HOW TO TRAVEL TO COSTA RICA DURING THE PANDEMIC (updated Sept 29th 2020)
This is a basic primer for people confused by all the various and conflicting data floating around on the subject and/or have trouble with Spanish language. No the photo is not a virus, it is a lovely amapola flowring in the Pura Vida garden all year roundas it is known locally, one of over 200 hibiscus species.
For starters all travel you book must have the ability to reschedule - flights should be flexible (many airlines have removed their reschedulining fees) and accommodations and other travel that you book like car rentals or tours should be easily cancel-able with no deposits or refundable deposits. If you get stuck just email me at the hotel or post a question on the Costa Rica Tripadvisor Forum - it took a month trying to distill all the info, hopefully this will be useful. Come on down when you are comfortable traveling again, you will be very welcome back in Costa Rica,
Berni & Nhi
To get into the country you need 4 things (beyond a passport valid for at least 6 months).
- A very good sense of humor and a tolerance of bureaucracy (if lacking in either of these you may want to stay home or have a partner who can make up for your personal limitations on bureaucracy as I do).
- You need travel insurance covering up to $50,000 in medical expenses and $2,000 in accommodation in case you are quarantined.
- Within 72 hours of departure to Costa Rica you need a RT-PCR swab test for Covid-19 with negative results.
- No more than 48 hours prior to entry in the country you need to fill out the Costa Rican government Health Pass online - you will need to have stayed for more than 14 days in a country or territory to which Costa Rica has opened its air borders. You also need to have no Covid-19 symptoms on arrival.
SOME NOTES ON INSURANCE ISSUES
This insurance needs to cover medical expenses for Covid-19 as well as accommodation in the event of illness. This insurance can be obtained from 2 local companies - INS (the Costa Rican national insurance company) - they can provide a quote here: INS QUOTE. INS insurance can be acquired online here: BUY INS HERE
Such insurance is also available at Sagicor insurance (another local company) at this link: SAGICOR INSURANCE. Both these companies insurance will be accepted on arrival in Costa Rica.
There are other companies who will provide such coverage - they include Travelex at this link TRAVELEX. As we learn of more companies guests have confirmed we will post them here.
The costs of this insurance vary from about $9/day to $25/day depending on duration of trip, your age etc.
If you do not buy the insurance from the approved Costa Rican companies above, on arrival in Costa Rica you must have a document from your insurance company confirming the amounts covered (medical expenses and quarantine) and validity of the insurance for travel dates, with a document in English or Spanish. When entering, this document can be verified and approved by the ICT (the Costa Rican tourism office) at the airport.
For the moment and to avoid complications and bureaucracy issues on arrival I'd recommend using the government run INS only as it is insurance understood by all agencies in Costa Rica. It will be no fun at all to be arguing with stifling bureacrats after a day of travel.
SOME NOTES ON THE COVID-19 TEST
Within 72 hours of departure for Costa Rica you will need a RT-PCR swab test for Covid-19 and have a negative test to bring with you. Other tests are not currently accepted. No no - it does not matter what you think of other test methods, this is the way it is in the Costa Rican rule book dude! You will lose this argument on arrival.
SOME NOTES ON THE "HEALTH PASS"
48 hours prior to arrival you will need to fill out the government Health Pass for each traveler here: COSTA RICAN GOVERNMENT HEALTH PASS - be careful the first part of this form (5 questions) must be entered using the Spanish language page not in google translation or the page may crash. Also the form stupidly will crash if you try to fill it out ahead of time so it is hard to prep for the form. Please do not argue with the form as I did the first few times I crashed it - it is an inanimate object and immune to your wrath.
The form will allow you to include your RT-PCR test results. These are likely a pdf from your test clinic and need to be uploaded into the form. You will also need to include your accommodation info while in Costa Rica as well as your travel insurance policy number. When you fill it out online you’re going to receive a QR code and a check mark which will flash green meaning you’re good to go, flash yellow meaning authorities need to check your paperwork or flash red meaning you’re not allowed in.You NEED this QR code to get you in the country.
SOME NOTES CURRENT COSTA RICA SITUATION
For a current local situation from our Ministry of Health on Covid-19 you can find all the details (but only in Spanish) here: https://www.ministeriodesalud.go.cr/index.php/centro-de-prensa/noticias/741-noticias-2020/1725-situacion-nacional-covid-19
SOME NOTES ON WHO CAN TRAVEL TO COSTA RICA - "AIR BORDERS"
We highly recommend this web page for an updated list of countries and areas as well as a host of other useful info: TWO WEEKS IN COSTA RICA
SOME NOTES ON RENTAL CARS AND TOURISM VANS
Travel within Costa Rica for normal (non tourism) traffic contains various restrictions that vary based on the state of the pandemic from province to province. Rental cars and tourism vans are however exempt from these restrictions - if you are stopped by the police in a rental car you will only need to show your rental contract. For Rental cars we work only with Alamo and for private tourism vans we work with Everywhere Costa Rica - both companies are committed to very high standards of hygiene and protection for their vehicles and employees.