If you plan on visiting Costa Rica during COVID-19, here is what you need to know. Read all about Costa Rica COVID-19 travel, Costa Rica COVID entry requirements and where to get a COVID test in Costa Rica.
Click the section to skip to it. This post is updated often, last update was July 18, 2021.
- Costa Rica Entry Requirements
- My Personal Experience Entering Costa Rica as a Tourist (American)
- Where to get a COVID test in Costa Rica
- Do I Need to Wear a Mask in Costa Rica?
- Costa Rica COVID Travel Restrictions for Tourists
- Our Personal Tips for Traveling Costa Rica During COVID
Current Costa Rica Coronavirus Situation
Please click on this link, Costa Rica coronavirus to read the latest updates and statistics.
Costa Rica COVID Travel Restrictions and Border Opening
On November 1, Costa Rica opened their borders to all countries in the world via air.
Via sea, passengers fulfilling the entry requirements can enter Costa Rica at five marinas: Los Sueños, Papagayo, Bahia Golfito, Pez vela and Bahia Banana.
On April 5, 2021, Costa Rica opened the land borders between Nicaragua and Panama.
Costa Rica Entry Requirements (COVID-19)
Costa Rica entry requirements are that every tourist must complete a health pass and purchase a travel insurance that covers a minimum of $50,000 USD for medical expenses and a minimum of $2,000 USD for extended lodging expenses.
**Starting August 1, 2021, the travel insurance requirement will be dropped for fully vaccinated people and for minors under 18 years of age. More details on this below.**
Tourists must comply with social distancing, hand washing, sanitizing, having their temperature taken and wearing the face masks as part of the requirements.
Do I have to be vaccinated to go to Costa Rica?
No. You do not have to be vaccinated against COVID-19 for Costa Rica. Costa Rica is not requiring tourists to be vaccinated against COVID. Fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people can go to Costa Rica.
The health pass will be available for tourists to fill out 48 hours prior to their flight (72 hours starting August 1). When you fill out the health pass, it will present you an option to purchase health insurance through the pre-approved Costa Rican companies if you haven’t already.
Once you finish filling the health pass, you will be given a QR code that Costa Rica will require at immigration. The Costa Rican immigration official will scan the QR code as it will have all your ID and insurance information.
Please note that ALL passengers must fill out the health pass: tourists, residents and citizens.
>> Get Exclusive Costa Rica Travel Tips and our Free Travel Guide Straight to You! <<
Tourists can purchase their own international insurance or from the pre-approved companies: Blue Cross Blue Shield CR, INS and Sagicor. These are pre-approved policies that are guaranteed to fulfill requirements and be accepted with a minimum of $20,000 USD.
If you already have medical insurance but need the accommodation portion, Sagicor sells insurance covering just the accommodation. If you purchase international insurance, you must have a certification from the company issued in English or Spanish.
Please continue reading below as I go into this travel insurance in specific detail.
Do Fully Vaccinated People Need to Buy the Costa Rica Health Insurance?
Starting August 1, 2021, fully vaccinated people will NOT need to purchase the travel insurance. Minors under 18 years of age will not need to purchase the travel insurance either.
Before August 1, 2021, fully vaccinated people need to purchase the travel insurance for Costa Rica. They are going by the date you enter Costa Rica so if you are arriving July 31, 2021, you will need to purchase the insurance even if you are fully vaccinated.
For the fully vaccinated, vaccines accepted are Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson. The last dose must have been administered at least 14 days before entering Costa Rica. This includes the one dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine, it must have been administered 14 days before entering Costa Rica.
For vaccination proof, they will require full name of the fully vaccinated person, date of each applied dose, lot number, formula and which vaccine it is (Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca y Johnson & Johnson). You will attach your vaccination certificate to the health pass. For the United States, the COVID-19 vaccination card fulfills this requirement.
Unvaccinated tourists still have to purchase the travel insurance.
Health Pass and QR Code
After you fill out the health pass, you will be emailed a QR code.
