Here are some helpful links:

Mandated Vaccines, part of Costa Rica’s Constitution

How to: COVID Vaccination Certificate

QR Announcement

COVID Updates and Mandatory QR Code

The government just announced the gradual opening for the last quarter of the year, there were several changes announced which you can find below in our summary of the press conference.

Sanitary Vehicle restriction

Sanitary Vehicle Restriction Explainer Tables

Sanitary Vehicle Restriction Explainer Tables


From October 16 to October 31, the sanitary vehicle restriction will be from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. from Monday to Sunday and commercial establishments may operate with the same schedule.



November restriction change was also announced,  however Daniel Salas, Health Minister, explained that this will happen according to the evolution of the pandemic:

  • November 15, the daytime restriction on weekends would be eliminated.
  • Night restriction would start at 11 p.m.

The changes’ implementation depend on the epidemiological evolution as well.

  • Vehicular circulation from Monday to Sunday from 5:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. and the sanitary vehicle restriction for plates during the week would only be in the area known as the ring road.

Mandatory QR Code

As of December 1st, it will be mandatory to show your QR code (COVID-19 vaccination certificate) to enter the following establishments:

1. Restaurants, sodas, cafeterias, food courts and food trucks.
2. Bars and casinos.
3. General stores, department stores and shopping centers.
4. Museums.
5. Fitness centers.
6. Hotels, cabins or hospitality establishments.
7. Spas.
8. Activities, organizations or congregations in places of worship.
9. Event rooms for business, academic or social activities.
10. Adventure tourism.
11. Theaters, cinemas, art and dance academies, and artistic activity establishments.
12. Sports activities establishments.

The QR code will be available on Monday, November 8, through the site:

It was explained that internet service won’t be necessary to verify the code, and it can be printed if for any reason you cannot use the digital format.

If you already have the previous certification, as of November you can access the site and get the new version, which was created with international security standards under the new parameters that the European Union is using.

How to download it?

People who have already received their certificate should only enter again the link sent to their email, and place the assigned pin, and your certificate will be updated with the new safety standards.

Those who have forgotten or misplaced their pin can retrieve it on the same website.

If you completed your two-dose vaccination schedule more than 8 days ago and have not received your COVID-19 vaccination certificate in your email (after checking your spam folder), you can request it here.

The issuance of the certificate takes an average of 10 business days, however, those requests for certification of vaccines placed outside the country may take a little longer, taking into account the review of the documentation submitted.

Those who received their vaccine outside the country can request their certificate via email to the Minister of Health, by submitting an affidavit and the vaccination card.


In November and December, tourists who enter the country with a full vaccination scheme won’t have to present a medical policy, just as it is now.

Capacity Updates

  • Trains: Standing capacity according to the type of wagon (Apolo 29 people, conventional 9 people and new units with 102 people).
  • Buses: 15 people standing.
  • Social events: 100 people (without vaccination scheme) or 200 people with full vaccination scheme.
  • Academic, business and church events: 500 people.
  • Culture pilot plan in Parque Viva: November 6 2,500 people with a complete vaccination scheme.
  • Bars, restaurants, casinos and shops: 50% capacity
  • Hotels over 100 rooms: 100% capacity. Common areas 50%.
  • Beaches: hours extended, open from Monday to Sunday from 5:00 a.m. until 8:00 pm.
  • NOVEMBER 15: Sports and cultural activities in establishments with a sanitary operating license (SOL): capacity 25% of the total capacity (complete vaccination scheme).
  • Buses: 20 people standing.
  • Social events: 200 people with a complete vaccination scheme.
  • Sports, cultural, academic and worship activities, in establishments with SOL: 30% of the total capacity or a maximum of 500 people maintaining distance and using masks, and with a complete vaccination scheme.
  • The operation of the Amusement Park would be authorized, with a capacity of 50% (5000 people) and compliance with the specific protocol.
  • Bars, restaurants, shops and casinos: 75% capacity, with a complete vaccination scheme.
  • The option of carrying out sports activities on public roads would be enabled.

Immigration Update for Expats and Tourists in Costa Rica: Visa vs Legal Residency

By Laura Gutierrez of Immigration Help Costa Rica

Due to COVID, rules and procedures continue to change and evolve regarding travel and how one remains legally in Costa Rica.

