Costa Rica opened their borders back on August 2 so 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.
Please be respectful of all laws, rules and regulations that Costa Rica has placed, regardless if you agree with them or not. Costa Rica is happily welcoming tourists back but as a guest in another country, it is necessary to follow regulations and be responsible tourists.
Click the section to skip to it.
- Costa Rica COVID Entry Requirements
- Health Pass
- PCR COVID -19 Test
- How to Fill Out Health Pass
- My Personal Experience Entering Costa Rica as a Tourist (American)
- Flying into Liberia Airport
- Flying into San Jose Airport
- Health Pass
- Travel Insurance
- Costa Rica Immigration
- Visa Extensions/Visa Runs
- 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
- What is Open in Costa Rica?
- What is Closed in Costa Rica?
- If You Get COVID-19 in Costa Rica as a Tourist
- 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. As of March 2021, Costa Rica has around 206,000 thousand confirmed cases with 2833 fatalities. Costa Rica is one of the first countries in Latin America to begin vaccinating its citizens in December.
Covid-19 Costa Rica 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, as long as tourists fulfill the following entry requirements.
Costa Rica COVID-19 Entry Requirements
Costa Rica COVID 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.
**As of October 26th, Costa Rica NO longer requires the 72 hour COVID-19 test result for tourists. This requirement has been removed. Tourists do not need to quarantine in Costa Rica. **
Currently, Costa Rica is not requiring tourists to get vaccinated to enter the country. Likewise, they are not planning to remove the insurance requirement for those who have been vaccinated.
Tourists must also comply with social distancing, hand washing, sanitizing, having their temperature taken and wearing the face masks as part of the requirements.
The health pass will be available for tourists to fill out 48 hours prior to their flight. 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.
If you already have medial 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.
Steps to Fill Out Health Pass (available 48 hours before flight)
I do NOT recommend doing this last minute or at the airport. Do this at home before you leave. When traveling during a pandemic, it is better to have everything ready to go beforehand.
1. Purchase your travel insurance.
2. 48 hours before your flight, the health pass will be available to you to fill out. They have it in English.
3. Fill out the form (I recommend doing it on your phone). You will need to enter details like passport, flight, seat number, trip length, etc.
4. Upload your travel insurance on the health pass in PDF form. They will check mark it to signify it has been accepted.
5. Once your health pass is filled out and accepted, the next page will have your QR code. You can download it and they will also email you a PDF of it.
6. Take a screenshot of your QR code. I have my example below so you can see what you need a screenshot of. Not necessary to print.
7. Show the QR code whenever you are asked. I was asked at the Alaska Airlines gate, Volaris gate and at Costa Rica immigration.
My Experience Flying into Liberia International Airport December 29, 2020 and San Jose International Airport March 8, 2021
I flew into Liberia International Airport on December 29, 2020 with Alaska Airlines and here was my experience.
I flew from SEA – LAX – LIR. 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 30 minutes before boarding time, the Alaska Airlines’ agents started doing the announcements over the loudspeaker about the QR code. They said that if you don’t have insurance, don’t have your QR code or don’t know what a QR code is, to please go up to the agent and ask for assistance.
Health Pass and 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.
Again, I highly recommend to fill out the health pass BEFORE you get to the airport to save time and stress, especially if you are doing it for a family or groups as it has to be filled out per person.
I purchased Trawick International for my first entry. They offersa travel insurance specifically for Costa Rica. It was much cheaper than INS, BlueCross and Sagicor.
For my first entry, I purchased 66 days and it cost me $40.95 USD total with Trawick (Safe Travels Voyager). (Please note that the cost of my quote will be different to yours as the cost of insurance depends on traveler’s age, length of trip, cost of trip, US state of residence, etc. )
With Trawick, they will email you a visa letter, certificate and ID card once you purchase the insurance. You upload the visa letter to the health pass. Trawick also offers an international option for those who aren’t US citizens/residents.
Liberia International Airport
It took me about 30 minutes to get through immigration and customs at Liberia International Airport. My flight was the only one.
