Last Updated: June 15, 2022
With Covid spreading due to the omicron variant, many people are wondering what happens if you test positive for Covid in Costa Rica. In this post, we’ll give you an overview of Costa Rica’s quarantine requirements and some practical considerations as well.
Background on Traveling to Costa Rica During Covid
Here are some helpful links before we get into what happens if you test positive.
For Costa Rica’s current Covid numbers, read our post, Costa Rica and the Coronavirus.
For current entry requirements, read our post, Traveling to Costa Rica During Covid-19.
For information on Covid testing locations in Costa Rica, read our post, Where to Get a Covid Test. It has options all around the country, in San Jose and major tourist destinations.
Background – Testing Positive for Covid in Costa Rica
Now that the US does not require a Covid test to reenter the country anymore, fewer visitors are testing for Covid in Costa Rica.
If you do go to a lab for a test and test positive, you will be subject to Costa Rica’s rules on quarantine.
The Costa Rican government does not have clear information for tourists about what happens if you test positive for Covid. The official Tourism Board (ICT) currently does not cover this on their website.
Below we give our understanding based on various regulations from the Costa Rica Ministry of Health and what we have gleaned from living here and working in the travel industry. You can find the Ministry of Health’s regulations on their website. Here is a link to one important document (in Spanish) for those interested. And another important document from January 19.
You also can find some information on the US Embassy’s website.
Although we have tried to ensure that the information we are giving is accurate, your experience may differ somewhat.
If you have tested positive in Costa Rica and want to share your experience, please leave a comment below to help others know what to expect.
Receiving a Sanitary Order
Prior to being tested for Covid in Costa Rica, the lab or medical clinic will ask for certain personal information like your email and phone number. They will use this to email your test results.
If your test comes back positive, the testing facility will send you the positive test result by email. There is a formal procedure where they will then notify the Costa Rican government.
You are then supposed to receive a quarantine order, called a sanitary order in Costa Rica. This will come from the Ministry of Health or local hospital/clinic. Usually, it takes a day or two to receive it after the positive test result.
If you have not received your sanitary order within a couple of days, try calling the lab/facility where you were tested to see if they can contact the government for you.
Quarantine orders can be for 7-10 days in Costa Rica. (Previously, it was 10-14 days, but on January 19, the Ministry of Health decreased the mandatory quarantine period. Here is a link to the relevant document.)
The exact number varies depending on the severity of symptoms. The Ministry of Health regulations say, for example, that people who are asymptomatic should receive a 7-day sanitary order. It is the same 7-day period for people with mild symptoms.
The start date of the sanitary order is usually the date of the positive test but it can be earlier (see FAQs below).
Travelers can pick where they do their quarantine. The Costa Rican government does not have quarantine hotels. You can choose any hotel or vacation rental that has space and make your own arrangements, at your own cost.
Note: If you are already in a hotel or vacation rental when you get tested (because you have not yet checked out), the government may state in the quarantine order that you must stay in that accommodation for the duration of your quarantine.
You will need to inform the government of where you will be doing your quarantine. The Ministry of Health or local public clinic is supposed to call you every day to make sure you’re staying there and not leaving, in compliance with the order.
We have heard, however, that not everyone gets called.
Still, you should know that Costa Rica takes sanitary orders very seriously so you would not want to be caught not abiding by one. It is a legally binding order. The only exception we have seen in the regulations for leaving during a quarantine is for getting medical attention. There is a hefty fine for being caught in violation of a sanitary order. Depending on the violation, the fine is 450,200 to 2,300,000 colones or about $700-$3,560.
You will need to pay all expenses associated with your quarantine. This makes it a very good idea to get travel insurance.
Some companies do cover quarantine expenses. Check out our post, Costa Rica’s Required Travel Insurance: 15 FAQs. Though insurance is now not required for those who are vaccinated, this article has links to several travel insurance companies that cover quarantine.
Airline Quarantine Requirements
Travelers also should check the quarantine requirements of their airline. The US Embassy advises that most US airlines require a person receiving a positive test result to do a 14-day quarantine before boarding a flight. This is according to CDC guidelines.
FAQs About Testing Positive for Covid in Costa Rica
What about the rest of my travel group/family? If they test negative, can they leave?
It seems that as long as the rest of the group tests negative and is not showing symptoms, they can leave Costa Rica. A sanitary order is in the name of a specific person.
This was the case for a family who we helped with some travel planning. Four out of five people tested negative. The person who tested positive was a child so one parent stayed back with them, while the others returned to the United States.
When does the sanitary order begin and expire?
Ministry of Health regulations state that the sanitary order begins on the positive test date and cannot be retroactive. However, the regulations then go on to explain that in determining the exact number of quarantine days, they will take into account the time between the onset of symptoms or the last contact with a positive case. We have heard of cases where the sanitary order date began before the positive test date.
The sanitary order will have a specific expiration date. The order expires at the end of that day.
Can I retest out of the quarantine?
According to the US Embassy, the Ministry of Health has stated that sanitary orders cannot be appealed. This is so even if the results of subsequent tests taken during the mandatory quarantine are negative. So it seems you need to wait out the expiration of the sanitary order.
What do I have to do to get back home after my quarantine? Retesting and proof of recovery.
The requirements to board a flight after testing positive differ by country.
For US travelers, the CDC no longer requires a negative test to enter. So after your quarantine period has expired, you’re free to fly. The airlines do have a database of who has tested positive so it’s necessary to wait out the quarantine.
For other travelers, we have heard that the Ministry of Health will email a document saying you are cleared to travel one business day after the quarantine period expires. This document may not come automatically. It’s best to contact the local health clinic that issued your sanitary order. The email address should be on the first page of your sanitary order.
If you do not receive a document of recovery from the Ministry of Health, you could also go to a private clinic or hospital to request one after your quarantine period expires.
It’s recommended not to retest after testing positive because you could keep testing positive for several months.
Where should I quarantine?
Being quarantined isn’t all that fun, of course, but you can make the best of it. We’ve heard of people picking Airbnbs with a private pool and other things to do on the property so that they can pass the time faster.
We also have had clients end their stay at a beach location (and get tested locally there). That way, if they test positive, they will have a nice spot to wait out their quarantine.
Quarantine Options Near the Airport
If you would prefer to quarantine near the airport so that you are close for when you fly home, the Hilton Garden Inn is a good option near Liberia Airport. They have an onsite restaurant so would be able to bring you food.
For recommendations in the San Jose Airport area, check out our post, Best Hotels Near SJO Airport.
How can I get supplies when I’m in quarantine?
In popular tourist destinations in Costa Rica, it is actually easy to get food delivered to your door. Most restaurants offer express (delivery) for free or a small charge. A few grocery stores deliver too (e.g., Automercado). Often the driver will have a credit card reader that you can just tap your card to pay.
In San Jose, you can use Uber Eats. Uber Eats also offers grocery delivery.
If you’re not in San Jose, it’s worth asking your Airbnb host or hotel front desk if they could help get you groceries. They should be able to do some shopping for you and just charge for their time. Costa Ricans are usually very friendly and helpful.
First, we hope that your Covid test comes back negative! We also hope that our article has given you a better idea in general of what happens if you test positive for Covid on a trip to Costa Rica.
Have a question about testing positive for Covid in Costa Rica? Ask us below.
Looking for more information to plan your trip to Costa Rica? Check out these posts:
Itineraries: Still trying to figure out the best itinerary for your trip? Check out our sample itineraries.
Getting a SIM Card for Costa Rica: Read our tips on using local cell carries for phone and Internet in Costa Rica.
Driving in Costa Rica: What to Know Before You Go – Planning to rent a car? Read our guide for information on what to expect for road conditions and customs.
I continue to receive your email updates, and although I’m not travelling to CR from Canada this winter, I very much enjoy reading your updates Jenn and Matt. Keep up the great work.
Thanks for all you do for those of us who love the beautiful country of Costa Rica!! I hope to return one day soon, after the world gets back to normal, if it ever does. God bless you both.
We have been in Costa Rica since the 6th. We came with a group of 19 for our wedding. On Saturday 10 of 19 tested positive for covid. Our hotel would not let us leave. So we are now paying an exorbitant amount of money to house 10 people. We had hoped to be able to find private lodging somewhere with a pool as we have 4 children. They moved us into a villa on the property that is feet from a pool making it torture for the little ones. Were we forced to stay because we do not have vehicles? We have also not received any direction on next steps or when we can leave. Nor have we received our sanitary orders. Is there something we need to do on our end?
Hi Tess, It could be that you were still in the hotel when you tested (and hadn’t checked out) that they required you to stay there. If you didn’t have accommodations at the time, then you would have had to find another place. The hotel will have its own protocols but you should have received a sanitary order for the quarantine from the Ministry of Health. This should come by email. Since your hotel seems very involved, I would ask them to contact the government since you should have received it by now. If they aren’t helpful, you could call the Covid hotline (1322) or the lab who did your Covid test. They should at least know who to get un touch with for where you’re staying.
I’m not sure I understand the concern about quarantining. The testing requirement comes from the U.S., not Costa Rica, as I understand it. And all the U.S. requires is a negative test within one day of travel. They do not require a negative test that has not been preceded or followed by a positive test. Merely that a negative test result has occurred. Also, the U.S. now allows at-home testing kit options to satisfy this. So if you take an at-home test in Costa Rica in order to return to the U.S. and the result comes in positive, but then you take another at-home test that comes back negative, you can board the flight and enter the U.S. using the negative test result, all perfectly legally. The U.S. laws are what required the negative result, and the negative result has been procured, there is no law from the U.S. about caring if you previously had a positive test result nor is there any Costa Rica law requiring you to take any test whatsoever, if you entered on a vaccine certificate. Is someone suggesting on this forum that you would for some reason report yourself to the Costa Rica authorities as having had a positive test result on an at-home test and ask them to put you in quarantine, even though they did not require you take the test, and the rules of the government requiring you to take the test, namely the U.S., have been complied with? Why would anyone do that? I have never been to Costa Rica but considering going and worried about false positive tests and this basic question came to me.
Hi Glenn, At home tests are a gray area but if you travel to Costa Rica, you are subject to its laws. Anyone who tests positive for Covid in Costa Rica is legally required to quarantine. Self tests are not recognized in Costa Rica (tests must be done at a lab or public clinic), but if you have symptoms of Covid or test positive, the health pass you fill out before entering the country says you have to comply with quarantine measures. So we think if you tested positive on an at home test and think you do indeed have Covid, you would need to go to a lab or clinic in Costa Rica for an official test so that your quarantine period would start. You could try retesting on an at home test to see if it does come back negative, or course. But if it didn’t, you’d want to go get an official test ASAP to start the quarantine period, since retesting is not recommended due to the likelihood of the test coming back positive for some time.
Also something for Glenn to consider… this website is super helpful for all nationalities, not just travelers from the USA. 🙂 I’m Canadian and will be visiting my sick father in Costa Rica in March with my daughters. We will need negative PCR tests to return home, but in January we had Covid in the house, and only one of my girls had a positive test. So she doesn’t need a test to leave Costa Rica, but we don’t actually know if myself and my other daughter had covid, since we initially tested negative with our medical system’s PCR testing, and I continued to be negative on rapid tests despite being ill… So unfortunately we could test positive on our exit tests and be stuck for an uncomfortable quarantine even if we aren’t still sick! Ugh, trying to wrap my head around all of this is a big challenge. Thank you to Jenn & Matt for your excellent advice!
