Preflight Testing for Departing Costa Rica: Logistics and Tips

Last Updated: June 15, 2022

IMPORTANT UPDATE

As of June 12, 2022, the United States no longer requires a negative Covid test to fly into the country. The CDC has eliminated the requirement for everyone, regardless of citizenship or vaccination status. You can find more information on the CDC’s website.

Non-US citizen nonimmigrants are still required to show proof of vaccination against COVID. 

Our original post with the former US testing requirements is below. Please remember that this information is no longer applicable. We are keeping it below only for reference.

ORIGINAL POST

Many countries are requiring travelers to take a Covid-19 test before returning home from a visit to Costa Rica. Canada, many European countries, and the United States require it for reentry. For the United States, all air travelers ages 2 and up need to show a negative test. As of December 6, the test must be taken one day before your flight. In addition, those entering the United States who are not a US citizen, US national, or permanent resident will need to be vaccinated.

In this post, we’ll lay out the general requirements for Covid testing, explain how testing works in Costa Rica, and give tips on creating an itinerary that will make testing as easy as possible. We also will explain the new order requiring proof of vaccination for non-US citizens/residents.

IMPORTANT: Costa Rica does not require a Covid-19 test to enter the country. The requirement is only for your return to certain countries.  

Covid Testing Departing Costa Rica

Covid Testing Requirements for Departing Costa Rica – Overview

The exact testing requirements vary by country. For Canada’s requirements, visit this website. For the United States’ requirements, visit the CDC website. For the UK’s requirements, visit this website.

In this post, we will cover the US requirements. These apply to connecting flights as well, so travelers from Canada, Europe, and elsewhere with a layover in the United States will need to meet them.

US Testing for International Arrivals

Overview

Per the amended CDC order (Dec. 2, 2021), all air passengers (ages 2 and older) arriving to the United States from a foreign country need to meet Covid-testing requirements. 

You will need to get a Covid test even if you are vaccinated.

If you have recently recovered from Covid, you can instead present documentation showing recovery within 90 days (see below).

Specific Requirements

All air passengers ages 2 and up will need to show a viral Covid test to check for an active infection (NAAT or viral antigen test). It must be taken within one day of your flight.

In Costa Rica, there are two tests that meet these requirements. One is the RT-PCR, the deep nasal/throat swab molecular test. The other is the antigen (rapid) test, also a nasal test.

Note: Importantly, the standard is one calendar day, not 24 hours. This means that you can get tested at any time one day before your flight without having to worry about counting the exact number of hours. For example, if your flight is Thursday at 2:00 p.m., you could get tested on Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. This is within one calendar day, even though it exceeds 24 hours. The idea behind it is to give travelers more flexibility. See the CDC’s website for more explanation.

Non-US Citizens and Non-Residents – Vaccination Requirement

If you are not a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, lawful permanent resident, or traveling to the United States on an immigrant visa, you will need to show proof of being fully vaccinated against Covid-19 to travel to the United States. This started on November 8, 2021. If you are not fully vaccinated against Covid-19, you will not be allowed to board a flight to the United States, unless you meet the criteria for an exception. See the CDC’s website for more information.

Children under 18 are exempt. People with a documented medical contraindication to receiving a Covid-19 vaccine are also exempt.

If you are fully vaccinated, you will still need to meet Covid testing requirements.

Presenting Your Test Results

Upon checking into your flight, the airline will verify your negative result. You can show a paper or electronic copy, so an email is fine.

You will be denied boarding if you do not present a negative test result.

The results must state: (1) the type of test, (2) entity issuing the result (e.g., lab, hospital, or telehealth service), (3) date sample was collected, (4) your full name plus at least one other identifier such as date of birth or passport number, and (5) test result.

The CDC order does not require the results to be in a certain language. Results in Costa Rica are provided in Spanish. Airline officials at Costa Rica’s airports will be able to interpret them.

San Jose Airport Costa Rica
Costa Rica’s SJO Airport

Showing Proof of Recovery from Covid in Last 3 Months

If you have had Covid-19 in the last 90 days, another way to meet the requirements is to show documentation of recovery.

If you have had a positive viral test in the past three months and have met the criteria to end isolation, you may present the following documentation (paper or digital copies): (1) Your positive test result, and (2) a letter from your healthcare provider or a public health official that says you have been cleared for travel.

For more details on the requirements to show proof of recovery, see the CDC’s order at pages 1-2.

Attestation Requirement

In addition, each passenger must fill out an attestation document. This affirms that the person has received a negative Covid-19 test result within the required timeframe or recovered in the last 90 days and is cleared to travel. Many airlines have made the attestation electronic. 

