Unlocking the World

Travel to Costa Rica during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go

CNN StaffUpdated 14th April 2021
Costa Rica is known for its wildlife, including sloths.
(CNN) — If you're planning to travel to Costa Rica, here's what you'll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the global coronavirus pandemic.

The basics

Costa Rica opened back up for tourism in November. The country has eased restrictions in recent weeks and is looking into creating a digital nomad visa to drum up visitors who'll make lasting contributions to the local economy.

What's on offer

Costa Rica is known for its "pura vida" (pure life), and, pandemic aside, the vida is still pura here. This is a country for nature lovers, with both a Caribbean and Pacific coast, and jungle covering about a quarter of the country. Whether you're here for the cloud forests, the volcanoes or the incredible nature and wildlife, your shoulders will definitely drop a few inches. Most visitors pass through capital San José as a mere routing point, but it's a beautiful city, with stunning architecture, public art and museums.

Who can go

Everyone. Costa Rica opened back up -- even for tourism -- on November 1, 2020. However, there are of course restrictions. And standard visa regulations still apply.

What are the restrictions?

There's no need for a negative Covid-19 PCR test result as there was initially. All passengers must fill out a Health Pass before travel. The website gives a QR code that you should show on arrival.
Tourists traveling to Costa Rica must have valid travel insurance, which covers potential quarantine accommodation up to $2,000 and medical expenses of at least $50,000 related to Covid-19. This must be accompanied by a certificate in English or Spanish, giving the policyholder's name, the dates of coverage and guarantees as stipulated above.
If you can't get a policy that includes quarantine insurance, there are suggestions of insurers on the Health Pass website.
Residents and Costa Rican nationals may be subject to self-isolation on arrival.
The land borders, which had been closed to nonresidents, reopened April 5 to visitors not needing a visa. The previous 14-day quarantine for those entering via land has also been abolished as of April 5.
America's CDC classes the risk in Costa Rica as "very high" and says US citizens should "avoid all travel to Costa Rica." Even fully vaccinated travelers are at risk of catching variants, it says.

What's the Covid situation?

Costa Rica has seen just 222,500 cases and 3,018 deaths during the pandemic, as of April 13. Along with Mexico, it was one of the first countries in Latin America to receive vaccines in December. Just over 500,000 vaccination doses have been given so far, with a total of 4.27% of the population fully vaccinated.

What can visitors expect?

Things are getting back to relatively normal. National parks and beaches are open -- the latter till 6 p.m.. Restaurants and bars have reopened, but clubs have not, and concerts and large groups are banned. Businesses must close at 11 p.m., however.
There is a nightly curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Daytime driving restrictions, which were previously in place, have ended (except in capital San José, where congestion-reducing restrictions are the norm anyway).
In an attempt at recovery, the country is planning a roll-out of year-long visas for digital nomads, with the possibility of renewal for one more year. Currently there's a 90-day limit on tourist stays. Applicants would be able to take their family along with them, and will not be liable for income tax. Digital nomads have flocked to Costa Rica in recent months.
Authorities did not bring back further restrictions for Easter week, traditionally a peak travel period, but instead urged citizens to play it safe. Instead they suggested people travel to national parks, where they can be safer outdoors while helping to reboot the tourist sector.

Useful links

Our recent coverage

Back in August, Costa Rica was one of the first countries to allow Americans in, opening to visitors from six US states. Or read about this reforestation project for the great green macaws. Ready to book? Check out what to do in San José.