This is a screenshot of my QR code and what you need to have too. Make sure your QR code is clear, not blurry and your screenshot has the entire code. You do not need to print it out, a screenshot on your phone works fine.
Fill out the health pass BEFORE you get to the airport, especially if you are doing it for a multiple people as it has to be filled out per person.
I purchased Trawick International for my first entry back in December 2020. They offer travel insurance plans specifically for Costa Rica and is much cheaper than the Costa Rican policies.
For my first entry, I purchased 66 days and it cost me $40.95 USD total with Trawick (Safe Travels Voyager). I have read that since May 1, Trawick has increased their prices so it’s not going to be as cheap anymore when I bought it in December.
The one I got, Safe Travelers Voyager is available only to US citizens and residents but they do offer an international option for those who aren’t US citizens/residents.
After purchase, they emailed a visa letter, certificate and ID card once you purchase the insurance. You upload the visa letter to the health pass.
Click here to check a Safe Travelers Voyager Quote with Trawick (Click on “Insurance Plans” and then “Trip Insurance.” Then select Safe Travels Voyager).
Remember that for fully vaccinated people and minors under the age of 18, the travel insurance requirement will be dropped August 1, 2021.
My Experience Flying into Liberia International Airport and San Jose International Airport
I flew into Liberia International Airport beginning of June 2021 with Alaska Airlines. My flitht was Seattle – LA – Liberia. Checking in at SeaTac was super easy like pre-COVID times and the Alaska Airlines agent didn’t ask me about the Costa Rican insurance or QR code at SeaTac.
When I got to LAX, around 1 hour before departure time, the Alaska Airlines’ agents had every passenger go up to the counter to check their QR code. They stamped their boarding pass after verification.
Arriving at Liberia International Airport
When we landed, a Costa Rican Alaska Airlines agent made an announcement over the plane loudspeaker that every single passenger needed to show proof of a flight out of Costa Rica within 90 days. They repeated this several times.
At immigration, they first scanned my QR code, asked me for my occupation and my first destination/hotel. He also had me show him my flight ticket out of Costa Rica on my 90th day.
Afterwards, I picked up my luggage, put it through the custom scanner and then left the airport.
It took me about 25 minutes to get through immigration and customs at Liberia International Airport. My flight was the only one.
At 730 PM, the duty free store and money exchange was still open. No SIM card stand.
Flying into San Jose International Airport Immigration and Customs
We flew into San Jose International Airport in March 2021.
San Jose International Airport was not as organized as Liberia in our experience. We arrived on a weekend around 1 PM with several other flights arriving at the same time.
This made the immigration line very long and we had to wait in the hallway since there was no more room in the actual immigration hall.
It took us about a bit less than 1 hour to get through immigration and customs at San Jose International Airport. Like Liberia Airport, the immigration officer scanned my QR code, asked my profession, where I was going and how long I was staying in Costa Rica. I also had to show him my flight ticket out of Costa Rica.
There is a Claro SIM card stand by baggage claim 5 that is open from 6 AM to 11 PM. Money exchange, car rentals and duty free were all open at 1 PM.
Departure and Checking the Negative COVID Test
Flying out is pretty much the same at both airports as before COVID times except they will take your temperature when entering the airport and you must wear your face mask at all times.
Additionally, if you are flying to the US, they will make you fill out a form stating you have either a negative 3 calendar day COVID test result or had COVID and recovered in the last 90 days and are cleared for travel by your doctor or public health official.
Your airline agent when you check in will ask for the form and verify your test result/doctor’s note.
It is important to note that even though Costa Rica tourist visas are for 90 days, officers are now giving you the exact number of days you purchased insurance. For example, if you purchased 20 days of insurance, your tourist visa will be for 20 days.
How to Extend Your Costa Rican Tourist Visa
**Please note this is information we have gathered to share with you. We are not lawyers and we do not give out legal advice. If you have overstayed or need immigration help, we recommend to contact your home country’s embassy/consulate and an immigration lawyer to help you ASAP.*
If you wish to extend your stay (limit 90 days), you can only extend your visit to 90 days as that is the maximum number of days given for a Group 1 tourist visa. If you want to extend your visa, you have to do the following BEFORE your visa expires.