Guys , I got some problem with positive test. 48 hours before departure, I was tested positive. It’s too late to reschedule your ticket for free. So I canceled my departure. I stayed at the hotel. 4th day no one contacts me. No phone, no email. I can’t find out anything anywhere. I have no symptoms at the moment. I have to go home. I don’t have any more money to stay here. I wrote 10 emails to the lab. All I got was the information they filed a report. But what’s next ?? After all, you can have these positive tests for several weeks and months ??? What should I do next? How can I get home ??.
What I can do?? I really get panic with strange situation???
Hi Thomas, Hope you have received your sanitary order by now! The Ministry of Health is likely really busy because of the number of positive cases we’re having. Did you check to make sure the lab has your correct email? Also check your spam if you haven’t already. You could also call the Covid hotline (1322) or ask your hotel for help.
Hi Dears ,I have got order sanitarny finish today. I just wondering, I can buy ticket fly to England or not. What will be happens if tomorrow my test will be again positive ? That what is make me worry..
Hi Thomas, Glad your quarantine is over. Do you need to take another test to get back into England? The information is confusing, but from the UK government site it looks like you don’t need a test before you fly if you are fully vaccinated. You do need a test if you are not fully vaccinated.
If you are transiting in a country that requires a negative test like the US, you can show documentation of recovery instead of a negative test.
So we think if you are fully vaccinated, you don’t need to retest tomorrow. If you have a connecting flight in the US, they’ll want to see documentation of recovery and your positive test result. Here are the links to the UK site with more information: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-testing-for-people-travelling-to-england, https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-to-england-from-another-country-during-coronavirus-covid-19#international-travel-rules-until-11-february-2022
We’re not completely sure about all this, but hopefully this information is helpful.
Did you end up leaving without a problem?
Hi Tess! Did you have the insurance? Did you submit claims? I’m looking for people who had the insurance and got reimbursements! Please let me know if so, to try to connect!
I’m double vaccinated, but tested positive at SJO airport right before my flight. This was one of the only sources of info in English I could find when I was trying to figure out what next. So I wanted to update everyone on what I’ve learned. I’ll start from after the positive results come back since the before is pretty well covered.
1. If at Lab Echandi in SJO, you get an email instructing you to go to 2 locations in the airport or the lab for assistance. If out of the airport, you need to go into quarantine and await further emails. I stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn La Sabana in San Jose (thanks, travel insurance!) – they took really good care of me. There are no guidelines for where to go, but my insurance was limited to hotels strictly (instead of airbnbs etc).
2. The same day as the test, I got an email from Lab Echandi who conducted the test. They asked a series of questions about my travel
and quarantine. I also got an email from the Ministry of Health with the Sanitary Order with the expiration date. As discussed, you can’t leave quarantine until the day after the expiration date listed. A doctor from the Ministry of Health then emailed with a series of questions (similar to Lab Echandi’s) in Spanish.
2. I called my airline (American Airline), and very fortunately rebooked my flight – now this is where it gets tricky. I rescheduled for the day after my quarantine order expired. This day happens to be a weekend (Sunday). The Ministry of Health, like most government offices, is closed on the weekend. So here’s what happened next after my quarantine:
I contacted the Ministry of Health doctor who was handling my COVID case. This is the person who will typically supply a letter of recovery needed to fly to places like the US. I emailed on the Saturday (my last quarantine day) and didn’t hear back. The office was closed. I contacted Lab Echandi and the COVID 24-hour hotline 1322 with the help of the Hilton reception desk – they couldn’t suggest anything except to call my airline and delay my flight. American Airlines is impossible to get ahold of (3+ hour waits) which wasn’t an option. I called Hospital CIMA in San Jose as suggested in this post – thank goodness! – the receptionist was very helpful. You have to go to the emergency room, ask for the COVID letter of recuperation, take a ticket and wait to get processed. It took me about an hour (but it could be more depending on the wait). It cost me $63, but the receptionist should be able to tell you the cost if you ask over the phone.
NOTE: the automatic email from the Ministry of Health referred to in other comments may have been a letter stating that your quarantine expired. THIS IS NOT A LETTER OF RECOVERY NEEDED TO FLY
From what I’ve been told, the letter of recovery sometimes take a couple of days to process, and if you’re planning to fly on a weekend, start planning alternatives because the Ministry will not send it on a weekend.
Hope this helps.
Hi Ashley, Thanks so much for the detailed information.
On the letter the Ministry of Health sends after the quarantine period is over, several people have said that their airline accepted that letter for purposes of the documentation of recovery. Someone even noted about how the document says it is not a letter of recovery needed to fly, but that their US airline accepted it anyway. So people should just confirm with their airline.
Hi Ashley! Glad you made it out! Did you have the insurance? Did you submit claims? I’m looking for people who had the insurance and got reimbursements! Please let me know if so, to try to connect!
Canada accepts results from COVID RT-LAMP tests which are self administered over video call with Telehealth. Have there been any issues with these results being a problem when checking in at the airport in Liberia?
Hi Louise, If Canada accepts that type of test, then you shouldn’t have a problem at the airport. If you’re asking if self-tests are okay, they are as long as they’re accepted by the country where you’re traveling to. Since that test is accepted by Canada, it should be fine. Lots of people have been using self tests without a problem.
I tested positive for COVID here in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. My boyfriend that I came with tested negative but he stayed here with me to quarantine for the 10 days so I wouldn’t be alone here. Do you know any doctors/ health care providers in my area that can provide the documentation that I recovered? And will my boyfriend have to test again to leave or can he use that same document from the doctor?
Hi May, You could call the Beachside Clinic in Huacas to get the medical clearance letter. Yes, your boyfriend will need to retest. If you’re from the US, the test needs to be done 1 day before you flight.
I am using emed tests for my trip to Costa Rica. (They are a self test that is proctored online) if I test positive I don’t know if they alert the government. So, who do I contact in the event of a positive test?
Hi Daphne, You could tell your hotel or vacation rental host and they would inform the Ministry of Health. Or you could call the Covid hotline, which is 1322, and they would help you.
Seems like CR doesn’t even know about my test results from emed So why not just wait for a positive result and go home. My wife and others left today and all they had was emed results
Yes, CR doesn’t know about the positive result because it was an at home test. But if you mean why not wait for a negative result, the problem is you can still test positive on a Covid test months after recovery. So that’s why the CDC doesn’t recommend retesting. Instead they want you to get a letter saying you are cleared for travel. Of course there’s a chance you don’t have Covid but those rapid antigen tests seem to have a very low false positive rate.
What happens if you test positive, go through the quarantine time given by the ministry of salud and then test positive again? For a US return.
Hi Jackie, It’s not recommended to retest since you could keep testing positive for up to 3 months after you’ve recovered. This is according to the CDC. Instead, they recommend getting documentation of recovery to present to the airline. This is your original positive test result and letter from a public health care official or doctor saying you are cleared for travel.
If you did retest and it came back positive, Costa Rica would issue you another quarantine order for 7 more days.
We are traveling to CR in February. I’m curious to know how long people are being required to quarantine.
Hi Lindsey, We covered this in the article. Quarantine periods are 10-14 days, but it seems most people get 10 days.
I tested positive on Jan 7th and was given an eight day quarantine. Unfortunately my test today (Jan 15) also came back positive and I’m now waiting for my second quarantine order. Also, the quarantine order stipulates where you must quarantine, in my case the hotel I said I was staying at when I filled in the test application. Multiple calls and emails to the Ministerio de Salud have disappointingly gone unanswered so I do not know if they are open to changing the location. I have not received a single phone call from them confirming if I am still at my hotel. Overall the Ministry (or at least the Santa Ana Region branch) seems pretty derelict following through.
7 days just tested positive good luck reading the order it’s all in spanish
I have a question and cannot seem to find an answer, and your webpage keeps popping up, so I thought maybe I could ask you. I am quarantined in San Jose due to a positive pre-flight test. It expires Saturday, Jan 15. How do I request the recovery documentation so I can make my flight back to the US on Tuesday? Everything I read says I can get “a letter from your healthcare provider or a public health official that says you have been cleared for travel.” I have no health care provider in Costa Rica, and where do you find a public health official?
Hi Barb, I think you could go to a private clinic or hospital and get this letter. Since you’re in San José, I’d start by calling Hospital CIMA or Clinica Biblica to see what they suggest. They are both very good private hospitals that do Covid testing and they also have many general practitioners on site for a consultation. The operator at CIMA speaks English so that may be a good place to start. I don’t think it has to be from your doctor, just a doctor who is helping you.
I’d also check your specific airline’s guidance on what to show. Some are very helpful (e.g., see Southwest’s info on what to show for proof of recovery here). Good luck!
Wow, thank you so much! I can’t believe you got back to me so soon! I told my husband if I was resourceful, and tech-savvy, (not to mention young and ambitious!) I’d create an advocacy site where US citizens could call and ask these types of questions, get phone numbers and addresses of places to stay, how to use Uber Eats, etc. If this had happened to my in-laws, who are in their 80s and 90s, I don’t know what they’d do. They have never used a computer or a smart phone!
I will make some calls tomorrow. There is another woman in the same predicament here at this hotel who is all by herself. Thankfully I have a husband who can walk to the store and get me coffee!
Thank you again. Have a wonderful night!
Jenn and matt my son is also in costa rica and tested positive. He has to search for a place for quarantaine. He is stayung in a appartement were he had to get out friday. He hasnt got a confirmatiin from the cdc how long he has to stay in quarantaine.
He has veen tested yesterday. Do you recommend a good hotel or place for qurantaine. Can the embassy help with a recovery documentation
Sorry your son tested positive and has to figure this all out. We’re not sure if the Embassy could help with a recovery document, but you could check. He shouldn’t have too hard of a time finding lodging to quarantine, we don’t think. If he starts looking today, he should be able to line up a hotel or vacation rental for Friday.
He should receive the sanitary order by email (it comes from the Costa Rica government). If he doesn’t get it soon, we would have him call the Covid hotline (You just dial 1322 when in country).
I wish u very best with ur health and good luck with the qurantaine.
My son is also in costa rica and tested positive. Were do u all stay in which hotel he needs a place for qurantaine. The cuurent place he has to leave this friday.
He is also alone. Do they call u evryday to check if u are in qurantaine or not.
I hope to here from u soon.
Sorry to hear about your son. I hope he is feeling ok. Since we were getting ready to fly out the day after the test, we are in San Jose, There are a number of hotels close to the airport: Courtyard by Marriott #2429-2700; Hotel Aeropuerto #2433-7333; Hotel Buena Vista #2442-8595; Hotel Martino #2433-8382; Double Tree #2209-1000; Wyndham #2209-9800.
I have never been contacted or checked on. That being said, there is a hefty fine if you are caught leaving your room. With everything else on this vacation going wrong, I won’t risk that! (Besides, he doesn’t want to expose anyone, I’m sure!) We have been using Uber Eats for dinner, and I think some markets will deliver – perhaps the folks at the hotel desk can help. I just now got a message from the lab that did my test. (I asked them about the recovery letter several days ago.) They said it does not come automatically. You have to get in contact with the Health Ministry Area in charge of your case. This is not real helpful, as I’ve tried to do that and I got a call center person who did not give me an answer. So, I will work on this today and if I find out anything I will let you know.
