Traveling to Costa Rica During Covid-19: Entry Requirements, Protocols & What to Expect

Last Updated: October 23, 2020

With borders reopening around the world, travel as we know it has certainly changed. But what is traveling to Costa Rica like during Covid-19? With some key changes and extra precautions, we think that visitors can still experience what makes this country special. Beautiful beaches, verdant green mountains, diverse wildlife, and warmhearted locals. In this post, we’ll share what you need to know when traveling to Costa Rica during Covid-19. We’ll cover entry requirements (Covid testing, insurance, etc.), airport protocols, and let you know what to expect at hotels, restaurants, and on tours.

*IMPORTANT UPDATE: As of October 26, Costa Rica will no longer require a negative Covid test to enter the country. See below for more info.

**We are updating this post several times a week with new information on testing, insurance, etc. We are following these issues closely as things develop over time. 

Traveling Costa Rica During Reopening Covid

Who Can Enter Costa Rica?

Costa Rica reopened its air borders (air only, not land borders) to certain countries and US states beginning on August 1. See the sections below for the full list.

*Starting on November 1, Costa Rica will allow travelers from all over the world (all countries). This announcement was made on October 16. Travelers will still need to meet entry requirements (see section, below).

Below is the list of approved countries and US states that applies from now until October 31.

Approved Countries 

Tourists from the following countries can travel to Costa Rica as of today: 

  • Australia
  • Belize
  • Canada
  • Cypriot Republic
  • Czech Republic
  • El Salvador 
  • Federal Republic of Germany
  • French Republic
  • Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
  • Guatemala 
  • Hellenic Republic (Greece)
  • Honduras  
  • Ireland
  • Italian Republic
  • Jamaica
  • Japan
  • Kingdom of Belgium
  • Kingdom of Denmark
  • Kingdom of Norway
  • Kingdom of Spain
  • Kingdom of Sweden
  • Kingdom of Thailand
  • Kingdom of the Netherlands
  • Mexico
  • New Zealand
  • Nicaragua (Air Entry Only)
  • Panama (Air Entry Only)
  • Portuguese Republic
  • Principality of Liechtenstein
  • Principality of Monaco
  • Republic of Austria
  • Republic of Bulgaria
  • Republic of China
  • Republic of Croatia
  • Republic of Estonia
  • Republic of Finland
  • Republic of Hungary
  • Republic of Iceland
  • Republic of Korea
  • Republic of Latvia
  • Republic of Lithuania
  • Republic of Malta
  • Republic of Poland
  • Republic of San Marino
  • Republic of Singapore
  • Republic of Slovenia
  • Republic of Uruguay
  • Romania
  • Slovak Republic
  • Swiss Confederation
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • United States (certain states only; see list below)
  • Vatican State

The government has clarified that tourists without a passport from one of these countries can enter Costa Rica through a flight from a permitted country under certain circumstances. Specifically, they must quarantine in the permitted country for at least 14 days, without showing symptoms, before departing for Costa Rica. Upon arriving in Costa Rica, the immigration official will ensure that the passenger did not make only a stopover in the permitted country.

Approved US States

As of today, tourists from the following US states can enter Costa Rica.

As stated above, residents of all US states can enter beginning on November 1. 

  • Arizona 
  • California
  • Colorado 
  • Connecticut 
  • Georgia 
  • Florida
  • Maine 
  • Maryland 
  • Massachusetts 
  • Michigan
  • New Hampshire 
  • New Jersey 
  • New Mexico 
  • New York 
  • Ohio 
  • Oregon 
  • Pennsylvania 
  • Rhode Island 
  • Texas 
  • Vermont 
  • Virginia 
  • Washington, DC
  • Washington 
  • Wyoming 

Visitors from the US who enter from now until October 31 will be subject to an additional requirement to verify that they are residents of an approved state. See the Entry Requirements section, below, for more information.

Connecting Flights/Layovers

Tourists from authorized states may enter Costa Rica even if their flight route includes a stop at a destination that is not authorized. This is stated on the Tourism Institute’s (ICT) website.

A recent video from ICT clarifies this. According to the video, the flight must originate in an approved state/country. A traveler can have a layover in an unapproved state or country as long as the duration of the stop does not exceed 18 hours AND the traveler does not leave the airport. 

Upon arrival at the airport in Costa Rica, the traveler must demonstrate that their flight originated in an approved state/country. This can be easily done using their boarding pass.

Available Flights

Airlines have started offering limited flights to Costa Rica. Here is a link to the SJO Airport website with information on when each airline expects to begin offering flights again.

As of September 13, United Airlines has been flying every day from Houston, Texas (IAH) to San Jose Airport (SJO), and three times per week to Liberia Airport (LIR). In October, United expects to offer more flights from Newark, New Jersey as well. 

For service from Denver, Colorado (DEN), United is aiming to have a flight to Costa Rica by the end of October. 

American Airlines resumed flights to Costa Rica in September. American has daily flights to SJO from both Dallas/Forth Worth (DFW) and Miami (MIA). Starting on October 7, they will have a daily flight to Liberia from both DFW and MIA as well. *See section on Entry Requirements, below, for information on American Airlines’ new pre-flight testing option.

Air Canada has started booking flights again as well. However, we have been hearing from travelers that they have been cancelling all of them.

Airports reopen in Costa Rica

Costa Rica Entry Requirements for Tourists

To enter Costa Rica, visitors will need to do the following. For the requirements for Costa Rican citizens and residents, see the section below.

1) Present a Negative COVID-19 Test 

**THIS REQUIREMENT WILL BE ELIMINATED ON OCTOBER 26.**

On October 22, the government announced that a negative Covid test will no longer be required for entry starting on October 26.

Below are the existing testing requirements in effect until October 26.  

Test Requirements

This test must be done within 72 hours of your scheduled flight* to Costa Rica. The specific type of test required is an RT-PCR test (real-time polymerase chain reaction test). Other tests like the rapid test will not be accepted.

*The 72 hours is from your first flight to Costa Rica. So, for example, if you fly San Francisco to Houston to Costa Rica, the 72 hour cutoff applies to your San Francisco flight.

Children

Currently, the official regulations on entering Costa Rica require a negative Covid test for all travelers, including children. See the newest decree from Migration here.

However, this has been a confusing issue for several reasons. First, various sources suggest that a Covid test is not required for children under 12. See, for example, the Costa Rica embassy websites for Washington, DC, Italy and the UK. Costa Rica’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also circulated a memo in July similarly stating that a test is not required for children under 12.

In addition, we have heard from many people that they did not get their children under 12 tested and were let in without a problem. (See, for example, the comment below from Adam G. on October 9).

Lastly, the online Health Pass you have to fill out 48 hours before your flight does not let you upload results for children under 12.

Current guidance from reputable lawyers in Costa Rica is that everyone, including children, should get tested. This is because the official regulations say that a test is required for everyone, so an immigration official could require it. You can read their analysis here.

We followed up with ICT about this issue as well. They told us informally that tests are not required for children under 12. But their website still does not say this. 

So to be safe, as the rules currently stand, all children should be tested in case an airport or immigration official were to ask for the results. Practically speaking, since the Health Pass doesn’t even let you upload results and many people have come through with young children without tests, no one may ask. It seems that getting the RT-PCR test for young children can be difficult, so we hope that the official regulations are changed soon. We will update this post if we hear anything.

*If you are traveling with children, please let us know in the comments about your experience. We will update this post with new information as we receive it.

Where to Get Tested

Many people have been having trouble finding a testing facility that will guarantee results within 72 hours. Below are some options that we have heard about. You can check to see if they are in your area. 

In addition, this website allows you to search for labs/facilities that are supposed to be able to provide results in 72 hours or less. You can enter your state and type of Covid test needed, and they will give you some options in your area.

Before getting your test, make sure to confirm that they can do the RT-PCR test (nasal swab). Rapid tests, serological tests, or immunity tests will not be accepted. 

American Airlines Pre-flight Testing

American Airlines recently announced that as of October 15, they are offering pre-flight Covid testing for travelers flying to Costa Rica from Dallas/Fort Worth and Miami. Here is a link to American Airlines’ website with more information.

It appears that the at-home option through LetsGetChecked is the correct test, an RT-PCR. The CareNow test available at airports is a rapid test, which is currently not accepted.

2) Complete an Online Epidemiological Form (Health Pass) 

This short form called the Health Pass (found here) asks for personal information like your name, age, nationality, passport number, and flight details. You will also need to provide your hotel/accomodations in Costa Rica. 

The form asks if you have been tested for COVID-19, on what date, and the results. You will need to upload the results. 

For the mandatory insurance (see below), you will need to indicate if you are using one of the Costa Rican companies or an international provider. If an international provider, you also will need to upload your policy so that the Tourism Institute can verify it in advance of your arrival.

*If you are from the United States, you will be asked to upload a photo of your driver’s license or state ID card to show you are from an approved state. 

The form can only be filled out within 48 hours of your flight, not sooner.

The Health Pass ends with making you agree to declarations. One is that you do not have symptoms of Covid-19 now and that you will comply with a quarantine order if you get Covid-19 during your visit.

A QR code then will be generated, which you can show on your mobile phone or using a printed document.

English Language Option: The Health Pass defaults to Spanish, but there is an option at the top right to change to English.

3) Get a Travel Insurance Policy 

Overview

Visitors must purchase travel insurance to cover their expenses in case they get Covid-19 during their trip. The insurance must cover medical expenses and accommodation expenses for 14 days of quarantine. Specific coverage amounts are provided below.

You have two options for the insurance. One is to purchase it directly through a provider in Costa Rica. These have been preapproved by the Costa Rican government to offer Covid-19 insurance, so these policies will be automatically accepted. 

Alternatively, you can buy insurance that meets the requirements through an international insurer of your choice. Then you will need to go through an additional verification process. See below for more details. 

For coverage amounts, $20,000 in Covid-19 medical coverage is required if you use a Costa Rican insurance company. If you use an international insurance company instead, the minimum amount is $50,000. Accommodation coverage in case of quarantine is the same no matter which coverage you choose ($2,000).

Costa Rica Insurance Options

Currently, there are two companies in Costa Rica that are approved to sell Covid insurance, INS (the government insurer) and Sagicor (a private company). You can buy the INS insurance in conjunction with the Health Pass by following the link provided in the form or by following this link. You can buy a policy from Sagicor directly through their website

International Insurance Options

Overview

International insurance policies are also acceptable, provided they meet the minimum requirements. Specifically, the insurance must cover at least $50,000 for medical expenses associated with Covid-19 and $2,000 in accommodation expenses to cover at least 14 days of quarantine. You can find these requirements on the Tourism Institute (ICT)’s website.

Update, October 22 – International Insurance Options

In the last couple of days, we have heard from some readers about international insurance options that they say meet Costa Rica’s requirements. This includes the $2,000 in required coverage for accommodations in case of quarantine. Below is a list of companies. 

IMPORTANT: Please keep in mind that these insurance companies have not been preapproved by the Costa Rican government. We also cannot vouch for the companies in general, as we have not used them before. So you will need to do your own due diligence to make sure that the policies meet the requirements and you are comfortable. Specifically, make sure they cover $50,000 in medical expenses for Covid-19 and $2,000 in accommodations due to quarantine.

We highly recommend emailing ICT/the Tourism Board with your policy information in advance so that you don’t have any problems. Print the email response from ICT and bring a hard copy in case you need to show it at the airport.

ICT’s email is seguros@ict.go.cr 

Our advice is that if the prices are similar, to just go with the Costa Rican insurance companies to make life easy. These are preapproved so all you will have to do is put in your policy number in the Health Pass, and won’t have to worry about getting approval of your policy and a QR code that will automatically allow for entry. If there is a big price difference, then it can be worth it to do the extra work for getting an international policy.

Verifying Your International Policy

The country’s Tourism Institute is in charge of verifying that international policies comply with the requirements. The process is now digital. You will give your insurance information as part of the online Health Pass (see above). 

After you complete the Health Pass, it will generate a colored code that you can show immigration when you arrive. If you meet all entry requirements, it will make a green code. If ICT needs to manually validate your documents, a purple code will be generated. If certain requirements are not met, then it will generate a red code. 

ICT will still be at the airport to assist people. 

Previously, tourists needed to show compliance by requesting from the international insurer a certification (issued in English or Spanish) stating the following. It would still be a good idea to bring this document with you.

  • The validity of the effective policy during the visit in Costa Rica.
  • That it guarantees coverage for medical expenses associated with the pandemic disease COVID-19 in Costa Rica, for at least $50,000 (US dollars).
  • That it includes a minimum coverage of $2,000 for extended lodging expenses due to pandemic illness.

4)  Abide by the Regulations Put in Place by Costa Rica’s Ministry of Health During Your Visit 

You must abide by all government regulations regarding Covid-19 during your visit. We cover below the requirements at the airport and throughout your trip.

5) Proof of Residence – Applies to Travelers from the US Only

Visitors from the United States who enter between now and October 31 will need to show their driver’s license or state identification card to prove they are from one of the approved states. 

This requirement does not apply to minors traveling with their parents.

Starting on November 1 when all travelers will be allowed in, regardless of place of residency, this requirement will no longer be applicable.

Other Entry Requirement Information – Quarantine 

These are the only requirements for tourists entering Costa Rica. Notably, Costa Rica does not require tourists to quarantine. The 14-day quarantine requirement only applies to Costa Rican citizens and legal residents reentering the country (see below for additional detail). Tourists do not need to quarantine.

Showing Your QR Code and Documentation to Airport Officials

We have been closely following how it has been going for people entering Costa Rica during this time. Based on what we have seen, the process at the airport can be somewhat chaotic, but as long as you have everything you need, you will be fine. One of the main reasons that people have been denied boarding is not having their test results in time or having the wrong test.

At the airport during check in, people have been reporting that some airlines want to see your actual paper documents and not only your QR code. This includes your negative Covid test results (with time stamp) and insurance. So it’s best to bring hard copies of all those materials.