1. Call 1311 using a Kolbi Line
2. Bring a letter stating why you need to extend your visa, an address, phone number or contact. Original valid passport with copies of each page and two photocopies of recent passport photo. Proof of funds (at least $100 USD a month).
3. Then you must pay a $100 USD fee to Banco of Costa Rica, $1 USD fee to Banco de Costa Rica (description timbre 125 fiscal y reintegro por ¢2,50 colones por cada uno de los folios).
4. Purchase insurance for the extra days.
Outlier Legal has a very good blog post on these specific details.
Where to Get a COVID test in Costa Rica
For the US: The US requires a negative COVID test result within 3 days of the flight or proof of recovery within 90 days. If you don’t present a negative COVID-19 test result or proof of recovery if you already had COVID, the airlines won’t let you board. Antibody tests are not accepted. It must be a viral test (PCR or antigen). For proof of recovery, it must be documentation of a recent positive viral test and a letter from your doctor or a public health official declaring you are clear to travel.
The Costa Rican Ministry of Tourism has put together a super handy PDF of the approved labs to do COVID tests. It’s in Spanish but has phone numbers, location, Whatsapp and social media.
Fully vaccinated people need to get a negative COVID test result to re-enter the USA (citizens, residents and foreigners). Please check your home country requirements to see if you do too if you are not flying to the USA. Also note that the USA accepts antigen tests but many other countries do not.
COVID tests in Costa Rica are done via a nasal swab.
Cost and Turnaround Time
The cost of a COVID test in Costa Rica varies between $60-300 USD per test. COVID tests aren’t free to tourists unless they are experiencing symptoms. Some hospitals or clinics may give special rates for seniors over 60 years of age.
Most places are guaranteeing a 24-72 hour turnaround. Some places can do same day.
Results will be emailed in English or Spanish.
If you test positive for COVID-19 in Costa Rica
The lab/hospital who took your test will send the official report to the Ministry of Health of Costa Rica and you will be issued a mandatory health order where you cannot leave the country for minimum 10 days. You will have to quarantine and if you stay in a hotel, you cannot leave your room until the end of quarantine period.
San Jose International Airport COVID Test
Laboratorio Echandi offers rapid COVID antigen testing at San Jose International Airport. Use your phone to scan this QR code of the photo below or go directly to their website covid.morphotr.com to make an appointment online.
Their testing space is 600 meters northeast of the international departures terminal. The antigen test is $65 USD plus tax. You must arrive at the airport 4 hours before your flight and the results are given in maximum of one hour. They also offer PCR with test results within 3 hours for $240 USD.
They have a designated parking lot or for those without a car, they offer an airport shuttle. It is a 24 hour testing facility.
For changes, cancellations or questions,, contact them at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or WhatsApp +506 6223-2290.
Liberia Airport COVID Test
Laboratorio Echandi also offers rapid antigen testing at the Liberia International Airport.
Testing hours are 7 AM to 430 PM Monday through Friday and 7 AM and 12 PM on Saturday and Sundays. They have a huge station with a tent in the parking lot, you can’t miss it.
Lab Echandi offers same day results within 1 hour and you must arrive at the airport 4 hours early. $65 USD for 1 hour antigen. $240 USD for PCR test with results within 3 hours.
They also offer a next day PCR test for $99 USD (results between 11 AM and 11 PM day after the test) option.
San Jose COVID Test
COVID-19 testing is available at many hospitals, labs and clinics in San Jose. Below are the main ones.
- Hospital La Católica: Phone 506 2246 3129.
- Cima Hospital (506) 2208-1000. $89 USD plus tax.
- Hospital Metropolitano: phone 506 2521-9595.
- Hospital Clinica Biblica: Phone (506) 8529 2100 and 2522-1000. Has a drive through testing site in the main location. Must make appointment.