Covid Testing Options in Costa Rica

Public and Private Health Care Systems

Covid testing in Costa Rica is done through the public health care system for citizens and residents. Tourists may use the public system only if they are evaluated and showing symptoms.

For tourists who need testing for travel purposes, Costa Rica has a robust private health care system. Medical clinics and labs are located throughout the country. There are also several reputable private hospitals. Many of these are modern facilities with English-speaking doctors and nurses, especially in larger tourist areas.

Covid Testing at CIMA Escazu
Hospital CIMA in Escazu (San Jose) offers Covid testing with results in 24 hours

Most tourist destinations across Costa Rica have testing sites available. You can find an updated list by reading our article, Where to Get a Covid-19 Test in Costa Rica.

Test Cost and How Long Results Take in Costa Rica

Currently, an RT-PCR test costs about $100-$130, plus tax. The cost is higher in some rural areas. Results are typically available in 24-72 hours. Testing is available at both international airports, with fast turnaround times. Many labs in San Jose can guarantee results in 24 hours. It can take longer in rural areas.

Antigen (rapid) testing is available in most of the country as well. The cost is $50-70 at the airport and in the San Jose area and up to $100 in rural areas. Results are provided the same day. The airport lab gives results in one hour. 

For testing options in the areas you will be visiting, read our post, Where to Get a Covid-19 Test in Costa Rica.

Tips for Making Testing Easy

If you can make an itinerary keeping testing in mind, this will make the whole testing process a lot easier.

A couple of things to consider for Costa Rica specifically are that some labs/clinics outside San Jose are not open all weekend, especially on Sundays.

This means that if you get tested on the weekend, you may not receive your results within one calendar day. When booking flights, try to plan on having your departure be on a Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, if possible. Avoid Sundays and Mondays, as this would require testing/processing over the weekend.

Another thing to consider is your last destination and its proximity to a testing facility. Aim to end in San Jose for the most flexibility, as there are many testing options there and this area has the fastest turnaround.

But if your flight doesn’t leave out of San Jose, or you don’t want to spend extra time there, it’s still fairly easy to get results in time in more remote areas. You just need to do some careful planning. First, make sure there is a facility where you’ll be going that can do the test. Second, make sure they can get you results in time, given their hours of operation. 

Conclusion

We hope this post helps ease your worries about getting a Covid-19 test for return travel from Costa Rica. Although it is a bit of a hassle, testing options are expanding every day and becoming easier for travelers.

Have a question about getting a Covid test to meet travel requirements? Ask us below.

Looking for more information to plan your trip to Costa Rica? Check out these posts:

Traveling to Costa Rica During Covid-19: Entry Requirements, Protocols, and What to Expect – Learn about the required online health pass and current restrictions in effect.

Covid Travel: What It Is Like in Costa Rica Right Now – Wondering if restaurants, hotels, and tours are open like normal? Check out our post for current information.

Costa Rica and the Coronavirus – Get up-to-date information on Costa Rica’s current numbers.

Covid Vaccination Rates in Costa Rica – Learn about how the vaccination campaign is going in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica Rental Car Discount – Having a rental car is a great way to explore the country. Check out our discount to save 10% and get free extras.

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108 Comments

  1. Right now there is no confirmation that the testing sites will be open during “Holy Week”, thus this may create problems for some people, others will need to rebook their flight, unless the testing sites decide to open during Holy week.

    1. Hi Ozzie, Many labs were open around Christmas and New Years this year except for the actual holiday so we expect it to be similar for Holy Week. In addition, according to the announcement from the government earlier this week, results for the PCR will be within 48 hours, so we would expect that to still be the standard, as this is what the labs have agreed to with the government.

      1. Hello, I am curious to know what happens if you test positive for Covid in Costa Rica? I know you will be placed on a mandatory quarantine for 10 days but, once the mandatory quarantine is met, are you free to return back to the US? Or do you have to get approval from a medical provider or test negative? What happens if you continuously test positive even though you have no symptoms? Are you then stuck in Costa Rica until you can test negative (which can take up to 90 days) … Any information would be helpful… Thanks!

        1. Hi Meghan, Please see our response to the comment from Ani from today. Once the quarantine period is over, you would be able to leave and would only need to meet the CDC’s Covid entry requirements to get back into the US (ie., showing proof of recovery).

        2. Hello Megan, I tested positive and have been issued a 7 day Sanitation Order. 7/8 to 7/14. How do I get a Document of Recovery?

          1. Hi Mitch, We cover this in detail in our post on Testing Positive. You can also read through the comments to hear people’s experiences. It seems that some airlines like American are accepting the letter that the Ministry of Health sends after your quarantine is over.

