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Navigating Costa Rica’s Covid-19 Restrictions: What Travelers Need to Know

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    In this comprehensive travel guide, we unravel the complexities of navigating Costa Rica’s entry requirements and safety measures in a post-pandemic world. With several visits to Costa Rica after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, Andrea has firsthand experience in Costa Rica travel, and stands as a trusted source in addressing the nuanced challenges that travelers face, from entry regulations to unexpected entry restrictions. We’ve meticulously tested and curated recommendations, ensuring your journey to Costa Rica is not just adventurous but safe, providing insights to guarantee a seamless experience amidst changing guidelines and health protocols.

    As one of the world’s leading traveler locations, Costa Rica permits travelers from across the world to enter its borders. As of April 1, 2022, the momentary national health emergency procedures that were in place on account of COVID-19 have been lifted, and anyone can visit Costa Rica now.

    Costa Rica Covid-19 Constraints for International Tourists

    • Costa Rica entry will be allowed to travelers from all countries.
    • Every traveler is required to follow the migratory processes written in the General Law of Migration and Immigration.
    • After Costa Rica opened its borders to US citizens on November 1, there were entry restrictions in place until 2022, after which all restrictions were removed. There are no migration procedures in place for tourism on account of COVID-19 in 2023. 
    • However, tourists are required by law to follow health procedures initiated by their private tour operators when they travel within the country. They may have to show proof of vaccination or wear a mask when required. 
    • Visit the websites of Costa Rican authorities or follow external links to other internet sites to gather more information on public transportation. See if contained therein are any driving restrictions. Costa Rica has one of the most relaxed entry rules. It has opened its land borders to tourists, where they have the option to come back to Costa Rica with a new visa for an extended 90-day stay.
    • The CDC highlights the risks of testing positive in Costa Rica and having to pay for the cost of treatment, which may be unaffordable for some.

    Snorkeling Costa Rica“Snorkeling among schools of vibrant tropical fish in the warm aquamarine waters off Manuel Antonio, I felt carefree again after the isolation due to SARS-CoV-2.”

    What Are the Existing Entry Requirements for Taking a Trip to Costa Rica?

    Book a return flight ticket before you think of getting into Costa Rica. The migration officer is duty-bound to ask for it when you are ready to leave the country via San Jose or any other port. It is always a good idea to keep a photocopy of the ticket or take a photo of your passport with the entry stamp. This can be produced when required by authorities in Costa Rica. 

    The Costa Rican Ministry of Health has not made it mandatory to take a Costa Rica COVID test, but your embassy may want to ensure you had a negative COVID test and vaccination when you entered the country. Costa Ricans needed to be vaccinated in 2021 when the Costa Rican government initiated travel restrictions. People had to be fully vaccinated and produce proof of vaccination when they had to travel around Costa Rica during COVID-19. Later, when the situation in Costa Rica improved, travel health restrictions were removed. It was due to COVID-19 that Costa Rica’s President called upon the world to share knowledge about the COVID vaccination in an initiative called the Solidarity Call To Action. 

    Your country of origin dictates how long you can stay in Costa Rica as a tourist. The following countries need a traveler visa for Costa Rica: Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Colombia, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic. Their embassy will issue valid papers at least 90 days before their anticipated travel date. The traveler must have a legitimate passport, a return or onward ticket and other travel documents, and proof of economic solvency when they enter Costa Rica by land or air.

    Be prepared to produce documents that show immigration authorities that you have the financial capability to stay for an extended period in Costa Rica. For example, the officer will ask you from which country or region you gained entry into Costa Rica as well as proof of financial capability to pay for COVID-related medical expenses in Costa Rica. If you have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, reconsider your decision to travel. 

    Even with a 90-day traveler visa, the immigration official has the authority to determine how long you can stay in Costa Rica. 

    Costa Rica visitors must carry a valid passport with proof of intent as to why they wish to exit the nation before their entry stamp date has expired, which usually is stamped for 90 days.

    All non-residents are required to carry with them a return airline ticket as valid proof of when they plan to leave the country. This is termed as an onward ticket. 

    An onward ticket is mandatory to carry for non-residents who are:

    •    On a trip with a one-way ticket
    •    Getting into the country with a return ticket dated more than 90 days after arrival
    •    Flying into Costa Rica and flying out of another country

    The mode of transport, according to the law, can be:

    •    A pre-purchased bus ticket out of the country
    •    A pre-purchased flight out of the country
    •    Evidence of passage on a cruise liner

    Updates on International Travel Advisories in Costa Rica

    There are certain obligations that visitors will have to declare when entering or leaving a port in Costa Rica. If you bring money that is equivalent to or higher than US $10,000 in other currencies, money, or securities, you should ask for and complete the form available at the migration-center and present it to the Customs Authority for confirmation. In case you are found to have more than this amount in your possession after you have completed the immigration formalities, customs officials can confiscate that amount. 