Thank u very much for the information. My son is doing well. The information is very helpfull. Hope u get the recovery letter. Keep me posted.
My son is also alone in costa rica.the place were he stays now, he has to leave friday. He is tested positive on tuesday. He hasnt got a confirmatiin how long he has to stay in quarantaine.
He has to relocate to another place because the appartement he stays in is booked till friday. Were do u all stay. In which hotel do u recommed to stay for stay for quarantaine.
I was able to email the Ministry of Health today. Your son can find the email address of the appropriate district on the top right corner of his isolation order. It will probably give him a specific email address for Covid issues- tell him to click the link. I gave them my name and passport number, the test date, the isolation expiration date, and when our flight leaves. I got a response within a few hours telling me they would email my document to me on Monday. (First business day after my isolation expires.) Hope this helps!
Hi Barb, Just to clarify, the Ministry of Health is providing you with the documentation of recovery (i.e., letter from a public health official that states you have been cleared for travel)? This is the first we have heard of them doing this so want to be sure. I know they send a letter releasing you from the quarantine, but was not sure this would quality as the documentation you need to fly.
That is my understanding. The letter my daughter got was on the Ministry of Health letterhead, signed by a doctor, but from the Osa district. The CIMA hospital here said you could also go to the ER and they would issue the document. I guess if I don’t get the emailed letter by late afternoon, that’s where I’ll go!
Ok, that makes sense. Thanks for the explanation! Hope the letter comes!
Also, airlines from different counties may have different rules. I am flying Delta, and I read that you should have your positive test AND the release document, and complete the attestation letter. (Haven’t checked into that one yet.) This must be a nightmare for those poor people at the ticket counter!
Thank u very much. Thus helps alot. Wish u all a safe flight back.
Hi Jenn and Matt,
Thank you so much for the helpful information that you’ve taken the time to pull together. My sister and I have been issued sanitary orders in Tamarindo. Do you have any recommendations for where to obtain a recovery letter in Tamarindo?
Again, thank you so much for the help.
Hi Maddie, We would try calling the BeachSide Clinic in Huacas. They are a very good private clinic with English-speaking doctors. This has probably come up for them before. Hope they can help you!
Hi. Ty for all the info. Very helpful. My daughter who is 18 was issued a sanitary order. I’m confused after reading the q&a’s whether the letter of clearance is given by the Minister of Health or a private doctor. Can you please clarify? Also, do you have any idea of how much a consultation w a private dr for such a letter would cost?
Additionally, I read that the quarantine expires at the end of the last day noted on the order. If she is mandated til the 19th, that means she can’t travel until the 20th, correct? She has to get back to college which starts on the 18th.
Also, how does the airline requirement factor in? I read that most airlines tequire a 14 day quarantine? We are flying American to the US.
Lastly, I tested negative and she tested positive, but we’ve been together the entire time. This has been helpful for me to help do stiff for her in this foreign country. I suppose I technically could’ve left, but she just turned 18 and I cannot imagine her navigating this situation here on her own. That said, what happens IF I now test positive before our flight? I imagine I’d have to start the process all over. I was thinking of getting another test now, before the 19th, in case I’m positive, so I can start the quarantine time, but then I’d be more confined w what I can do to assist her.
Thing is that if In left alone here, I have multiple sclerosis and often need assistance. I also have run out of 1 of my medicines, Aubagio, that is really expensive in the states and I’m not sure if I can get here. I was able to buy my blood pressure medicine, amlodipine, here for a pretty good price. I am on ssdi in the states which covers the cost, but I’m also on a limited income. We were visiting friends when this happened but cannot stay w them because of their medical ailments. The cost of this entire situation between lodging food, and testing is adding up. I had not purchased the insurance because it was pretty expensive as well.
Another question… Do we have to notify the hotel/airbnb of the positive result? What of the hotel asks?
Also, I.dont have a phone in CR… only my cell and it’s a $1/min for calls. You mentioned the number for the Covid hotline. How do I call that number if I’m calling from a phone based in the US? You’d also mentioned them having an email. Do you have that email address?
This entire situation has been nerve-wracking. Any advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated.
FYI, the sanitary order came by email the same day and they haven’t called my daughter every day.
Thank you for your time.
Hi Will, This is all in flux because it’s the first time that many tourists have been testing positive since the pandemic began so no one is exactly sure what all the protocols are at this point.
According to the CDC, the letter can come from a public health official or doctor. We have heard that the Ministry of Health will issue a recovery letter the day after the quarantine order expires, to satisfy the CDC requirement to get a letter saying you are cleared for travel. Someone commented recently that the Ministry of Health told them this (see comment from Barb on January 12). She did say that the letter will not come automatically and you have to request it from the Ministry of Health. The top right corner of the isolation order is supposed to give an email to contact.
Sometimes getting in touch with the government here isn’t easy so another way to satisfy the requirement is to get a letter from a doctor. Your daughter could go to a clinic or hospital to get this. We’re not sure exactly what they would charge but maybe around $50.
Yes, she can’t travel until after the quarantine order expires on the 20th.
We just tried to look up American Airlines’ quarantine requirements after testing positive and weren’t able to find anything. You may need to call them.
If you don’t want to risk getting stuck here longer, it may make sense to test now just in case it comes back positive. You should be able to get most things figured out online or by phone at this point hopefully.
Yes, you should notify the hotel so that they can disinfect the room properly after you leave. There is probably a law that says you legally have to do this.
You can call the Covid hotline for free from any landline in Costa Rica. Hopefully your hotel has one.
Hope you are able to figure out the rest of this without too much trouble. Take care!
The 1322 COVID hotline only works from cell phones, or at least that’s what my hotel told me after I couldn’t dial it using the phone in my room. (I am able to dial it using my cell.)
I am confused regarding the end date of the quarantine. If its the end of the day of the expiration date, the starting date is somehow not correct, otherwise I would need to stay for 11 days, not 10 days. What am I getting wrong? As far as I read and understood the isolation starts officially on the day of the positive test, that should be day 1. No? Thank you!
Hello. I’m very confused. We go next month. I understand we have to test 24 hours prior to flight to US.
If one of us test negative, can they person stay with the one that tested positive? And what is the letter I see people telling about? Something you have to get after your quarantine? Will that cause another flight delay? Im having second thoughts about going.
Hi Kathy, Yes, if one of you tests positive, the other who tested negative can stay to help. But they run the risk of testing positive later on a subsequent test taken before you both fly out.
The letter is a CDC requirement for flying back to the US. If you test positive, they recommend not retesting after quarantine is over and instead showing “documentation of recovery.” This is the positive test result from before, plus a letter from a public official or doctor saying you are cleared for travel. We have heard from people who this has happened to that you can email the Ministry of Health during your quarantine to request this and they will email you the day after your quarantine order expires. You could also go to a private hospital or clinic after the quarantine period to get the letter if needed. Hospital CIMA near San José has said that they will give you this letter if you show up at the Emergency Department.
Jen and Matt,
You may want to call your blog “Two weeks — or a financial and logistical nightmare, if you get Covid – – in Costa Rica!
I love reading your column, as it fills in the gaps of other tourist info/blogs— but providing hand-holding Covid advice will bring you away from your blog—and family’s intent and mission.
We returned to the US January 14 with negative tests —Thank you GOD!
Looking back, what an absolute nightmare it would have been logistically, with expectations back home, hotel’s availability/cost, rental car issues/cost, additional cost of Covid tests and transportation/parking in the town to get re-tested, issues with cell/phone —not to mention being ill while doing at all!
Costa Rica is trying to move from a third-to-first world tourist spot and doing an exemplary job, but there are always hitches: Full airplanes, crowded TSA/immigration lines, touching where a Covid – positive person has touched, etc.
Honestly, getting Covid in Costa Rica it WILL BE an absolute nightmare, with collateral expenses far beyond the room night charge of a hotel for seven nights plus Uber-eats—plus not fun “vacationing,“ even if you have a pool. The guilt of spreading it to staff and guests at the hotel.
What I’m hearing is that the first time, or unrealistic tourists are not thinking of the ramification of this happening. Although a it was a seemingly-expensive dis-incentive, perhaps it would be better if Costa Rica reinstated it’s 2020 required travel insurance because tourists “don’t know what they don’t know about how expensive and hassle filled this can be. Providing a 1233 number and consulate info (good luck) will not be enough for the hand-holding this is going to require. This should NOT be just you two doing it!
Take masks, distancing and touching seriously. And by the way, we got Covid on the final day or the flight/airport coming home. We never thought it would happen to us.
“Costa Rican adventure“ has now taken on new definition. Tourists: Be prepared and self-select.
If anyone has found a hotel in Tamarindo to quarantine can you let me know #1 how you found something with such short notice, #2 will they turn me away if they know it is a quarantine for positive test #3 how did you get food, drinks : any grocery that will deliver? thank you Janice
Hi Janice, The BM grocery store in Villareal delivers – see their Facebook page. We’ve heard Super Compro in Villareal does too. Legally, we don’t think hotels can turn you away if you tell them you need the accommodations for quarantine.
Hi there! I am going to Santa theresa next week and was curious if you know anything about quarantining there if i happen to test positive? And what medical clinics are in the area?
Also I am seeing lots of comments about requiring a letter from the ministry for clearance, do you know if this is the case across countries or US specific? I’m coming from Canada and it says I do not need a letter but just that I am between 11-180 days clear of Covid
Hi Nicole, There are a couple of small private medical clinics in Santa Teresa. You can find them in our post, Where to Get a Covid Test in Costa Rica. Just scroll down to the Santa Teresa section.
Only some countries require the medical clearance letter if you test positive. The US is one of them. If Canada doesn’t require it, then you don’t need it.
Hi Jen and Matt,
Do you think there is any chance of gyms and restaurants closing in areas of Costa Rica soon? I’m going at the end of January and I can’t find any info on if/when they will have another lockdown (I hope not!)
Hi Katie, No, we do not expect another lockdown. You can follow our Coronavirus post for any updates on changes to the restrictions.
Thanks you for all of this amazing information!
I have a question: if we test positive on the pre-flight (self-administered) test on February 22 before our flight to Canada on February 25 can we quarantine in the lodgings we are already in for those 3 days and then transfer to a different location for the rest of quarantine on February 25?
Hi Melanie, You can’t change accommodations once you are in the quarantine period. What we have been hearing from people lately is that the government is telling them that they need to stay at their current accommodation when they test positive. If you have already checked out of where you are staying, then you would probably have more flexibility to stay somewhere else.
HI Jenn and Matt. I am in the exact same situation as Melanie and we have accommodations in Jaco checking out Feb 23rd and spending our last night on the 24th in Playa Hermosa near the Liberia airport. We were planning on doing our test on Feb 22nd as Canada requires testing within 72 hours of our flight. So if we tested positive before checking out of our condo in Jaco the government would expect us to stay there? I am pretty sure our condo is already booked up for after we leave so we wouldn’t be able to extend our stay. Would it then still be okay to carry on to Playa Hermosa and get accommodation there? We do have a rental car so would not be taking any public transportation.