  2. Hello, first of all – I am so grateful for this article and the whole website, it helped to plan my trip tremendously! My question relates to the new test requirement of KLM, the antigen test within 4 hours of travel. Is it feasible in Costa Rica, are there any labs close to the airport? I do not see how roughly 250 people can get tested and then get to the airport on time for check-in from the hospitals in town.

    1. Hi Eva, Costa Rica only approved antigen testing a few days ago so testing is not yet available. Labs are working hard right now, though, to get the equipment and materials they need to start testing. The government is working with them, and has created a large network of labs that will be able to administer the test. There are many locations in and around San José, including very close to the airport. We will update our post on Where to Get a Covid Test (https://www.twoweeksincostarica.com/covid-19-test-costa-rica/) once we hear that antigen testing is ready in CR, so be sure to check back there.

  3. Hi there, I also have a question about the rapid antigen test required by KLM. Our flight to AMS is on 26.1., we’re already scheduled for the PCR test for this morning but I don’t see any option to get the rapid test. I tried to contact KLM to advise but not answer for several days. What do I do? Any suggestions? Thanks a lot.

    1. Hi Jan, The antigen test was only approved for use in Costa Rica last week and labs are currently trying to get the equipment and supplies they need to start testing. Others flying KLM have asked a similar question. We would recommend following the comments in our post, Where to Get a Covid Test – see the comments from Robert, Anna, Kyra, etc. starting on January 21. We will be sure to update that post once we hear that antigen testing is ready.

    2. Hi there, here’s my update regarding my travel from Costa Rica to Europe. We received no information from KLM about the 26.1.2021 flight cancellation from SJO to AMS. The KLM app was showing flight status “On Time” the whole day. The only information received by KLM was that it is necessary to have negative rapid test for Netherlands authorities.

      I was trying to contact KLM for more than 5 days in advance before our flight via WhatsApp, Facebook, email and phone. Getting no response at all! About two days before the flight my email returned saying the mailbox does not exists. The official email which is on their website!!!

      Anyway we headed to the airport about 3.5hrs before our flight (scheduled departure 19:15). Arrived at the airport and were told that the flight was cancelled due to no availability of rapid tests in Costa Rica. We were told we can wait till Saturday for Air France flight. The situation seemed quite desperate. A few minutes later we were offered the flight change with Iberia (having last two seats available), leaving SJO at 17:00, not to our final destination though, just to MAD and then we’re on our own. We took it. There was a bit of stress waiting to get all sorted, we rushed to the gate and got there just in time when boarding started. The IBERIA flight was 1/3 full, keeping the safe distance among all passengers. Not like KLM stuffing the plane up to the roof, keeping no safe distance at all.

      We got to MAD and called our local KLM. Took a bit of time but we got through to get a reservation on late afternoon flight to AMS and then to our final destination. And then was the time to get the rapid tests done. With helpful MAD airport staff we were able to get the tests done nice and easy with enough time to stretch our legs a little in sunlit Madrid. There was another small hiccup from KLM side regarding the reservation, which just added some stress to already adrenaline-filled ride. From that point on it went quite smoothly.

      It was a really sad sight to see about half of the passengers coming to check-in being surprised about necessity of rapid for Dutch authorities and missing their flight. Very stressful and emotional. Speaking with the lady during the check-in she said the current situation is a real mess, for them as staff and also for the passengers.

      Eventually we got to AMS and later on to our final destination.

      C’mon KLM I really thought you could do much better.

  4. Bonjour, je rentre en France un lundi soir et je dois donc faire un test pcr le vendredi.
    Savez vous quels laboratoires ou cliniques peuvent me délivrer le résultat à temps vu le weekend au milieu.
    Merci d’avance

    1. Hi Renaud, Getting tested in San Jose would be your best option. There are other labs around the country that are open on the weekend as well. You could look at our Where to Get a Covid Test for more information. The section, Making an Appointment, has hours for some of the testing facilities.

      1. Hi Jairo, I’m not sure what you mean. Costa Rica does not require a Covid test to enter the country. Here is a link to our article on Costa Rica’s entry requirements.

        1. I’m returning to the United States from Costa Rica…the United States requires a PCR test.
          My question, can I used a Nicaraguan PCR test to board my flight at the Santamaria Costa Rican airport?

      2. Hello – I am curious if you know of there is anywhere you can get a PCR test that is NOT the nasopharyngeal (deep nasal) test? (I.e either an oropharyngeal (oral) or the shallower nasal test? Thanks

  5. I spoke with Dr. Hernandez’s office in Monteverde on 25/1/2021 and they said they are getting the RT-PCR test this week and you should be able to test forward from here to depart Costa Rica. Is there anyone there or in country that can follow up on this?
    Thank you for all the information you have posted.