When you arrive in Costa Rica, officials will check your QR code and only need to review your documentation if needed based on what you submitted online through the Health Pass. If you have international insurance, they may want to review the policy. We have heard from many people that getting through customs and immigration at the airport has been very fast.

Costa Rica Entry Requirements for Citizens and Residents, and Tourists with a Direct Relationship

Below are the entry requirements for (1) Costa Rican citizens, (2) Costa Rica residents, (3) people with residency applications in process, and (4) tourists with a direct relationship (parent, sibling, etc.) to a Costa Rican citizen or resident.

Tourists with a Direct Relationship

Those traveling on a tourist visa who have a first-degree familial relationship to a Costa Rican citizen or resident can enter the country on their own. Examples are parents of minors, minor children, spouses, and minor siblings.

The tourist must prove the direct relationship with the applicable formal document (e.g., birth or marriage certificate). They also need to present: (1) their passport, and (2) proof that they will be leaving Costa Rica within 90 days (e.g., plane ticket back to their home country). 

In addition, they will need to purchase the required travel insurance and complete the Health Pass (see above for requirements).

They will be required to do a 14-day quarantine unless they are traveling from an approved country, have been there for at least 14 days, and have a negative Covid test that meets the requirements above.

For additional details on the requirements for those entering via a direct relationship, visit this website.

Costa Rican Citizens and Residents

Residents

Previously, if a resident left Costa Rica after borders closed in March, they would not be permitted to reenter the country. That has now changed. Permanent residents and temporary residents with legal status (cedulas) can enter from any country. They will need to present their passport, cedula/DIMEX card, and complete the Health Pass.

In addition, they will need to either (1) prove that their Caja payment is up to date; or (2) if their Caja is not current, purchase insurance with a minimum coverage of 22 days. During those 22 days, the resident is expected to settle up their Caja to ensure they are paid in full. Previously, residents could enter only with proof of their Caja being paid; however, after a few people were denied entry recently, the government modified this requirement.

Residents will be required to do a 14-day quarantine unless they are traveling from an approved country, have been there for at least 14 days, and have a negative Covid test that meets the requirements above.

For additional details on the requirements for residents, visit this website.

People with Residency Applications in Process

Those who have filed their residency application but have not yet been approved or have not yet received their DIMEX are considered tourists for purposes of entering Costa Rica.

Citizens

Nationals only need to complete the Health Pass to enter.

To avoid a 14-day quarantine, they need to show that they are coming from an authorized country and present a negative RT-PCR Covid test. On October 19, Costa Rica eliminated the requirement that citizens need to have spent at least 14 days in an approved country in order to avoid quarantine. All that has to be shown now is the Covid test and that they are traveling from an authorized country.

What is Open for Tourists?

Overview

Costa Rica has been working hard to reopen its economy for tourism. In most places, hotels and restaurants are open. The country’s beaches are also open for most of the day and tourism companies are beginning to reopen slowly.

Hopefully in the coming months, more and more hotels, restaurants, and tour operators will reopen as more visitors are allowed into the country.

Because Costa Rica does have ongoing Covid-19 cases, some areas do have restrictions. We will cover them below. 

For information on Costa Rica’s current Covid numbers, read our separate post Costa Rica and the Coronavirus 

Orange and Yellow Alert Zones

Costa Rica has an alert system for sanitary restrictions. Areas under an orange alert, which are experiencing the most Covid cases, have greater limitations than yellow alert areas. In general, orange alert zones are in the greater San Jose area. The list of areas under orange alert is subject to change based on how the pandemic progresses. To find information on the current breakdown, visit this site and click Alerta.

Previously, most businesses were closed in orange alert zones except for those that sell essentials (e.g., grocery stores, pharmacies). Starting in September and continuing through October, most businesses are allowed to be open even in orange alert zones.

For tourists, this means that restaurants, supermarkets, shops, etc. are open at 50% capacity. Everything that is open is subject to strict sanitary measures, which we will discuss separately below.

Hotels can be open at full capacity in both orange and yellow alert zones. Common areas like pools and hotel restaurants need to be at 50% capacity.

As of October 8, bars can reopen at 50% capacity. However, they are subject to strict procotols, including that music be kept at a low volume and no dancing will be permitted. Acrylic barriers will be in place to separate patrons at the bar and at tables. 

Casinos at hotels can also reopen at 50%, subject to certain limitations. These include temperature checks upon entry and cleaning measures. No alcohol will be served.

As of October 15, beaches are open all day. The hours are as follows:

  • Monday through Friday – 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
  • Saturday and Sunday – 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Surfing and other non-contact sports are permitted. Visitors must stay within their social bubble (see below).

National parks that have been listed as reopened can operate at 50%, as well as thermal hot springs resorts, wildlife centers, and botanical gardens.

This government website has more specific information on what is open (in Spanish).

Costa Rica Beach During Covid-19
A nearly empty beach along the central Pacific coast during reopening

Driving Restrictions

Costa Rica has driving restrictions that limit travel during the week based on license plate number. Since rental cars are exempt, most tourists will not be affected by this. If you are pulled over by transit police during your stay, you will just need to show them your rental car contract.

Keep in mind, though, that there are nighttime curfews. Countrywide, driving is permitted Monday through Friday from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and from 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. on weekends. Rental cars are still exempt from these requirements, but if you want to avoid getting pulled over, we’d recommend avoiding driving during the curfews.

Safety and Sanitary Measures That Travelers Need to Follow in Costa Rica 

Since tourism is a huge part of the local economy in Costa Rica, the government is ready to welcome visitors once again. They have emphasized, however, that visitors need to follow all sanitary requirements to slow the spread of Covid-19. Costa Rica has a socialized health care system and a limited number of hospital beds that are filling up quickly. Making sure that the hospitals do not become overwhelmed is essential to further reopening tourism, and keeping both visitors and local residents safe.

Below are the main protocols that visitors to Costa Rica will need to abide by.

Follow Airport Protocols 

Upon landing on Costa Rican soil, travelers must wear face protection (cloth mask that covers the nose and mouth) and comply with all airport protocols. This includes following the physical distance requirements, allowing for their temperatures to be taken, hand sanitizing at designated stations, and following any other sanitary measures.

Stay in Your Social Bubble 

Costa Rica uses the social bubble philosophy for social distancing. People are encouraged to stay within their personal social bubble. Your social bubble is the people who you live with, most commonly, your family. For travelers, this will be easy. Your social bubble will be whoever you are traveling with.

You’ll notice when you get here that some common areas will be partitioned off or marked for social bubbling. At a few of the more popular beaches, they have put up bamboo markers to space people 1.8 meters (6 feet) apart. At other public spaces, similar measures have been put in place.

Social Bubble Costa Rica
Social bubbles at an outdoor shopping/dining area

Wear a Mask 

Masks covering the nose and mouth are required in most indoor spaces in Costa Rica. One is needed at grocery stores, all other stores and shops, banks, on buses and at bus stops, and in taxis. Some tours and attractions may require masks as well, so it’s always a good idea to carry one with you.

Masks are not required for customers at restaurants. However, the staff needs to wear them.

The government has stated that if you do not wear a mask, you may be denied entry. Businesses can temporarily lose their operating permit if customers are found in violation, so most establishments take the rules very seriously.

Masks During Covid in Costa Rica
Shoppers using a handwashing station and wearing masks to enter a big-box store

Preventative Measures to Protect Travelers (and Locals)

Overview

Sanitary Protocols

The Ministry of Health and President’s Office have established various sanitary guidelines that all tourism businesses must follow to protect both travelers and workers. Costa Rica’s tourism institute, the Instituto de Costarricense de Turismo (ICT), has specific guidelines that implement these protocols.

We have combed through these guidelines at length. They are extremely detailed and cover many different situations. They address the measures that tour guides and the staff at restaurants, hotels, rental car companies, etc. need to follow. They are aimed at providing training for the people who you will be interacting with during your trip.

Below are some notable measures that tourism businesses need to follow. They include measures on cleaning, sanitation, social distancing, personal protective equipment, food preparation, and lots more. This list is by no means exhaustive. We just included some of the more essential and interesting points.

Handwashing and Masks Requirements Costa Rica
Handwashing station and mask reminders in Jaco

Safe Travels Stamp 

In addition, it is worth noting that Costa Rica has received the Safe Travels stamp from the World Travel and Tourism Council. It has implemented 16 global health and hygiene protocols to promote safety in tourism.

Airport

Health and Safety Protocols

Preventative measures at SJO Airport include signage with physical distance guidance throughout the airport, sanitizing carpets, handwashing and sanitizing stations, temperature checks, continuous cleaning and disinfection, and luggage arrangement service at baggage claim.

For departing flights, a guard will screen at the entrance to make sure only passengers will be allowed in the terminal. Ticketing agents will be behind glass barriers. There will be social distancing in seating areas, and boarding passes will be self-scanned.

Here is a great video showing the airport protocols at SJO.

Airport Health Accreditation

In October, San Jose Airport received the Airport Health Accreditation from the International Council of Airports. This recognizes that SJO Airport has safe facilities and that appropriate precautions are being taken to reduce health risks. SJO Airport is currently one of 58 airports around the world with this designation.

Hotels

Hotels have many measures in place, including the following.

At check in, the receptionist should wear a mask and maintain social distance with fellow employees and guests. The reception area should be cleaned at least every 30 minutes.

Marks should be put on the floor to ensure guests are at least 1.8 meters apart.

Guests should handwash/sanitize before check in.

The phone numbers of hospitals and medical centers should be posted in the reception area.

Pre-check-in should be used whenever possible to limit time at the reception desk.

UV technology should be used to disinfect room keys.

Bellhops should disinfect the guest’s luggage as well as the baggage cart afterwards.

Cleaning staff needs to wear personal protective equipment (a uniform, mask, and gloves). They follow strict cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing procedures using approved chemicals. They should clean all bedding without shaking it and deep clean high-touch items like remote controls, doorknobs, light switches, lamps, coffee makers, etc. They need to keep a cleaning record.

Whether a room should be cleaned daily should be decided by the guest.

Guests should be informed of the sanitary practices being carried out at the time a reservation is made and on the hotel website.

Restaurants

At restaurants, employees must wear a mask and follow handwashing and cough and sneeze protocols. The restaurant must maintain and refill soap and hand sanitizing stations (automatic if possible) and in the bathroom. They must constantly clean and disinfect, with records to keep track.

Restaurants can be at 50% occupancy. Tables should be rearranged so that the backs of chairs are at least 1.8 meters apart.

Digital menus should be used when possible.

Markings should be added to the floor to maintain social distancing at waiting areas (bathrooms, cashier areas, etc.).

Food at buffets and salad bars should be handled by workers only.

Social distancing at restaurant in Costa Rica
Sanitizing station and social distancing at a restaurant

Tours 

Tours can operate at 50% capacity within social bubbles.

Tour guides must inform clients of the sanitary protocols and rules that they will be following during the activity.

Tour guides must have personal protective equipment, including masks. They must maintain distance between themselves and clients and have hand sanitizer available. They need to regularly disinfect frequently touched items like binoculars, scopes, lifejackets, flashlights, etc.

Social distancing between people of different social bubbles must be maintained. There should be at least 15 meters (50 feet) between different groups.

For hiking activities, they will limit groups to no more than 6 people. Groups should be people from the same social bubble. *You will see that many tour operators are offering only private tours for this reason.

Handwashing is required before entering a tourist site and when leaving.

Electronic payment is encouraged.

If a tour guide suspects a Covid-19 case, they will communicate this with the Ministry of Health using the official methods.

Hanging Bridge in Monteverde

Rental Cars and Shuttles

Shuttles

Shuttle van companies need to clean and disinfect all vehicles before and after use. They need to give special attention to high-touch areas like handles, railings, seatbelts, seats, dashboards, and mirrors. They should keep daily cleaning records and wear personal protective equipment.

Drivers and personnel should wear a mask or face shield. They need to ensure that passengers comply with the mask requirement and not allow anyone in the van who appears sick.

They need to provide visitors with hand sanitizer before they enter the vehicle and disinfect their bags. Cleaning products and hand sanitizer should be available in the vehicle at all times.

Companies must display the sanitary protocols of the Ministry of Health in vehicles. They will provide information to passengers about ways to minimize health risk.

Rental Cars

Rental car companies must follow similar requirements.

They need to intensify cleaning and hygiene measures in their offices, focusing on surfaces where there is greater contact (e.g., handles, reception furniture, doorknobs, computers, railings).

Cars must be cleaned and disinfected before and after each rental using approved products. They should keep daily cleaning records. Employees must wear personal protective equipment.

Masks and gloves must be provided to employees who work with customers directly.

Hand sanitizer should be available to customers.

Companies should mark the floor to maintain social distance among customers who are waiting.

The temperature of both customers and employees should be taken upon entering a rental car office.

For car pickups and deliveries not at the company’s office (e.g., at hotels or vacation rentals), the employee must inform the customer in advance of the preventative and cleaning measures being taken. The employee will use preventative measures when interacting with the customer to maintain social distance. Examples include asking the customer to put the keys on the hood rather than exchanging them directly for returns and disinfecting high-touch areas like the steering wheel, gear lever, and door handle when dropping off a car for a customer.

Companies should email vehicle inspection reports to customers.

They should implement electronic payment methods or contactless credit/debit cards when possible.

Where to Get a Covid-19 Test in Costa Rica

If you need a Covid-19 test at the end of your trip for purposes of onward travel, there are several options. Read our separate post, Where to Get a Covid-19 Test in Costa Rica, for recommended hospitals and labs.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, Costa Rica has many measures in place to keep travelers safe during the Covid-19 pandemic. The government has gone to great lengths to implement procedures for each sector of the economy so that tourism and other businesses can reopen and the economy can get started again. With these measures in place, hopefully, Costa Rica’s reopening will be successful. We hope that visitors from more countries will be allowed to enter soon so that people can get back to enjoying everything that Costa Rica has to offer.