I Nancy we’re in the same situation as you ….did you get a answer from these folks?
Hi Greg, We missed Nancy’s comment from before but just answered it. You’re not supposed to leave. This whole process is far from organized, however. Vacation rental owners don’t all know what they’re supposed to do and how the Ministry of Health is handling where you’re supposed to stay in sanitary orders varies by canton (county). The whole idea, though, is that once you get the positive test result, you’re supposed to stay put so as to not have contact with others.
I see they just replied. Luckily for us we did the self-test thru Azova yesterday and both tests were negative so we can fly home on Friday. Hope it works out for you too.
Hi Melanie, I am sure your situation has already been resolved long ago. This answer is for others.
US wants a test within 24 hrs of flight, which makes it a big headache if result is positive.
When I tested, I provided the hotel I was staying at for the last night. Then I got the positive test result late night (my flight was at 6am next morning). I had to find another place in the morning. However, Ministerio de Salud had the last hotel. I didn’t want them to check and not find me, so I emailed them and explained the situation. They changed the sanitary order to the new hotel, without a fine and with same dates. Maybe I got lucky, maybe it is fine with a good explaination.
We are supposed to be flying into costa rica on the 22nd but i am very nervous about getting stuck there for a quarantine. We are flying into Liberia and staying at the riu. I was just wondering how bad it actually is and are there alot of tourists testing postitive?
Hi Melissa, Unfortunately, yes, a lot of tourists are testing positive right now. The Riu isn’t the best place to stay since it’s so big. Sorry we don’t have better news.
Hi – we are supposed to fly Feb 3 to Feb 9 staying at the Westin Reserva Conchal. It sounds like your advice now is to delay or wait until close to the date of departure to book/reschedule based on current positivity rates. Is this correct?
Hi Christy, It all depends on how comfortable you are and what kind of experience you want to have. Our family just got back from an 11 day trip in Costa Rica and didn’t get Covid, but we were careful. We didn’t go to restaurants much and did private tours or activities where we could keep our distance. People have to wear masks indoors but most people don’t wear them outside. If you rent a car, you can cut your risk a lot. You should find out from the Westin about their Covid protocols around the property in common areas. I would think they would be good since they are corporate.
I was in CR for the month of Nov. and had no trouble. But have you seen the infection rate there now? Vaccinated or not you will probably test positive no matter how careful you are. You have to be crazy to travel there (or anywhere out of the country for that matter) with Bidens 24 hour testing policy. If you do I’ll be reading your story here next.
Hi Charles, We recently returned from an 11 day trip in Costa Rica with our kids and did not get Covid. We stayed in three Airbnbs, didn’t go out to eat much (mostly got take out), and did private tours or outdoor tours where we had space from people. Yes, the numbers are high but it’s still possible not to get Covid. Thousands of travelers leave every day with a negative test. But yes, you have to be careful.
Hi Nancy, Sorry we missed your comment. Yes, you are not supposed to leave your condo in Jaco if you test positive. You’re supposed to stay where you are. They should not make you leave, even if they have people coming to stay there. Hopefully this is a nonissue and you tested negative yesterday!
Hello. I was on a tour where 17/23 of us have tested positive. We are quarantined in San Jose at the Doubletree. My question is how do we get a documentation of recovery to fly home after our ten quarantine period is over.
Thank you in advance.
Hi Susan, You can get it either from the Ministry of Health or from a private clinic or hospital. See our response to Wil on January 13 for more information.
Thank you. I saw the response after I sent the message. The front desk said they will send the documentation of recovery after the quarantine period is over. I sent an email to the Ministry of Health to see if they automatically send the form. Thank you! Your information is extremely helpful!
Hello – can someone confirm definitively whether the Costa Rican Ministerio de Salud sends you the official release letter after your quarantine expires that allows you to board a plane to the United States, or do I need to go see a doctor?
My quarantine period ends today (January 17th), and I have not received any more correspondence from the health ministry, and I am wondering if I should plan on going to see a doctor tomorrow morning to get a release letter so that I can fly home tomorrow afternoon.
Hi Max, We’re not sure if this is true in all cases, but we have heard that the Ministerio de Salud does not send the letter automatically. Rather, you have to request it from them. See the comments from Barb above for more explanation.
I am in Puerto Viejo Limon and I’m not sure if I have a virus or mild covid.I’m supposed to fly out next week.. Can I get a covid test without having to pay $150 for a pretravel test.?
Hi Debby, You could get tested for free at the public clinic in Hone Creek since you have symptoms.
Hello. My wife tested positive using an eMed proctored test today as our flight back to USA was tomorrow. The airline says we need to wait 10 days and then get a Documentation of Recovery for her to travel with the positive test. My question is do we have to notify the CR health ministry of the positive test result? eMed does not send the results to anyone other than the person tested. Thank you for your help.
Hi Martin, Yes, you should tell the Ministry of Health so you get her quarantine order and the 10 days starts (it is actually 7 days now). They should still date the sanitary order from the positive test date. You could call the Covid hotline at 1322 for help or ask your hotel or vacation rental host about how to get in touch with the government.
Hello Jen and Matt.
Could you please find any information written in spanish what about if someone is going to Mexico from CR and is positive? In Mexico you don’t need to show any test etc…
We are positive since yesterday 16.01. Yesterday late evening we recived letter about quarantain…. from ministro of salud. We tried to visit nikaraqua for 4 days that is why we made a test…
The flight to Mexico we have after 3 days 21.01.
At the airport in SJO before bording you don’t need to show any test…
Are we in some system that officers from the immigration border can see that we are still on quarantain?
What to do Amigos?
Hi Jarek, If you have a quarantine order, you are legally supposed to be in quarantine. That means no contact with other people. It doesn’t matter that Mexico doesn’t require a negative test to enter. We have heard that there is a database in Costa Rica of people who have tested positive and have been issued quarantine orders. Not sure if the airlines checks it but we wouldn’t risk it. There is a huge fine for violating a quarantine order.
Jenn and Matt
Yes you had right. If someone receive Sanitary Order then is in the BIG DATE. We were at the airport in SJO with tickets to Mexico and at the finall control the oficer which check our passport in the system said we are blocked. They called another person which explained us what to do etc… finally we are not in jail but still in CR at the airbnb apartament drinking CAPITAN MORGAN with COLA. Our quarantaine will end 26.01. Because we are not vaccinated, can we with positive test results and recovery documents fly to USA? Polish people doesn’t need Visa to U.S only ESTA…
Hi Jarek, I don’t think you can fly to the US as a non-US citizen if you aren’t vaccinated under the new CDC rules that were issued a couple of months ago.
Ministry of Health just reduced my quarantine period from 10 to 7 days, unsolicited.
Hi Rich, The Ministry of Health just announced today that the quarantine period would be reduced from 10 to 7 days for most people. We are updating our article with the information now.
If isolation period is reduced from 10 to 7 days, is this automatic or do I have yo mail them and ask for an updated isolation order
Hi Andrew, From what we have been hearing, they are not changing quarantine orders that have already been issued, just making the 7 days effective for new orders. We’re not sure what happened with the commenter Rich. Maybe his order was issued the same day as the new regulation took effect and that’s why they changed it. Wouldn’t hurt to email the Ministry of Health, though, anyway. You never know.
Hello Rich! You are also a tourist, right? The hotel told me the new rule only applies to locals, but not to tourists…. Not sure how to reply to that. If you have any additional imformation on your case m, please let me know. I am trying to get more information on the new quarantine rules and whether or not it applies to us.
Correct, we are tourists. My quartinine period is 7 days, my wife’s remains at 10 days. The local doctor said there is a glitch in the system whereas some people get a 7 day quarantine and some remain at 10 days. We are attempting to get her’s reduced to 7 days too.
I am a tourist, my wife’s order has not yet changed from 10 to 7 days. We spoke to the resort physician and he indicated that some did not receive the revised order due to a “glitch” He was going to contact the Ministry of Health to get her order changed.
We will see what happens.
You provide the best service! Pura vida!
Update my quarantine order was automatically changed to 7 days, my wife’s order was changed after she after emailed the ministry of health. That took 24hrs, they are swamped.
Hi Rich! Thank you for your answer! When did you take the test?? I received two times the same answer, that because my test was taken before 01/19 they will not change my sanitary order!!! (We did the test on 01/14)
Now I am hearing the ppl are getting new orders with only 5 days. This is a messed up and is annoying me soooo much! Those people get out sooner than we do…. I am not jelaous, but I would also like to enjoy a shorter quarantine, especially because I am with a baby. One more day to go…
Just needed to share my experience if it helps anyone else out!
I had my first symptom on January 6 and took a rapid test on January 8. I was in the jungle and unable to get to a lab. I started to isolate from that day.
I was finally able to get to a lab on January 13. Because rapid tests are not recognised in CR, my quarantine had to start from the 13th. (annoying as I had already been isolating for 5 days).
However the lab where I took the test submitted the results with many wrong details – including my email, phone, address etc. Meaning my passport number was ‘flagged’ with immigration (or that is what 1322 said) but there were no details so no one knew when I tested so they could not issue a sanitary order, but also could not tell me how long I needed to isolate. Talk about a nightmare limbo situation.
PLEASE double check the lab submits all details correctly. Including details around first symptom, first rapid tests, etc, as it will ultimately impact how long you are stuck! Include as much info as possible – the more the better!!
The lab refused to help, saying they were unable to change tests that were already submitted.
The consulate and embassy also refused to get involved.
Long story short it took about 5 days, endless calls and emails, getting the lab to verify with the ministry, to finally get a sanitary letter issued.
I highly recommend everyone download google translate as many ministry offices and labs do not have english speakers.
Your recovery documents are automatically issued via email around 1-4am the day AFTER your sanitary orders expire. Meaning you may be able to end isolation on Jan 24, but you cannot leave with paperwork until the 25th.
Per 1322, if you feel you are negative, and re-test during your isolation, but continue to test positive, your isolation dates will reset from the LAST test date.
If you have a friend that is a doctor, in theory, they could also issue you recovery papers, however it is a large liability for them, so not all doctors would be willing to participate.
I ended up being able to get the ministry to change my sanitary orders to recognise my first symptoms, isolation and test, merely because I had enough documentation as proof. Emails with the lab acknowledging I had shared details, screen shots of txt messages with dates, etc. It was a nightmare, however I was able to reduce my isolation by 4 days, from 14 to 10 days.
Also, you should absolutely complete your quarantine in an Airbnb if you are able to. I had a huge yard, private pool and private beach access. It helped the time go faster.
Heather, can you tell me how you got the Ministry of Health to communicate with you in the first place? I can’t get a single reply to an email and even when we called the 1322 line, they took our info and said someone would contact us from the ministry of health and we have heard NOTHING. How did you actually get to someone to help you?
I was on the phone with 1322 multiple times a day until they could get me a contact in the region I was in (the local ministry needs to issues sanitary and recovery letters). I usually had better luck with the afternoon shift. There was a lady named Janina who was super helpful. Maybe ask for her?? Juan Carlos was also great.
Happy to pass you emails of those at the Puentarenas / Barranca ministry office but unsure it will be much help!