  6. Dear Jenn & Matt,

    First of all, thank you for the post, it is very helpful!

    I am currently in Costa Rica and I have a flight back to Amsterdam, the Netherlands with a stopover in Paris on Saturday 30/01 with AirFrance (KLM). Hopefully, the antigen/rapid tests are available by then, but I am hesitant to already book the PCR test since that would be a waste if the antigen test is not available by then. I look forward to seeing this post getting updated. One last question; do you guys know if I can fly to Paris, France without the antigen test and get transport by car or train from there on? Thank you!

    Kind regards,

    Glenn

    1. Hi Glenn, I don’t think antigen testing is going to be available by the time of your flight. So if you haven’t already, definitely make an appointment to get the RT-PCR. We aren’t sure about what is required for flying to France but it seems that you may need the antigen test. There is a string of comments in our post, Where to Get a Covid Test in Costa Rica, from people in the same situation as you. See, for example, the comment from Maria on January 28, 2021.

  7. What happens if we test positive for the Covid Test? Where would we have to isolate and for how long? Would we be allowed to leave our hotel rooms?

    I’ve recently had some oral surgery and am unable to have anything inserted into my nostrils. Are they able to perform the Covid Test in the back of my mouth? Thank you.

    1. Hi Lindea, This is what the government has said, “Passengers who test positive will have to comply with the 14-day quarantine period, which must be supported by a travel insurance policy covering lodging, and which was acquired as a requirement for entering Costa Rica.” We think you get to choose your accommodations. I don’t think you are supposed to leave during quarantine. The government would help you with any logistics. Food delivery is available here.

      You would have to check with a lab in Costa Rica, but we would think they would be able to do only the mouth portion of the test if you have documentation of a recent surgery.

      1. As I am on quarantine near Quepos right now for positive test, I would like to clarify that you do not get to choose your accommodations. You are required to stay at the location you list on your covid test. I had to stay in my current hotel and not leave the room or face a $800 fine. The health authority came in person to the hotel to ensure I was complying. They take this very seriously. So get the covid travel insurance and comply if it happens to you. For the record, I have been fully vaccinated for months. I still got COVID

        1. Hi Amber, Thanks for sharing your experience. It seems it can be different for different people. We just had a client test positive and the Ministry of Health allowed them to change accommodations in Manuel Antonio. They moved to something more affordable. It was a family and one of the children tested positive. Everyone else tested negative. The Ministry of Health issued a sanitary order to the child who tested positive but no one else and the others were able to go back home to the US right away. One parent stayed with the child, of course. It is common in Costa Rica for things to work differently for different people. That has been our experience dealing with various government agencies over the years about different things. Hope you are able to go back home soon!

  8. Trying to find clinic or lab that can do PCR test with results in 24-36 hours max as results need to be max 72 hours old on arrival in Switzerland. Used your list and contacted Metropolitan and Beachside Clinic in Guanacaste, Biblica in San Jose – everybody comes back telling me 72 hours at least; some clinics difficult to reach as English not spoken same with www – only in Spanish. Looks likely I might have to cancel trip as testing and receipt of results impossible within 24-36 hours of test. Even the clinics recommended by hotels seem now to have 72 hours till results. Any suggestions of reliable labs/clinics that can provided the service with short turn around? Appreciate any suggestions

    1. Hi Dirk, Recent reports from people are that CIMA has been doing 24 hours and also Lab San Jose. Clinica Biblica told us 36 hours last night. Labin is also usually fast.

  9. Dear Jenn & Matt,

    Is there any news on when the antigen/rapid tests will be available? I would require this for my return flight on the 21st of feb. Many thanks for all the information you are sharing!

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Joep, we are on the same flight:-), Febr 21 to Amsterdam. Let’s keep fingers crossed and let each other know if we get any info. There must be some sort of solution because flights are departing since the new regulation and I guess, they do not fly empty. Eva

    2. Costa Rica law says you can retest 72 hours before the end of quarantine. If this test is negative what are the benefits do I still need to quarantine for the last few days

      1. Hi Chris, We’d be interested to hear where you read that Costa Rica law allows you to retest 72 hours before the end of quarantine. Everything we have seen in the Ministry of Health regulations says that a retest is not allowed.

  10. I did a second ( expensive ( about $350)) PCR test at Enchandi Laboratory about 3.5 hours before the KLM flight ( and the 72 hours PCR test). KLM ground staff accepted the Enchandi PCR test instead of the rapid antigen test ( still not available on February 5, 2021…) and gave me my boarding pass.

  11. Hi. Planning on a Manuel Antonio trip Feb 26 to April 4. It looks like we can buy Rapid Test Covid kits here in the US prior to our trip and I am wondering if that is acceptable for our return trip to the US.