For tourists and those of you preparing for or waiting to have your applications for legal residency submitted (by appointment) or for those of you awaiting approval on submitted applications, the dreaded border runs are still required. Based on the many emails I receive weekly from clients and those thinking of pursuing a legal residency, an update about visas and maintaining their validity is necessary.

There is also confusion for some between the term “visa” and “legal residency.”

Entry Visa

Anyone with a valid passport from “Group One” Countries such as the U.S., Canada, or EU and several other countries entered Costa Rica before COVID were automatically granted
a non-renewable 90-day VISA stamp on their passport. It allows you to stay and drive legally (with a valid foreign license) in Costa Rica for the duration of those 90 days. (If unsure which of the three-country groups you belong to, please get in touch with your nearest Costa Rica Embassy or Consulate.)

Legal Residency

Unlike a visa, legal residency is something you apply for, and it involves a particular process that ends in the applicant holding a DIMEX card. (Also referred to as a residency card or cedula.) Therefore, when inquiring about living in Costa Rica permanently and legally, please know that you are talking about residency – not a visa. Big difference.

Keeping your visa valid

Post-COVID, entry visa requirements have been modified several times and left many confused about the difference in entry rules.

If you can provide proof of complete vaccination with either the Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, you are no longer required to purchase COVID insurance coverage for your stay in Costa Rica. For U.S. citizens, the “COVID-19 Vaccination Record” will be accepted.

If you are still unvaccinated, you will still need to purchase COVID insurance coverage. Please visit the Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT) English-language website detailing these entry requirements for more details:

The visa stamp is limited to the number of days of COVID insurance you purchased for the unvaccinated. IE: If you purchased only 30 days of insurance, your visa stamp would be for 30 days – not 90. You will have to leave Costa Rica by day 30.

Whether vaccinated or not, all visitors entering Costa Rica will still be required to flash the Health Pass QR code ( online Health Pass ) on their cell phones or show the paper record to customs officials.

Visa Stamp Updates

Once the days allotted to you on your last entry stamp into Costa Rica have expired, you must leave the country and then return. Upon your return, you are issued a fresh visa stamp, and on that stamp will be written the number of visa days based on the conditions mentioned above.

A valid, non-expired visa will be required for specific numbers of you having your applications for residency submitted digitally or in person.

For many readers, this will entail a border run to either Panama or Nicaragua (or a flight to Mexico where entry requirements are less stringent than the U.S. or insane Canada.) In the past, the trip into Panama or Nicaragua usually involved a 60-90 minute U-turn back into Costa Rica. Things have become hostile in Panama. Unless you are prepared to stay in Panama for up to three days, love the idea of quarantine in a pricey hotel, etc., avoid any border runs there.

On the other hand, I have received favorable first-hand accounts from clients about runs to Nicaragua. There have been some instances of over-charging or border staff “forgetting” to return the proper change. If it happens, consider it arbitrary tipping. Arguing with the guy with the gun and passport stamp for the sake of frugality is not a good strategy. Remember, these people have dull, underpaid jobs and endure much nonsense with many who walk up to them. Maintaining a good mood is a tremendous challenge for any staffer. It is best to lower your expectations but still lead with a smile, and good deportment.

These border runs can also cause significant concern for some in fear of contracting COVID at the border in those crowded conditions. You might also inquire about hitching a ride of border runs by bus tours. Ask around and find them. The driver will be experienced at the border and help you through the process safely. As for keeping free of COVID, common sense and following mandated protocols will keep you perfectly safe. Keep the alcohol gel close at hand because 90% of COVID is spread by touch.

Please do not procrastinate when it comes to keeping your visas up to date. Visas are a non-negotiable requirement if you wish to avoid deportation or a smooth residency application submission.

One thing to pay extremely close attention to (triple check) is those visa stamps on both sides of the border. One person emailed me recently about a Costa Rican border guard who forgot to put the return entry stamp on his passport. When he pointed it out, the staffer argued the point until asked to show exactly where the stamp was placed on the passport. The embarrassed guard could not find the stamp and quickly complied.

As an aside, mistakes like this are also occurring on required government fee payments receipts at BCR bank branches. In any instance where you are in a transaction involving stamps or receipts, you must now be very vigilant that the content is accurate. Your name must be
spelled out precisely as it appears on your passport. Do not sign any receipt if there is even the slightest error.

I will go into more detail about this issue in my next article.

If you are in need of immigration assistance Laura can be reached by clicking here, Toll-free at 1-833-733-6337, Locally at or by sending an email to [email protected]