Last Updated: October 23, 2020

Have a question about traveling to Costa Rica during Covid-19? Leave us a comment below.

Looking for more information? Check out these posts:

Costa Rica and the Coronavirus: We are updating this post almost every day with the latest data and restrictions in place.

Living in Costa Rica During Covid-19: Our more personal account on what it has been like to live in Costa Rica during this time.

Destinations Summary Guide: If you’re at the beginning of your planning, this guide can give you a head start. It summarizes every destination we cover on our website to help you narrow your itinerary.

Rental Car Discount: If you plan to rent a car during your upcoming trip, check out this discount to save 10-20% with one of the most reliable companies in Costa Rica. Safety protocols are a top priority.

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Costa Rica’s Southern Pacific Coast: Regional Snapshot
Planning a Family Vacation to Costa Rica
Planning a Family Vacation to Costa Rica: Essential Tips and Info

230 Comments

  1. We are a 64 yr old Canadian couple that were planning a 6 month trip to Costa Rica but sadly we had to cancel it is almost impossible to go for a test in Canada and get the results within 48 hrs and that insurance is very costly you can’t buy it here and buying in CR will be over 1200 for 3 months.The 90 day stamp visa holds us back also in other yrs we could do the border run not now it’s sad because we would have helped all the businesses probably would have spent 20 to 25 thousand dollars

    1. Hi Gerald, The government announced the other day that they are going to reconsider the insurance so hopefully the rate through INS will go down significantly or they will start accepting international insurance. Yes, border runs will be tough for quite a while as it is unlikely that they will open the land borders since Panama and Nicaragua have such high numbers. Thanks for commenting and we are hopeful that things will turn around soon.

      1. I have noticed in many of the international travel insurance plans there is a reference to quarantine under either trip delay or trip interruption provisions. Any idea if these would aply to Costa Rica’s requirement?

        1. We purchased travel insurance through World Nomads for our upcoming trip (October 30). A World Nomads representative I spoke with on the phone didn’t think the policy met the $2,000 coverage for quarantine – she thought quarantine would be covered under Trip Delay, which only has a $500 limit – but we submitted the policy details to the Tourism Authority via email and received their approval the next day! Seems they, and I, think quarantine accommodation is covered under Trip Interruption, which has a $2,000 limit. The policy is considerably cheaper than those offered by the two Costa Rican companies, and their website is MUCH easier to navigate. Hope this helps.

    2. Hi there. Do you have a list of which hotels the feed into Arenal Hot Springs will be open Oct 5? Not just the room but the springs as well? Thanks.

      1. Hi Mel, Here is what we know. Tabacon Thermal Resort and Spa is closed now and expected to reopen on Nov. 13. The Springs Resort and Spa is still closed too. As far as we know, the following are currently open:
        1. Arenal Springs Resort and Spa
        2. The luxury Nayara Hotel and Nayara Springs
        3. Arenal Kioro Suites and Spa
        4. Baldi Hot Springs Resort and Spa
        5. Hotel El Silencio del Campo (has a few hot springs pools)

        These are some of the most popular options with hot springs on site. You can learn more about many of these in our post La Fortuna Hotel Guide.

  2. Great information – thank you! We miss Costa Rica and were thinking about returning in March. Hopefully by then, the U.S. sees improvement and we will be permitted. Fingers crossed!

  3. Great summary Matt, hopefully some of the restrictions will ease up in the future because the insurance thing is really an expensive add on for tourists.

    1. We are struggling with the 72 hour covid test….we are scheduled to fly wed at 6am and there is no open testing sites on sunday…..any hope of allowing something different? Rapid test, saliva test or greater window? There are no tests guarantee 72 hour results and don’t want to risk not getting on the plan, so might have to cancel just because of yhat

      1. Hi Amy, Unfortunately, they are not making exceptions to the 72 hours or test type. A PCR test is required. Where are you traveling from? People have found private testing sites that can meet the time requirements in many places in Canada and the US. Sometimes it is expensive, though. You could join this excellent group on Facebook called Costa Rica Bound and use the search function to see if anyone has traveled from where you are coming from: https://www.facebook.com/groups/3184512501609792/?ref=share

        In that group, people have been sharing their experience entering CR during this time and it has been very helpful. Hope you can figure out a way to make it work.

  4. I feel that Costa Rica is arbitrarily discriminating against U. S. citizens. Allegedly based on COVID regulations of WHO, an entity that discriminates against the U. S. for calling out its CCP bias and our defunding, it still makes no sense. Of course, Germans are known for their lock-step obedience to government regs and thus a low death per Million count, Spain has a death per M that is 125% of the U. S.
    I have been here for a year assessing whether I want to stay permanently. I doubt I will stay.

    1. Hi Giovanni, The INS insurance is based on your age and trip duration. You can buy it using this link. We expect the government to make an announcement about insurance soon, hopefully allowing for more choices, as the INS insurance is quite expensive.

  5. Thank you for providing excellent information for international tourists. I am Canadian and have a six month trip booked arriving November 1 so really hope I don’t have to cancel. The insurance is a big problem and very costly. Not sure as to the time required to obtain a COVID-19 negative test. These are challenging times for sure!!

    1. Hi Charlene, Challenging times, for sure. Hopefully by November 1, things will have settled down some and maybe some requirements will be less strict. They are definitely still working out the kinks. We expect the government to annouce changes to the insurance requirement today (hopefully allowing international policies), after there were a lot of concerns over the price of the INS policy. We’ll keep you updated!

  6. First, thank you for all this informative information! But just to make sure…US citizens are not yet allowed to enter into CR, right?? I’m dying to go! I daydream about working for a week or two there in a remote hut in the jungle…please let me know if I cannot enter 100%, being a US citizen 🙁

  7. Hi Jenn and Matt,
    Great info thank you! We are planning to travel from Canada this winter. Can you confirm LIR airport is still closed and any info on re-opening.

    Thank you

    1. Hi AC, LIR Airport has all the protocols/approvals in place to have flights but there aren’t any flights scheduled yet as far as we know. They are starting with flights into San José for now. Private charters have started coming into LIR, though. Flights from Canada are supposed to be scheduled in the coming months (we’ve heard Sept.), but so far, we’ve only heard into San José. But that could change. Hope that helps!

  8. Hello Jenn and Matt,
    I’m an American citizen who arrived in early March before the Covid concerns hit critical mass, and my two month stay got extended to five and counting. After sheltering in place, I’m leaving tomorrow to do some traveling around the country prior to my departure in 10 days. I followed your link for insurance to cotiza.ins-cr.com, but wondered if you could offer clarification. I believe I’ve read in two of your articles the need for 20K/4k, and 50k/4k medical coverage and accommodation coverage respectively. Their website quote seems to support 20K/4K from what I can see. Also, I had used World Nomads insurance previously in my trip, which after some earlier confusion in whether they covered Covid, seems to offer the coverage as well. Is the link to the provider you list the only one we should be working with as far as CR’s government is concerned? Or do you know if other companies can offer similar coverage? Thank you!

    1. Hi Brian, There are currently 2 insurance companies in Costa Rica that are approved to offer the Covid insurance: INS, which you already found, and another company called Sagicor. The government (head of insurance in CR) has preapproved these companies, so if you purchase through them, you are ensured that your policy will meet minimmum requirements. We updated our article tonight to make that more clear. Maybe give it a quick reread to see if it helps clear things up.

      As for the $20K vs. $50K, the correct amount you need for medical if you use an international insurance company is $50K. This comes directly from the ICT’s website. You can find the link here. We’ve read the Ministry of Health’s latest official decree from Aug. 5 in La Gaceta where all this originally came from, and it doesn’t say anything specific about the exact amount required for medical and accommodation expenses, only that it has to cover minimum medical expenses for hospitalization for Covid and 14 days of lodging – you can see the full text below if you’re interested. The $50K language seems to have come from a letter from the new Minister of Tourism, Gustavo Segura, that was recently circulated (see this article for more). The $20K amount was relevant before but we can’t locate an official document with it right now. Maybe it applies to the amount that the Costa Rican insurance companies are required to cover, as you said? Not sure why there would be a difference in coverage amount but we would assume that the ICT is correct on the amount since they are the ones verifying policies.

      Hope that helps. As for the World Nomads coverage, does it also cover lodging expenses for quaratine? That seems to be the tricky point.

      Translation of Decree 42517-MGP-S, as revised on August 5
      “Have travel insurance that covers at least accommodation expenses and medical expenses generated by the disease COVID-19, offered by one of the insurers authorized by the General Superintendence of Insurance in Costa Rica and duly registered with said authority; or have current insurance with international coverage to cover medical expenses generated by the COVID-19 disease, minimum medical expenses equivalent to the costs of confinement to a hospital for the time required by said hospitalization and minimum coverage of 14 days for lodging expenses, […]. In case that the insurance with international coverage does not comply with any of these requirements, the foreign national must purchase travel insurance offered by any of the insurers authorized by the General Superintendence of Insurance in Costa Rica and duly registered by said authority.”

  9. Hi, and thanks, so much, for all your hard work in keeping this site up to date!

    I don’t understand the the meaning of the “(except for a temporary closure from August 10-21)” statement. …Why the temporary closure, and what will be closed?

    “Previously, most businesses were closed in orange alert zones except for those that sell essentials (e.g., grocery stores, pharmacies). However, starting on August 1, more businesses opened in these zones (except for a temporary closure from August 10-21).”

  10. Hi,
    I just posted the question regarding a temporary closure of businesses from August 10=21.

    After returning to the main page, I discovered, through further reading, the following explanation: “The purpose is to allow the economy to reactivate but provide a pause that allows the healthcare system to rebound.”

    I guess that would be the answer to my question, even though it still seems slightly confusing.

    In any case, thanks again & Stay Healthy!!!

    1. Hi Glen, Yes, that was the rationale behind the temporary closure from August 10-21. They have since relaxed some of that and allowed some businesses to open in orange alert areas during that period because a lot of people were upset. The strict driving restrictions are still in place, though, so even though the businesses are open, people can only drive two days a week. But this doesn’t apply to most tourists, since rental cars are exempt from the driving restrictions. It’s all very confusing, for sure!

      1. Hi Jenn & Matt!
        Thanks, so much, for your considerate reply!

        As a wildlife videographer, for obvious reasons, Costa Rica has been my
        #1 destination! My first visit was in 1993, and after many years had passed,
        I’ve visited nine times since 2017 ..sometimes for extended stays of more
        than two months. I’m sure you know that a lot has changed since 1993,
        when there was no proper road into Puerto Viejo, and one had to cross a
        stream by very carefully driving over two wooden planks!

        Well, in spite of development, most fortunately, if one chooses a propitious
        location, it is still quite possible to enjoy the marvelous, and diverse Wildlife
        without even having to leave the house! : )

        If you ever have a little “free” time, and a good internet connection, you
        might enjoy checking out a couple of my videos, which clearly illustrate the
        reason I keep returning to Costa Rica to film wildlife! ..who knows ..you may
        even see someone you know!  : )
        primarily featuring the southernmost Pacific cost (Cabo Matapalo
        and Punta Banco):
        https://vimeo.com/351105780
        primarily featuring the southernmost Caribbean side, near Punta Uva:
        https://vimeo.com/327513588

        Meanwhile, Thanks again for all your hard work with keeping your site up
        to date! Stay Healthy!!!
        All very best wishes to you all!!!
        Glen Smith

        ps. I’m going to wait to return until it’s “fun” to travel again
        ..the sooner, the better!!!

      2. Hi Jenn & Matt!
        Thanks, so much, for your considerate reply!
        The logistics of travel are often challenging, even under far better circumstances, so, considering the restrictions (understandably) imposed during this bizarre episode, I
        will wait until everything is much closer to “normal” before returning to Costa Rica
        for the eleventh time.
        ps. I have to assume that a comment, and previous reply I posted were rejected because
        they contained a couple url’s for my (nonprofit) Costa Rica Wildlife videos. Is that correct?
        If so, it might be helpful to add some guidelines for comments/posts.
        In any event, thanks again for all your hard work! Stay Healthy!!!
        All very best wishes!!! g.smith

        1. Hi Glen, Sorry, we did not reject your previous comment. We just did not have the time yet to get around to approving it. We go through them to make sure there is no spam getting through. Thank you for sharing your videos. We will check them out. A couple of months ago, we spent some time in Pavones and Punta Banco and loved it. Very beautiful and full of wildlife, we can see why you’d be inspired to do videos there.

          1. Hi Jenn & Matt, Thanks for your reply!
            I apologize for failing to consider the fact that you have so much work to do sitewide!
            Your work here is much appreciated!
            Thanks again & Stay Healthy!!!
            All very best wishes!!!
            g.smith

          2. Hi Jenn and Matt!
            You guys must be exhausted trying to keep up with, and report, all the daily changes as this bizarre episode drags on!
            I’m exhausted from just skimming through the many many posts! : )
            Thanks, so much, for your amazing dedication to locating and relating helpful information!
            Hats off, too, to the stalwart travelers who are willing to endure all the stultifying, and often confusing, requirements and restrictions!
            I’ve visited Costa Rica many times, but I’ll have to wait until the entry situation is Much Easier!
            I’m sure we’re all Hoping that will be Soon, and 2021 will be much Brighter!
            Hang in there & Keep Hope Alive!!!
            Thanks so much, again!
            All very best wishes to your family and you and all!!!

  11. I am a CR resident now in the US who left CR before 24 March. I plan to return next month on one of United’s repatriation flights from Houston. I understand that under current protocols, I must agree to self-quarantine at my home for 14 days upon arrival at SJO. I live in Brasilito, Guanacaste, approximately a 4.5 hour (non-stop) drive from SJO. Are you aware of any requirements imposed by the quarantine order on travel from the SJO airport to one’s place of CR residence? Because of my uncertainty over how many hours it will take to clear Health and Migracion checks at SJO (I’ve heard stories of up to 3 hours), I would like to overnight at an airport hotel and either travel to Brasilito the following day by rental car (with Brasilito area dropoff) or take a tourist transit van. Thanks.

    PS – I’ve found highly informative your many posts on CR life as I navigated details for living in Costa Rica. Muchas gracias!

    1. Hi John, We have not yet seen the exact text of a quarantine order but would assume that they want you to go straight to your house, even if it is hard with your flight arrival time. You could ask a lawyer in CR for their opinion since they would know more. We can give you the contact of a reputable firm that does immigration law if you’d like. Just reply to this thread and we can send the info by email. Glad that our posts on living here have been helpful to you. Welcome home soon! 🙂

      1. I am in the same situation as John, a Permanent Resident who left before March 24. I am currently working in the USA waiting to return to CR. Is there anything that I can do to avoid the 14-day quarantine? Would you please provide contact information to an immigration lawyer?

        1. Hi Steve, You can avoid the 14 day quarantine if you come with a negative Covid test and are traveling from an approved state where you have been for at least 14 days. We will send you the lawyer contact information now. Look for it in your email. Thanks!

  12. Hi Jenn and Matt – Thanks for your very prompt reply. Yes, please send me the contact info for the firm you referenced.

    John

  13. I just wanted to say thank you for having such an amazingly thorough site! I’m in the US and know it will be a while before I’ll be able to come down (insert very sad face), but your site provides a ton of useful information and helps me stay on top of the latest developments. Sending healthy vibes to CR from CA!

  14. Hey! :

    Thanks for providing all this info! Short question: is it easy to travel around Costa Rica these days? I’ll be going in early september, and will hopefully spend some time at the caribbean coast due to drier weather.

    Fred

    1. Hi Fred, Rental cars and tourist transfer companies are exempt from the driving restrictions so it’s not too hard to get around. Many things are opening up. You should just be aware of if you are traveling to any orange alert zones where there are more restrictions (beaches close at 9:30 am instead of 2:30 pm, etc.). Currently, nowhere on the Caribbean coast is under an orange alert. You can use this link to check for alerts – they have a nice interactive map.

      It should be great weather-wise for your trip to the Caribbean. Hope you enjoy it and everything goes smoothly!

  15. We have a trip planned for early November but I am concerned about the COVID testing. 48 hours is way too short of a turnaround time and I hope they will expand the window up to 7 days. It’s too big of a risk for us to proceed with our trip with the 48 hour testing because our free cancellation for our hotels expires 48 hours before our day of arrival!

    1. Hi Jon, Yes, the 48 hours is very difficult for people. We have been hearing it a lot from Canadians who are trying to get here. Hopefully the government will expand the window as you suggest. We will update this post if we hear about any changes. We are also announcing any big updates on our Facebook page as they happen if you’d like to follow along there.

  16. Thanks for your updates! Costa is now allowing a limited opening to the US, however obtaining a 48hr PCR test and results in the US at this time is close to impossible!! It seems this “opening” will be very, very limited unless the approved states have faster test result capabilities.
    Unless the 48hr requirement is relaxed to 96 hrs or something less stringent, I am curious who will actually be eligible to make the trip? At this time, the turnaround time for a PCR test can be 3-7 days for results.

    1. Hi David, Yes, the 48 hours will be really tough to meet from what we’ve been hearing. Hopefully the government realizes this and allows for a little more flexibility. People in Canada have been struggling to get their results in time but they are making it happen. The first flights have arrived from Canada (private) and it seems that everyone got in, although there were some problems for people who didn’t get their results in time. They had to wait it out at the airport from what we understand. Others had their results already. It sounds like people in Canada are paying extra to process their results faster. We’ll update this post if we hear about any changes to the requirement.

  17. Thanks for all the great information on entry into Costa Rica. Very helpful and informative!! My wife and I are building a home in Hacienda Pinilla and are expected to at least hear the country to starting to open up the boarders. Even if they make you jump through a bunch of hoops to make it happen. We live in Colorado so keeping our fingers crossed our stated is added to the list of approved states soon. We are hoping to make a trip or two down in October/November if/when CO gets added. The trouble I’m having right now is finding any international travel insurance companies that will include the $2K accommodation insurance in their policy, if you find anything in your research please let me know. I’ll continue to check for updates on this page and your FB page as well. Thanks again!!

    1. Hi Erik, We’ll be sure to update this post if we hear of any international insurers that cover the accommodation piece. So far, we haven’t heard of anything. Hope you and your wife can get back to Guanacaste soon! It seems optimistic for Colorado after what the Minister of Tourism said during the recent press conference.

      1. Tilley! – Fancy seeing you here! We’ll be in Tamarindo at Capitan Suizo on 11/15 for 10 days. Would be great if we ran into each other!

        Did you find insurance yet or testing?

  18. Thanks for the response, Matt and Jenn. I went with INS, which actually defaults to the 20K coverage, so that is what I have, and frankly, was the easier of the two companies (plus the ICT link here) to navigate, though it seemingly requires you to name a Costa Rican citizen or resident as a beneficiary, or at least there were no straightforward ID options for American beneficiaries (e.g., via passport, or gov’t ID). I was lucky to have someone I knew to get through that part of the process. And another sticking point was trying to enter what the purpose of my travels were, which required a 4 digit code I didn’t know, vs. a fill in the blank answer. I eventually managed to get through it somehow.

    Anyway, thanks again and cheers.

    Brian

  19. As a Canadian I booked my flight through New Jersey as an overnight stay as I could not get a direct flight from Canada in August or September. Have not seen my wife who is a Costa Rica resident (not citizen) since the winter. I did get a reasonable rate on insurance through INS for my 90 day stay at my home in CR. I am now worried about two things. 1) Ontario says it takes 2-5 days to get results and therefore not enough time to get result and download. I am also worried about the 14 day stay requirement from one country. I have been in Canada for many months and since I am travelling though the US even though its a state they are allowing in will I be denied entry.

    1. Hi Greg, The government announced today during the press conference that test results within 72 hours are fine now, so that should help some. Still doesn’t get you to 5 days, but maybe you can get a private lab to guarantee results within that time frame? If it is helpful, we heard second hand from someone who recently arrived in CR that their test results were slightly over (not by a full 24 hours but a good chunk of time) and they were still let in.

      As for whether you need to stay in NJ for 14 days before, we’re not totally sure but it seems that since NJ is on the approved list, you shouldn’t have any problems. In addition, since your wife is a Costa Rican resident, that should help as well. The language of the official decree seems to say that you can enter as a tourist because your wife is a CR resident. You would need a copy of your marriage certificate to prove the link, just like you would if she were a CR citizen. Check out this link. They are a reputable law firm who has been following this issue closely. You may want to reach out to them to see if this is true because it would be an easier way in. Best of luck and hope everything works out!

      1. Thanks for your note back. That is good news. In Ontario testing can only be done at public health facilities but I will go to one that is close to the lab where they process the samples. My understanding is I need to download the results before I arrive with the Health questionairre. Is this the procedure? In regards to New Jersey with an early morning flight to CR I will stay in the airport overnight when I fly in from Toronto the night before instead of a hotel just to make sure there is no issue. Thanks for a great webinar and your quick and through answers. I am going to apply for residency and will contact the lawyer about this.

  20. Hi guys, thank you so much for this super informal post. It’s been so helpful, I have scoured it several times! I just heard the news that CR will extend the PCR test turnaround time to 72 hours from 1st Sept (https://ticotimes.net/2020/08/27/costa-rica-expands-list-of-authorized-states-for-u-s-tourists-relaxes-covid-test-requirement). It has not been updated on the gov website, tourism website or health declaration yet. But if you could shed any light on it at all that would be amazing. Thank you.

    1. Hi Sophie, Glad our post has been helpful to you!

      Yes, during the press conference today, we heard the Minister of Tourism announce that test results within 72 hours are fine now. They also expanded the list of US states that can enter. Starting on September 1, it’s Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC (along with the other 6 states previously named – NY, NJ, CT, ME, NH, and VT). On September 15, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Colorado will be allowed too. The formal legal resolution is not out yet. But once it is, we will update this post with more details. Should be official, though, since it came directly from the Minister of Tourism.

      1. Hi Jenn & Matt, thank you so much for your prompt response and all your help putting together this informative page. I think I can speak for all your readers when I say we really appreciate the work you put in! I’ll keep checking back here and on the gov website. Hopefully we should have final confirmation and be able to book our flights. (YAY)

  21. Hi Jenn and Matt. Thank you so much for your advises.
    I just came back to Costa Rica as a resident, from Europe, and I have negative test for covid. But I have to be in quarantena.
    I have read this:
    Residents will be required to do a 14-day quarantine unless they are traveling from an approved country, have been there for at least 14 days, and have a negative Covid test that meets the requirements above.
    My question is what is an official note from Ministerio de Salud?
    Because of course, I would do anything fot not to be in quarantena:)

    Where I could call?

    Many thanks.
    Petra

    1. Hi Petra, If you came from an authorized country and were there for 14 days prior to traveling and also have a negative Covid test, you should not have to quarantine. Circular AJ-146708-2020 says this. Go to section 2, Personas con permanencia legal autorizada, part 5, Orden Sanitaria. It says:

      “A toda persona con permanencia legal autorizada bajo una de las categorías migratorias supra citadas, se le deberá aplicar una orden sanitaria de aislamiento por 14 días, con fundamento en los decretos 42238-MGP-S y 42513-MGP-S.

      Consideraciones importantes sobre orden sanitaria para residentes
      -Si la persona proviene de un país autorizado y al momento de realizar el control migratorio logra demostrar que permaneció en dicho país al menos los 14 días previos a su abordaje en el vuelo, así como haberse realizado dentro de las 48 horas anteriores a su salida hacia Costa Rica, una prueba denominada PCR-RT de COVID-19 con resultado negativo, podrá obviarse la orden sanitaria de aislamiento antes referida.
      -PARA ESTE SUPUESTO DEBEN CONSTAR LOS 3 REQUISITOS ANTERIORES, CASO CONTRARIO NO SE PUEDE EXONERAR DE LA ORDEN DE AISLAMIENTO A LA PERSONA.”

      It talks about test results taken within 48 hours but this has been changed to 72 in another place. Hope that helps. I’m not sure how you would get the isolation order reversed at this point in a timely manner but you could ask a lawyer.

  22. Hello Jenn & Matt,
    Thank you so much for this very detailed and accurate information!
    I am from Colorado and my boyfriend is from Costa Rica, we have been hoping to see each other since the borders closed in March.

    I was very excited to see Colorado on the list of states that can enter the country, but I am having trouble figuring out what flights I can buy, and I am curious if you have any input.

    I was hoping to travel to Costa Rica as soon as possible (maybe September 17th) But, based on the calendar that is posted by “Embajada de Costa Rica en los EE.UU.”, it seems that the only available flights are on United from New Jersey. Is it correct that these are the only options for commercial travel? I ask because United is listing flights from Houston to SJO that are only ~$250, whereas the flights from New Jersey are ~$1850!

    I am also curious if there is any information about return flights in October that you know of.

    Finally, do you have a recommendation for somebody that I can contact to get more information about this? My first thought was to try to call the U.S. embassy in Costa Rica, but I haven’t tried yet, and am not sure how easy it is to get ahold of someone.

    Thank you again for providing this wonderful opportunity for information!

    1. Hi Sarah, Glad our site has been helpful to you!
      Yes, everything is very confusing now. Hopefully we can shed some light on the flight options for you. The flights out of Houston are reptriation flights. Technically, by law, tourists cannot fly on these unless they fall within an exception, like having a first degree familial relationship to a Costa Rican. So I don’t think you could take one of those flights, but I could be wrong.

      We have only seen those same flights you’ve seen out of New Jersey so far, for regular commercial flights. Not sure why they are so expensive. They should be adding flights from Colorado soon, we would think. Maybe closer to the 15th, you will see more options (doesn’t allow for much planning, we realize). The government doesn’t want to let in too many flights to start – everything is to be very gradual. They did mention having some out of LaGuardia and JFK too, though.

      The US Embassy in Costa Rica coordinates repatriation flights, but we don’t think they would help with commercial flights. The Embajada de Costa Rica en los EE.UU. Facebook page has the best source for flight info/schedules we’ve found so far, but they don’t update it much. Maybe a travel agent who books international flights would be able to help. Best of luck!

    2. Hi,
      Along a similar line, my wife and I are planning on traveling to Costa Rica from Oregon (approved state) in late November for 10 days. However, we’re planning on spending Thanksgiving with family in Guadalajara Mexico (approved country) for 5 days. My question is are we required to be in Mexico for 14 days prior to being allowed into Costa Rica given that we’re flying from an approved US state and an approved country?

      1. Hi Gary, The 14 days is only required if you’re coming from an unapproved state/country so we think you will be fine, since both Oregon and Mexico are approved. We’ve never heard of this exact fact pattern before but hope they wouldn’t give you a hard time. You should be all set.

  23. Thanks for this! We have a place in Ojochal and are excited about the possibility of visiting soon since our state is on the approved list.

  24. Hello, I’m reaching to see if anyone has an update regarding an accepted international travel insurance policy? My wife, three children, and I are planning to temporarily relocate to Santa Teresa this coming October. The domestic policies are prohibitively expensive! Any guidance would be much appreciated:]

      1. Hey, it’s Christopher again, I’ve been in touch with Heymondo about adding the 2k quarantine coverage. They told me that it’s already in the works, but for those seeking insurance it would be great to reach out to them to add a little extra pressure as the domestic policy is insane!

        1. Hey there, Christopher. I’ve been doing some research on travel insurance companies and found Heymondo. I went to their website and saw that when you click in Heymondo Premium, under “Emergency medical & dental expenses overseas” capsule it says something about “Unforeseen hospital expenses Up to $4,000 USD ($100 USD every 24 hours )”, doesn’t that mean that it covers extended lodging expenses?

    1. I usually use Seven Corners travel insurance when I go to Costa Rica. 60 years old. $ 500,000
      policy called Choice. They said for special covid insurance $50,000 the insurance I normally pay $35 for 10 days would be around $91. For my friend 44 years old it was $49. I could pay an extra $25 for trip protection. They said this would cover hotel in case of sickness but did not specifically say for covid. I emailed them and this is what they said: “ Please see 3.2 – G for below wording. Although it does not specifically say ‘quarantine’ it does indicate the cost of the hotel room would be covered if ordered by a physician and the person remains under their care. “A” outlines room/board expenses, which would still apply – the hotel room expense would be in place of the hospital room expense. [They] would need to stay within the standard daily expense of a hotel room/board to be considered eligible and determination would be made at the time of claim”

      (g) Hotel room when the Insured Person, otherwise necessarily confined in a Hospital, is under the care of a duly qualified Physician in a hotel room due to unavailability of a Hospital room due to capacity or distance or to any other circumstances beyond the reasonable control of the Insured Person;…” I hope to be able to take a trip in Dec to Costa Rica. I could buy this and submit it for approval and if they deny it, probably I’d get the one that isn’t INS listed above. for me it would be $11.30 per day. INS wanted more around $17.18 per day.

      1. Hilary and Mary, thanks so much for your responses! I have opted to go with the INS policy as there was still too much uncertainty and would rather not chance it.

  25. Hello Jen and Matt

    I will flying to LIR from EWR this Saturday 09/12. I had my PCR test taken today but they gave me a window of 24hr to 5 days depending on the processing of the lab due to the demand. Will I have any issues at arrival if I don’t get my results back on time ?

  26. Jenn and Matt- I’ve followed your blog and think it’s a huge help for those of us struggling to get things done in Tiquicia.

    I’m a little in limbo here at the moment. I’ve been married to a Costa Rican lady for over 35 years now and coming here each year as a tourist while building a retirement home in Santo Domingo all that time. Primarily though we both lived and worked in the US. We are ready now to retire here and I will seek citizenship by virtue of our marriage and the fact that I’ve been here for over two years. (It doesn’t have to be all at one stretch – you can add up the time) This qualifies me for citizenship assuming a clean FBI report which is no problem. It becomes one however as I need to return to the US to make that happen as well as securing an apostilled Birth Certificate. Also my current tourist visa now expires 18 November. I tried to enroll in the caja but since I have no status other than “Tourist” I was unable to do so. So now you can see the problem. When my wife and I arrive in January she will have to purchase 22 days insurance (not a huge problem as she is in her 50’s.) I, however, am 76 with health issues and having to buy an insurance policy thru the time I can become a citizen and register with the Caja would be prohibitive I’m afraid. I was hoping that applying for citizenship even though all documents would have to be updated at a later date might change my status allowing me to sign up with the Caja. When I read your words to the effect the anyone who has applied for but not received residency will be treated as a tourist I became aware that I might be dreaming….. So – do
    you see any way around this dilemma? Any and all suggestions or referrals would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for all you’ve done for so many. Tim

    1. Hi Tim, We’ve been giving this some thought, and it seems you’re in a tough place. It’s true that if you file for citizenship, you will be treated as a tourist for entry purposes right now until you get approved. So that you would need to purchase the required insurance, since you won’t be eligible for the Caja yet. Your wife being Tica can get you into the country no matter what, but that doesn’t exempt you from the insurance requirement.

      Such a hard time right now. We don’t have any creative solutions but you could see if a lawyer would have any ideas. Sorry we can’t be of more help. Hope you can figure it out. Pura vida!

  27. Hello,

    We have our flights arriving on Oct 2nd, it will be myself and young child 3.5 years……I Have been following updates on your site and from other friends who live there. Is this correct that under 12 years does not need the testing ( which is very invasive and Im not looking forward to this myself ) ….thou I called the embassy to asked if the saliva testing was approved, which they said no….

    My main question would be that no testing is required for children under 12?

    Thanks!!

    1. Hi Piule, A COVID test is not required for children under 12 so your 3.5 year old won’t need one. Yes, the saliva test is not allowed. It has to be a RT-PCR test. Hope your travels go smoothly!

      1. Hi again Piule, We are very sorry for the confusion, but someone else just asked this same question so we began to question the information. We are not sure if a test is required for minors under 12. We think it is not required but are not finding definitive information to verify. Please see our detailed response to Lucy from today, Sept. 14. We will be updating this post as soon as we find out the right information!

        1. Hello Jenn & Matt,

          This is an interesting and important topic. Thank you for providing as much on this as possible, this is helpful.
          I spoke with the embassy and it seems that things are changing day to day. To see what is required its good to double check with the embassy and on their website each day.

  28. Hello Jenn and Matt,
    Thank you so much for your very comprehensive website. Ever since visiting Costa Rica with my husband in 2001, I have been dying to return with our children. It seems this Thanksgiving might be an affordable time for us to come. Starting Sept.15th, it seems that residents of Colorado will be admitted to the country, even if we travel through Florida. What remains to be seen is whether Spirit Airlines will be operating flights into San Jose (end of Novmeber), whether we will be able to receive test results within 36 hours of our departure (both tests we have taken before/after traveling in Colorado have taken 5-6 days for results), and whether our medical insurance provider, Blue Cross Blue Shield covers COVID-19 medical expenses. Sounds like I need to make a few phone calls before booking flights and accommodation. Any suggestions/tips are welcome:)

    1. Hi Tanya, We haven’t heard anything yet about Spirit offering flights from Denver, but yes, calling the airline may get you some information.

      The COVID test time requirement is 72 hours, not 36, so that gives you a little more time.

      We don’t think BCBS covers the accommodation piece of the insurance requirement (you need $2,000 in coverage for accommodation expenses in case you contract Covid during your visit and need to quarantine). But it would be worth a phone call. Hope you can make the trip with the kids happen! Thanksgiving is a great time to visit.

  29. Matt, Thank you for the updated information. I was booked on a repatriation flight, but decided to cancel that flight and wait for reopening for California after October 1st. I really don{t want to have to spend 14 days in quarantine.
    Do you have any information about when the Nicaraguan border will reopen or when there will be flights from San Jose to Managua?
    Jay Redden

    1. Hey Jay, the borders seem to be open for crossing in Peñas Blancas and Avianca is already preparing to start their commercial flights to Nicaragua.

      1. Hi Jana, Where did you hear this about the Penas Blancas border being open? We have been following Costa Rica’s coronavirus news closely for months and would be very surprised if either land border opens (Nicaragua or Panama) anytime soon. There was a big problem with people getting across the Nicaragua border early on when it was closed and bringing Covid. Nicaragua also isn’t on the list of countries permitted entry by air.

  30. Hi Jenn and Matt – I was hoping to head to Jaco for a long weekend in October (from Virginia). However, do you know if bars opened yet, or is it just restaurants ? One other thing – the 72 hr test result – is that 72 hrs from when you took the test or from when you got the result ?

    Thanks !

    1. Hi Kevin, Yes, bars are open now. They have the same rules as restaurants so have to be at 50% capacity and have the same hours.

      The 72 hours is from when the sample is taken. Hope that helps!

      1. Hello! Thanks so much for providing such clear and helpful information. Your site has been super helpful over the years as we’ve planned trips to Costa Rica.

        My question: do we bring paper documents of Covid test results and insurance coverage with us and show them to immigration officials? Or do we upload them somewhere before we leave?

        Thanks so much for your help.

        1. Hi Jayne, Glad our information has been helpful!

          Yes, you will need to upload your Covid results to the online health pass, which you will fill out 48 hours before your flight. Here is the link: https://salud.go.cr/

          You will get a QR code to show the airline in order to board the plane. We explain this in more detail above under Health Pass in the Entry Requirements section.

          1. Thanks for responding so quickly! Follow up question: Will I need to fill out the forms 48 hours before we leave or can it be less than that? I’m anticipating our covid results will come back sometime between 24 – 2 hours before we leave. Also, do we upload the insurance documents as well? And is there a lag time while they’re being processed and approved? And do I need that QR code before I get on the plane to head down there?
            Thank you so much for helping unravel and understand all these details!

          2. Hi Jayne, It can be filled out less than 48 hours in advance. We think the idea is that this gives the Tourism Institute time to review your information. But people have entered Costa Rica and filled out the form later than 48 hours before. Yes, if you are using international insurance, you will need to upload the policy. If you’re using one of the CR options, you won’t need to. We have heard that the airlines have been checking for the QR code prior to boarding. So have your test results ready if you didn’t get a green on your QR code in advance – see the section above on Verifying Your International Policy. We aren’t sure how long it has been taking to get the QR code. But as far as we know, people haven’t been having problems entering as long as they have their test results in time and meet all other requirements. If you are on Facebook, a good group to join to hear people’s first hand experiences about entering Costa Rica right now is Costa Rica Bound. Here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/3184512501609792/?ref=share

        2. Everywhere I go…urgent care centers etc. all are telling me it can take 5 days to get results back. I live in U.S. and am having trouble finding a place that can turn around results this fast and I live in Atlanta, home of the CDC, I would like to know where people are going to get the fast turn around PCR tests done

  31. Great information – thanks! You mentioned that kids under 12 do not need a COVID test to enter Costa Rica as a tourist. I can’t seem to find that info anywhere. Please let me know where I can verify that. Thanks!

    1. Hi Lucy, We found this information in a document released by the Costa Rica Consulate in Miami back in July when the requirements were first being discussed. You can find an excerpt of it here – see question 7. It was also covered by local news sources here, like The Tico Times. The information is also currently on the Costa Rica Embassy in Italy’s information on entry requirements and on the Costa Rica Embassy in the UK’s website.

      But we just went through the official Costa Rican government resolutions and circulars on entry again and couldn’t find it anywhere. This document issued by Migration (CIRCULAR AJ-1467-08-2020) makes it sound like a test is required, even for minors. This is in Section 3.c.4. on Tourists, the requirements section. At the top of the section it talks about the requirements applying to minors as well.

      So honestly, we aren’t sure. The test probably isn’t required for minors under 12, but you would want to confirm this before trying to get on the plane obviously. You could reach out to the ICT to find out. We are going to do so as well and will update our article with the verified information once we know. For now, we are going to take that part out of our article. Sorry for the confusion. You would think that things like this would have clear answers, but they don’t always make it easy here! 🙂

  32. Hey Jen & Matt,

    Thanks so much for your informative post.

    I wonder if you could help me with a travel insurance related question please?

    In the UK I have found an Insurer that will cover up to £5m for medical expenses relating to covid so way above the $50k that is required.

    For the lodging expenses if you have contracted covid then they will pay up to £5m to cover accommodation costs until you recover, test negative and can fly back to the UK.

    I am not sure if this meets the requirements or not? The guidelines say ” $2k for lodging expenses issued as a result of the pandemic” but it isn’t specific as to whether this means that you have contracted covid leading to extra expenses or because say for example a local lockdown that extends your trip?

    If it is the latter then that’s a shame because I would have enough savings to cover accommodation costs myself in excess of the $2k they require.

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts

    1. Hi Justine, That sounds like adequate coverage for the accommodation expenses requirement. The idea behind that requirement is that you would have insurance to cover accommodations if you were issued a quarantine order by the Costa Rican government because you contracted Covid during your visit. That’s why it’s connected to 14 days…the $2k USD is supposed to be enough to cover the 14 days of quarantine. So you should be all set. Hope that helps!

  33. I am a student looking to come to Costa Rica to study Spanish for three months in mid-January of 2021. Are the requirements that the government has enacted the same for all (including students) who wish to come to Costa Rica?

      1. Thanks for that information. Would it also be correct to assume that the requirements are the same for anyone (businessman, tourists, missions workers, etc.)? I’m in the process of seeing if the travel insurance that my organization requires when traveling abroad will meet the standards required by the country of Costa Rica. I really appreciate your up to date information. It is extremely helpful.

        1. Yes, same requirements as far as entering the country. The general breakdown of categories is tourists, citizens, and legal residents. There may be a different type of visa for missionaries (possibly, we aren’t sure), but they would still need to meet the special Covid entry requirements.

  34. Hello Jenn and Matt, I have been devouring all the comments in this blog and I must say, it is wonderful! I have a question, my sister needs to fly in on Friday and we are going nuts trying to find insurance. INS is way to expensive for a 16 day trip! Are there any companies that you recommend? And two, my sister will be staying with me at my home and not at a hotel. She has dual citizenship, cédula and US passport, does she have to have coverage for the accomodations even though she will be staying at a house? Do you know? Thanks in advance for the advice!!

    1. Hi Lizzy, Glad our site has been helpful to you! We’re just wondering, if your sister is Costa Rican, why does she need to get insurance at all? Citizens only need to fill out the health pass online as far as we know. If she is entering on a tourist visa and does need insurance, people have been talking in the last couple of days about the company Travelex having an insurance product that meets the insurance requirement for the $50k in medical coverage and $2k in accommodations. She will still need the insurance for accommodation even if she is staying with you. If she is entering as a citizen, she will get a quarantine order for 14 days unless she’s coming from an approved state/country and has a negative Covid test. Hope that helps!

      1. Hi Jenn and Matt! All info helps, thanks! She is a CR citizen, but she lives in NY therefore she travels with the cédula and the US passport. She does need the insurance, thanks for the tip, becasue eventhough she is Costarican she does not pay into the CCSS. As she is coming from NY, approved State and negative Covid test, she does not have to quarantine. Thanks and Pura Vida!

        1. That makes perfect sense! Good luck with the insurance. I didn’t mention it before but Heymondo is another company that is working on having insurance that will work in CR. You could check their site to see if it’s ready. As of a couple of days ago, they were still working on it.

  35. Hi – Any information for entering Costa Rica by boat? We’ve been hanging out in Mexico while waiting for the end of hurricane season and plan to sail toward Costa Rica at the end of October. If we test in Chiapas during check-out from Mexico will that test be valid if we do not check into another port on our way south?

    1. Hi Kyle, Mexico is now an approved country as of October 1 so that will help you out. Here is the applicable text re: arriving by sea from the Tourism Institute’s website. It sounds like if you will have been sailing for 14 days and have a negative test, you will be all set. If less than 14 days, they will give you a quaratine order for the difference in days.

      “Those who entered the country by sea from the list of permitted countries and who have not made a stopover elsewhere, should not be subjected to isolation if they have been sailing for more than 14 days.

      If the passengers do not bring with them the negative RT-PCR test taken 72 hours prior to the trip to Costa Rica, or they set sail in an unauthorized city or country, they will receive a sanitary isolation order for 14 days from, from which will be deducted the number of days on the high seas, counting from the last port departure date recorded in the yacht or sailboat’s log.”

  36. Hi Jenn and Matt. My husband and I will be traveling to CR in April. We are a resident of California and we have a 15 hour layover in Miami before continuing on to Liberia. The rules state that you may not leave the airport. We had intended to walk across the street to the airport hotel for a good night’s sleep and catch the morning flight to Liberia. I would assume that this is allowed. Can you check with someone? Thanks Beth

    1. Hi Beth, Officially (according to ICT, the Tourism Board), you are not supposed to leave the airport during the layover. This is the guidance that has been given by a well known law firm in Costa Rica that does immigration law. See this article on their website. Practically speaking, we have heard that people have been staying at airport hotels and entering Costa Rica without a problem as long as they stay under the 18 hour requirement. Hope that helps.

  37. Insurance is overpriced just like Costa Rica. There are websites with links to companies with cheaper insurance. Costa Rica isn’t what it use to be. They are all about money but more than tourist money.

  38. Hello Everyone! Does anyone know if the LAND border between Nicaragua and Costa Rica is open (Penas Blancas) as of September 25? Many thanks for this wonderful site

    1. Hi Matthew, All land borders between Costa Rica and Nicaragua are still closed. We don’t expect them to open for some time. To give you an idea, the government recently extended tourist visas automatically until March 2 as long as you enter CR before the end of October. This is to help those who live here on tourist visas who normally renew their visa by going to the Nicaragua or Panama border. The Panama land borders are closed still too.

  39. I was booked and set to go – then travel clinic cancelled my booking due to the high number of tests they have to do and are backed up. I have already purchased my insurance, and all other entry requirements. Do you know if CR government will allow 14 day quarantine if you cannot present the negative result upon arrival?

    1. Hi Summer, Unfortunately, you cannot enter as a tourist without a negative Covid test under current regulations. The only tourists who can enter without a test are those who have a direct relationship to a Costa Rican (e.g. the mother, father, or sibling of a Costa Rican citizen). If you read Spanish, it’s at the very end of this document. Vinculo refers to having a direct relationship/link to a CR citizen. Sorry!

  40. Hi – Apologize in advance for the length of my note. My husband and I were originally scheduled to travel to Costa Rica (Osa Peninsula) in April 2020. We bought travel insurance from CSA (now General Global Assistance) in Jan 2020, just a few days before Covid was determined to be a “foreseeable” event.

    Because of the travel restrictions, the lodge where we will be staying allowed us to postpone our trip and we’re now scheduled to travel to CR from MD in late Nov 2020. CSA allowed us to modify our travel dates accordingly with only a slight increase in the premium. Our policy includes $50K for medical expenses and roughly $7K per person for trip interruption. According to CSA’s customer service folks, we’re covered under the medical piece if we contract Covid while in CR (because we purchased the policy when we did) and they said quarantine would be covered under the trip interruption. All good so far but they’ve indicated that the summary of benefits is all that is needed and that they don’t provide a separate certification letter in advance as a claim would need to be submitted after the fact. Do you know if the summary of benefit would be sufficient for entry? We also have medical insurance with 100 percent international coverage. We can upload that policy as well if need be when we upload the travel insurance. Just trying to determine in advance if what we have is sufficient although we realize that things are changing daily. Greatly appreciate your informational assistance! It’s been great thus far. Thanks, Donna

    1. Hi Donna, Is it clear from the language of the summary of benefits that trip interruption would cover the $2,000 for quarantine due to Covid specifically? I think they will be looking for that. You could try to just wait and upload it when you do the Health Pass online 48 hours before and then just purchase an alternative insurance last minute if they reject it, or say that more information is needed. You could also try contacting ICT/the CR Tourism Board at this email to get an answer in advance: seguros@ict.go.cr They may be slow to respond.

      We realize that this is not a satisfying answer but think they will want it to be very clear that the accommodation piece is included before letting you in. Hope that helps some. Let us know how it turns out if you get an answer from ICT.

  41. Thanks much for the quick response. Unfortunately, no, the policy simply notes trip interruption so appreciate the suggestion to follow up with the ICT. Will definitely reach out to them and will let you know how it goes. Will also continue to work with CSA to try to obtain a bit more clarification of the coverage, in writing.

    Thanks again, Donna

  42. My husband and I ate Mexican residents. We have a trip scheduled to Costa Rica from Mexico City on November 3. We fly from Cabo San Lucas nov 2 to Mexico City. Do we need to have a Covid test 72 hours before departure. That would mean Saturday. Also do we need a travel policy coming from Mexico

    1. Hi Renee, Mexico is an approved country as of October 1, as in approved for travel to Costa Rica, but you will still need to meet the entry requirements. The way it works is only visitors from approved countries are allowed in theoretically, and then to actually be allowed entry, they each need to meet the entry requirements. So yes, you will need a Covid test done with 72 hours of your flight from Mexico City and the required travel insurance. All the requirements are outlined above in our post. Hope that helps.

  43. In your 10/2 post about traveling during Covid you mention that United is “aiming” to have a flight from Denver to CR at the end of Oct. We’re about to book a trip to CR over Thanksgiving week and may hold off if it’s pretty solid that United will be flying direct by then. Can you provide any more info on United’s plans or a link to the source of the info? I can’t find anything about it just Googling. Thanks! Your blog is the best on out there for CR. Great work!

    1. Hi Tom, That was from a Sept. 6 article from an English-language newspaper in Costa Rica called the Tico Times. They said that the ICT (the Tourism Board) announced several new flights, including the one from Denver that United hoped to add in October. ICT works with the airlines and Costa Rica’s civil aviation administration on getting new flights into the country. Here’s a link to the article: https://ticotimes.net/2020/09/06/ict-announces-increase-in-flights-from-the-united-states-to-costa-rica

      We checked some online government sources and didn’t see anything more about the new direct flight so your best bet would probably be to call the airline to see if they have any info. Hope that helps!

  44. We own our home in Costa Rica. Would that be sufficient as far as insurance for isolating is concerned? We usually stay for 90 days each trip. We are Canadians.

    1. Hi Collin and Bev, A reputable law firm here that specializes in immigration asked ICT if owning a home would cover the insurance requirement to have the $2,000 in accommodation/quarantine expenses. ICT responded saying yes it would cover it but noting that there is no formal decree or regulation that supports this. So it is still kind of a risk depending on who you get at the airport. People have done it, though, and have entered successfully without problems. Here’s a link to the law firm’s website where they explain this: https://news.outlierlegal.com/2020/08/15/things-are-progressing/

  45. Hi Jenn and Matt!
    I am an American currently in Costa Rica on a tourist visa. Do you know if I can take a 2 week trip to Mexico and come back to Costa Rica directly from Mexico?

    1. Hi Sandra, Mexico is an approved country so, yes, you would be able to take a trip there and then come back to Costa Rica. You would still need to get a negative Covid test and meet all other requirements, though.

  46. Seven corners travel insurance have a couple of options for us travelers that will cover quarantine and covid related illness up to $250,000 for those traveling from the US. You do have to pay attention to which plan you get and there is some variation depending on the state.

  47. First and foremost, your site is very good and informative. I have rented a house year round for the past 10 years. My Cigna health plan is a international plan, but like all lacks the $2000 lodging required. I thought perhaps a notarized letter from owners could be acceptable, but I cant take that chance and getting an answer from Costa Rica, has been lets say impossible. I stay in CR for 3 weeks, then return back to the US every 3 weeks for work. I have decided to just buy an INS policy, option 1 is very expensive, option 2 was $192 for the 3 weeks, it appears that option 2 will meet the requirements. Any thoughts?

    1. Hi Aaron, That is tough. As we have mentioned above in replying to someone else, a reputable law firm in Costa Rica that specializes in immigration and has been closely following this issue, has said that they asked ICT if proof of owning a home or a long term rental was sufficient to avoid the $2K in accommodation coverage. They received a written confirmation that it was acceptable. But ICT also noted that this is not in any formal decree or resolution. The rental needs to be for at least 1 month, so in your case with 3 weeks, that wouldn’t be enough time. Here is the link with more information.

      If you could extend your stay to a month, you could try that and upload the insurance to the Health Pass since you already have it, and bring the letter for the rental with you. But it is all very uncertain right now so you may want to just go with the INS for this first trip back to avoid any hassle.

      We are hopeful that a cheaper international option will come out soon. We are talking to one company that is in the final stages of having the accommodaton piece covered. People have been telling us that Seven Corners has a policy that covers Covid medical and accommodation. We went to the site and weren’t able to verify that ourselves, though. Best of luck!

  48. I see right now that Nicaragua is not on the list of approved countries. I plan to fly into Liberia, then hop across the border to Nicaragua. However on the return, it looks like a 14 day quarentine period would be required before flying out of Liberia again?

    1. Hi Robert, Costa Rica has only opened its air borders. The land borders with Nicaragua and Panama are still closed. So you won’t be able to cross the border to Nicaragua at all.

  49. Living in Canada and purchased our own condo in Jaco 2019. It is NEAR to IMPOSSIBLE for us canadians, to obtain the damn RT-PCR test due to huge backlogs and waiting times, NEVER MIND the 72 hours before flight. I’m sure I’m not the only one in this situation. We plan to come back to our home away from home in December 2020. Costa Rica authorities should consider on site airport testing for travelers. Thank you very much for putting up here such detailed INFO. Respectfully.

    1. You’re welcome! Yes, we hope the testing gets easier. We can understand the government wanting to have the more accurate PCR test, but it is prohibitively hard for a lot people. Hopefully it will get easier soon and you can get back to your house. Pura vida!

  50. Hi there, I saw a few post earlier from people asking about a negative covid test for children? Have you heard any more news regarding that? Do children/babies need to get a test to?
    Thanks so much!

  51. Hi, a couple of questions. In your entry requirements you say the rapid test is not acceptable for entry to CR. But right after that you have an American Airlines link that says they are doing 3 different test options now for DFW-Costa Rica and one of them is an on-site rapid test at the airport. What is correct here? Also an insurance question. Is INS or Sagicor the only acceptable insurance companies in Costa Rica?
    Thanks so much.

    1. Charlie, The RT-PCR test is required. As it states in the American Airlines press release, they launched this initiative to offer preflight testing for several destinations, not just Costa Rica. So that is probably why they list the rapid test (other countries/states they fly to accept it). For Costa Rica, the current requirement is the RT-PCR test. It looks like the LetsGetChecked test offers the right test. The testing options through Carenow seem to be the rapid test so wouldn’t work (unless you can get the RT-PCR if you go to a Carenow location – this is unclear from their website). This situation is still developing so we do our best, but don’t have all the answers. We update this post as we learn more and things develop.

      Yes, only INS and Sagicor are currently approved for Costa Rica options for insurance. You can also get an international policy but we don’t know of any currently that cover the $2k in accommodation.

      1. Hello. The test is the RT-PCR test. Not the rapid PCR test or any other test (yet).

        Insurance: I can’t find any international companies that cover the 2k accommodation requirements. There are plenty that cover everything else. If you find any info on travel insurance companies, please send a post.

  52. Hi! We are traveling to CR next week & can’t wait to be there once again. I have a question regarding the insurance purchase. We have decided to purchase the INS insurance as it is approved by CR. Is it best to do this at the time you fill out the health pass or better to purchase it before that?

  53. Hi, We are hoping you can help clarify some travel questions/concerns. We just had a HORRIBLE experience with United Airlines. We are moving to Costa Rica. We had scheduled our move back in March when 4 days before leaving Costa Rica closed the borders. We left Sacramento CA Friday Oct 2nd, flew into Houston. We had to get our checked bags due to a policy that if more than a 12 hr layover (shortest layover I could find) you have to recheck bags. This forced us to leave the airline gate area and TSA and go to United’s Check in lobby. (as a side note, we were traveling with our 2 16 yr old dogs as Emotional Support Animals) We had all our documents that are required. When checking in United told us our Covid test was past 72 hours. We had taken them approx 68 hours before leaving Sacramento. United said the tests should be taken 72 hours before leaving the U.S. It was our understanding per the CR US Embassy website https://cr.usembassy.gov/200929-travel-alert/ that explains it and has a link to Tico Times with clearer verbiage that it was to be done prior to leaving your home state. The following is a bullet point in Tico Times….RT-PCR diagnostic test with a negative result; the sample must have been taken within 72 hours of departure from the country/state of origin. United would not listen to us and would not book us to go to Costa Rica. They even recommended we leave the airport and go have a test done in Houston. We had to explain to them we cant leave the airport because Texas is not an approved state for travel. They would not even look at our approved QR codes from our Health Pass from Costa Rica. They also told us we should have had the tests done right before leaving, which we explained we wouldnt have had the results upon arriving in Houston. We had to get our Drs involve to escalate to even get the result within the 72 or less hours required. The only option they would offer us was to fly back to Sacramento Ca. So we did. Overall the United Houston Agents and Supervisors were rude, uncaring and clearly did not care. We are now trying to re plan getting to Costa Rica. This time we are exploring American Airlines. Could you clarify, with what you know, about when/where the Covid test needs to be done. Which flight applies to the 72 hours, the originating flight from Sacramento CA or the flight leaving the U.S. (which if it is the U.S. it doesnt make sense if you cant leave the airport for non approved travel states at least till Nov when all states are approved) We appreciate your assistance and expertise. Thank you!

    1. Hi Steve, So sorry you had to deal with all that. We have heard a few accounts about airlines (mostly United) not knowing the correct rules. Mostly things have gone well for people entering who have done everything correctly, but you are not alone in what happened.

      As far as we know, the 72 hours is from your first flight to Costa Rica, so Sacramento in your case. Someone in a Facebook group all about travel to Costa Rica during Covid said that she confirmed this with ICT and had it in writing. She actually had similar flights as you, San Francisco to Houston to SJO. She lives in California. Here is what she said ICT said: “The PCR test must be taken before your departure time of your first flight to Costa Rica. In your case, before SFO.”

      So United was incorrect, as you know. She received this in writing by emailing ICT through their website. They have not been responding to all inquiries, unfortunately, but it would be worth it to try to get it in writing if you can. I wouldn’t think it would happen to you a second time, but just in case, having it directly from the CR government to show the airline should work if you run into any problems. If you use their chat function on this page, I think you can get an email address. Hope you have a much easier time this time. It would be worth it join that Facebook group we mentioned before too – called Costa Rica Bound.

    2. Hi there!
      Just a few more ?’s
      My husband & I are traveling together.
      Should we purchase the INS insurance as individuals or can we purchase as a family?
      We are leaving for CR on Saturday of this week, how far in advance do we need to purchase the insurance?

      1. Hi Carol, You can price it out, but it will probably be more economical to purchase the insurance as a family.

        For timing, you will need the policy number to put in the Health Pass. You will probably fill out the Heath Pass the day before you leave, since you will also need to upload your Covid test results. So maybe purchase the insurance 2-3 days before Saturday, so you have a extra day or so in case you have any problems. If for any reason you can’t come on the trip, the insurance probably won’t be refundable so better to wait until a little closer to your departure.

  54. Hello, thanks for the excellent information and for answering so many questions!

    I am planning on getting married Nov 1st 2020 and my family was hoping to be able to attend.

    Biggest question right now is, my sister is US born but was registered as an infant in CR (our father is costa rican) and therefore has a cedula # but she has never gotten her actual cedula. She has three kids, all under five. Her husband is a US citizen. Seems like they would all have to come as regular tourists from the US as opposed to citizens right? My concern is the covid testing of the children, and the insurance requirements for them as well. It all seems extremely cost prohibitive right now.

    Thanks again

    1. Hi Daniel, We think that they would all have to come as tourists if your sister doesn’t have a cédula and doesn’t pay into the CCSS. But you could double check with a lawyer. We know of a great firm in Costa Rica that has been helping a lot of people facing various issues with entry right now. If you’d like their contact info, let us know and we can email it to you.

      We still have been unable to get a response from ICT about if children need the Covid test. The law firm may know the answer to that too.

      Regarding insurance, price it out because it may not be that bad for them since they are younger. INS has two options, one of which is cheaper. If they aren’t staying for too long, it might be affordable. Hope that helps, and hope they can make it down here for your wedding.

  55. Hi Jenn & Matt,

    I continued to be amazed in how you respond to each and everyone of us with such professionalism. Here is my dilemma if you don’t mind sharing your advice. I am booked on Air Canada out of Toronto on November 1. I am still hoping AC doesn’t cancel this flight, as they did with all flights into SJO for the month of October. My Province is charging $400 CAN (very high) for the proper test within 72 hours (keeping my fingers crossed). I originally booked my flight for six months planning to do a border run at 90 days. Now I can’t do this. Do you have any suggestions? I don’t really want to fly anywhere for 1-2 days and then have to obtain another negative COVID test in order to return to CR.

    1. Hi Charlene, Not sure you are aware of this, but you will need a plane ticket back to Canada within 90 days of your arrival anyway. This has always been an entry requirement so you will still need to show this. Many people in your position get a refundable ticket and then cancel it after they get here.

      Immigration at the airport will give you a 90 day stamp (or whatever exact number of days they give you; it’s in their discretion but it’s normally 90 days). Although this will be what’s in your passport, it won’t really matter because the government has extended tourist visas. Since you will be enter on Nov. 1, you will be allowed to stay until March 2 without having to leave the country. See below for more. That will get you until March. Hopefully things will have changed by then.

      Tourists (non-Residents) who entered the country after December 17th, 2019, and until November 30th, 2020, may legally remain in Costa Rica until March 2nd, 2021. This is an automatic extension.

      1. Thank you!! Your responses are very easy to understand. Do you think a one way refundable return ticket to Canada will be acceptable within 90 days? My original ticket is not returning until April 30, 2021.

    2. Hi Charlene, we are taking your airplane back to Toronto on November 1 and hoping it isn’t cancelled as well! I just called Air Canada and they said there is no conditions or warnings on the flight (ie. dependant on Government restrictions)

      The COVID test is no longer required, so you can save your $400.

  56. Why is Sagicor the only approved private insurance company? Is there no competition. Who owns Sagicor. Why does Sagicor need to cover $50K and INS only $20K? Is the government collecting data on the number of claims that are filed for Covid coverage from INS and Sagicor so we will eventually be able to see the cost to tourists and the lucre collected?
    Are the rules in their infinite detail copied from Governor Whitmer of Michigan or from the WHO. What is the cost of implementing these bizarre intricate rules; has a cost benefit analysis been performed?

  57. Hi All. I just finished filling out the Health Pass for our trip to Costa Rica tomorrow and can confirm that for my minor children (aged 5 and 7) it did not ask to upload proof of a COVID test. It did ask to upload proof of insurance though. For myself I had to upload my drivers license, COVID test and proof of insurance. I went with Sagicor because it was ~$100 cheaper than INS for the family. Hope this helps someone since I’ve been all over the blogs and facebook doing research. Wish us luck!

    1. Thank you, Adam! This is so helpful. We have updated our article to share your experience with others. Seems likely that the test is required only for ages 12 and up but we will see what other families who are traveling say. Thanks again.

  58. Hello, trying to travel in December from USA. However, no medical facility can guarantee 72 hr notification of PCR-RT test. Any relief on this? Can I board awaiting results?
    Thanks.

    1. Hi Jeffrey, Unfortunately, the RT-PCR test is the only one allowed right now and there are no exceptions to the time requirement. We have been hearing that the airlines want to see your test results when checking you in so you likely wouldn’t be able to board awaiting the results. Did you try all the links for labs that we give above? Some of the options are for test kits to be mailed to your home. One of the links is to http://www.rapidtesttravel.com, which lets you put in your state to find a lab in the area. Hope you are able to find an option.

    2. Hi again Jeffrey, Just thought we’d follow up to let you know that the CR government just announced today that they will no longer require a negative Covid test to enter the country. This is starting on October 26.

  59. Hi thanks for your extreme helpfulness 🙂 I am a US citizen who “got stuck” here in Costa Rica since March, so have the extended visa until March 2, 2021.
    1) I have an upcoming flight back to the US from 10/14 until 10/26, which counts as 12 or 13 days?
    2) Correct me if I’m wrong, but Costa Rica requires that I quarentine for 14 days in the US before traveling back here on the 26th? If so, I will have to change my return flight to either 10/27 or 10/28 depending on how you count the days.
    3) Since I was here for the initial lockdown/extended visa, I heard that if I return back here by 10/31, I am still in the category of tourists who can stay until 03/02/21? or will I just get a 90 day stamp from my day of return?

    Thank you SO much. I have been researching for hours and still confused. Peace to everyone reading this.

    1. Hi Sophia, Assuming you are flying to an approved state, we think you should not have to quarantine there for 14 days before re-entering, since you will be coming from Costa Rica. They should only require the standard entry requirements including showing your driver’s license to prove you are a resident of the approved state you will be traveling from. If you are nervous since it is not 100% clear and want to play it safe, you could change your plane tickets. I think those days would count as 12 days so you would need two more.

      Yes, you will re-enter as a tourist, and because you will be arriving before Nov 30 (immigration extended the date again), you will be eligible for the automatic visa extension for tourists of until March 2. The immigration agent will still stamp your passport officially with 90 days or whatever they give you in their discretion but it will be valid until March 2, 2021. Hope that helps!

  60. We are traveling from the USA – we own a home in Puerto Viejo where we will be staying for 86 days beginning early November – we are in the process of applying for residency and will be submitting our paperwork while we are there – can we provide ownership documentation to show that we have solid accommodations for the entire time we are in CR instead of needing to purchase $2000 accommodation insurance?

    1. Hi Brenda, We recently responded to this same question about if proof of owning a home or having a long term rental agreement was sufficient to avoid the need to get the $2,000 in accomodation insurance. Please see our response to Aaron Abaurrea on October 6. Thanks!

      1. Thank you for the excellent information. We decided to obtain INS insurance…. we found it to be similar in cost to an international medical insurance plan – we have been waiting to get back to our home since May and don’t want to take any chances since this trip we are relocating our two cats to our CR home… Your website is so very informative and now have it “bookmarked”.

        1. That’s great, Brenda. Definitely better not to take any chances. Glad we could help. Feel free to also sign up for our newsletter (free). When you first subscribe, we send out a short series of articles about travel in Costa Rica, then we just send our new articles after that with any pertinent updates on what’s happening in Costa Rica. Here is the link if you’re interested.

  61. I am a Costa Rican/ American Citizen. I currently live in Florida and want to go see my family. I am traveling with my 6 year old daughter who is a Costa Rican citizen. Do we need the insurance ? where can I get tested in Tampa ? Its been 4 years since we have seen the family and were going to go back in June but had to cancel our tickers. Any help is greatly appreciated 🙂 Thank you

    1. Hi Tania, Yes, I think you will need the insurance since you have not been paying into the Caja.

      For testing in Tampa, this website has a lot of information. Under the Privatized Testing Options section, it gives some lab options. The one from Pixel by LabCorp is an at home RT-PCR test that says it can give results in 24-48 hours. Just be sure you know how to administer the test correctly, as we have heard of people sometimes getting inconclusive results with these home tests due to them not being done right. There are some more testing options listed on the site as well, which may have drive through testing options. Just be sure to check that you are getting the RT-PCR nasal swab test. Hope that help!

  62. We are traveling to CR in November. It states that we need International insurance that will cover for accommodations if we get Covid. If we own our home do we need that insurance and if we don’t what do we need to show imigration?

    1. Hi Bridget, Unless you have residency in Costa Rica, you need the insurance coverage. Specifically in regards to your question about the accommodation coverage, we recently responded to this same question about if proof of owning a home or having a long term rental agreement was sufficient to avoid the $2,000 in accomodation insurance. Please see our response to Aaron Abaurrea on October 6. Thanks!

  63. Is the government protest impacting tourist from traveling/driving a rent a car from SJO to Jaco, Dominical, Manual Antonio and Osa and then back to SJO to fly home. I do emphasize with the CR citizens and hope the CR government does the right thing sooner rather than later.

    1. Hi David, Currently, there are no roadblocks between SJO and Jaco, all the way south past Esterillos. Unfortunately, however, there are still some in Paquita on the way to Quepos, at the Dominical bridge, and at the large bridge before the turnoff to the Osa. They aren’t allowing much traffic to pass through right now. The best way to get local conditions is to map your route on WAZE. We are hopeful that this will all be over very soon. They seem close to reaching agreement with the government.

  64. Regarding the RT-PCR test Jet Blue is partnering with a testing company, Vault, to offer 72 hours or less turnaround for Covid test results which is fantastic. American Airlines has also partnered with a testing company as well.
    The potential problem with the Jet Blue / Vault test relating to entry into Costa Rica is that it is a “saliva” based RT-PCR test (not nasal swab). Do you guys know if this will be accepted by Costa Rica? I have read the entry requirements and they only state it must be an RT-PCR test—but just want to be sure.
    Also, FYI there is a company CovidConsultants guaranteeing 24 hr turnaround with RT-PCR tests both nasal swab and saliva based. These tests (including Vault) are done at home the Express shipped back to testing companies. Thanks!

    1. Hi David, Yes, the regulations state that an RT-PCR test is required without specifying the nasal swab test, as far as we can tell. This is from the circular from Migration to Migration employees, consulates, and the airlines in general. Everyone does talk about the nasal swab version, though, and not the saliva test. Elsewhere in the regulations, in other contexts, they talk about the polymerase chain test being the best option right now (for various reasons), and that this test is performed using samples of nasopharyngeal cells obtained with a swab. So referencing the nasal swab test. This was back on August 5, so maybe before the saliva PCR test was an option.

      From looking at the Vault website, it seems that their RT-PCR test uses the same technology as the nasal swab test, so maybe it would be okay? Presumably your results would say RT-PCR, which is what they would be looking for at the airport and upon entry into Costa Rica. But we aren’t 100% sure. You could try to get confirmation from ICT.

    2. Hi again David, The Costa Rica government just announced during today’s press conference that they are eliminating the Covid test requirement starting on October 26. Just thought we’d let you know.

  65. I states that the test must be done within 72 of your flight leaving the country. I have a 12 hour layover in Houston. My flight leaving Louisville Ky. is at 7:15 a.m. (local time) and I don’t depart Houston until 8:15 p.m. (local time). Chances are I will be in Texas before I get my results.

  66. Just got off the phone with United, they are telling me I must have my test results before boarding in louisville, ky. with my flight not leaving Houston until 8:15, total of about 15 hours. CR requires it to be within 72 hours of departing the “country”. Can you shed any light on this? Has anyone else had this issue?

    1. Hi Bryan, The 72 hours is from your first flight, so in your case, Louisville. Layovers are fine but have to be less than 18 hours. The 72 hours language is vague but this is what everyone is saying based on their experience at the airport and with immigration.

      Someone also recently confirmed that it’s based on your first flight to Costa Rica with ICT/the Tourism Board. Please see our response to Steve B. on October 9.

      It makes sense since you will need to upload your test results to the online Health Pass, then you’ll get your QR code to show the airline at check in. Hope that makes sense.

    2. Hi again Bryan, Costa Rica’s Minister of Tourism just announced that Covid testing will no longer be an entry requirement starting on October 26. So you won’t need a test if you are entering on or after the 26th. Just thought we’d let you know.

