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.

Yeay!!!

Here is all the latest….

Last Updated June 21st, 2021

We update this post about 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 and from 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.
  • Land borders are also now open from Nicaragua and Panama.

What Do I Need in Order to Enter Costa Rica?

playa avellenas

In order to travel to Costa Rica 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.

Note: Even if you are fully vaccinated you will need this travel insurance.

– Complete a health form created by the Costa Rican Health Ministry and print it out to bring for your travels.

-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, Canada, and UK are requiring that all people entering these countries need to provide a negative COVID-19 test within three days before flying back home.

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

This restriction also applies to people who are already fully vaccinated.

Note: If you are not from one of the three countries I listed above, check your own home country’s restrictions. They may also have certain requirements.

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.

Costa Rica wants to encourage tourism and is doing what it can to make it easy for people to get tested.

As of now, if you are flying to the US or the UK, the best option seems to be to get tested at one of the many Lab Echandi locations throughout the country. They have now opened testing centers at the San Jose International Airport as well as Liberia International Airport. However, you will need to pre-schedule your test.

This test costs about $65 and results will be delivered the same day. However, if you book your rental car with Adobe, you can receive a discount on your test. Just ask when you pick up your rental car and they will help you with the discount info.

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

Just note that this test does not meet Canada’s entry requirements.

The Costa Rica Institute of Tourism has put out a full list of testing centers, but just note that the list is in Spanish.

I know this is not the easiest situation for those of you traveling right now. Hopefully Costa Rica comes up with some better testing options soon. I’ll update this post as new info becomes available.

Note: As of now, the US is requiring people (including citizens) who are fully vaccinated to still get a negative test result before returning to the US. You can read all about the US entry requirements on the CDC site.

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 5:00am and 6pm.

-Businesses including restaurants, bars, and casinos are now open at 50% 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 at 100% capacity. However, they may only operate at 50% depending on how bad case numbers are in that current area.

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

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, 2020 when case numbers were still very low.

Since then, the government has altered regulations to reflect the constantly changing situation.

However, in the past few weeks, case numbers have gone up. The government has made some changes in order to bring numbers back down and these changes seem to be working.

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.

Everything 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!

COVID Vaccine Progress in Costa Rica

costa rica surfing santa teresa

As of now, Costa Rica has administered over 2 million vaccine doses.

About 750,000 people have received both doses of the vaccine.

Costa Rica has a population of about five million citizens.

Costa Rica has been primarily administering Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Moderna.

The government was considering expanding their vaccine purchasing to include Sinovac, but has decided that there is not yet enough research about its effectiveness.

So, in other words, they have a ways to go to vaccine all citizens, but the government seems to be working hard to secure as many doses as quickly as possible.

Costa Rica Coronavirus Case Numbers

montezuma beach view

As of June 18th, Costa Rica has had 1,604 new Coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours.

The country had a peak in case numbers in mid May, but case numbers are now on a gradual decline.

There have been 22 COVID related deaths in the past 24 hours.

In total, the Health Ministry has reported 350,603 confirmed cases of COVID-19. There are currently about 74,029 active cases. This means that the approximate number of people who have recovered is 276,574.

The current death toll due to Coronavirus in Costa Rica is 4,473. This means that Coronavirus was the leading cause of death in Costa Rica for 2020 and could be the same for 2021….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 haven’t been vaccinated yet and feel that 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, COVID is still an issue here and it seems to be getting worse.

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.

Even if you are vaccinated, please still follow all protocols. There is not enough information yet if vaccinated people can still be carriers and spread the virus to others.

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 better now, after this crazy year.

We flew from our home in Costa Rica in early-March of 2020 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, fortunately, remained healthy and were 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?”

Thomas was able to fly to the US in late June 2020.

We then flew back to Germany in early August and are currently in Copenhagen, Denmark experiencing the change of seasons for the first time in four years!

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.

We are now both fully vaccinated and have flights booked to head to Costa Rica soon to organize a bunch of business things, get our stuff, see our friends, and do some traveling in our favorite country.

Thomas is most excited to get some fishing in and I’m probably most excited to eat tons of fresh tuna in all forms.

Anyway, 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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About Us

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!

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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!

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