- LABIN: 506 2586 7000. They have a drive through center in Barrio Pinto, Zapote and can provide same day results there.
- Laboratorio Páez: Phone 4000 0667. Costs 53,000 CRC plus tax. Turnaround is 24-48 hour time, better to make an appointment.
- Lab Echandi: They have several locations and also offer a drive through testing center in Escazu. 30,000 CRC plus tax for antigen and they also offer PCR. We did the drive through antigen test in Escazu and got results in one hour.
- Laboratorios San José: 506 4055 4141. Costs 70,000 CRC plus tax.
Liberia COVID Test
- Hospital Metropolitano: Phone +506 2521 9595. 24-72 hour turnaround time.
- Laboratorios Paez: 506 4000 0667
- Hospital San Rafael Arcangel:: 506 2690 550 or 2666 1717. email@example.com. Can make appointments the same day but recommend to call a few days before. Turnaround time is 48-62 hours.
- Laboratorio Clinico Vidalab: Phone 4700 9131. WhatsApp 8733-3475
COVID Test Tamarindo/Flamingo/Conchal/Grande/Brasilito/Langosta/Potrero
- Beachside Clinic in Huacas. Results within 72 hours. Phone 506 2653 9911 or 506 2653 5053. Email firstname.lastname@example.org your name, passport number, phone, email and travel date to make an appointment.
- Lab Medical Huacas: in Villarreal. Phone 506 2653 3131
- Diria Medical Clinic: Costs $200 USD. Offers 24/7 testing with results in ~ 30 hours.
For Tamarindo and Langosta, ReNu Vitamin IV Therapy offers house calls. Cost is $125 USD plus tax, turnaround time is 48 hours via email. Phone 8327-4188
Hospital Metropolitano (Huacas)
I did my COVID-19 test at Hospital Metropolitano, their location in Huacas (Cabo Velas). To make an appointment, I first filled out www.mipruebacovid.com to get my ID number.
Then I Whatsapped them at 506 8465-7484 and gave them my full name, passport number, date of flight, the code from Mipruebacovid and appointment time and date. They confirmed it to me that night. They did not respond quickly though. I texted them at noon and they got back to me at 830 PM.
On the day of my appointment, I arrived about 10 minutes early. They set up a dedicated COVID testing station in the parking lot next to the main clinic. I checked in by giving them the code from mipruebacovid.com and paid with credit card. Took my test and then went on my way. It took in all about 5 minutes.
I got a PCR test which costs 68,000 CRC ($120 USD) but they also offer antigen for 33,000 CRC ($60 USD). PCR tests give results within 48 hours, antigen is within 8 hours. You can pay in cash or credit card.
I got my PCR test results in 26 hours via email.
For those who are guests at the Westin Conchal, they offer on-site testing for $150 USD + tax for a PCR and $85 USD + tax for an antigen test.
Playas del Coco (Gulf of Papagayo, Ocotal, Hermosa, Panama) COVID Test
Coco Medical and Dental Center: Phone 506 2670 1234. $160 USD a test. Results in less than 72 hours.
Nicoya COVID Test
Laboratorio Clinico Ricardo Cerdas: WhatsApp number 506 8589 3682 or office phone 2685 5175. Can go to your hotel. Results in less than 72 hours. Testing available Mon – Friday, 7-830 AM. They can go to Samara, Nicoya and nearby locations.
Samara COVID Test
Centro Medico Dr. Freddy Soto, 506 2656 0992. But he charges $300 USD a test so reach out to Laboratorio Dr. Ricardo Cerdas from Nicoya (information above) to arrange your test in Samara.
Nosara COVID Test
Paradise Medical Services: (takes 72 business hours, not including Sundays) 506 2682 1212. PCR and antigen tests available.
Medklined Bioanálisis Laboratory: Whatsapp +506 8976-6458, phone 4703-6007 / 2100-4810, or email email@example.com. A little bit out of Nosara. Offers PCR, antibodies and antigen.