    1. Hi James, Here is what the CDC website says about if home test kits meet the requirements:

      Does an at home test qualify?
      The Order requires a lab report to be presented to the airline or to public health officials upon request. A home specimen collection kit that is tested in a laboratory should meet the requirements, if such methods have been authorized by the country’s national health authorities. (See https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/testing-international-air-travelers.html)

      I don’t think Costa Rica has approved at home testing so it doesn’t seem like that would work. Not 100% sure about this, however.

      1. Hi Jenn and Matt. Thanks for your reply. Yeah, as I looked into this further the Home Test Kit is not yet authorized in CR. Hopefully the Rapid Test will be available by the time we reach CR 3/25 to 4/3.
        Best wishes,
        Love your site!!
        James

  12. I am visiting Pavones, in the southern part of Costa Rica. Can I get my test done in Panama? They have the antigen test.

    1. Hi Joanne, Land borders are currently closed to tourists re-entering Costa Rica so you wouldn’t be able to get back in. We have heard about a testing location at the border at Paso Canoas, though. If it’s on the Costa Rica side, that could be an option.

  13. Please advise as to closest COVID testing NAAT or Antigen for return flights 02/26/21. I saw list, but I am not sure what city is closest to Tamarinda. Please advise.
    Thank you for your help.
    Jennifer

  14. Hi Jenn and Matt. We just returned to the US from staying 3 weeks in the Dominical area. We received our PCR tests at the Hospital Metropolitano clinic at the Marina Pez Vela in Quepos. Making the appointment by phone was very easy. But I wanted to let you and your readers know about a step that we were not aware of until making the testing appointment. This hospital requires filling out a data collection form and advises that “they will not let you leave the country without filling it out.” This appears to be a form for this hospital, but it might also be required at other testing facilities. The form collects personal identification information, flight information, but importantly requires identifying detailed geographical locations that most visitors will need help with from a local person to choose the right places. Many of the major towns are not on the list, but there regions that don’t necessarily correlate to what you would see on a Google map. The website for this form is mipruebacovid.com. English or Spanish can be selected, but portions of the form are presented in Spanish either way. We filled it out in advance and had no problems at the testing site. We did see a group of people filling it out at the hospital office in person with the help of some staffers, but it took them a long time to do so. After getting the tests, we were not asked about this form anywhere else, including at the airport, so we think it is just a data gathering form, possibly for case tracking as needed.
    Thanks for all your great information on this site.

    1. Hi Brian, Thanks for the feedback. Glad you had a good experience getting tested.

      That is a form that the government requires for anyone getting a Covid test so all the testing facilities require it. Like you said, it is for case tracking/data collection. You’re right that it can be hard to fill out the geographic location sections as a visitor since you aren’t as familiar with the provinces, cantons, districts, etc. We just added a section about this to our post on Where to Get a Covid test, recommending that people fill it out in advance before they get to the testing facility. Thanks again for the helpful feedback.

  15. Hi! I do not want the nasal swab test, there are spit and blood tests supposidly available but I do not know if they are available in CR. What do you know about this?
    I have contacted the Municipal hospital in Quepos…they sent me numerous emails back about scheduling an cost but would not answer this question.

    1. Hi Vicki, The only tests available in Costa Rica to check for an active infection are the RT-PCR and antigen test. Both are nasal swab. There is a blood test to check for antibodies, but this checks for a past infection so wouldn’t work.

  16. Hey,

    I will be in Costa Rica from Friday to Monday morning, wouldn’t be acceptable for me to get tested here in the US since I will be within the 3 days period? Or do I still need to get tested over there?

    1. Hi Yisiel, It seems that would work actually. This is from the CDC website:

      Can a test taken before departure from the US be used to return within the 3-day timeframe? How will testing requirements be handled for short trips?

      If a trip is shorter than 3 days, a viral test taken in the United States can be used to fulfill the requirements of the Order as long as the specimen was taken no more than three days before the return flight to the US departs. If the return travel is delayed longer than 3 days after the test, the passenger will need to be retested before the return flight.

      Travelers considering this option should additionally consider the availability of appropriate testing capacity at their destinations, and the time frame needed to obtain results, as a contingency when making plans for travel.

  17. Do I need to show health care coverage from the US in order to get a test done? Or am I able to just pay for the test and have it done?

  18. Wondering if you have heard if there is any progress on CR offering a saliva or shallow nasal swab alternative to the deep nasal swab. We are scheduled to return to US on March 31 and I am so anxious about the deep nasal swab that I am considering re-routing our flight to Tijuana, Mexico, where we could then cross the land border to the US without requirement of covid test. We live in Los Angeles, so this could work, but my husband thinks I am crazy. I am hoping that maybe by March 31 there will be an alternative to the deep nasal swab. Also – if anyone actually had the deep nasal swab here in CR, I’d love to hear your experience. Maybe it isn’t as bad as I fear.

