The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world and restricted international travel opportunities.
Early in the pandemic crisis, the government of Costa Rica took one of the most restrictive positions in Latin America due to COVID-19, imposing curfews on residents and completely stopping international arrival. Only citizens and legal residents could enter the country due to this temporary border closing.
During the early part of the pandemic, US-based airlines offered repatriation flights to US citizens in Costa Rica who desired to make a quick return.
Now, as we pass more than half of a year of the pandemic in the United States, one of the most frequent questions that people ask me is, can you fly from the US to Costa Rica?
Can US Citizens Travel to Costa Rica?
On November 1st, travelers from all of US states can travel to Costa Rica, provided that they meet the entry requirements outlined below.
On September 1st, US travelers from the following states and district were permitted to enter Costa Rica:
- District of Columbia
- New York
- New Jersey
- New Hampshire
On September 15, the country opened to residents of:
As mentioned above, after November 1st, travelers from all of the United States are permitted.
What are the entry requirements?
In order to travel to Costa Rica, the government has put in place some requirements for arriving travelers. These include:
- Fill out an online health form, which is available in the English language.
A real-time PCR test with a negative result for SARS-CoV2, taken within 72 hours of travel. [As of October 26th, the requirement a PCR test is no longer required for entry.]
- Travel insurance which covers the cost of expenses should you become ill with COVID-19 while in the country. Specifically, you have to present proof of:
- Insurance coverage while in Costa Rica
- A minimum coverage of $50,000 for medical expenses
- A minimum coverage of $2,000 for lodging in case of illness
Trawick International’s Safe Travels Voyager policy is specifically written to meet Costa Rica’s guidelines for travel insurance.
But what if I’m a legal resident of Costa Rica?
Americans from the United States who have legal temporary or permanent residency may enter Costa Rica, regardless of US state residency, provided that they can present the following things upon arrival:
- Valid DIMEX
- Proof that payments to the Caja payments are up to date
- Completed Health Pass (Pase de Salud).
Tourists in Costa Rica who were already in the country when the borders closed (technically, those who entered after December 17th, 2019, approximately 90 days before the borders closed) are automatically granted an extension of their 90-day tourist visa, by the country’s immigration office, to November 18, 2020.
Is it worth traveling to Costa Rica right now?
The answer to this question is complicated. For some people, such as those with diabetes or other health issues, international travel, in general, may be too risky. However, lower demand appears to be driving excellent opportunities to get value on your travel budget.
The US State Department has recently moved Costa Rica from a Level 4 Travel Advisory (which instructs US citizens not to travel to the country, leave the county or shelter in place if they are already in Costa Rica) to Level 3.
The official CDC language reads:
CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to Costa Rica.
Travelers at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should consider postponing all travel, including essential travel, to Costa Rica.
COVID-19 risk in Costa Rica is high.
If you get sick in Costa Rica and need medical care, healthcare resources may be overwhelmed.[SOURCE: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/map-and-travel-notices.html]
Flights from the US to Costa Rica are being added.
More flights from the US are being added, according to a statement from the Costa Rican tourism board.
American Airlines, United Airlines, and Delta Airlines are adding flights, including a daily flight from Houston to SJO and three weekly flights to LIR (which, until Texas becomes an approved state, will only allow travelers that are connecting in Houston from an approved state).
The country uses a tiered-system of alerts and restrictions based on the level of infection in various zones. The two alert levels are yellow and orange. There are weekly restrictions on driving based on the last digit of the automobiles’ license plate. However, these restrictions don’t apply to rental cars.
You can see an interactive map of the yellow and orange alert levels (in Spanish) at this link.
All open-air activities are permitted. Beaches are open from 5 am to 10:00 pm Monday through Friday and 5 am to 9pm on Saturday and Sunday. National parks continue to operate. Hotels are allowed to rent 100% of their rooms.
Indoor mass gatherings of 76 people or more are prohibited. Masks are required in closed public spaces such as stores and on public transit.
If you decide to make the trip, make sure that you take all of the prudent precautions before traveling. I’m not a health professional, however, I think that it makes good sense to protect your health in general with a smart vaccination regimen.
The CDC in the United States recommends that all travelers consider the following vaccinations before traveling to Costa Rica:
- Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR)
- diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine
- varicella (chickenpox) vaccine
- polio vaccine
- and annual flu shot.
Most travelers should get vaccinated against hepatitis A and typhoid.
Some travelers should consider getting:
- Malaria vaccination
- Hepatitis B vaccination
- Rabies vaccination
- Yellow fever vaccination
For more information, consult the CDC website. Always talk to your doctor or health care provider.
What is Costa Rica doing in the fight against COVID-19?
Costa Rican scientists are developing a COVID-19 treatment that calls up their experience developing anti-venin to treat snakebites.
The University of Costa Rica’s Clodomiro Picado Institute is working on the treatment, which uses antibodies from horses infected with the SARS-Cov-2 virus, much like how anti-venin is made from snake venom.
The experimental treatment will be tested on 26 subjects beginning in mid-September. [source]