Planning an international trip requires plenty of advanced thought and planning. Unfortunately, it’s become even more complicated to arrange travel to popular international destinations, like Costa Rica, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure the safety of you, your family, and other travelers.
If it’s your first time traveling to Costa Rica, you may be wondering what items you need to have on-hand before arriving in the country. Keep reading to discover all the requirements you should adhere to before arriving in Costa Rica, from passports and plane tickets to health insurance and vaccination policies.
Costa Rica Entry Requirements
Your country of origin determines the length of time you’re permitted to stay as a tourist in Costa Rica. Your country of residence, and other factors, like your nationality, the purpose of visit, and duration of your stay, all impact whether you’ll need a passport or tourist visa.
U.S. travelers are not required to have an entry visa to Costa Rica, but they must have a current valid passport. Travelers from other countries may need an entry visa to visit Costa Rica.
You are not permitted to stay in the country longer than 90 days, and if you are planning to, you will need to establish a residence permit. In addition to your passport, you must show a pre-purchased return ticket to exit Costa Rica, either back to the United States or another country within the 90-day timeframe. This onward ticket can be a bus or plane ticket or proof of passage on a cruise ship.
These entry requirements are always applicable for travel to Costa Rica, regardless of changing health policies pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Health Pass (Updated, No Longer Needed)
Through March 31th, 2022, the Costa Rican government requires all tourists to fill out a Health Pass. The Health Pass must be completed by every member of your party (even minors) within 72 hours of your trip to Costa Rica. You’ll then be given a QR code that you’ll need to show when entering Costa Rica.
The Health Pass will ask for personal information, like your name, nationality, age, passport number, flight details, accommodation details, and COVID-19 vaccination status. If you are vaccinated, you will be asked to upload your vaccination card. If you are not vaccinated, you will be asked to upload your travel insurance policy to ensure it meets the requirements.
On February 23rd, 2022, the Costa Rican government announced they would no longer require tourists to complete the Health Pass starting on April 1st, 2022.
COVID-19 Test Requirements
The U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica shares the following guidelines for COVID-19 test and quarantine requirements before entering the country, last updated on March 4th, 2022.
- Costa Rica does not require visitors to show a negative PCR test to enter the country.
- U.S. tourists entering Costa Rica are not required to complete a mandatory quarantine.
- If you test positive for COVID-19, you are required to quarantine for 7-14 days, even if you receive a negative test.
Until March 31st, visitors are required to show proof of vaccination only if they have not purchased COVID travel insurance.
You must show proof of full vaccination (one dose of Johnson and Johnson or two doses of all other vaccines) on an official vaccination record or vaccination card. Your name, the vaccine administration date(s), and the type of vaccine you received must be listed on your card to be accepted.
You must obtain the final dose of the vaccine at least 14 days before you arrive in Costa Rica.
The following COVID-19 vaccinations are accepted for entry into Costa Rica:
- Janssen (Johnson and Johnson)
Aside from the COVID-19 vaccine, the CDC recommends that visitors be up-to-date with other routine vaccines on the vaccination certificate, like MMR, DTP, Polio, and more.
Malaria Prevention Medicine
Specifically, before visiting Costa Rica, visitors should consider taking prescriptive malaria prevention medication due to mosquitos.
Though Costa Rica is free from dog rabies, rabies may exist in wildlife. The CDC recommends that those working directly with wild animals, like animal handlers or field biologists, receive a rabies vaccination before traveling to Costa Rica.
Yellow Fever Vaccination
Visitors nine months or older traveling from this list of countries with risk of Yellow Fever transmission are required to show proof of Yellow Fever vaccination since the mosquito that carries this disease is present in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica Insurance
While Costa Rica’s Ministry of Health does not require visitors to be vaccinated to enter Costa Rica, Costa Rican authorities require visitors who are not vaccinated to purchase insurance. The insurance plan should cover medical expenses and extended lodging expenses for 14 days of quarantine in the event of COVID-19 infection.
You can purchase a pre-approved plan from an insurance company in Costa Rica with a minimum coverage amount of $20,000 for medical expenses and $2,000 in lodging expenses. You may also choose to purchase a plan from an international insurance company with a minimum coverage amount of $50,000 for medical costs and $2,000 in accommodation expenses.
