Coronavirus in Costa Rica – What You Need to Know

Coronavirus in Costa Rica is an ever-evolving issue (as it is everywhere at this point), but the government has been easing restrictions and allowing foreigners from most countries to now travel for a Pura Vida filled vacation.

Here is all the latest….

Last Updated January 19th, 2021

We will be updating this post once a week as new information emerges. 

Who Can Travel to Costa Rica?

plane to costa rica

Costa Rica is now opened to air travel to all countries. There are just some requirements that every person must fulfill before entering.

We get into these requirements in the next section.

Private flights from the US and yachts are also allowed to enter.

As of now, land borders are remaining closed from Nicaragua and Panama.

What Do I Need in Order to Enter Costa Rica?

playa avellenas

In order to travel to Costa Rica from one of the allowed areas you must have:

– Travel insurance which covers you for COVID-19. This insurance needs to be:

Effective during your entire visit to Costa Rica.

Guaranteed coverage of medical expenses in the event of becoming ill with COVID-19 while in Costa Rica. This coverage needs to be for at least USD $50,000.

Includes a minimum coverage of USD $2,000 for lodging expenses in the case of COVID-19 related issues.

You can purchase travel insurance that meets these requirements here and here.

– Complete a health form created by the Costa Rican Health Ministry.

-Keep in mind that all normal regulations apply when entering Costa Rica. You can read all about these regulations, but the main one to remember is that you need to show proof you will be leaving Costa Rica within 90 days of arrival.

In other words, you will have to show the customs officer that you have a round trip flight.

Note: You DO NOT need to quarantine once entering Costa Rica. You also no longer need to prove that you have had a negative Coronavirus test within 24 hours of traveling. However, if you have the option of getting a test before traveling, it doesn’t hurt to do so.

Restrictions Leaving Costa Rica

boat tortuguero

The United States recently announced that effective January 26th, 2021 all people entering the US need to provide a negative CVID-19 test within three days before flying.

This restriction applies to everyone entering the US over the age of two years old including citizens, residents, and anyone catching a flight connection through the US.

In other words, now, if you plan to visit Costa Rica you will need to get a negative test result before heading back home. All airlines will ask to see your negative test results before letting you board a plane.

At the moment there are several places to get a COVID test near the two international airports but most of these require appointments at a doctors office or hospital and cost about $100.

However, I am pretty confident that we will see Costa Rica setting up new walk up testing centers near the airports in the coming days before this new law goes into effect on January 26th.

The country wants to encourage tourism and will likely take appropriate action to make it easy for people to get tested.

I’ll update this post as new info becomes available.

Note: As of yesterday the UK said it will also be requiring negative test results for entry from everyone including citizens and residents over 11 years old.

Restrictions Within the Country

palm trees on uvita beach

Most things have reopened again within the country. Here are a few things you should know:

-Masks or face shields are required in all businesses. This includes restaurants except when sitting at your table.

-Beaches are open between 5:30am and 6pm.

-Businesses including restaurants, bars, and casinos are now open at 25% capacity but they must close at 10pm on weeknights and 9pm on weekends.

-Day tour companies are now open (zip-lining, rafting, etc.).

-Most national parks have reopened.

-Hotels are opened and able to take on 100% capacity.

– Land borders are still closed to tourists. That means you can not cross into Nicaragua or Panama at this time.

Driving Restrictions

There are ongoing strict driving regulations from within Costa Rica as a measure to slow the spread of COVID-19. However, with a rental car you are exempt from these restrictions. You are welcome to drive whenever you want.

It is best to keep proof of your rental car agreement easily accessible in the car in case you get pulled over by the police.

They have been vigilant about people driving within driving restriction hours.

Again, they will let you go with a rental car agreement, so don’t be concerned.

Note: We suggest renting your car from our favorite rental car company, Adobe. They are an amazing local company that has been doing a great job to ensure all cars are sanitized and all safety measures are taken.

We have a 10% discount for you plus other great perks if you opt to rent with Adobe.

FIND OUT HOW TO GET UP TO 10% OFF YOUR CAR RENTAL IN COSTA RICA!

How Costa Rica is Handling the Virus

la fortuna waterfall

The Costa Rica government and the Health Ministry have been doing a good job (in my opinion) of tackling COVID-19 from the start. Borders were closed on March 18th when case numbers were still very low. Since then the government has altered regulations to reflect the constantly changing situation.

Coronavirus case numbers seems to be somewhat level and actually going down a bit for now.

Keep in mind that this has hit the economy hard. Tourism accounts for over 8% of the country’s GDP. Zero tourism equals no income for tourism companies during what is typically the busiest time of year for the travel industry. 

Also, keep in mind that places like restaurants, grocery stores, etc. are not considered part of the tourism industry, but are also badly affected by the lack of travelers.

The government tried to encourage in-country tourism to boost up some businesses but unfortunately, this seemed to result in a spike in cases.

Everything slowly reopening has been great news for the country’s tourism sector. However, safety still needs to be the number one priority.

It’s a tough balance!

Costa Rica Coronavirus Case Numbers

montezuma beach view

As of January 15th, Costa Rica has had 508 new Coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours.

In total, the Health Ministry has reported 186,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19. There are currently 40,000 active cases. This means that the approximate number of people who have recovered is 146,00.

The current death toll due to Coronavirus in Costa Rica is 2,458. This means that Coronavirus was the leading cause of death in Costa Rica for 2020….which is devastating.

Should I Visit Costa Rica Right Now?

curu reserve

If you are considering a vacation to Costa Rica, this could actually be a great time to travel. Tourism businesses are hurting for business. You will have your pick of any hotel or Airbnb and the rates are much much lower than usual (especially for this time of year).

Plus, the country is not as busy as it usually is at this time of year. You won’t have to compete with tons of other tourists for certain activities.