    1. Hi Carrie, Unfortunately, we don’t think it’s likely that there will be an alternative to the deep nasal anytime soon. We had to get a PCR test done a few months back and it wasn’t that bad. A bit uncomfortable but really fast and painless. If you scroll down to the bottom of our post, we give more detail about the experience.

  19. In response to Carrie’s post, she may wish to consider getting an antigen test. My understanding, although I am not an expert at this, is that antigen tests are usually less evasive and not as deep. I have read that there are now providers of antigen tests in Costa Rica. I am not an expert at this, but it is likely something to look into.

    1. Thank you! We did end up getting the rapid antigen test at a clinic in Liberia called Vidalab. The test was not too deep. I had so much anxiety and it was no big deal. The lab was great! Super nice and professional. If you need a test and you are near Liberia, I highly recommend Vidalab! I communicated with them through Facebook messenger: https://www.facebook.com/Vidalab-Liberia-421241938266820

  20. I am traveling to CR Potrero Beach area and arrive on 4/24 and leave on 4/28. The Beachside clinic in Potrero is not open on Sunday?? So if I were tested on Monday only 48 hours prior to departure back to US would this meet requirements??

    1. Hi Teresa, Yes, 48 hours is fine. It just has to be no more than 72 hours. Less is no problem. Just make sure to get an appointment for the rapid test (antigen) so that you get your results in time for your flight. We would make the appointment now.

  21. We have heard from my husband’s (Costa Rican) parents who live in Costa Rica that around the San Jose area they will come to your house to do a COVID test. I was worried about making an appointment and dealing with all of that, but they acted like it was very common now for many to get them done at home. However, if you are in a hotel or outside of this area I’m not sure this would work. Once we go and come back I’ll update in May. I’m hoping the CDC will update the requirements by then as we are both vaccinated. Guess we will just wait and see.

  22. Hi,
    Thank you so much for this post!
    Do you know if there is an option of a rapid test (or any test) in the San Jose airport?
    Thanks 🙂

  23. Im Flying to usa on the 6th from Liberia costa rica planning on arriving there thru land from nicaragua on the 5th and need a rapid covid test is it true that they offer this service at the airport?

    1. Hi Daniel, Yes, testing just became available at LIR Airport. We updated our post with the information so you can go check it out. It’s in the Liberia section.

  24. Hi
    Thanks for such a helpful page (and also the page listing all the test centres). I fly back to Switzerland on a Monday evening later this month and can travel with a negative antigen test but it has to be less than 24 hours old at departure time. Effectively that means getting the test in San Jose on Monday morning but only if the results will come through in 2-4 hours and not up to 8 as some of the sites say (eg Hospital Metropolitano). So I’d like to be sure that I get a result as I’ll only arrive in San Jose the night before.
    Is Clinica Biblica my best bet in central San Jose for guaranteed results within 4 hours?
    The Biblica website has an option for Rapid testing but then there’s a link to make an appointment. You only mention appointments for drive-through testing but I’m guessing I have to make one for a walk-in rapid test?

    Thanks for your help
    Diccon

    1. Hi Diccon, Yes, you do need an appointment for a rapid test at Clinica Biblica whether it’s drive through or walk in. That would be a good option for getting your results in 4 hours. Or Lab San José provides results in 2 hours and is reliable from our understanding. They have locations in central San José. Here is a link to a map with their locations: https://www.laboratoriosanjose.com/sucursales-laboratorio-clinico-san-jose/ They also require an appointment.

  25. Hi there. We were due to fly to the US tomorrow but our 4 year old daughter has tested positive for covid. what is the correct procedure for quarantine and how does the sanitary order work? We haven’t been given any information as yet. will she have to do another test at the end of quarantine so she is clear?

    1. Hi Ani, We hope by now that the Costa Rica government has contacted you regarding the sanitary order. Usually the Ministry of Health handles it. They are 14 day orders. I don’t think she will have to take another test to clear at the end. You will just need to show proof of recovery to the airline in order to meet US entry requirements.

      1. Hi Jenn and Matt, Thanks for coming back to me. We are still yet to receive any correspondence from Ministry of Health. When you mean proof do we just go to a hospital to get this? She has no symptoms and hasn’t had any at all so far. Are all orders for 14 days? At the hospital I was told that we have to quarantine for 10 days? Appreciate your help on this.

        1. Hi Ani, You should call the government Covid hotline at 1322 to get the isolation order. They should be able to help you.