How specific is the health pass question on positive tests? I am planning to travel to Costa Rica from the US next Saturday. I had a positive test on Friday but had symptoms since Monday. So it will have been more than 10 days since my symptoms started. Will I pass the questions on the health pass?
Hi Sarah, I think the health pass just asks you to certify that you are currently not experiencing symptoms as of when you fill it out. You can double check by trying to fill it out and then not submitting the information at the last step. Here is the link.
Just wanted to know if anyone has found a place in Santa Teresa that delivers the antigen test result within a couple of hours? Seems like the one I found takes up to 10hrs since they need to transport the tests to San Jose.
I would rather test positive and remain in Santa Teresa than in San Jose airport.
Hi Kristina, We don’t know of anywhere in Santa Teresa with a faster turnaround time. They send out the samples and don’t process them in-house.
Thank you so much for this info. Can anyone tell me if there is anywhere near san jose to purchase Abbot antigen kits or similar that are approved for US entry? We brought some but need 2 more. If anyone tested positive and subsequently retested negative can you please tell me how many days after testing positive? Our hotel tried to confirm quarantine length for us and said it is now 7. is that correct? Thanks!
Hi Janet, They just approved at home tests here but we aren’t sure if they are available for purchase yet.
Yes, the standard quarantine period is 7 days now (previously 10).
If you mean should you retest after testing positive, the CDC does not recommend retesting since you could keep testing positive for weeks or months. Here’s the link to the CDC site with more information: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/testing-international-air-travelers.html
Hi there, I am traveling to CR next week (Liberia) and I just saw your comment. I have done some research and it looks like you can now at-home test with video observation (I will be using the On/Go tests) I just wanted to know if this website is legitimate and if this is a safe route for testing? https://www.azova.com/traveltesting/index.html
Hi Caroline, Sorry, but we really aren’t sure if this site is a good one to use or not. Perhaps someone else will be able to chime in.
Keep in mind with that with at home tests, if you test positive, you will need to be retested at a lab in Costa Rica for the quarantine period to start. Costa Rica doesn’t recognize at home tests. After you get the official lab positive result, the government will send you the quarantine order, starting the 7 day quarantine period, which will allow you to leave when it’s over with documentation of recovery. At home tests are convenient, but we are learning can be a pain if you end up testing positive. Just something to think about.
thank you for the valuable information. I have an urgent need for help if anyone knows the answer. My son and husband tested positive on 1/22/2022 – we got a Sanitary order with my husbands name on it (and his passport number) as custodian for my minor son. The title of the sanitory order says (aislamiento de persona menor) so it appears to ONLY be for my son. We got that in the middle of the night after they tested positive (so early am 1/23). We have NEVER gotten a separate order for my husband. Both he and I have emailed the Ministry of Health and called the hotline (1322) giving them the information and trying to obtain my husband’s order…..we are on day three, still no sanitary order. First, do we HAVE to have that order for my husband in order to fly home? I have exhausted all I know to do to obtain one…..I am at my wits end. Can anyone help?
Hi Michelle, Hopefully you have received the sanitary order for your husband by now. You will want it to start the isolation period, so that he can travel with the positive test result and documentation of recovery after the quarantine period ends. You don’t want him to have to retest because if he tests positive, the quarantine period will start over.
Keep calling 1322 or emailing the contact details on your sons document!
While the sanitary order is important, it’s not as important as the recovery document which allows for the leaving of quarantine and getting on a flight without a test!
Hi my brother got and email saying hi quarantine is over and This message is not a lifting of a health order, nor is it a recovery document, ya meaning we can’t give you letter saying you gave recovered
Hi Gina, We’re not sure. Did it come from the Ministry of Health? Usually they are very formal. We have heard from multiple people that they issue a recovery letter the day after your quarantine order expires.
Hi. We are traveling to CR in about a week. I followed the link in the paragraph where it said that the Health Ministry has reduced the quarantine to 7 days to those that are not ill and do not have symptoms. Un fortunately that document is in Spanish. Do you have a link to any posted information of the 7 day quarantine that in English?
Some people in our traveling party are concerned about the 14 day quarantine, but could live with a 7 day one. Hopefully CR did change to the 7 day or US 5 day quarantine or they will lose lots of tourism.
Hi Marge, All the information from the Ministry of Health, including the link to the document with the new 7-day quarantine period, is in Spanish. You can download the pdf and run it through Google Translate. There is an option to upload a document.
The Costa Rica Tourism Board does not have the information on their website. We live in Costa Rica (have been here for eight years) and follow the news. Often our information is the most up to date online, because we need to follow it closely for our travel agency business.
Here is another link to the Ministry of Health website showing the 7-day quarantine. This is a short, straightforward article. Right at the top, you can change the language from Spanish to English.
We just left Costa Rica after quarantine. My husband and son tested positive on Saturday 1/22 – the Sanitary order for their quarantine was 5 days (started on 1/23 – day after the positive test). The quarantine end date on the sanitary order was Thursday 1/27. We were able to fly home yesterday 1/28 with the letter from the doctor saying they were fit to fly. I have no idea why they only received a 5 day quarantine but just thought I’d throw that out there for anyone interested.
Hi all, if I test positive at a hotel before our original flight, the hotel has no rooms available for quarantining, what do I do?
Hi Jana, We think that the hotel is legally required to let you stay even if they have another guest coming in. That is assuming you do the test when you are still checked in to that hotel. If you test positive after you check out, you would need to find another place to quarantine.
My hotel kicked me out as they were not ‘set up to handle quarantining guests’
Irazu Best Western Plus in San Jose is set up specifically for quarantine!
Thanks soo much! I will get these publications translated. We love traveling to CR this will be our 6th tripthere! We love the country and the people. Thank you for also being a good source of information. I looked at your sample book on Amazon and plan to purchase it.
If I get a letter of recovery from a Dr can I leave before quarantine is over?
Hi Pamela, No, you need to wait out the quarantine period. You legally can’t leave quarantine once you have been issued a quarantine order.
Hi! Question, if you test positive, ( I read here the gov’t should advise within a day or two if you stay at your current accommodation) however, at an airbnb/hotel, if theyre full booked (for your previous checkout) does the standing order trump this? and if the order doesn’t specify, how do you get to another accommodation being positive?
Any insight would be appreciated
Hi D, If you’re already checked out, you would book something new and inform the Ministry of Health of the new location for your quarantine, then get there ASAP. If you aren’t checked out, we think they are supposed to let you stay, even if they have other guests coming in.
Dear Jenn and Matt,
This blog post and all the comments to it has been so much more helpful than any information I was able to gather from the US Embassy or the hospital that tested our two year old daughter on Thursday of last week (January 27th) when she tested positive. We were supposed to fly on Friday, but rescheduled it and found another Airbnb rental in the same building we had been staying in during our trip. I had brought several at home test kits with me on the trip and she actually first tested positive on January 17th. We thought she would test negative by the time we were to fly back and isolated with her for the week the CDC now recommends. Luckily she had only mild symptoms and a fever for one day. As a mother her health was my top concern. My regret now is not taking her to a local lab right after testing positive at home that first time. Had I done that we would have been able to get fit to fly letter from the hospital for our flight back given 2 weeks had passed by the time we went to the hospital for testing. Unfortunately, since there was no government record of that at home test they said there was not a “constancia” to be able to provide us with that letter, despite having texts and pictures of the positive at home tests. It is now Monday and I am still waiting for the email with the sanitary order to tell us the number of days we are required to be here. I was told by the hospital that the day after the expiration of days on the order I should return to the hospital and go straight to the emergency room lobby where they will process the letter. I was also told that it does not make sense to retest her as she may test positive again and that with the completion of the order we should have no issues getting the letter. While all of this has caused headaches and frustration, your blog has given us a sense of calm over it with people sharing their own experiences of waiting to get the email and such. Sharing our experience so that it might provide some help and perspective to others. Hope to update here once all of this runs its course.
This is all very helpful, thanks. We plan to add a section about at home tests since this seems to be a recurring problem for people. Hope you receive the sanitary order soon. Glad your daughter is doing better. And yes, please update to let us know how it goes if you have a chance.
Dear Jenn and Matt,
Upon receiving the positive test at the hospital last Thursday I have been emailing with the Ministry of Public Health (email@example.com) almost daily (except not over the weekend in between assuming their offices were closed) about our situation and asking for the “orden sanitaria” and clarity about the process since I had not received it all of these days. It may not have been the best way to communicate with them but given I don’t have a reliable phone here and our airbnbs have not had landlines, I thought it better than calling the 1322 line, as each time I called from my cell I would be on for long periods without anyone picking up. I also have a few email threads now with the back and forth and proof that I’ve been trying my best to get the order and follow it since we got the positive result. Yesterday, the seventh day of waiting, I finally had substantial progress via email. At first I received a message from one person that said that we would not receive an order given her symptoms started two weeks before the positive result. I was very confused by this and left wondering what I should do if I didn’t get an order. However, a little while after getting that email, someone from the ministry who is in charge of issuing orders for the district where we are staying (District of Carmen) wrote me to say the last person was incorrect and that their unit was in charge of issuing these orders for people found within the district to have tested positive. She then indicated that an order would be issued and that it would show 7 days of quarantine, the last day being that day, which happened to also be the day of this email exchange. I thought it strange though that this person did not send the order with the email or indicate when I should expect it. As has been the case each day I sent one last email asking about when I would receive the order and the next steps to no response at the end of the day. This was Wednesday after testing positive Thursday. Overnight and at 4am today on Thursday 2/3, I finally received the order in my email noting that the last day of quarantine was yesterday. We plan to go to the hospital where we got the positive result to request the fit to fly letter now that we can show we completed the quarantine with the order showing the end date of the quarantine as yesterday. I am left wondering whether we would have ever received it had I not been persistent emailing everyday. I am not certain. Anyhow I do hope the next steps will be less frustrating than this.
Update: Before we could even arrange to go to the hospital and within about a half a day from getting the order, I just received the official recovery letter from the Ministry of Health. Per the airlines policy page on reentry to the US, I think we have what we need without needing the additional medical certificate/fit to fly letter. Its my reading that either will work to return. So it looks like we should be good to go home now. What a week it has been.
A last update, we flew home on Saturday 2/5 as a family. My husband and I did our preflight tests at the Aeros Holding Echandi lab at the site behind the domestic terminal at the airport where you get a shuttle to the international terminal afterwards, just hours before our flight. We tested negative. No one there had any guidance about our daughter’s situation. They said all of the rules are subject to the airlines policies. When we checked in, no one asked to see her paperwork and we had no issues checking in. We made it through security line with no issues or questions. We waited for our flight and flew home. No issues when going through immigration desk in the US after we arrived. Not sure if any of this means they had information on their screens that made it a non issue or if given our daughter is 2.5 years old this was all not as big a problem as I had thought. In any event we made it home safe and sound. Happy we quarantined a bit longer and followed the process to have the peace of mind that comes with having our paperwork in order in case it was asked about. Good luck to those of you trying to figure out your process.
