The day has come! We finally have good news for tourism in Costa Rica. Coronavirus in Costa Rica is an ever evolving issue (as it is everywhere at this point), but the government has slowly been easing restrictions and allowing foreigners from certain countries to now travel for a pura vida filled vacation.
Here is all the latest….
Last Updated October 12th, 2020
We will be updating this post once a week as new information emerges.
Who Can Travel to Costa Rica?
Currently, Costa Rica air borders are open to citizens and residents coming from:
Europe: All residents and citizens of the EU Schengen area
United Kingdom: All UK residents and citizens
Canada: All residents and citizens
Oceania: All citizens and residents from both Australia and New Zealand
South America: Residents and citizens of Uruguay
Asia: Japan, Singapore, China, South Korea, and Thailand citizens and residents
Central America: All citizens and residents (I believe this means land borders may be reopening, but I’m not positive on that).
Borders are open to United States residents from:
New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Vermont, New Hampshire, Washington D.C., Colorado, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Washington, Oregon, Wyoming, Arizona, New Mexico, Michigan, Rhode Island, Florida, Georgia, Texas, and California.
Residents from the entire US will be allowed to enter on November 1st!!
Private flights 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?
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 here and here.
– You need to prove a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours before your flight to Costa Rica. Depending on where you live, you may be able to get a test at your local walk in health clinic.
– Complete a health form created by the Costa Rican Health Ministry.
– If you are traveling from the US you will need to bring your drivers license or state issued ID to prove you are a resident and living in one of the states that is allowed to fly. After November 1st this will no longer apply because all residents will be allowed to enter.
Restrictions Within the Country
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 daily from 5:00 am to 2:30pm.
-Restaurants, bars, and casinos are now open with 50% capacity. They close at 10pm on weeknights and 8pm on weekends.
-Day tour companies are now open (zip-lining, rafting, etc.). However, keep in mind that their demand is much lower than usual so some have opted to stay closed. I suggest contacting any companies before your trip or asking at your hotel if they know which companies are open.
-Most national parks have reopened.
-Hotels are opened and able to take on 100% capacity.
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 except 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.
How Costa Rica is Handling the Virus
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.
Unfortunately, Coronavirus case numbers have started to increase as the government has eased up a bit on restrictions.
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.
I have talked to the managers of several hotels, transportation companies, and tour companies and most have had to lay off almost all of their employees. The ones who are staying on are mostly working in maintenance or processing refunds for canceled trips.
The government tried to encourage in-country tourism to boost up some businesses but unfortunately, this seemed to result in a spike in cases.
The Institute of Costa Rica Tourism (ICT) had been pushing the government to give an exact date of reopening borders to tourists. Since March the government had continuously been pushing the opening date by a few weeks at a time.
This had been hard for companies because they didn’t know when to rehire their staff and get everything ready for guests again.
This had been hard for employees because they just wanted to know when the might be making a livable income again.
Everything slowly reopening has been great news for everyone. However, with it, there has been an increase in cases.
Although, despite these efforts, the unemployment rate is at about 23%, and these are just the people who are working legally. I bet the rate is much much higher due to many people getting paid under the table.
At this point, I think we are all just in a constant balancing act between the importance of health and the importance of financial survival.
Costa Rica Coronavirus Case Numbers
As of October 7th, Costa Rica has had 1,013 new cases and 17 deaths in the past 24 hours. There are currently 574 people hospitalized with 214 people in intensive care.
In total, the Health Ministry has reported 82,142 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus disease. There are currently 32,122 active cases. This means that the number of people who have recovered is 50,020.
The current death toll due to Coronavirus in Costa Rica is 1,004.
Should I Visit Costa Rica Right Now?
If you are planning to travel from one of the countries which are allowed to enter 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.
Plus, the country is empty. 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.
Should I Change My Pre Made Trip Plans?
If you booked your trip a long time ago and are not from one of the areas that are currently allowed in the country, 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.
If you are thinking of traveling from one of the countries that is currently allowed to enter, that is another story. 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
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
Thomas and I are doing OK. We are taking things it 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. Even as an immediate family member of a German citizen I needed a valid reason, which I did not have. I guess the fact that I like being with my husband isn’t a valid enough excuse.
It was definitely difficult being apart from each other. And we miss our home and our life in Costa Rica so much.
Our families are fortunately healthy and so happy that we are 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. We were really nervous if he would be allowed to board the plane or even enter the US, but he made it! He was questioned a lot by the airlines and border control, but with our original marriage certificate, an English copy of it, pictures of my passport info page, and a letter I wrote confirming he was staying with me; they let him in.
We then flew back to Germany in early August and are staying with Thomas’s parents until further notice.
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 I miss my stuff.
With the air borders reopened we could go back, but we lost our Costa Rican residencies in that time and since we no longer have any income from the website we do not have a valid reason to be allowed a new residency.
In other words, we casn’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. However, 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.
However, 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!
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