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 https://usuarios.ministeriodesalud.go.cr/ 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:
https://www.ministeriodesalud.go.cr/index.php/vigilancia-de-la-salud/certificado-de-vacunacion-covid-19

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.

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