Hi Jenn and Matt
Going to Costa Rica in March with my kids and grandkids. We are all fully vaccinated and our fear is one or more of us gets Covid in Costa Rica and has to quarantine. Do you know if we can buy insurance that covers the cost of quarantining knowing as vaccinated travellers we don’t need Covid insurance to get into Costa Rica? Thanks Howard Green, Toronto
Hi Howard, Yes, you can buy travel insurance that is supposed to cover the cost of quarantine. Some insurance companies started including it a while back when Costa Rica required everyone to travel with Covid insurance. You can find the names of some companies people have used in our post on Costa Rica’s Required Travel Insurance.
Thanks Jenn and Matt,
Been checking with companies and seems they have accommodations coverage as part of a broader Covid medical plan. Where it can be separated, it appears difficult to get that coverage for the quarantine period of time when air departure was prevented by a positive test.
Being Canadian and having three adult kids and 4 grandkids besides my partner with me, no one can leave with a positive test within 72 hours of departure and once tested positive, a sanitary isolation order from the Health Department will also be imposed for 7 days.
So, we need accommodations insurance for the days after we are scheduled to depart ? Do you know if this is possible?
Thanks and love your blog!
Hi Howard, The only options we know of for quarantine coverage include it as part of a broader Covid travel insurance policy. We haven’t seen it broken up separately, Covid medical and Covid quarantine. These broad policies are supposed to cover the quarantine expense for after the missed flight. That’s the point of them. Not sure if that answers your question but that’s all we are aware of for options.
My daughter and I are traveling there next week. Has anyone had success with travel insurance reimbursement due to testing positive and mandatory quarantine?
Kameron!! I’ve been looking for someone else! I tested positive. I have managed to get reimbursed for additional testing and the hotel but none of the services provided by the hotel, such as transport to the alternate airbnb – since I couldn’t stay my whole isolation period at the first hotel, food costs for what was provided by the hotel/airbnb managers, etc. I am looking for anyone else that has submitted claims and gotten reimbursed for any of these items as part of the quarantine expenses. It seems obvious that if you can’t leave your hotel everything would have to be included, but the insurance company is giving me hell and trying to limit it to only the cost of the actual room. Any other examples that show ALL accommodations services as required reimbursables for the CR-mandated insurance would be a God-send!
Amazing thread. So helpful for those of us positive here in CR. For those who are getting the letter of recovery are you able travel right when you receive the letter after 7 days quarantine or are you having to wait until 10 days per CDC.
As everyone has said I did get my letter of release early in the morning of day 8. It specifically says on it it is not a for to fly letter but everyone seems to have had success leaving Costa Rica with it so I thought I would try. Flying out of Liberia on United I approach the counter and hand over my positive test and this letter of release. The letter started a flurry of activity with supervisor coming over to look at it and then taking pictures of it to send onto higher powers. After about 20 mins of anxiety I was cleared to checkin and board the plane. Looks of unnecessary stress. Also it was day 9 after testing positive but no one seems worried about the CDC 10 day rule. I hope this is helpful to others travelling.
We put ourselves through way more stress than necessary. Our rapid antigen test came back positive on 01/24. Our hotel couldn’t work with us to stay there (prices had doubled since our booking, which was too much for us, and they only had space for 3 days), so we quarantined in the Hampton Inn by the airport.
Everyone there was very accommodating. We were initially told that for 5+ days, they require a negative test, but when we explained the situation, they understood completely. They even brought the complimentary breakfast to our room every day.
Our sanitary order came through at about 6 p.m. on 01/25, the day after we tested. It had our initial hotel on it, but we remained in touch with the concierge there, and as far as we know, no one called to see if we were there. We attempted to call the 1322 hotline to figure out how to update our location and after a dozen or so attempts, got no answers and gave up.
Our order expired 01/30, and the latest flight out we could get on 01/31 was at 3:25 p.m. To be sure we could get a clearance letter in time, we called Hospital Metropolitano Quepos (where we tested), and never got anyone to answer. We emailed and messaged on WhatsApp and got no response. Finally on 01/30, I got an answer from the San Jose location and was told that they had no available appointments for consultation before our flight, but if we went to the ER, we just had to show them the order and they would issue the letter.
Next morning, we did this and were told that the doctor qualified to do this was not there. After many desperate pleas, we were able to schedule with a doctor at CIMA Hospital, who issued our letters at a total cost of 64,000 CRC for both me and my husband.
We had received our sanitary order completion notices via e-mail around 2 a.m. the morning of 01/31, but they stated very clearly that this was not a recovery document. As it turned out, that was all the airline (American Airlines) needed to see to allow us to board.
I can’t say no one will need anything more, of course, but had I known they wouldn’t request medical clearance, I could have saved a lot of time, money and headache.
Hope this helps someone else going through this stressful process!
Hi Cindy, I tested positive on 2/5. Still waiting for my sanitary orders. I am in Liberia. I plan to fly American as well. Just confirming it sounds like we just need the positive test & the sanitary orders to rebook? That’s what American told me at the airport when I tested positive. Just want to make sure I actually don’t need that recovery letter?
Hi, Kelly. I’m so sorry you’re going through this; it is so stressful!
Mandatory qualifier that I can’t guarantee our experience was standard, but we did not have to provide any documentation from a physician.
American Airlines just checked our sanitary order, and the document we received from the Ministry of Health that stated the order had ended. That was all we needed to board the flight.
I know the situation is ever-evolving, so double-checking with an AA rep was a good idea. It sounds like what they have told you lines up with our experience.
Unfortunately it has been a nightmare. I have been kicked out of best western due to the positive Covid test. (I notified ministry as I thought they could not do this) luckily I was able to find another hotel to accommodate me for the time being. I did recieve my sanitary orders and have booked my flight home for the 12th!
We were just assured but the Health Ministry that what they send us tomorrow will be sufficient to fly 2/11. It seems that Steph above was able to board with these documents. It has been straight forward so far – test and quarantine in Drake Bay and got our Sanitary Order the day after testing despite the necessary transport to a lab off the OSA Pennisula. Here’s hoping the next phase goes as well.
Based on this information, I called United Airlines about traveling with just the sanitary order completion. They were adamant that we needed to have a Letter of Recovery as well. Hope it is not a huge hassle to get in one day!
Hi Kathleen, Not sure where you are staying but CIMA Hospital near San Jose can issue these letters quickly. You just need to go to the emergency department. If you’re not near San Jose, a private medical clinic should be able to give you one.
Update: We are in Drake Bay and things have gone very smoothly. We were feeling symptoms so did a home test. Because we needed official results we went to a small clinic and they were willing to test us because we had gotten a positive on the home test. The clinic sent our test off Osa to a lab and we got results and Sanitary Order for 5 additional days (they counted the days we had symptoms before). The Health Ministry contacted the owner of the Casa we are renting with details of our quarantine. She gave us a contact number and we have been emailing her with our info and the fact that we need to fly out on 2/11. Today was our last day of quarantine and this afternoon our Certificates of Recovery were emailed to us. Perhaps systems are catching up with the surge or maybe because we are in an area with less volume, but it has been quite straight forward
My quarantine ends on 2/11 and I plan to fly on 2/12. So I’ve emailed them in hopes I can get everything prior to my flight. What a complete nightmare from start to finish this is.
Later update: we got our Certificate of Recovery on 2/9, but when we showed up for our flight on 2/11 we were told that CDC had changed the quarantine back to 10 days a few days before. The agent say we couldn’t fly until 2/14. He talked to a supervisor and got the same answer. We were calmly trying to figure out where we were going to spent an additional three days while he looked for flights on 2/14. Suddenly he came out from behind the desk and whispered to us that he was going to get us on the flight that day. He said he should print us boarding passes from the kiosk not the main desk. I can only think he was having a hard time finding us a flight and was being kind. Home safe and sound. Quite the adventure.
I’m traveling to CR soon and this site has been so helpful! I’m wondering if anyone who had to quarantine has flown back to the US on Avianca Airlines, and what was their experience? Did they require a letter of recovery from a physician, or did the Ministry’s letter releasing you from quarantine suffice?
And has anyone been successful in getting travel insurance to actually pay out benefits after quarantine?
what if people quarantine in a big hotel with small kids – can they not leave their hotel room even if everything is outside once they leave the room?
Hi Js, No, you are not supposed to leave your hotel room. The point of the quarantine order is to avoid contact with everyone. If you stayed at an Airbnb that was a private house, then you’d be ok going outside within the bounds of the property.
We are from Canada and have tested positive yesterday. Waiting for our sanitary order now. Canada only requires a positive test 10 days before flying to fly out. I believe that means we don’t need the “fit to fly” or recovery letter? Can someone confirm this?
If Canada only requires the positive test, then you shouldn’t need anything else. The US requires the recovery documentation but not all countries do. If your flight connects in the US, you would have to meet the US requirements, but otherwise I think you’re fine.
Hey all! Canadian here! I tested positive Feb. 4 and received 2 different “orden sanitaria” orders on Feb 6th. The first was for 7 days proceeded by the second one for 5 days. I assume it was a glitch in the system however the 5 day order was sent after the 7 day one which from my understanding of legal documents supercedes the previously sent one. Regardless I was unable to contact the costarican authorities to get any clarification or to notify them i had already left the location stated on the quarentine order and had checked into a private appartment. I also received two different “end of quarentine” notifications for each date. I am now out of quarentine in costa rica but am unable to fly back to Canada till 11 days have passed from my positive test. I feel like a fugitive not being able to return to my country even though the province I fly into only requires positive vaccinated people to quarentine for 5 days. I have the option to retest for a pcr but risk facing another positive result due to “shedding virus”. Has anyone tried to retest? If you are positive are you forced back into Costa Rican quarentine and put back on the no fly list for another 5-7 days? My at home rapid test is negative but there is still a risk that the PCR might pick up shedding cells.
Also Thank-you for this article it is the only useful information I have been able to find!
Hi Jd..or anyone that can advise re. Canada. My daughter tested positive on an antigen test and received a sanitation order for 7 days. The Canadian government requires a negative test (either antigen or molecular) or a positive molecular test (which she didn’t do to begin with) plus a 10 day wait. So here is the rub..she will have to retest once out of quarantine and hope for a negative test to come home. But my questions is — if it is positive will that mean a new sanitation order? would she be able to take a molecular test (which would likely be positive too) to start her 10 day wait? She is in a hotel near the airport with a flight scheduled for day 8. She has requested a recovery letter but I don’t think that will negate the Canadian entry rule. Does anyone have any advice?
I am sure by now, May 11th, your daughter has returned home, but for anyone else…
After your quarantine period ends DO NOT test again. It will be positive and if it is reported to CR Gov., you’ll get another sanitary order.
You only need a Dr. Release letter confirming you are fine… don’t have 103° fever!!!!
Hello and thank you for your many useful posts. Do you know what would be best to do if you test positive at a hotel and have a rental car to return the next day? Do the insurance policies cover rental cars? Would you be able to leave just to return the rental car? Concerned by this possible scenario.
Hi David, The rental car company should be able to come get the car at your hotel. Most companies will do this for free as long as you’re not staying too far from their office. The rental company that we recommend, Adobe (you can find information on our discount through them here), does this as long as you’re within 12 miles of their office.
I ended up cancelling the at hotel test and tested at SJO and thankfully tested negative. The hotel was outside of Jaco. I will add for anyone reading the testing site outside SJO was fairly well run and efficient. I was emailed my results 20 minutes after being swabbed.