    Costa Rica Forests

    “Trekking through misty forests in Monteverde for glimpses of colorful quetzals in flight reminded me of nature’s healing power to protect wildlife from such a serious health hazard like the SARS-CoV-2 virus attack.”

    What shots do I need before going into Costa Rica?

    Starting on July 30, 2007, all travelers originating from certain countries need to have proof of a negative test result and a yellow fever vaccine certificate before entering Costa Rica. These countries include Angola, Burkina, Benin, Faso, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cameroon,  Gabon, Gambia, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Sudan, Bolivia, Venezuela, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, the Republic of Guyana, and Brazil.

    The migratory procedures established in the General Law of Migration and Immigration in Costa Rica are the rules and treatments that control the entry, stay, and exit of immigrants in the country. They are based on principles focused on national sovereignty, human rights, and global cooperation.

    Coronavirus Testing in Costa Rica after April 1, 2022

    Costa Rica does not require quarantine, travel insurance, health pass, QR code, or a negative COVID-19 test to enter. Coronavirus sanitary requirements are not to be considered when entering the country. 

    Before the pandemic, there were no entry restrictions in place. The only sanitary steps and requirements for travelers are that at some places they may have to wear masks, use hand sanitizers, or take temperature readings.

    This country has not put in place COVID-19 screening requirements after COVID-19 subsided. Tourists are to voluntarily declare that they tested negative for an antigen or PCR test.

    Nevertheless, if tourists need to get a COVID-19 test in Costa Rica for their return flight or other purposes, they can discover several alternatives for quick antigen or PCR tests in the country. Some of the places that use COVID-19 testing are medical facilities, clinics, drug stores, hotels, and airports. The rates and accessibility of the tests may vary depending on the area and the need.

    What if I Tested Positive for COVID in Costa Rica?

    All tourists getting into Costa Rica need to have valid international travel insurance that covers treatment and accommodation costs if they test positive for COVID-19 during their stay. If a traveler exhibits COVID symptoms or tests positive for a regular test, Costa Rican health authorities will ask that individual to stay in isolation at an approved hotel or lodging. The tourist is responsible for costs associated with prolonged stay and intensive care until considered non-contagious by health officials. Some top clinics and hospitals throughout Costa Rica have designated COVID seclusion facilities that operate at full capacity. Failing to comply with isolation requirements can lead to fines or deportation under Costa Rican law.

    Country of Origin Requirements for Tourists Entering Costa Rica

    Some countries might ask their citizens to take a COVID-19 vaccine or test before departing to Costa Rica or upon returning to their home country, depending upon their travel guidelines and restrictions. For instance, the U.S., Canada, and England need a negative test from returning tourists.

    The United States and Canada are two countries that highly recommend not to enter Costa Rica without travel insurance covering COVID investigations and other related expenses. This is because the COVID-19 treatment and a prolonged isolation period if needed by regional authorities, can be extremely costly.

    Similarly, the Government of Canada warns residents that medical treatment for COVID-19 in Costa Rica might need to be paid out-of-pocket if travelers do not have personal insurance. Canada officially encourages getting a policy that offers protection against coronavirus-related health concerns that may arise abroad. 

    Is it safe to travel to Costa Rica in 2023?

    Costa Rica Beach

    Savoring a fresh ceviche on the beach in Tamarindo as the sunset painted the clouds was the perfect way to embrace life once more after having to wear a mask while traveling in Costa Rica during the height of COVID. With all restrictions removed, it was a joy to relax on the beach.

    Beyond requirements, tourists can take extra safety precautions suggested by local authorities. Continue hand sanitization steps, social distancing, and the use of masks in crowds. Think about quick at-home tests before you make contact with anyone and spread the virus. When you entered the country, the coronavirus situation was under control, but it is always a good thing to wear face masks in public. Look for signs during the duration of your stay, and think about testing in a COVID-19 hospital if you feel unwell. Use accredited taxis instead of public transport when possible. The pandemic scenario can change, so flexible bookings that can be canceled and comprehensive travel insurance must be part of your travel plans. With accountable behavior, it is still possible to experience a relaxing and safe vacation in stunning Costa Rica.

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