Montezuma COVID Test
Montezuma doesn’t offer COVID testing but clinics in the nearby town of Cobano does. You can arrange for the local doctor to come to your place of lodging to administer your test. Costs around $150-180 USD per test and results are within 72 hours. Check Cobano Medical Center (Whatsapp 506 8940 0087)
Quepos COVID Test
- Hospital Metropolitanoo: Phone 506 2519 9733
- Quepos Urgent Care 506 2777 1727
Jaco COVID Test
- Laboratorio Clinico Jaco: 506 2643 2118. In Jaco Walk Plaza. Can go to your hotel. Whatsapp +506 8531 3838. Offers antigen testing
- Private clinic MMI offers testing. +506 4020 2200
- Rush Urgent Care: 506 8454 8543, they can go to your hotel.
Uvita/Dominical/Ojochal COVID Test
Dra. Mariam Vargas at Consultario Medico Vargas. Must make appointment via Whatsapp + 506 8750 9118. Costs $180 USD for PCR and $110 USD for antigen (cash only). Results in 48 hours.
San Isidro del General COVID Test
- Laboratorio Biotest: (48 hours results) 506 2772 0909
- Lab. Calderon Gonzalez: Phone 506 2771 2030 and 2772 4897.
Puerto Jimenez COVID Test
Laboratorio Clinico Puerto Jimenez. Phone 506 8820 2457.
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca (Limon) COVID Test
- Laboratorio Bioclinic: Cost is 80,000 CRC + tax. 48 hour turnaround. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Whatsapp 506 8950 9101
- Laboratorio Dr. Eric Casto: In Limon, phone 506 2785 3106.
La Fortuna COVID Test
- Unimed Urgent Care: Takes 48 hours, +506 2479 1903
- Lab Echanid in Ciudad Quesada (1 hour from La Fortuna).506 2250 1871. Test costs 59,000 CRC + taxes
Monteverde COVID Test
Centro de Salud – Dr. Hernandez: Located downtown Santa Elena in the Mega Super grocery store. Whatsapp 506 8589 8227, office 506 2645 6065 or email email@example.com
Do I Need to Wear a Mask in Costa Rica?
Yes, masks are required in Costa Rica for citizens and tourists. Fully vaccinated people need to wear a face mask in Costa Rica when required.
Masks are required when indoors (except at home or hotel room), at the supermarket, convenience store, malls, pharmacies, clinics, hospitals, stores, airports, theaters, movie theaters, churches, banks, offices and for all public and commercial workers. You also need to wear a mask in trains, shuttles, public buses and taxis and at the bus stop. Persons with certain disabilities and infants do not need to wear a mask.
Establishments may prohibit anyone from entering if not wearing a mask. You don’t have to wear a mask when walking outside on the street as long as you are 1.8 meters (6 feet) apart from other people.
Costa Rica COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Tourists Need to Know About
There are very little restrictions for tourists in Costa Rica but here are some things to know.
There are nationwide driving restrictions until August 8th. Please check our post Costa Rica COVID and hop down to the driving restriction section to check what they are.
Remember, rental cars are exempt from nation wide driving restrictions as well as those driving to/from airports and hotels with a paid and confirmed reservation and those driving to/from work.
- Public buses cannot have foot passengers
- Academic and work settings must reduce capacity from 300-150.Social events have been reduced from 75 to 30 maximum capacity.
- Religious places have been reduced from 300 to 200 maximum capacity.
- Bars are now at 25% capacity.
- Hotels with more than 100 rooms must reduce capacity down to 75%
- All national parks EXCEPT Poas Volcano National Park are now at a 50% maximum capacity
- All businesses can open 5 AM to 9 PM
What Is Open in Costa Rica Right Now During COVID-19?
Businesses have to close at 9 PM. Banks are open and ATM’s are available.
Accommodation and Lodging
All hotels can operate at 100% with a 50% maximum capacity in common areas like restaurants and swimming pool. (Exception are the hotels with more than 100 rooms. They are only at 75%).
