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 October 20th, 2021
We update this post about once a week as new information emerges.
Who Can Travel 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.
- Cruises to Limon and Puntarenas have also resumed
- Land borders are now open from Nicaragua and Panama.
What Do I Need in Order to Enter Costa Rica?
In order to travel to Costa Rica you must have:
– Complete a health form created by the Costa Rican Health Ministry and print it out or have it digitally accessible to bring for your travels.
You will need this completed form in order to board your flight to Costa Rica.
– Meet the following qualifications:
OPTION ONE- Be Completely Vaccinated Have the complete scheme of vaccines authorized by the Government of Costa Rica. The date of the last dose must be more than 14 days prior to your trip to Costa Rica. The authorized vaccines are:
Johnson & Johnson
Pfizer & BioNTech
You will need to provide proof by uploading a copy of your vaccine certificate to the health pass form. If you are coming from the US, just take a picture of your paper vaccine form with your phone and upload it to the health pass form. This is completely fine.
Note: A combination of vaccine brands is allowed, as long as they are within the authorized brands.
OPTION TWO – INSURANCE POLICY FOR MEDICAL EXPENSES ASSOCIATED WITH COVID-19
If you are NOT vaccinated you will need to show proof of health insurance that covers you for any COVID- 19 related issues. The policy needs to state:
– Person name.
– Validity of the effective policy during your visit to Costa Rica.
– Guarantee of coverage for medical expenses in cases of pandemic disease COVID 19 in Costa Rica, for at least USD $50,000 USD.
– Minimum coverage of USD $2,000 for extended lodging expenses due to quarantine.
Here are three authorized insurance providers which cover everything needed to enter Costa RIca.
These regulations do not apply to people under 18 years of age.
-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
The United States, Canada, and some European countries 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 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. Online it says that you need to pre-schedule your test but at Lab Enchandi we actually saw plenty of people just walking in and having no problem getting an appointment.
An antigen test costs about $65 and results will be delivered the same day.
A PCR test costs $99 and will be delivered in 24 hours.
To enter the United States you only need an antigen test.
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.
The Costa Rica Institute of Tourism has put out a full list of testing centers so you can find one near where you are staying. Also, it doesn’t hurt to ask at your hotel about testing. I have heard of some places offering free or discounted tests to all guests who need them to return home.
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.
Thomas and I recently went through the whole testing thing at Lab Enchandi before flying. We opted to get a PCR test because we were flying to Europe and it was required.
We prebooked our test online the day before we wanted to be tested.
When we arrived at Lab Enchandi we gave the attendant our confirmation number and were directed to fill in a form with info about our flight.
We then talked to another employee who entered our info and then we received our nasal swab.
I’m not going to lie, I’ve had probably about 10 COVID tests at this point, and this one was by far the worst. She swabbed so far up that it made me feel really faint. I also couldn’t stop sneezing after for about an hour. It wasn’t fun, but at least it got done.
I received my test results by email about six hours later (keep in mind that antigen results should come within an hour, but I had the PCR test which takes 24 hours). But, Thomas never got his results. He called the lab the next day and they were able to look up his results and email them to him right away.
We then showed our results when checking in for our flight without any issue.
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 between 5:00am and 6pm.
-Businesses including restaurants, bars, and casinos are now open 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.
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.
As of December 1st all citizens, residents, and tourists over the age of twelve will be required to show proof of vaccination in order to enter many businesses.
This does not mean you can not travel to Costa Rica if unvaccinated. However, it does mean you will be unable to enter many businesses.
As of now, the businesses which will require proof of vaccination are as follows:
restaurants, bars, casinos, hotels, museums, adventure tourism destinations, shops (not including grocery stores or pharmacies), gyms, sporting events, and cinemas.
Proof of vaccination will not be required at:
supermarkets, pharmacies, banks, bakeries, and funeral homes.
In other words, although the government is saying that tourists can still enter without a vaccine, there really is no point of traveling to Costa Rica after December 1st if you are unvaccinated because you won’t even be able to stay at a hotel, go to any restaurants, or participate in any fun activities.
How do I show vaccine proof?
When you fill out your health pass online to enter Costa Rica there will be a spot to upload your vaccine paperwork. You will then be given a QR code which can be scanned at any place where vaccine proof is required. This QR code does not require internet in order to view it.
Details are still emerging on this upcoming vaccine requirement. We will update this article as we find out more.
How Costa Rica is Handling the Virus
In the past few months, due to our families living on different continents, Thomas and I have been in Denmark, Germany, Costa Rica, and the United States. Out of all of these countries, Costa Rica seems to be taking COVID the most seriously.
Almost every store or restaurant has a foot-activated sink and hand soap for all people to use before entering. Many places also do temperature checks. Almost every Costa Rican seems to take wearing masks to another level. It is not unusual to see people walking on empty streets with masks on.
So, even if you are fully vaccinated, please be considerate and follow the rules.
Costa Rica depends on tourism so it is necessary to reopen to foreign visitors for survival, but vaccine progress hasn’t been as fast as it has been in some other countries.
Just keep that in mind when making decisions regarding masks and hand washing.
COVID Vaccine Progress in Costa Rica
As of now, about 70% of the population has received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine. 47% of the population is fully vaccinated.
The number of people opting to get vaccinated is slowing. At this time, vaccination is open to all citizens over 18 and people over 12 with risk factors.
Costa Rica has been primarily administering Pfizer and AstraZeneca.
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 get everyone vaccinated who would like to be vaccinated.
Costa Rica Coronavirus Case Numbers
As of October 17th, Costa Rica has had 1,018 new Coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours.
These numbers are still high, but slowly cases are going down.
There have been 25 COVID-related deaths in the past 24 hours.
Should I Visit Costa Rica Right Now?
If you are considering a vacation to Costa Rica, this could actually be a great time to travel. Tourism businesses are bouncing back, but things are definitely not as full and busy as they usually would be at this time of year.
You will have your pick of any hotel or Airbnb and the rates are sometimes lower than usual (especially for this time of year).
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 a serious issue here.
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.
Should I Change My Pre-Made Trip Plans?
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
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.
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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