However, if you feel you are at high risk for bad COVID-19 symptoms, it is probably best to hold off on traveling right now. As you can tell from the case numbers above, case numbers are far from low.

We have been getting a lot of questions about this so we wrote a post with our suggestions including some places in Costa Rica you can travel to while remaining socially distant.

Also, not to be a downer, but please keep in mind that just because you feel comfortable traveling, doesn’t mean that COVID-19 is gone.

Costa Rica is welcoming tourists back with open arms (or maybe I should say “open elbow bumps”) because the economy needs tourism. But, for everyone living in Costa Rica, safety is important.

Please wear masks, follow rules, and do your part to not spread anything to the people that call this country home.

Should I Change My Pre Made Trip Plans?

santa teresa airbnb

If you booked your trip a long time ago and are hesitant about visiting, I suggest contacting any hotels, transportation, activities etc. that you have booked and check-in with their cancellation policies.

Most companies have been very lenient, but we also don’t want you to miss the deadline for canceling any plans and not getting your money back.

If a company is not willing to reimburse you, ask about delaying your plans instead.

I obviously think Costa Rica is a great country to visit and I trust the president and government to do what they can to keep everyone safe, but I think the decision to travel to Costa Rica right now needs to be on a case to case basis.

We suggest canceling your trip if you are at high risk and are concerned in any capacity regarding your health. Costa Rica does have many great hospitals, but if you feel that you are a high-risk person for COVID-19 you will likely feel more comfortable being near a healthcare system that you are familiar with.

Again, this obviously needs to be a personal decision, but I want you to feel safe and stay healthy.

What Should I Do if I Get Sick

montezuma hanging bridge

If you get sick while in Costa Rica you should call the number 1322. There are operators standing by who speak both English and Spanish. They will assess your situation and tell you how to move forward.

Note that any person who comes down with Coronavirus in Costa Rica is required to quarantine for 14 days. That means you will have to isolate and stay in Costa Rica for 14 days. This is the reason you need travel insurance that covers you for extended hotel stays.

If you get very sick, it is best to get to San Jose. Medical treatment is good throughout the country, but the best hospital (especially as a foreigner who does not speak Spanish) is CIMA hospital in San Jose.

How We Are Dealing with Coronavirus

us on motorbike

Thomas and I are doing OK. We are taking things day by day, as we all seem to be doing right now.

We flew from our home in Costa Rica in early-March because Thomas had a prior work commitment and I decided to use that time to visit my family. We were aware that things had the potential of getting crazy while we were away, but decided it was best to be with our parents.

Thomas flew to northern Germany (where he is from) and I flew to Massachusetts (where I am from).

We luckily brought our marriage certificates with hopes that it would help us to get to each other if necessary. I tried to fly to Germany once early on after borders were closed but I was denied.

It was definitely difficult being apart from each other. And we missed our home and our life in Costa Rica so much.

Our families are fortunately healthy and so happy that we were with them. I think my mom put it best when she said to me, “When else will I get to be working from home for several months and get to hang out with you every day?”

However, we are now back together! Thomas was able to fly to the US in late June.

Yeay!

We then flew back to Germany in early August and are currently in Copenhagen, Denmark experiencing the change of season to winter for the first time in four years! I forgot we could look so pale.

We did have to give up our apartment in Costa Rica and a friend moved all of our stuff out. That has definitely been super difficult. It is weird to reflect that we went on a three-week trip and then never got to go home again.

It just got to the point where we didn’t want to be paying rent every month on a place we were no longer even able to get to.

However, everything we own is there. I mean, I guess we get to buy a whole new wardrobe which is fun, but we miss our stuff.

With the air borders reopened we could go back, but we lost our Costa Rican residencies in that time. We need to sort that out before we would return.

In other words, we can’t return home right now. We could go to visit and get our stuff, but I think we will wait a few months.

The Costa Rica Vibes website income has also been hit hard. Without foreign travelers visiting Costa Rica we have no income from the site.

We are optimistic that we will bounce back from this eventually and at some point, we will move back to the lovely little paradise country that we love so much.

Basically, this year did not turn out how we planned. We were on the top of the world and planning a fun-filled year of traveling the country after years of hard work to get to where we were.

I go through phases (sometimes within a few hours) of just feeling sorry for us, to thinking “I’m totally fine”, to thinking how great it was to spend several months with our families, to wanting to cry, to being so thankful that we and everyone we love is healthy.

Ugh! It’s definitely been a crazy ride, but I know it’s been a crazy ride for all of you this year as well.

Looking at the positive side of things is keeping us going.

It has been nice to have this downtime to reflect and act on what we can do to make our site experience even better for you all once we can all start traveling again.

We will all get through this. We will all come out stronger. We will all travel again. And I think we will all appreciate it that much more.

Stay safe. Stay positive. 🙂

If you have any questions about planning your trip to Costa Rica during all of this Coronavirus pandemic craziness, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comment section below and we will get back to you as soon as possible. We are always happy to help you!

WAS THIS GUIDE TO CORONAVIRUS IN COSTA RICA HELPFUL? WE’D LOVE IF YOU’D PIN IT!

SHARE IT ->

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email
Share on pinterest

We’re Thomas (the German) and Sarah (the US-er).

We met in Virginia, moved to Germany, and now live in sunny Costa Rica. It was a spontaneous decision to move here, but it was the best decision!

Want the whole crazy story?

follow us sidebar

Get Your Copy of the FREE planning ebook

You Will Also Like....

One Response

  1. Thanks for the update and best wishes to you and your family! I’m definitely looking forward to visiting CR (and staying longer to make up for lost beach time 🙂 ). Not sure of the exact date – I obviously don’t want to be bring any unwelcome germs with me! But hopefully early 2021!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *