This page outlines the history, response, current situation, travel requirements, airline outlook, recommendations from the CDC, US Department of State and the US Embassy as well as our tours. I recommend you read this page completely before booking a tour to visit us.
Costa Rica is again open for tourism. While things open up, restrictions still exist and the situation is dynamic and can change suddenly. I’ve tried to give you a framework to judge the situation and to help make your travel decisions wisely. We are reopening our tours with our 4 day guest house tours back in operation but we are limiting our tours to a maximum of 4 people. We are taking steps to ensure we are operating safely but do acknowledge that Covid19 has not gone away and travelers visit at their own risk. We do require that masks are worn while in our vehicles and that social distancing is practiced at all times. We want to ensure the safely of our guests as well as our staff and contractors.
History- Costa Rica was quick to shut down entry to the country as the outbreak of Covid19 spread across the globe. Early cases of Covid19 were brought by travelers to/from the US as well as travelers from the other countries. In February a Costa Rican doctor arrived from Panama and returned to his work in a hospital in Alajuela. He later tested positive and contract tracing showed 25 other people were infected from contact with him. The first death in Costa Rica was on March an 87 year old male who’d been treated by the doctor mentioned above. The first confirmed case was on March 06 after a woman from New York tested positive. She and her husband had arrived into Costa Rica on March 1st. They were quarantined but another case was linked to them a few days later. As of November 1st, Costa Rica has had 318,000 cases of confirmed Covid19 and 5,221 deaths, bringing Costa Rica into the top 20 countries with the highest infection rate per capita.
Actions Taken - Costa Rica acted quickly, declaring a national state of emergency on March 16 and closing all public schools. They shut down borders to all but nationals and permanent residents on March 18, including air, ground and sea. If a Costa Rican national or permanent resident chose to leave Costa Rica at this time, they would not be permitted to return. Furthermore those with permanent residence status would lose their residence status if they chose to leave Costa Rica after the lock down. This was enacted "to keep Nicaraguans from returning to their country for Easter holidays" but affected all with permanent residency. Nationals and permanent residents had a small window to return to Costa Rica if they were outside Costa Rica when the lock down was implemented.
Shutting Down - As Costa Rica shut down, various curfews on driving, beach closures, casinos, bars, clubs, hotels, restaurants, public and national parks all were completely closed or regulated. The government enacted a safety net program with payments to some employees via the national government though not much public assistance was rolled out. They also empowered the public force (police) to issue compliance, shut down and levy fines on individuals, businesses and drivers that did not comply to national mandates. A variety of color coded safely levels were devised to declare the required curfews and compliance regulations by canton/state.
Current Situation - Costa Rica has now opened its borders to all US states including Washington DC as well as many other countries. They began opening to other countries (non US) in early September. By Early October, they started opening to US states based on the number of cases per 100,000 in those states. As the border opened, the government initially required all entering to have passed a Covid19 test within 3 days of arrival to Costa Rica, a requirement which has been recently dropped. Shortly after the Covid test requirement was dropped by Costa Rica, the US mandated a new requirement on January 26th that now Americans returning to the US must have a PCR Covid19 test and get the results within 3 days of your return flight. That means that to visit Costa Rica, you have to plan to return to San Jose to have a test administered that can also guarantee you the results back in less than 3 days of both the test date and the day you plan to fly back to the US. Many private labs and hospitals in Costa Rica offer on-demand PCR coronavirus testing for a fee. These include: Laboratorios Echandi, Hospital La Católica, Hospital Cima, Laboratorios LABIN, Hospital Clínica Bíblica, Laboratorio Páez, Laboratorios San José and Hospital Metropolitano. The majority of private labs and hospitals can guarantee results within 72 hours. Contact them for more information.
This is easy enough to do but does require some planning on your part and something that we can't figure a way to incorporate in our tours, so it's up to you to handle it which means you need to leave a minimum of 3 days to get your Covid19 test after completing our tour. Also Air Canada announced on the 18th of January that they are cancelling their service to from Montreal to Costa Rica until further notice. Their flight from Toronto is still operating as this was written.
Travel Requirements for Foreigners – As of November 1 all travelers to Costa Rica must be covered by a Covid19 health/medical insurance policy providing for example two weeks of hotel cost coverage in the event of quarantine, repatriation expenses, medical insurance in the event of contracting Covid19 while in Costa Rica, etc. Two national companies in Costa Rica offer this insurance online including the INS (Institute Nacional de Seguros) with application found at https://cotiza.ins-cr.com/frmDatosIncluir.aspx?P=431 and Sagicor, application found at https://tiendasagicor.com/en/ You can provide proof of this medical Covid19 insurance from a foreign policy as well. For the best deal I’ve found so far on travel insurance that complies with the Costa Rican mandate, see https://www.trawickinternational.com/travel-insurance-plans/costa-rica-required-travel-insurance
Health Pass - You also have to secure a health pass online that can be found at https://salud.go.cr/ We advise people to complete the application process for this pass a few days before your arrival into Costa Rica since it does require confirmation of your cell number and email address for example.
Airline Updates - Here is a current (November 1st) updated list of US airlines currently offering flights to Costa Rica as well as their schedules to resume flights to Costa Rica. Southwest Airlines for example will not resume flights to Costa Rica until 2021 while American had resumed flights as of mid September 2020 from both Miami and Dallas. Delta resumes flights from Atlanta as of November 2, 2020 and from LA on November 17. Jet Blue resumes operations from Fort Lauderdale on November 1, Orlando on November 4 and New York on November 20. Alaska Air resumes flights from LA on November 19. Spirit Airlines resumed flights from Fort Lauderdale in mid September. United has already resumed service from Houston and Newark, will resume from Chicago on November 7, 2020 and from Denver, Washington and LA on November 19th, 2020. And for you Canadian readers, Air Canada resumes direct flights from Toronto on November 1. A number of international carriers have also resumed or will shortly resume flights including Copa, Iberia, Air France, British Air, Avianca, KLM, Lufthansa and Volaris. Check with your airline for additional information about their updated flight schedules. Remember that your flight must originate from an authorized country to insure entry into Costa Rica.
The CDC has posted a level 3 threat on travel to Costa Rica due to Covid19 concerns.
The US Department of State has posted a level 3 warning in regards to visiting Costa Rica, which is stated as “Reconsider Travel”.
From the US Embassy
- See the S. Embassy's web page regarding COVID-19.
- Visit the CDC’s webpage on Travel and COVID-19.
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- Do not physically resist any robbery attempt.
- Do not display signs of wealth, such as wearing expensive watches or jewelry.
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program(STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- S. citizens should always exercise caution when traveling abroad.
- Follow the Department of State on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
- Review the Crime and Safety Reportfor Costa Rica.
- Prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.
If you decide to travel anywhere abroad or are already outside the United States:
- Visit our Embassy webpages on COVID-19 for information on conditions in each country or jurisdiction.
- Visit the CDC’s webpage on Travel and COVID-19
- Review and follow the CDC’s guidelines for the prevention of coronavirus.
- Check with your airline, cruise line, or travel operators regarding any updated information about your travel plans and/or restrictions.
- Have a travel plan that does not rely on the U.S. government for assistance.
- Visit state.gov to view individual Travel Advisories for the most urgent threats to safety and security.
- Visit the Department of Homeland Security’s website on the latest travel restrictions to the United States
- Visit keeping workplaces, homes, schools, or commercial establishments safe.
Travelers are urged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency. The Department uses these Alerts to convey information about terrorist threats, security incidents, planned demonstrations, natural disasters, etc.