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The U.S. Embassy has launched a new quarterly newsletter that will continue to keep the U.S. citizen community in Costa Rica informed on key topics - not just COVID-19 updates.

Que Pasa Grecia will publish these updates as they become available.

If you are registered with the Embassy Step-Program already, you will be receiving this newsletter automatically.

US Embassy - Quarterly Newsletter
San Jose, Costa Rica

Message for U.S. Citizens: U.S. Embassy San Jose Quarterly Newsletter March 2022 updates

Passport Renewal Online now supported
The Department of State is pleased to announce that U.S. Embassy San Jose will begin supporting online payment for DS-82 passport renewal fees.  Qualified applicants will no longer need to make an interview appointment at the U.S. Embassy.  Beginning March 21, 2022, passport applicants wishing to pay for their DS-82 renewal application online may visit https://cr.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/passports/online-fee-payment/ to determine eligibility to use this option.  If eligible, applicants may then submit payment via U.S. or international credit or debit card, electronic funds transfer from a U.S.-based bank account, Amazon Pay, or Pay Pal.  For questions about this online fee payment option please contact the American Citizen Services unit at their email listed below.

Travel to the United States on Expired U.S. Passports If you are overseas and your U.S. passport expired on or after January 1, 2020, you may be able to use your expired passport to return directly to the United States through June 30, 2022. You qualify to travel on your expired passport if all the following are true: 
  • You are a U.S. citizen. 
  • You are currently abroad seeking direct return to the United States. 
  • You are flying directly to the United States, a United States territory, or have only short-term transit (“connecting flights”) through a foreign country on your direct return to the United States or to a United States Territory. 
  • Your expired passport was originally valid for 10 years or, if you were 15 years of age or younger when the passport was issued, and your expired passport was valid for five years. 
  • Your expired passport is undamaged. 
  • Your expired passport is unaltered. 
  • Your expired passport is in your possession.   

You do not qualify to travel on your expired passport if: 
  • You wish to depart from the United States to an international destination. 
  • You are currently abroad seeking to travel to a foreign country for any length of stay longer than an airport connection en route to the United States or to a United States territory. 
  • Your expired passport was limited in validity. 
  • Your expired passport is a special issuance passport (such as a diplomatic, official, service, or no-fee regular passport). 
  • Your expired passport is damaged. 
  • Your expired passport is altered. 
  • Your expired passport is not in your possession   

Actions to Take: 
  • All U.S. citizens should enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and ensure you can be located in an emergency. 
  • Visit our Embassy webpage on COVID-19 for information on conditions in Costa Rica. 
  • Refer to our website for the latest Alerts and Messages for U.S. citizens. 
  • Consult the CDC website for the most up-to-date information related to COVID-19, including testing requirements to return to the United States. 
  • For the most recent information on what you can do to reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19, please see the CDC’s latest recommendations. 
  • Visit the COVID-19 crisis page on travel.state.gov for the latest information. 
  • Check with your airlines, cruise lines, or travel operators regarding any updated information about your travel plans and/or restrictions.
  • Visit the Department of Homeland Security’s website on the latest travel restrictions to the United States.   

Assistance:
U.S. Embassy San Jose     +506-2519-2000    
ACSSANJOSE@state.gov        https://cr.usembassy.gov/    
State Department - Consular Affairs     888-407-4747 or 202-501-4444    
Costa Rica Country Specific Information   

COVID-19 Test Requirements – Know before you go! Please make sure you, your family, and friends are aware of COVID-19 testing requirements for travel to the United States.  These requirements are subject to change and the most up-to-date information can be found here: https://cr.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information/.  The U.S. Embassy has received reports of an increase in departing travelers presenting fraudulent COVID-19 tests to airlines and Costa Rican immigration officials.  Please note that fraudulent tests or tests done by unlicensed businesses offering COVID-19 tests will not be accepted. Passengers presenting fraudulent tests of any kind could be denied boarding, required to pay a fine, and retest prior to departing Costa Rica. 

Quarantine guidelines Tourists testing positive for COVID-19 while in Costa Rica will be issued a sanitary quarantine order by the Ministry of Health.  Tourists who are issued a sanitary order must secure lodging for the duration of the quarantine.  Quarantine requirements are subject to change and the most up-to-date information can be found here: https://cr.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information/ The Ministry of Health has stated this sanitary order cannot be appealed, even if subsequent test results taken during the mandatory quarantine are negative for COVID-19. Please also note the recently revised CDC recommendation of a 5-day quarantine period is only applicable in the United States.  It does not apply in Costa Rica.  Only Costa Rica’s Ministry of Health has the authority to determine the length of quarantine for persons who test positive in Costa Rica. Tourists complying with a valid sanitary order will not be penalized for overstaying their visa. Violations of a quarantine order could result in legal or financial penalties. 

