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Published Friday, July 10, 2020

Repatriation flights to
the U.S. available

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The U.S. Embassy in San José and The State Department has coordinated with Spirit Airlines and United Airlines to offer commercial repatriation flights to U.S. citizens living in Costa Rica.

According to the embassy, the Spirit Airlines to offer commercial repatriation flights from Juan Santamaría Airport (SJO) in Alajuela Province, Costa Rica, to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida (FLL) on Wednesday, July 15, Wednesday July 22, and Wednesday July 29.  These flights will depart SJO at 1:00pm and arrive at FLL at 6:10pm.

Meanwhile, United Airlines  will now offer daily commercial repatriation flights from Juan Santamaría Airport (SJO) in Alajuela Province to Houston, Texas (IAH) through July 31.  These flights will take place once daily on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday through July 31. 

More information on departures of these flights can be reached on the United Airlines website. According to the embassy, that website is currently experiencing technical difficulties. "United is aware of the issue and working to address it." 

Also United Airlines has added one flight a week from Daniel Oduber Quiros Airport in Liberia (LIR), Guanacaste Province to Houston (IAH).  These flights will take place on July 10, July 17, July 24, and July 31.   

Seats are limited and open to the public, for these reasons the embassy encourages to book asap. Visit
United Airlines and Spirit Airlines for details on pricing and flight times.

The U.S. Embassy is not able to assist with arranging onward travel from Ft. Lauderdale or Houston. Policies regarding luggage allowances and seating arrangements will be managed by Spirit and United Airlines. To reach more information visit their websites.

For those traveling with pets, the cost must be requested directly to the airlines.

According to the embassy, both airlines currently require all passengers to wear face coverings during the check-in process and for the duration of the flight.

More information on repatriation flights can be requested by contacting the U.S. Embassy either by phone number 2519-2000 or by email,

However, for expats and tourists who do not wish to return to the United States, the authorities have extended the permits to stay in the country until November 18.

"The period of legal permanence authorized for foreigners under the migratory tourism category who entered the country after December 17, 2019 is extended until November 18, 2020," said the General Directorate of Migration in its statement. "This extension is settled automatically."

Also, the Ministry of Transport has extended the driving license for tourists until August 18.

"It has been established that people who have entered the country after December 17, 2019, and stay as a tourist or in transit condition, will be able to drive using their own country's driver's license without being fined, until next August 18, 2020," said the Ministry in its statement.

Have you heard of tourist expats who prefer to continue living in Costa Rica as tourists rather than return to the U.S.? We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to


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