          We thought orders were for 14 days but maybe they changed it to 10.

          You would need to meet the CDC’s requirements to get on a plane. From what we have read, you wouldn’t want to retest her since her test could come back positive even after she has recovered. So the other option is to show proof of recovery. You can refer back to our original article for what that means. You should be able to get a letter that would be acceptable through a doctor in Costa Rica. If you have any questions, we’d recommend reaching out to your airline.

    2. Hi Ani, I’m wondering what your experience was with the ministry of health and quarantine. I just tested positive and am currently in isolation and wondering when I will hear from the ministry of health and what my next steps should be. I would appreciate any help on this. Thanks!

    3. Hi Ani, I’m wondering if you can give me some guidance on your experience with the positive result and quarantine. I am currently in Costa Rica and tested positive right before my US flight. I am in quarantine now but have yet to hear from the Ministry of Health. Did they eventually reach out to you? If so, how long did it take? Did they issue you the travel clearance after 10 day quarantine? If so, how did you obtain the document? I would greatly appreciate any advice!

  26. I’m in Santa Teresa and I have an emergency where I have to get back to Los Angeles ASAP
    I was wondering if you could guide me to the most efficient way to get a Covid test to get back home. Should I take the test in Santa Teresa or San José? How long does it take to get results? Please help I’m in a bind!

  27. Matt and Jenn: Just to let people know we are in Escazu for the final days of our daughter’s dental procedures and went early Tuesday 8:30 am to Cima Hospital for the antigen covid test for the 3 of us. Lot was half empty. $156 total and we were out in roughly an hour. When we left, the lot was full with lines of cars waiting to enter. Got our negative results and hour later. They said they are open 24 hours for the tests. Passport and flight info required. Thanks for your timely messages, very much appreciated.

  28. Hi,
    Can you tell me (or at least direct me to best resource) what happens if you do test positive for Covid before departure to U. S. Specifically, what the quarantine requirements are, what the experience would be like, and what to expect. It sounds like it doesn’t happen often, but I would like to know how to prepare in case it does. My family and I are considering a trip to CR in July. Thank you, Brooks

    1. It’s supposed to be a 14 day quarantine that you do in your hotel or vacation rental. Normally the Ministry of Health issues a formal quarantine order but we have heard from multiple people visiting that they never received anything after testing positive. Not sure what’s happening there. Hope that helps.

  29. Are there plans to offer rapid testing at Juan Santamaria airport, like they do at the Liberia airport?

  30. Is the antigen test also a deep nasal swab test? My daughter is extremely queasy and I’m worried she might pass out if they do a deep nasal swab. Are there tests you can self administer? What are everyone’s experiences for children and these tests? Any recommendations for labs?

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Angi, It is the same test as for the PCR but we’ve heard from people who have done the antigen test that it wasn’t as deep. Everyone says it wasn’t that bad so your daughter should be ok.

      For self-administered tests, you can check the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/testing-international-air-travelers.html They have added new information about this. Basically the test has to be FDA authorized and supervised by a telehealth provider.

      1. Thank you for the information! If anyone else has experience with the antigen test I would love to hear your thoughts. Also Has anyone used the self administered tests in Costa Rica to return to the US?

        1. Angi did you ever get an answer about this? I’m headed there soon and was thinking of bringing a self-test to get back into the US

    2. I can tell you that if someone in your party tests postive, the mandatory insurance will only cover a room for that person.and if anyone in your party tests positive when testing for next departure after the initial 10 days. you will all have to quarantine for another 10 days (even negative tests). The travel insurance will expire by this point, so it’s all out of pocket

      1. How does one initiate a Sanitary Quarantine Order . I tested positive with a Self Administered test. Does the Ministry of Health know my name and the results ? If not, how do I contact them to start the quarantine ? How do you contact them in English . Or do I just get a positive test result and use it to take my flight ? Totally confusing ! Thank you for your work !

        1. Hi Rob, Costa Rica does not recognize at home tests, only tests done in authorized labs and medical clinics. You will need to check the requirements of your home country to figure out what to do next. If you’re from the US, they require documentation of recovery in addition to the positive test result. So in this case, you would need to go get an official test done at a lab or clinic. The lab will then notify the Ministry of Health about your positive test result and issue your quarantine order from that date.

          Not all countries require documentation of recovery (we’ve heard Canada doesn’t, for example). So it’s possible you can travel with just the positive test result, depending on where you’re going.

          We have more information about this in our posts, Testing Positive for Covid in Costa Rica and Using At Home Tests to Enter the US from Costa Rica. Good luck!