Restaurants and Bars
Restaurants are all allowed to operate at a 50% maximum capacity seven days a week. Some places may still only offer take out or delivery, it varies from establishment to establishment but majority are open for dining in.
Bars are open with a maximum capacity of 25%. Only casinos located inside hotels may re-open and guests have to pass a temperature check. Alcoholic beverages won’t be allowed.
For bars, they won’t be allowed to play music above a certain decimal level and dancing is not permitted.
Supermarkets, Grocery Stores, Convenience Stores
All supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores and pharmacies are open as normal hours, closing by 9 PM.
Renting a Car
As mentioned earlier, rental cars are exempt from driving restrictions. Most car rental agencies are operating. Our partner, Adobe Rent a Car is operating (get our car rental discount and reader benefits in the link). Some agencies may only be operating select office locations.
Public buses are running throughout the country and masks are required at all times when inside the bus and when waiting at a bus stop. All long routes are operating like normal. Buses are not allowed to have passengers on foot, they only allow seated passengers.
Private shuttles with tourism licenses and taxis are allowed to operate. Uber and Didi can also operate. Masks must be worn by the driver and passengers inside Ubers, shuttles and taxis at all times.
Tours and Activities
All open air activities are allowed to operate including activities like ziplining, hiking and horseback riding. However, not all private reserves or parks may have opened all their trails or activities. Some places are only opening one trail or certain parts of the property. Additionally, places must follow maximum capacity rules.
Be aware that some establishments may require previous reservations or pre-purchased tickets. Some tours may only operate on certain days so it is important to contact tour companies for the latest information to plan your trip.
Since most tour companies in Costa Rica rely on international tourism which is quite low, they may not be operating all tours yet, or only certain tours on some days with a minimum amount of people. You should inquire with the tour company regarding availability before coming, never assume there will be tours available.
Beaches, Lakes and National Parks
Beaches are open 5 AM to 6 PM everyday.
All national parks except Poas Volcano National Park have a maximum capacity of 50%.
At the beach, visitors must stick to their social bubble and be at least 1.8 meters (6 feet) apart from other bubbles. You can surf, walk, run, play volleyball, walk dogs, swim, sunbathe and stay on the beach.
What is Closed in Costa Rica Right Now During COVID-19?
Mass gathering events like concerts, sports with an audience, night clubs and Parque Diversion Theme Park are not open yet in Costa Rica during COVID-19.
Our Personal Tips for Visiting Costa Rica During COVID-19
- Avoid hand shaking and cheek kisses (cheek kisses are the normal form of greeting in Costa Rica).
- Please be kind and tread lightly to locals. They are eager to receive tourists again and are trying their best to work with the restrictions, regulations and low volume.
- Always check what are the COVID protocols for wherever you want to go. Some places may require reservations or limited hours/spaces.
- Don’t rely on only booking tours or getting around with shared shuttles. Things are still changing in a blink of an eye.
- For everything you prepay, ask for the cancellation policy and COVID protocols.
- Don’t expect super crazy discounted prices. Prices have not really changed for international tourists. In fact, car rentals are super expensive. Read our Costa Rica cost of traveling post for more information
What Happens If I Get Coronavirus in Costa Rica as a Tourist?
First, isolate yourself and call 1322 (English options available and available 24 hours) if you believe you have coronavirus or exhibit any symptoms. You will be placed under a minimum 10 day quarantine if you test positive or are suspected of having it.
This quarantine period is an isolated quarantine period (exceptions for minors, seniors, persons with disabilities).
If you need hospitalization, you will be taken to a hospital and placed under medical care.
Had to Reschedule Your Trip? Here Are Some Helpful Resources
Disclaimer: Costa Rica border openings, travel restrictions and entry requirements are ever changing. We do our best to update this post with the latest information as much as possible. Please remember that the decision to travel is up to you and it is your responsibility to stay safe. Make sure to check the recommendations of your country when it comes to international travel. There are also affiliate links in this post.