I stayed in Costa Rica for 8 days in January 2021, visiting Rio Celeste, La Fortuna, and Playa Flamingo. I thought it would be a good idea to make a post about my experience there, what I needed to do leading up to my trip, and what the requirements are for returning to the United States. When I was in Costa Rica the US government added a new protocol requiring a negative test to return. I returned before that rule was put in place, but I did research this protocol and provided insight on it in this post.
Please be sure to check out the COVID information on the Costa Rica U.S. Embassy Website.
Let’s start with getting the most common and easy questions out of the way (As of 01.25.2021):
Are Restaurants Open?
- Yes, restaurants are open in Costa Rica at 25% capacity, however, this should be no issue as almost every place I went no more than 10 people were dining.
- Before entering each restaurant there are stations to wash and or sanitize your hands, it is a requirement before entering. You will need to wear a mask until you get to your table at that point you can take it off to socialize drink and eat.
- There is no curfew order in place either so restaurants were open pretty late (in certain areas).
Are the National Parks Open?
- Yes, currently operating at 50% capacity.
- During my time I was warned that if I did not get to some of the National Parks early then I was at risk of not being allowed to get in. I had no issues during my stay.
- Before entering you will need to wash your hands. You will need to wear a mask when inside and when checking/paying. You will not need to wear a mask during your time in the park, however, I passed several people that were wearing them. Social distancing is encouraged.
Are Beaches Open?
- Yes, they are open from 05:30 – 18:00 however I was on a beach for sunset with many people (spaced out) and I did not see anyone enforcing this.
- No mask requirement but they do encourage social distancing.
Are Tourist Businesses & Activities Open?
- Yes, I didn’t see a cap. However, when I did do a few tourist activities they did focus on keeping groups small and having people spread out.
- Before entering you will need to wash your hands. You will need to wear a mask when inside and when checking/paying. Once you are outside and engaging in the activity you paid for you will not need to wear a mask. The guides and employees wear a mask the entire time. Social distancing is encouraged.
Are Stores Open?
- Yes, I did not see any restrictions on the capacity for stores. They did require washing or sanitizing hands before entering, wearing a mask the entire time in the store, and social distancing was in place. I even had my temperature taken to enter a Wal-Mart.
Were the Hotels & Rental Car Clean?
- Yes, both hotels/Airbnb and rental car companies have high cleaning standards that must be met. I did not have any of my places cleaned during my stay (my choice). All staff had masks on and had the requirement of washing your hands before entering any shared buildings.
Now I’ll discuss the current requirements to get into the country:
Does Costa Rica Require a Negative COVID Test to Enter?
- This is the greatest reason to visit Costa Rica, you do not have to prove a negative test to enter.
Is There a Quarantine Requirement?
- For US Citizens there is not a quarantine requirement. However, if you are diagnosed with COVID during your stay you will need to quarantine, which can be issued for 10 – 14 days. If this happens to you, you will not be penalized if you have to overstay your visa.
Do You Need Insurance?
- Yes, you are required to have health insurance during your stay. You have a few options.
- Here is the exact language “provide proof of a medical insurance policy to cover any COVID-19 related medical treatment or quarantine lodging while in Costa Rica. In the case of international insurance, tourists must request from their insurer a certification issued in English or Spanish, noting: 1) the validity of the policy during the dates of visit to Costa Rica, 2) guarantee of coverage for medicals expenses in cases of COVID-19 related medical treatment in the amount of 50,000 USD and, 3) minimum coverage of 2,000 USD for extended lodging expenses due to COVID-19 related illness”
- Costa Rica has provided two companies that are approved:
- National Insurance Institute (INS)
- The longer your stay the cheaper the insurance gets on a per-day basis.
- This is the one I used, it is a flat rate per day. It was about USD 11/day. Very easy to set up.
- National Insurance Institute (INS)
- Can you use other insurance companies?
- Yes, you can, my mate Anthony used Trawick International and got right in. I can’t guarantee which companies will get you in or not or be approved. In my opinion, I would just spend the extra money on one of the two approved options to guarantee your entry and guarantee coverage if something happens.
What Other Requirements are There to Enter?
- 48 hours before your trip you will need to fill out an online Health Pass (pasa de salud).
- This was very easy and took maybe five minutes. You will need all your flight information and they will ask you a few questions about your health relating to COVID. If approved, you will get a green checkmark and a QR code sent to your email to print out and bring with you.
What Was Your Experience with Customs?
- I flew into Liberia Airport, Direct from Minneapolis on Delta. Since my flight had approx. 20 people on it, the line for customs was very short and efficient. When I got up to the customs officer they scanned the QR code on the health form and viewed my passport. There was no temperature check and I did not see anyone else getting their temperature checked.
- We did have to sanitize our hands before getting to the customs officer and a mask must be worn the entire time in the airport. Everyone is spaced out 2 meters.
- I rented a car and the shuttle to the rental place required a mask on the whole time. Note, for those of you that are taking the bus, uber/taxi, shuttles, you will have to wear a mask the entire time you’re in the vehicle. If you don’t want this experience then rent a car.
Lastly, getting back to the United States:
Do I need a negative COVID test to enter the United States?
- Yes, you now need a negative test to enter. Here is the current requirement on the CDC website
- The test must be taken three days before your flight
Can I get a PCR Test in Costa Rica?
- Yes, you can age a test within 24 – 48 hours (generally)
- The cost is around USD 100
- This link here has a list of all the places you can get a test
If I am missing any questions please drop them in the comments and I will update this post.
For those of you interested in reading about my time in Costa Rica, you can check out my time in Rio Celeste & La Fortuna here and my time in Playa Flamingo here. I also have a lot of videos uploaded of my trip on my YouTube Channel.