  31. Hola!
    Thanks so much for this article! We are currently in CR and are leaving in the morning. We made an appointment with Clinica Biblica here in San Jose a few days ago (I used their automated system at https://www.clinicabiblica.com/es/) and it was so easy!
    We drove up to the 6th floor, and were out of there in about 15 minutes. We received our negative results via email in 2 hours.
    The cost for the rapid antigen tests was 27,000 colones.
    Thanks so much for all your help and guidance!

  32. Hi! Thanks so much for the helpful article. Do you know if Costa Rica is allowing passengers to take an antigen self-administered test? I know it’s ok with CDC officials just curious if they would allow it at the airport?

    1. Hi Jess, Costa Rica just follows the rules set by the CDC so the airline will follow those guidelines. As you’ve said, the CDC does allow self administered tests, provided they meet certain requirements like using a telehealth service, so that would be fine. We have heard of people using them to fly from CR back to the US.

  33. We are planning a trip in January. Now the US is requiring a test within 24 hrs. I understand from your blog that you go by the days and not 24 hours. Do you know if that is true since they changed from 72 hours to 24 hours. Also do you know if you can get the self test in Quepos? Thanks again for all the info Take care Joe

    1. Hi Joe, We just updated this post with the current information so you can check back now. But yes, it is 1 calendar day for testing (not 24 hours). Costa Rica doesn’t have self-tests but you can bring your own at home kit. Just be sure it complies with the CDC requirements on their website – see the FAQs.

  34. I’m impressed how quickly you have updated the info: the change in time period (one day instead of three) for return travel to the US just took effect today.
    Do you know if the test results have to be picked up in person at the Hospital Metropolitano, or is email a (reliable) option?
    Gracias!!

    1. Hi Andreas and Vivian, Thanks for the compliment! We try to update our info as soon as possible.

      An email with the results is fine. You don’t need a hard copy. Hospital Metropolitano will email them to you. Just be sure they have your email address right.

  35. Hi! First thank you for this very helpful information.
    I am trying to book appointments at the testing facility of Lab Echandi at the San Jose airport for Dec 25 but the payment doesn’t go through despite multiple attempts. I am not even getting a fraud notification from my bank and I tried multiple cards. Have you heard of anything similar?
    Thank you

    1. Hi Laurent, We’ve never heard of that happening before. How strange. It could be that the bank that the lab uses to process credit card transactions was temporarily down so we would try it again. Hope you’re able to figure it out.

  36. Hello, My son tested positive for COVID when we were testing to return to the USA. He is fully vaccinated and asymptomatic. My husband stayed with him after testing negative. I am trying to think through the scenario that my husband may test positive when they are due to fly home – they are staying in separate rooms with separate bathrooms but just in case. Do you know the criteria for the document of recovery if both are asymptomatic (and vaccinated)? Thank you!

    1. Hi Mary Ann, Since a negative test is required for everyone now even if you’re vaccinated, I think your husband would need to meet the normal proof of recovery standard that we outline in the article. Hopefully he tests negative and you don’t have to worry about that!

  37. Hi there, I had a question about the quarantine period if you test positive for COVID while in CR. Can you travel on the expiry date or you have to wait until the day after (eg if the expiry date is Jan 10 can you leave on the 10th or do you have to wait until the 11th).

    1. Hi Aaron, You have to wait until the next day, so if your quarantine order expires on Jan. 10, you can’t leave until the 11th. We just came out with a post about testing positive in Costa Rica with more info. Here is the link.

  38. Hi – I am currently in Costa Rica and tested positive before my flight. I received the order to quarantine for 10 days. It says it expires on Jan. 13th. Does that mean I can fly out again on this day with required document regarding recovery from a doctor or do I have to wait until the 14th?

    1. Hi Robin, The sanitary/quarantine order expires at the end of the last day so in your case, on Jan. 13 at 11:59 p.m. We just came out with a post about testing positive in Costa Rica with more information. Here is the link.

  39. Hello, thanks for your article. I have two questions. 1. Can you take a self test that the airline accepts or do you have to take a COVID test provided by the Costa Rica government?
    2. If one person in your group test positive, does your whole group have to stay.

    1. Hi Gail, Yes, a self test is fine if approved by your airline.

      Usually if only one person tests positive, the others who tested negative can leave as long as they’re not showing symptoms. Here’s a link to our post on Testing Positive with more information.

  40. In Costa Rica, in order to return to the US, can you use the COVID test kits that are sold on the airlines websites? We purchased the “city health” kits through Southwest. These are done online with a proctor watching the test being performed. Thank You for any help with this.

  41. United airlines says that you can use the Abbott home test to return to the US. the results are recorded on the NAVICA app. Will that work to get you on the plane back to the US from Costa Rica?

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