  67. Just wanted to give an update regarding acceptance of “Saliva” versus “Nasal” based RT-PCR tests. I reached out to the ICT/Tourism board and this was the response:
    “As long as the test is PT-PCR, not necessary must be nasal.”

    So, there you have it. This is good news because the saliva test can be self-administered at home and there are testing services guaranteeing 24-72 hour turnaround to meet the time requirement.
    PS Your 2 Weeks in Costa book was a great read!

  68. Hi,

    Thanks for all the info! It has been super helpful. I’m a Us citizen that’s been in Mexico for the last 5 weeks (the same place) and am flying to Costa Rica on Saturday. I’ve done some research on where I can get a Covid test in Mexico City and am planning on going to médica sur… they say they give results within 24-48 hrs but I’m a bit worried that it could take longer then I won’t be able to go. Have you heard of any places in Mexico City that guarantee quick results?

    Also, how do I prove that i have been at the same place my whole stay in Mexico? I’m staying with a family. Not a hotel or anything.

    1. Hi Jack, We don’t have a lot of readers coming from Mexico City so haven’t heard of a testing facility that can guarantee quick results. If the lab you found says they can do it within 24-48 hours, hopefully they can meet that.

      Your passport stamps should be enough to prove you’ve been in Mexico for at least 14 days. They may not even ask for it, but if they do, it should be sufficient for them to see your entry and exit stamps. Hope that helps!

        1. Hi again Jack, The Costa Rica government just announced today that Covid testing will no longer be an entry requirement starting on October 26. So you won’t need a test. Just thought we’d let you know.

    2. Where do you purchase a home kit? How do you prove to the CR government that you had a negative test if you self administered?

      1. Hi Dave, Various labs are offering an RT-PCR home kit. This test has been authorized for use by the FDA. People have used them to get into Costa Rica without a problem so there shouldn’t be an issue with self-administration. One place that offers them is LetsGetChecked. Usually the way it works is they send you the kit through FedEx or similar overnight, you do the swab, and then they email you your results.

        One problem with this is you need to make sure you’re administering the test correctly, because it you don’t, you may get an inconclusive result. Better to use a drive through testing option if there’s one in your area or we’ve heard of some that will do a virtual appointment to help you get the sample to make sure it’s done right.

  69. Hi Jenn and Matt!
    First, thank you so so much for your informative site and all of the effort you put into offering and clarifying information always and especially during this crazy and confusing time. I have followed your posts and the comments sections religiously since getting stuck in the US in March. I live primarily in CR.
    I am wondering if you might be able to offer any clarity on the tourist visa situation? I am returning home on Nov 2. Because I am still reliant on the tourist visa for my time there, I have been confused about when to schedule my departure from CR flight. Generally, it would be just short of 90-days. Are people getting tickets with a departure all the way up to Mar 2 even if that makes the stay beyond 90 days? Or do you know if immigration is still adhering to a 90-day turn around? Any insights would be so greatly appreciated!
    Thank you mucho for all of your efforts!

    1. Hi Catherine, Glad our site has been helpful in getting you back to CR!

      Even though tourist visas have been automatically extended (provided you arrive before November 30), we think you should still have a 90 day plane ticket to show upon entry. We haven’t seen anything about a change to that, and people have been reporting that they have been receiving a 90 day stamp. It’s just semantics since you will be allowed to stay until March 2, but it’s safer to have the 90 day plane ticket. Hope you have smooth travels on Nov. 2!

  70. I have tried to fill out the Health Pass form but it consistently responds after Step 0 with the message “an unexpected error has occurred.” An American AIrlines ticket agent tried to help to allow me to obtain the QR Code. He failed. I missed the flight.
    Has anyone else had that problem or is it my computer/phone clumsiness?

    1. Hi Paul, Sorry we are just responding now. We have heard of this happening to people just in the last few days. It seems to have been a glitch with the Health Pass website. Apparently they just kept trying and eventually it worked. Very sorry that this happened to you and you missed your flight. What a huge inconvenience.

  71. Thanks so much for all of this information! I have reviewed all of the comments and your replies and reached out to ICT but still have not received any response. I am in BC, Canada and while there are private labs here that will do travel-related asymptomatic tests for travelers for a hefty fee, they only do NAAT-PCR tests, not RT ones. They are still PCR tests but they are based on taking a swab from the very back of the throat, not the nasal passage. I saw the response above about them not requiring it be nasal but I haven’t been able to get an answer on whether an NAAT test would be accepted. I am hoping yes but definitely want clarification before I book my travel (that would be over Christmas 2020). Any info on whether these are being accepted? Do you know any Canadians that have come from BC that have gained entry to CR? Cheers!

    1. Hi Kindra, Yes, we saw the comment above from someone who got ICT to confirm that the saliva PCR test is okay, so it probably is, but like you, we would want to get that in writing from ICT to avoid any potential problems.

      In the Facebook group called Costa Rica Bound (you could join this), a woman said that she got her nasal swab PCR test done at the TravelSafe Clinic on West Broadway in Vancouver. She got her results in 36 hours. It is a nasal swab test, but they are calling it a NAAT-PCR on their website. It seems to be the same as the RT-PCR but we’re not totally sure. She did get into Costa Rica, though, so maybe you could follow up with her for more details to find out what the results will say once you get them back. It was a post from Sept. 28 – you can use the search function in the group and search “BC.” Let us know if you can’t find it. Otherwise, ICT should hopefully get back to you soon. Good luck!

    2. Hi again Kindra, The CR government just announced during today’s press conference that Covid testing will no longer be an entry requirement starting on October 26. So you won’t need a test. Just thought we’d let you know.

  72. Hi Jenn and Matt,

    Thanks for all the great info!

    I have an insurance question for you and all of your readers:

    My family of 4 is planning to travel to CR for ~85 days from mid November 2020 to Mid February 2021. I received an insurance quote from the INS website and it is going to cost my family of 4 ~$1,000 for our 3 month stay. Outrageous!

    I work remote and my employer provides me and my family with Medical coverage of $1,000,000, however they don’t offer 14 day quarantine coverage of $2,000 so it appears ICT won’t approve of my employer’s insurance policy. Has anyone found a workaround for this? Should I book a return plane ticket that is 7 days from my arrival date and then just change the return flight later to reduce the amount of the insurance policy I am required to purchase? I totally understand the need for insurance to avoid being a burden on the local government, but this entire process seems like a money grab or shake down.

    1. Hi Pete, If you changed your return ticket date, that would be an option, though not the best one. People are most likely doing that, though, since the insurance is expensive. Even the people who live here on a tourist visa long-term are likely just getting the 90 days of insurance, even though they intend to stay for much longer than that. There are a lot of flaws in the system. We have been talking with one international insurance company who is close to having a policy that will cover the quarantine expense, but it isn’t ready yet, unfortunately.

      1. Hi Katelyn, Thanks for sharing this. We would say that you should just make sure that the insurance does actually meet Costa Rica’s requirements. Since international insurance is not preapproved by the Costa Rican government, it’s a good idea to send your policy information to ICT in advance to ensure you don’t have any problems getting in. ICT’s email is seguros@ict.go.cr

        1. Thank you for your reply 🙂 I did email the Visa letters to that address and received a positive response. It was a huge relief!

  73. Hi,

    Thanks for all this info!

    Me and my partner are itching to travel and have looked at spending two weeks over Christmas and NYE in CR. Do you think its worth the journey or will there be many restrictions, such as park and tour closures? We would plan on most likely backpacking across San Jose, La Fortuna/Arenal, Monteverde, Puerto Viejo and possibly Manuel Antonio over 2/3 weeks. Would this be a difficult journey and come with many problems?

    Thanks,
    Lee

    1. Hi Lee, Take a look at the info we give above in the section called What is Open for Tourists? You’ll see that almost everything has been opened back up, including most national parks. Just about everything should be going as usual with Covid precautions in terms of hotels and tours by the time you would get here for Christmas. That is the busiest time of year here so people will want to be up and running by then, even if they are still closed now. We have heard about a lot of hotels that are set to reopen in November. Buses are still running as normal if you plan to take the public bus.

  74. Hi there, thank for all of the great information. I was wondering if you have any feedback for my particular issue. My family and I (U.S. citizens) are traveling to Costa Rica on January 2nd, 2021. In order to satisfy the COVID testing requirement, we would need to be tested on December 30th. There’s no way any lab is going to have our results ready by January 2nd, especially since New Year’s Day is a national holiday. Do you have any idea what we should do? Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Josh, The 72 hours is not flexible. It doesn’t allow for extra time for holidays or weekends, unfortunately. We’d think that you should be able to find a lab that can guarantee the results in time, though, as long as you get the sample taken on the 30th. You could look into those tests you can do from home like letsgetchecked if it seems that everything will be closed on New Year’s Day. We have heard of people getting results in as little as 24 hours, or even less. Best of luck.

    2. Hi again Josh, The CR government just announced during today’s press conference that Covid testing will no longer be an entry requirement starting on October 26. So this will no longer be an issue for you.

  75. Hello All. GREAT NEWS! After extensive research for my boss who has a planned trip in Decemeber, I was successful in finding a Travel Insurance Agency that provides Approved Travel Insurance for Costa Rica. It was just implemented today!! Call Trawick International (888) 301-9289. You likely have to leave a message but I got a call the next day (today) and was able to purchase the approved insurance that includes the mandatory $2,000 accommodation coverage. They will even send a link on how to forward the certificate to Costa Rica customs ahead of time. Best of Luck to all on your travels!

  76. Hi Jenn & Matt,

    I’m California resident (green card holder) but my passport is from non-approved country. Any chance you know if I’m allowed to visit during Thanksgiving? Thanks!

    1. Hi Elizabeth, All countries will be able to travel to Costa Rica starting on November 1, so you won’t have any problems. They announced this last week. You will still need to meet entry requirements (Covid test, insurance, etc.).

      1. Great! Thanks for the quick response. Contemplating now since the travel insurance cost as much as our plane tix and there are 4 of us 😭

        1. We just updated our post with some options for international insurance that people have found and say meet the requirements. So you could check those out. Hope it works out and you can come to CR!

  77. We are aware (and have used) a covid 19 test from Vault Health which is an FDA approved RT qPCR test – which seems to meet the requirements – except that it is not a nasal swab it is a saliva test. Will this be accepted? We have serious issues with the nasal swab test

    1. Hi Stephen, The requirement is for an RT-PCR so if that is what the test is, it should be okay. That said, we have not heard of anyone using a saliva test to get into Costa Rica. You could email ICT/the Costa Rica Tourism Board to confirm that it is ok, then print out the email to show in case you have any problems during check in at the airport or in Costa Rica. Also be sure to confirm with Vault Health that your results will say that the test was an RT-PCR.

    2. Hi again Stephen, The CR government just announced during today’s press conference that Covid testing will no longer be an entry requirement starting on October 26. So this will not be an issue anymore. Just thought we’d let you know.

  78. MEDICAL TOURISM Planned May-ish 2021 (Facelift)

    The information provided here, along with the comments have been great data points.
    Hopefully, this COVID-19 hysteria will have calmed down by May 2021, but the COVID Nazis are not letting up. (I live in Calif USA) I follow Stanford University, and this Professor Of Medicine talks about the sensitive test, that doesn’t know one coronavirus from another. (a cold or flu are coronaviruses, as we all know).
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4gbRHBSGk0

    Dr Jay Bhatt. MD Public Health guy, and Mstr in Economics,

    as well as a Professor Of Medicine at Stanford University. One of my favorite COVID-19 data points.

    I watched an MD/Microbiologist about colds and flu 2 yrs back are being umbrella-ed.
    I will be quarantined at a recovery facility anyway for 2 weeks, so I am not a risk to CR. Besides, I believe I had it in March.
    Looking forward to my trip, and meeting the great people of CR. The COVID Ins situation will be hashed out as the ins actuaries see low risk and high profits.

  79. My boyfriend will be picking me up from the airport. Will he be able to meet me inside? Or will he have to wait outside of the airport? Also, if he is able to meet me inside, I assume a welcome kiss is not allowed, is it? ♥

  80. Hi there, I must say your site has been very helpful when planning my trip! And I also would like to ask you if you know where I could book a pcr-test while in Costa Rica? Have a lovely day!

  81. Hi Jenn & Matt, this is such wonderful news about the negative COVID test being waived. My flight arrives on November 1, just in the nick of time!! I’m purchasing the CR COVID medical insurance. May I ask about the Health Pass? If I was to fill in the form today, how does it know that I’m not travelling tomorrow vs. Nov. 1? I’ve tried to fill it in as a practice run, but it keeps saying “error”.

    Also, if I could not get the Health Pass to work properly, could I take all my hard copies for proof, and still be accepted for entry at the SJO Airport. I’m unsure if Air Canada will be checking on entry requirements before I depart from Canada. They should do so in Toronto, but I don’t want to assume anything.

    Thank you, Charlene

  82. Are you aware of any COVID testing facilities at or near the SJO airport for travellers leaving Costa Rica to show on their return to Canada?

  83. Hello, I have been trying to ge to Nicaragua for a few months with Spirit, but have had my reservations cancelled many times. I see that Spirit is now flying to SJO. If I do nt plan to stay in C.R., but just plan to take a bus to Penas Blancas. Entering Nicaragua the same day, Would I be able to travel w/o getting the Covid insurance?

    1. Hi Joe, That must be very frustrating to have your flights be continuously cancelled. Costa Rica’s land borders are still closed so we’re not sure exactly if you can get into Nicaragua via Penas Blancas. We have heard you need a special permission from the Nicaraguan government. Assuming you could get in that way, Costa Rica would want you to purchase the insurance since you will need to be stamped into the country. You’ll need to meet the regular entry requirements so they will also want to see a plane ticket back to your home country. Some people in your situation just get a refundable ticket. So one idea is to get it for a day or two stay in Costa Rica, then you would only need to purchase the insurance for those couple of days. We think that could work. Such a complex time right now with travel. Best of luck to you.

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