Hi! What if a positive test puts me over my 90 days?
Hi Jennifer, We’re fairly sure that with the quarantine order, you don’t have to worry about the 90 days expiring. We would just bring the positive test and quarantine order with you when you leave to renew your visa in case Costa Rica asks about it on the way back in.
Great information here. I could not have navigated this process without the information you have posted. I tested positive 2/24 and could not board my flight back to the US on COPA. I finished my 7 day quarantine in SJO (my hotel allowed me to stay). They were very nice to me here, and Costa Rica is probably one of the best places in the world to have to quarantine if you have to do that. The Health Ministry emailed me my quarantine order within 2 days after testing positive. I decided not to wait for the recovery letter and walked over to the office in my zone the first day I was out of quarantine (I learned that you must go to the office from where your order letter was issued). They emailed it to me within a few hours after that. I initially was planning to fly home 3 days after my quarantine ended (day 10) but Copa said that I may not be able to board unless I waited until after day 14 (apparently some check-in people are still following this older 14 day requirement at some airlines). So I’m booked now to leave on day 15. My question here is my Recovery Letter from the Health Ministry says I’ve recovered but does not specifically state that I am “cleared for travel.” Does anyone know if that specific language needs to be included in the recovery letter (the “Certificado de Recuperacion” from the Health Ministry). I hope you can help – I don’t want to get turned away at the airport after all of this!! Thanks
Amazing site with a wealth of information!
I am having trouble finding specific information regarding Covid hospitalization discharge. Here’s our situation…
I will be traveling to Costa Rica next week for vacation with my family from the US. We are all fully vaccinated.
My wife has had a preexisting lung condition (Pulmonary Hypertension) for 15 years, so every time we travel I purchase emergency medical evacuation travel insurance in case we need it. Thankfully, we have never needed it!
Because my wife’s condition is so rare, she requires very specialized medical services from her doctors here in Los Angeles.
Here is my question: If my wife contracts Covid in Costa Rica and has to be hospitalized (in Costa Rica), I would want to activate our emergency medical evacuation service to fly her home to her specialists. If she was deemed stable enough to travel, would a Costa Rican hospital release her for private emergency medical travel if she is Covid positive?
I can’t seem to find any information on this specifically.
Thank you for your help and guidance!
Hi Sean, I don’t think you will an official answer to this, but according to Costa Rica’s regulations, they wouldn’t release her. However, practically speaking, we think it’s likely that they would. We would get the US Embassy involved if this were to happen (hopefully it won’t!). Our Covid numbers are very low right now so that is good.
My son tested positive April 1 and has to quarantine for 7 days. I was able to return to the US and I am trying to book a flight home for him. Does anyone know with Alaska Airlines if he will be able to leave Day 8 when his quarantine is up? Thank you.
Did anyone answer your question? I am in the same situation, only 9 days since testing.
Need to be sure airline will let me board before going to airport.
Hi Jenn & Matt,
Thank you for this blog. It is also the only place I have gotten any decent information on quarantine issues.
I tested positive on Tuesday April 5 at 12pm. I went to the Hilton Inn Airport in Liberia and made a 7 day reservation. It is now Wednesday April 7 at 4:30 pm and I have not received a quarantine order by email. Have you heard of it taking longer than that (52hrs)?
I am going to try and arrange for a medical professional to come to hotel after my quarentine period with coordinate from the hotel manager to get my “Letter of Recovery”. I do not want to wait on the Ministy of Health to send an email. Have you heard of any other medical centers near LIR airport that I can get the letter from?
Hi Barry, Sorry for the delay. We have been traveling and not online for work as much. We have heard of quarantine letters taking a long time. I think it depends on where you are. We recently tested positive and it took 4 days for us to get ours. We live in the Jaco area. Hope you were able to figure it out without too much trouble.
Hey guys – This is a great website and some great information. I am came hear on Business trip and on the day of travel to US i got tested positive for Covid.
I am currently in quarantine for 5 days. And i chose to stay in the same hotel.
Here are a few observations which might help someone.
1. I was nervous that i got tested for covid in a foreign country but so far it’s been good from basic stay perspective food, shelter etc
2. Not knowing what to do is a problem. Here are the few things
3. Once tested positive (Tested @ hotel day before my flight departure), i got a letter from Health ministry within 4 hours that i am quarantined for 5 days.
4. I used this to extend my stay with the hotel for 5 days
5. Rebooked my flights accordingly
6. We need to show a letter of quarantine completion from Health ministry or get a doctor to write a letter that you are doing good (on the day of departure)
#6 should be good enough to get you checked into the hotel.
Hope this helps everyone.
I know this is an older thread, but does anyone know if the airlines will accept a certificate of recovery from a doctor via a telemedicine doctor like Doctors On Demand or Quick MD? Our sanitation order expires on Wednesday, we’d like to try to fly out on Thursday but the flight is at 6:30 a.m. so I think getting over to CIMA and getting the certificate might be difficult in that time frame. Thanks in advance!
First of all I just wanted to say “THANK YOU!!” to everyone that has posted thier experiences and information! Its been a life saver for me!!
I’m writting this as I am quarranting in SJO as my COVID test came back positive. I took the test the morning I was scheduled to fly home to the USA. So I’d already had checked out of my hotel.
As I was travelling to SJO on company buisness. I let them know what happened. They said to book another hotel and any expeness I incurred just to pay for it with my corparate credit card. Which I did. I am greatful I was able to book a hotel close to the airport with a restaurant on site.
Just so everyone knows. It is local CR law that forces you to have to quarrantine in CR if you test negative. Not your country of arrival.
For example. If I had been flying to Mexico instead of the USA. I would have NOT needed to get tested as Mexico has never required a COVID test to enter. So, I could have left CR with no problem. But since I when I was flying to the USA. I had to quarrantine.
As a side note, I fly down to CR very frequently on the same airline. All the airport airline staff know me. So much that the airline manager has my contact info. Which was helpful. The manager contacted me directly about 2 hours after my 1st test came back positive. They asked if my passport number was xxxx. I replied yes it is. They stated they had just received a text from the CR health ministry I had tested positive and was barred from leaving CR. That tells me they take the positive test result, seriously.
The manager was kind enough to meet me at the terminal and offer thier assitance. They also suggested as it was still several hours before my flight I should go get another rapid test at another lab. If that one came back negative to email the results to them. They would take it up with the CR health folks at the airport to let me leave. I did get a 2nd test at another lab the same day and it too came back positive.
Well, a couple of updates. The CDC has updated thier quarrantine requirements to 5 days now. However CR has not. But they are doing only 7 days instead.
I contacted the Clinica Bilibia. Asked how to get my “Letter of recovery” from them. They advised to come to thier 24 hour emergency room. At check in to let the attendant know what I was there for. The cost is 62000 CR Colones, $95USD, €90EURO.
I tried calling the Hospital CIMA. They haven’t answered the phone. Either the local or 855 USA number.
Knowing this I know have my plan to leave San Jose the day my quarrantine officially ends or the next day.
Basically, if you are coming as a tourist to Costa Rica. Make sure you have saved enough money to cover 7 days of a hotel stay, meals, taxis, laundry, bring enough medicine. Plus enough for any other expense. Also travel insurance too before you fly down.
Finally, if you or any other member of your travelling party have runny nose, a sore throat, sneezing, cough, any level of sore throat, get tested before flying down. Because it could save you from a major headache. I tested negative the day before I flew down. Even though the result was negative. I should have trusted my gut and told my company I wasnt feeling well.
Hope this helps someone out as well.
One thing I forgot to mention. Very important!!
On April 30,2022 the 1322 covid phone line was shut down by the ministry of health. Also, a lot of the links listed here to the health ministry have also been taken down. You get a 404 error.
Hi Eddy, Yes, we heard that the government shut down the Covid hotline a couple of days ago and were planning to update our article. The Ministry of Health just updated their website so they have a different link structure and didn’t set up redirects so that’s why the links weren’t working. We just found them again and fixed the links.
Thanks for sharing your experience.
I have posted comments and questions. Not sure why they don’t post?!?!
Hi Oliver, We, as the Admin for this site, have to manually approve all comments. We receive a lot of them so it can take us a few days. That’s why there is a delay. Thanks for your understanding. Glad you’re almost done with your quarantine period.
An overview of our experience so far
My little brother and I have been here a week, and he just tested positive at SJO before our flight back. I tested negative, and I was allowed to stay with him without any issues. We were immediately prompted to find a place to stay, as they require an exact address before we were able to leave for quarantine. The instructions at Echandi labs at SJO were hard to understand, moreso because the clinic is right next to a busy highway. Fortunately, the lab was very helpful in giving us an open channel of communication with them through WhatsApp. They sent us many of the instructions we needed.
Shortly after, we received an email from the Costa Rican Ministry of health, where they issued a quarantine order for the next 7 days. I have heard that the length of this order varies, but since he was completely asymptomatic and fully vaccinated, the duration of his order is a week. This is the Costa Rican law, and has nothing to do with US/airline policy. Technically, we could leave Costa Rica had we found a way to get him another negative test before the flight without violating any US laws, but it is the Costa Rican law that requires a quarantine period. We are cleared for travel again one day after the quarantine period ends. It is worth looking into the business day nuances here, but we were fortunate to schedule our flight in the middle of the week, so we should be fine.
As far as we can tell, we just have to repeat this process again next week. Spirit does not accept the recovery letter from the Costa Rican government as a test substitute as I was just told, but other airlines might. So we just have to go get tested again next week and hope for the best.
We decided to go back to Uvita on the Pacific Coast, since we wanted to stay away from the city. Does anyone have any idea how to get self tests here? We would like to stock up on a few, so we can test ourselves in the days leading up to the flight to ensure that we’re both negative, and avoid this nightmare again. Anything helps, happy to answer questions or clarify.
Hi Andrew, Thanks for sharing about your brother’s experience. That is really strange that Spirit said it would not accept a recovery letter. I would challenge that and ask to speak to a supervisor if you can get through to anyone on the phone. That directly goes against the guidance from the CDC, which clearly states you should not retest for 90 days due to the likelihood of testing positive again. If you test positive on an official test again, Costa Rica will issue you another 7 day quarantine. Not good.
Self tests are available in Costa Rica now at pharmacies. Not the kind for travel but regular self tests. Not sure of specific places. If you’re still in San José, you should be able to find some, no problem. There are also many pharmacies in Quepos on the way to Uvita. Hope it all goes well for you from here on out.
Question first, before story… The CR US Embassy site States :”Do not travel until a full 10 days after your symptoms started or the date your positive test was taken if you had no symptoms.”
Well, the issue is my quarantine period is 7 days and I booked a flight 2 days after that, 9 days!
What I need to know is if the airline will tell me that I have to wait one more day?
US quarantine period has been reduced to 5 days, so 10 days doesn’t really make sense.
Yes, tested positive the day before flight. Since I tested at Clinica biblica, they reported it to Ministerio de Salud, who emailed me the quarantine letter within 24 hrs.
Issue was, I gave them the hotel that I had already checked out of, so the sanitary order was for that hotel.
I emailed them (email address is on the order) and explained the situation. They provided another order with the new hotel. Glad no fines were involved! They may check on you, don’t mess with the order. There is a hefty fine. As it is, tourists are already a ‘walking wallet’ anyways!
