After months in COVID lockdown, Costa Rica is back on the map for travel - but it's not as simple as booking a flight.
On our recent trip, we learned everything you need to know about traveling to Costa Rica amid COVID19.
In this guide, we outline the steps needed to travel to Costa Rica and provide first-hand details of what the country is like during this pandemic.
Costa Rica travel restrictions
International tourists from all countries, including every US state, can now enter Costa Rica since its air borders opened earlier this year.
However, entry to Costa Rica requires a completed Health Pass and valid travel insurance (explained below).
Costa Rica travel checklist
So, you've made up your mind, and you want to visit Costa Rica.
Here is a quick-fire checklist of what's needed for international visitors:
- Flights to and from Costa Rica
- Copy of valid travel insurance (see below for cheap daily rates)
- Completed Health Pass (online)
Do you need a COVID test to enter Costa Rica?
No. Costa Rica no longer requires any sort of COVID test to grant entry. The negative COVID test requirement was removed on October 26, 2020. Instead, you need to provide insurance coverage details.
What insurance coverage is required to enter Costa Rica?
There are two options for visitors to Costa Rica. Firstly, you can pay for local Costa Rican health insurance to cover your stay. This is what we did and it was a very easy process.
Your second option applies to those who already have travel insurance. If your current insurance meets the coverage criteria, you can use that.
What is Health Pass?
*Health Pass can only be completed 48 hours prior to your arrival in Costa Rica.
To enter Costa Rica every visitor needs to complete an online survey called Health Pass.
Visitors are required to answer questions regarding their recent health and any contact with COVID19.
Health Pass is also where you'll add your insurance details and include your Costa Rican accommodation. If you don't already have accommodation booked, Bookings.com has lots of options available. As we had only our first night booked in San Jose, we just included that.
Once completed, you'll receive a QR code, which you must save, as you need it to enter Costa Rica.
Flights to & from Costa Rica
While normally Costa Rica grants 90 days for eligible visitors, the travel insurance requirement means visitors will only be granted the number of days your insurance covers.
If your insurance covers you for 90 days, you are still eligible for that.
This also means you need to provide proof of exiting Costa Rica. If your insurance covers 7 days, you need to provide proof you are leaving within 7 days. Your passport stamp will reflect this number of days.
Costa Rica travel insurance
As previously mentioned, you'll need travel insurance to enter Costa Rica.
The requirements are:
- Effective for the extent of your stay in Costa Rica
- Coverage for medical expenses in cases of pandemic disease COVID 19 in Costa Rica, for at least $50,000 USD
- Minimum coverage of $2000 for lodging expenses due to pandemic illness or trip interruption/cancellation due to illness
Local travel insurance
If you don't already have international insurance that meets the criteria above, the easiest is to purchase local Costa Rican insurance.
The two major insurance providers are Sagicor and INS.
Sagicor vs INS
We opted for travel insurance through Sagicor as they offer the cheapest daily rates. Generally, Sagicor is better a choice for shorter stays, and they provide family/couple plans, where you can save a little money. Their website was also very easy to navigate.
While we didn't use INS, this government provider is often the better option for longer stays.
It's worth looking into both options and choosing what works best for you.
At the airport
Upon checking in for your flight to Costa Rica, staff will request to see:
- Your Health Pass QR code
- Proof of insurance coverage
- Proof of flights leaving Costa Rica
We were also made to complete an online health survey at the airport we were disembarking from.
Overall, the check-in process from our flight to Costa Rica was a little frustrating. Airport staff seemed confused about what they required, and we were asked for our documents on 3+ separate occasions.
The Health Pass QR code isn't enough proof of your insurance and staff also needed to see a receipt of travel insurance.
However, on the Costa Rican side, things were a lot smoother and entry into the country was easy enough.
Costa Rica amid COVID19
There is no doubting Costa Rica is a lot quieter due to COVID.
Tourism is low and the economy has taken a hit.
A lot of businesses are adapting to COVID where they can. For example, online food delivery services like UberEATS is a popular option.
What safety practices are enforced?
Costa Ricans are taking COVID seriously.
Most places in Costa Rica will enforce:
- Wearing a facemask
- Sanitizing hands
- Social distancing (when possible)
Is Costa Rica safe to travel to?
While many Costa Ricans are out of jobs due to COVID, the country felt very safe to visit.
In fact, the locals were very happy to see tourists coming back to their country and were welcoming.
Personally, we didn't experience any safety concerns while in Costa Rica.
Is Costa Rica's public transport operating as normal?
Costa Rica is still operating, but not as normal.
Buses are active, however, ticket stands are closed, so you pay the drivers.
Uber is active in areas like San Jose and taxis are operating everywhere as normal.
You won't have any issues getting around Costa Rica.