It’s that time of year again, are you prepared?  Here is helpful tax information: If you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien, the rules for filing income, estate, and gift tax returns and paying estimated tax are generally the same whether you are in the United States or abroad. You are subject to tax on worldwide income from all sources and must report all taxable income and pay taxes according to the Internal Revenue Code.  Persons requiring taxpayer assistance or tax forms should contact the Internal Revenue Service directly.  For additional information, please go to the IRS website: https://www.irs.gov/individuals/international-taxpayers/us-citizens-and-resident-aliens-abroad.  Additional resources may be found at: https://cr.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/internal-revenue-service-u-s-taxes/ 

Uncle Sam needs YOU to help keep U.S. citizens informed!  Become a Citizen Liaison Volunteer for Targeted Areas A Citizen Liaison Volunteer (CLV) is a key component of U.S. Embassy San Jose’s efforts to ensure the safety and security of U.S. citizens in Costa Rica.  CLVs have an important role in helping Embassy San Jose keep the U.S. citizen community informed and, in extraordinary circumstances, helping to deliver emergency services to U.S. citizens.  CLVs are private American citizen residents who volunteer to assist consular sections in disaster preparedness, welfare and whereabouts cases, and alert fellow Americans to emergency situations.  CLVs are expected to be an active part of the U.S. citizen and CLV communities, maintaining regular communication with Embassy San Jose, as well as other CLVs, working together to continuously identify the needs and vulnerabilities of the U.S. citizen community in Costa Rica.  The U.S Embassy in San Jose is specifically looking for CLVs in the following areas: Puerto Viejo – Limon, Tortuguero, Guanacaste, and Golfito.  Please contact the U.S. Embassy San Jose at ACSSanJose@state.gov if you live in one of these areas and are interested in being of service to your fellow citizens.   

COVID-19 Symptoms

These are not all of the symptoms experienced by individuals testing positive for COVID-19, but here are the symptoms most commonly reported:

Fever
Dry cough
Tiredness
Difficulty breathing (most-severe cases)

Secondary Symptoms
Headache
Possible loss of senses of taste and/or smell

Social Distancing and Precautions

The most important action: wash your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds frequently at home (and away, if possible—if not, use hand sanitizer). If you go out, in addition to social distancing, be sure to take all recommended precautions. I’m one of those in the at-risk demographic. So when I now go out, I’m not proud or a fashionista. I wear gloves, a face mask and my extremities are completely covered (I also carry a re-sealable plastic bag with disinfectant wipes and I carry hand sanitizer). I also avoid touching any surfaces with my hands. And, I especially avoid touching my face (mouth, nose, and eyes).
When you come back home, be sure to follow cleaning protocols - clean your shoes, clothes, self. Be sure to clean anything you may have touched on the way in and out of your house. Every time you exit your car, don't forget to disinfect door handles, steering wheel, gear-shift knob and other surfaces you may have touched inside your car and then go inside, remove your gloves, and WASH YOUR HANDS!

Practice 2-meter social distancing when in public. DO NOT touch others (perhaps, elbow bumping is allowed). 

Shopping options

We hope you have discovered that many local grocery businesses (and restaurants!) are offering home deliveries (aka 'Express' or 'a domicilio'). Check your favorite vendor's FaceBook page, where they usually have express ordering availability and details.

La Gran Bodega, the produce-heavy market near the Grecia feria that is popular with the ex-pat community, makes home deliveries, as does Supermercado Rosvil.

Both businesses will deliver groceries to customers in the greater Grecia area for ȼ3000. Use Whatsapp to send a text message with your list and directions for delivery. You can then call or text afterwards to confirm.

Gran Bodega: The number is 8886-7278. Please have your order in by 10:00 a.m. Contact is Karla, she speaks both Spanish and English. Produce always excellent!

Rosvil: The Whatsapp number is 8654-5447. Spanish only! If you can make your list as detailed as possible they will bring exactly what you ask for. E.g., “leche, 1 galon, marca Dos Pinos”. Make a list, take a picture of it and send to the market. They will call you back to confirm – you can pay with cash or credit/debit card when they deliver. Order early in the day.

In Sarchi, a similar service is offered by Pedidos, 8301-4753, and Fulvio Verduleria, (express delivery on the weekends), 8407-2365. Call them for delivery details.

PriceSmart also has an online service - order your items via their website, pay and pick up your packed order the next day. 

updated 3 march, 2022