So, if you have had any symptoms, even minor, test yourself first before the official test. (Tests can be bought at Farmacia for around C8000. These tests are not enough for travel, it is just to prepare you for next steps.)
If your own test is positive, start planning where to hunker down, then go for an official test.
Ministerio de Salud will back date your quarantine period (currently at 7 days) from the date of positive test. On my order, they even went one day back, so thanks!
Unfortunately, the end date fell on a Saturday. Most clinics/Dr. Offices are closed on weekend. So, in order to get the letter of recovery, to travel to US, I will need to visit an emergency room, on that Sunday. BTW, you can get out of your quarantine the day after the end date, not on your quarantine end date.
The cost of emergency room visit is from $60 to $95, depending of the hospital. Clinica Biblica is near me and cost $95.
Oh, BTW, I am glad I bought travel insurance. I don’t know why, but I even paid $30 More to increase the daily allowance…maybe gut feeling!!
It is worth getting it. CR has lifted their COVID requirements for tourists, which has caused an influx of positive test results.
The CR US Embassy site States :”Do not travel until a full 10 days after your symptoms started or the date your positive test was taken if you had no symptoms.”
Well, the issue is my quarantine period is 7 days and I booked a flight 2 days after that, 9 days!
What I need to know is if the airline will tell me that I have to wait one more day?
US quarantine period has been reduced to 5 days, so 10 days doesn’t really make sense.
Hi Oliver, From the comments on here, many people are flying after their seven day quarantine expires and not waiting out the 10 days. It could be that the Embassy website has not been updated.
Thanks Jen and Mike.
I am at the airport now, will see what happens and repost.
Sorry for multiple posts!
Btw, I want to thank you for starting this site and letting people tell their story. This is the way I initially learned what needs to be done.
Hi Jen and Mike, and all,
I did get through and flew away, whew! BUT, there was some back n forth with the first serious and by the book agent, named “Karen” who kept advising about the 10 day waiting period.
She was going to rebook me, I kept trying to stop her, but she kept typing away. I walked over to her Supervisor and asked him to please stop her, he did. Then I just dealt with him. He asked when the onset of symptoms were and I told him I felt weak for a day two weeks ago, just didn’t realize it could have been COVID!
He took that date and printed my boarding pass. I thanked him very much.
So, hope you get an easy going agent and if you should get a “Karen”, speak to the Sup. Make sure to advise them that the symptoms were way before the test date.
It also helped that I had the release letter from the Ministerio de Salud and a Recovery Letter from a Dr. (CIMA Hospital, $60) from the same day.
I hope US rethinks the 10 day period, since we now have only a 5 day quarantine period! They should just go with the quarantine period of the other country.
Hi Oliver! Does that mean you submitted claims successfully to your insurance company? I’m looking for people who had the insurance and got reimbursements to use as a precedent! Please let me know if so, to try to connect!
Yes, I got most of my expenses reimbursed. Lodging, extra fee for room cleaning, $200!, Food Orders (hotel and Uber), Uber transportations to Hospital and back (for Recovery Letter), Hospital (CIMA) visit, etc. The only thing I didn’t get is the return ticket, since I upgraded to first class. It was fine, since I got partial refund from airline and only paid about $185 extra.
Insurance company was TinLeg and I got the Luxury plan. All their plans have Covid19 clauses, just pay amounts are different. I believe I had a $150 daily limit with that plan for lodging and food. I had to provide receipts for anything over $25. Also coverage extended 7 days past the original return date.
Hi! I tested positive for COVID on Monday, and my quarantine period ends on the 22nd. My flight home is scheduled for Monday. How do I get a recovery letter? I’m near the Liberia Airport. I haven’t had any luck trying to contact the Ministry of Health. There appears to be no information on the website.
Hi Tonesa, Sorry we were not able to get back to you in time. Hope you were able to get the letter. You can get these by visiting a doctor – Hospital CIMA does them and I think Clinica Biblica too.
What is bewildering is the COMPLETE LACK of official guidelines from the CR Minesterio de Salud. They have rigid rules which should be fully explained. You have to find out yourself, before going!!
Our Pura Vida trip was enjoyed for 7 wonderful days in Quepos. On return day, 6 out of 7 of our family were negative. My fully-vaccinated wife, with mild non-specific symptoms was positive, so we decided to quarantine together at a hotel in Alajuela. She got her quarantine order for 7 days. Not knowing better we booked tickets for the last day of her quarantine. You know the story, the rigidity showed itself where a fully vaccinated asymptomatic healthy lady had to endure that extra day. We never got a letter of recovery, only a notice saying her recovery period had ended BUT THAT THIS COULD NOT BE USED AS A RECOVERY DOCUMENT. The Red Cross representative at the airport advised WE had to request this letter SPECIFICALLY from the health department in the region where one tests positive!!
Well the plot thickens even more. We do our SECOND 7-day quarantine, show up at the airport 7 days later, and now I test POSITIVE! This after 4 Pfizer vaccines, multiple negative PCR’s required in the medical field at home, and completely asymptomatic. We hire an UBER that does not refuse COVID+ fares and head back to the hotel for another 7-day quarantine.
Have written 3 times to the local (Alajuela) health authority about getting the recuperation documention post-dated for the day after my quarantine so we can plan reliable flight dates. Both english and google translated emails have gone unanswered. Now 3 weeks instead of 1 week away from my practice is taking its toll. Yes, the country is beautiful, but one must always fear if something goes wrong, the cavalier attitude on the part of the CR authorities assures that I would not unconditionally recommend travelling here unless thoroughly checking ahead of time BEFORE leaving or that day should COVID ever become a distant memory.
I want to thank Jenn and Matt for providing this most valuable forum for all travelers to CR. You derserve deepest thanks from us all. Perhaps the Ministerio could benefit?
Hi! If my husband and I are traveling together and one of us test positive and the other doesn’t, can we still quarantine together?
Hi Sam, Yes, people have been doing that.
So I want to follow up on glen’s comment from January. I tested negative on entry to cr, for a program I was doing, but then felt ill 3 days later and got a positive rapid antigen test. I never went to any clinic, had mild cold -like symptoms and just isolated for a week. On day 7 I still tested positive with the antigen test but have no symptoms. my hosts wanted me to visit a clinic for a pcr test, to which I refused because then I would get a sanitary order and have to start my quarantine over again, despite having no symptoms. I’m just going to wait another few days and test again on my own and stay masked when I’m out of the isolation room.
Hi all! Wow I am LATE to this thread so I’m not sure how helpful my experience is for everyone but I’ll include here along with a PLEA for anyone out there that got Covid in Costa Rica and had the mandatory health insurance to please contact me! I’m looking for other cases like mine to demonstrate reimbursable accommodations expenses are not solely to cover the room but any and all services obviously required to be provided given the inability to do so for onesself while isolated.
Here’s my story:
I tested positive for Covid-19 in Costa Rica and found out on a Saturday (mid-2021)
Got a call from my testing Dr (almost as soon as the test result arrived via email) to tell me I was positive and that all of my fellow travelers and I had to immediately go to our rooms and quarantine (if negative) or isolate (if positive).
At the time, the only difference was that this meant 10 days isolation for positive people and retesting for the negative people to determine if they were double-negative 5 days later (and could leave), or positive 5 days later and had to THEN start their 10 day isolation (for a 15 day extended stay due to Covid). Called the insurance company that we got our mandatory travel insurance through and they of course reassured us and talked us off the ledge to tell us everything would be reimbursable if it was a result of Covid. *this has yet to be seen*
By Monday we still hadn’t received our official orders (though both the Dr and the hotel manager were well aware of the situation and taking care of all of our basic needs and collecting receipts for everything). I believe both of them were also connected with people at Ministry of Health and I also called the Covid hotline who told me we’d probably have the official orders emailed by Tuesday (which we did).
Because a lot of us were positive, the hotel and Dr determined it was healthier for everyone to have the positive-people moved. This transport was overseen by the Dr at the Ministry of Health – we’re now Whatsapp buddies, and I don’t remember how that happened, but it proved useful to communicate daily updates and further along, as you’ll find.
The hotel staff was in charge of making orders and payments for everything but I gave them my credit card since my insurance said to use card to have both the original receipt and bank statements to prove the costs were paid by me. The hotel and airbnb we ended up at gave us all of the receipts to submit to the insurance.
We sporadically received notices that isolation was over (usually got an email notice a day or two after it was actually over), and – thanks to my whatsapp connection, I was able to request the recovery doc for myself – which yes, is a different document than the end of isolation document, and yes, has to be requested.
In my case, some of the people I was traveling with had a country requirement to either have a negative test OR wait 20 DAYS from their first positive test in order to fly home – which is the only reason I would consider telling someone to take another test after your quarantine is over BUT MAKE SURE YOU ARE IN CONTACT WITH THE MINISTRY OF HEALTH TO EXPLAIN WHY, SO THEY DON’T CREATE A DUPLICATE ISOLATION ORDER IF YOU TEST POSITIVE…cause, yeah – that happened and YES, they DO have it in a system, and YES they WILL stop you at the airport if you try to leave and have an open isolation or quarantine order in your name even if you have the document to prove that you completed your original isolation orders, and you will have to get hold of someone at the specific county where it was issued at 5:30 am and explain it to them and have them negate the duplicate orders, at which point you will probably have missed your flight because it will undoubtedly be a Sunday when no one is working, and then the airline will hopefully help you (unlike ours did, which is an entirely different battle that I’m still fighting).
Long story short-ish: We made it out.
It will eventually be a great story but almost a year later and I am still fighting the insurance to cover the costs of quarantine because they only want to cover receipts whose payee is listed as the hotel or Airbnb even though all of the other receipts were paid and service provided by the hotel/airbnb managers using my card.
***I am desperately seeking anyone else who got Covid in Costa Rica and had a mandatory insurance policy and got reimbursed for claims. I am looking for precedent in order to recover the costs (all within the $2,000 limit established, by the way) to get reimbursed by the insurance company. I’d be beyond grateful for any help. I haven’t found anywhere else that has a forum of any sort discussing this where I might be able to find more of you out there. And all of my related searches just give me insurance companies selling their policies. I never doubted, and still don’t, that it’s covered, but having the examples would be a great help in resolving with the powers that be.
Went to Costa Rica at the start of February 2023 for one week. I’ve already had COVID twice and got my fifth shot in the end of December 2022. Friday night before we were due to fly home I started to feel sick. Saturday morning my friend and I tested negative with a test from the pharmacy. Our flight was delayed and then we spent 7 hours on the tarmac and had to sleep in a low budget hotel near Liberia. By the time I got back to Boston I was really sick. Thank goodness we wore masks on the planes.
Tested positive at my friend’s house and quarantined for five days. Glad to have a place to stay so I didn’t go back to New York and infect my husband. My friend never got sick or tested positive.
I’m still in shock that I got it in Costa Rica. We were outside all the time. I’m also surprised how bad it was. First time was bad, second time wasn’t too bad, third time pretty bad but took Paxlovid. Be careful everywhere still. It’s not over but it’s not as scary. I’m a 60 year old woman with no risk factors. No regrets. It was my first vacation in over 3 years.