Insurance coverage for visitors who are not vaccinated is only required until April 1st, 2022. However, local authorities suggest carrying travel insurance regardless in case of quarantine or trip interruption.
Costa Rica citizens do not need health insurance.
Here’s an overview of the health insurance options available to travelers entering Costa Rica:
Costa Rica Insurance Company Options
Three Costa Rican insurance companies are approved to sell insurance:
- Blue Cross Blue Shield Costa Rica
Sagicor charges a flat daily rate, making it best for short trips, whereas Blue Cross Blue Shield charges based on the length of your trip.
INS rates vary depending on your trip’s length, your age, coverage dates, and other factors, and it’s often cheaper for longer trips than the other insurance options.
International Insurance Company Options
You are permitted to use an international insurance policy, as long as it covers up to $50,000 in medical treatment related to COVID-19 and $2,000 in extended accommodation expenses.
Trawick International offers insurance plans for U.S. residents and travelers from other countries. Other popular insurers include Travel Guard Preferred and Seven Corners.
Since these insurance plans aren’t pre-approved by the Costa Rican Ministry of Health, you’ll need to upload your plan to your Health Pass to ensure it’s approved. If your plan is approved, you’ll receive a QR code that allows you to enter the country.
COVID-19 Restrictions in Costa Rica
The Costa Rica Tourism Board has worked diligently to kickstart the country’s tourism industry after being closed for several months in 2020 due to the pandemic. In 2022, nearly all of Costa Rica’s most popular attractions, including national parks, adventure tours, and cultural sites in major cities, are open for Costa Rica citizens and visitors alike to enjoy.
Masks are required in most indoor spaces in Costa Rica, like grocery stores, public transportation, and more. You may be asked to wear a mask on a tour or while participating in an attraction, so it’s wise to keep one on hand at all times.
Starting on April 1st, 2022, non-essential services and businesses will not be required to ask customers for proof of vaccination (or the QR Code you receive after completing your health pass) and can operate at full capacity. However, masks will still be required in most indoor settings.
Renting a Car?
If you’re planning to rent a car in Costa Rica, it’s important to note that you do not need an international driving permit. Costa Rica does not have COVID-19 traffic laws for intercity or interstate travel. However, Costa Rican law enforces nighttime driving restrictions from 12 AM – 5 PM daily.
When You Leave Costa Rica
Getting Back to the United States
When departing Costa Rica, it’s important to follow these steps to return to the United States safely:
- Before boarding a flight back to the United States, you are required to show a negative COVID-19 test completed by a licensed health care provider taken no more than one day before travel. Children under the age of two do not need to be tested.
- Testing is available at select medical facilities in Costa Rica. You can receive a COVID-19 rapid antigen test at the Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) in San Jose and Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport in Liberia (LIR) if you arrive at least four hours before your flight. Tests are paid for by the individual and may require an appointment.
- In addition to a negative COVID-19 test, you will also be required to share your contact information before boarding a flight back to the United States.
- CDC recommends that travelers self-quarantine for five days after international travel and receive a viral COVID-19 test 3-5 days after arriving home.
Getting Back to Other Countries
The country you’re returning home to or arriving in after traveling to Costa Rica may have different entry policies and local laws than the United States. Please visit your country’s government website for the most up-to-date information on returning home after your Costa Rica visit or vacation.
Yes, U.S. tourists must have a valid passport to travel to Costa Rica. Tourists from other countries may be required to show a tourist visa.
In addition to your passport, you’ll also need to show a return ticket to the United States or a ticket to another country within 90 days of your arrival date in Costa Rica. This rule does not apply to Costa Rican citizens.
Yes, travelers to the United States ages two and older must show proof of a negative COVID-19 rapid antigen test taken no more than one day before traveling home.
Costa Rica tourists must always have a current passport and a return ticket to enter the country.
Until April 1st, 2022, visitors must show either a vaccination card or certificate OR proof of travel insurance to cover medical expenses and extended lodging expenses in the event of COVID-19 infection.