Liberia International Airport is about the same. Upon arrival, they put some “please social distance” stickers in the jetway. At immigration, they put stickers on the floor for the social distancing. I saw one hand sanitizer station and there were a lot of officers in immigration.
During immigration, the officer had me scan my QR code. Then he asked me where I was staying and how long I would be in Costa Rica for.
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
When we flew out of Mexico, Volaris asked me for my QR code and plane ticket out of Costa Rica to my next destination (United States). They were also very vigilant in making sure everyone had filled out the correct forms to enter Costa Rica.
As for immigration, San Jose International Airport was not as organized as Liberia. We arrived on March 8, 2021 at 1 PM and there were several other flights arriving around noon.
This made the immigration line very long and seemed even longer due to the social distancing markers. We even had to wait in the hallway for a bit and it was confusing at first since there were a ton of people crowded in a tiny hallway, not great for social distancing. It took a few minutes for an officer to come and tell us where to go.
It took us about 1 hour total to get through immigration and customs at San Jose International Airport.
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.
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, my first entry I purchased 66 days of insurance and they gave me exactly 66 days on my tourist visa.
The second time I purchased 90 days and they gave me 90 days.
I first flew out of Costa Rica in December. Liberia International Airport also set up social distancing markers and plexiglass for departures. Every other seat was blocked off in the terminal but I didn’t see too many hand sanitizing stations. The duty free store, all souvenir stores and cafes were open.
In March, we flew out of San Jose International Airport. Everything was the same except San Jose had the thermal imaging for temperatures. I don’t remember that at Liberia Airport.
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 in Costa Rica to help you ASAP.*
If you wish to extend your stay (limit 90 days), the government has announced the exact requirements on how to do so. Remember, you can only extend your visit to 90 days as that is the maximum number of a tourist visa. So for example, I was given 66 days and if I want to extend my visa until 90, I have to do the following BEFORE my visa runs out (within my 66 days).
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 days you want to extend.
Outlier Legal has a very good blog post on these specific details.
Where to Get a COVID test in Costa Rica
Many countries such as Canada and the US are now requiring a COVID test to enter so if you need to get a COVID test in Costa Rica, here is the information we found.
For the US: The US requires a COVID test within 3 days of the flight and 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.
Remember, if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or been directly exposed in Costa Rica, call 1322 which is the government COVID-19 hotline (English available). They will direct you to a testing facility to get tested free of charge.
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.
Cost and Turnaround Time
The cost of a COVID test in Costa Rica varies between $100-300 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, around 37,000 CRC (~$60 USD).
Most places are guaranteeing a 24-72 hour turnaround. Some places can do same day.
Your results will be emailed to you in Spanish by default but you can ask your testing site to give you results in English.
Getting Your Test: Make an Appointment
The best way to get a COVID test in Costa Rica at the following places is to call or contact them via Whatsapp/Facebook and make an appointment. We recommend to make your appointment earlier than later as there can be long waiting times.
Most places will require you to fill out the form on this site: www.mipruebacovid.com to get a registration number in order to make an appointment.
San Jose Airport does not offer COVID-19 testing themselves.
Some resorts and hotels may provide on-site testing. Make sure to ask your hotel to schedule your test accordingly.
If you are staying somewhere close to one of the labs/hospitals, some labs can go to your hotel to take your sample. There are some drive through testing sites in San Jose.
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.
Most hotels will offer a special rate if you need to quarantine.
San Jose COVID Testing
COVID-19 testing is available at the following hospitals, labs and clinics in San Jose.
• Hospital La Católica 506 2246 3129. Turnaround time is 48-72 hours. Can accept walk ins.
• Cima Hospital (506) 2208-1000. $89 USD plus tax. Accepts walk ins. Turnaround time is 48 hours.
• Hospital Metropolitano 506 2521-9595. Costs 53,000 CRC plus tax. Turnaround is 24-48 hours. Better to make an appointment.
• Hospital Clinica Biblica (506) 8529 2100 and 2522-1000. Has a drive through testing site in the main location. Costs 55,120 CRC plus tax. 38,584 CRC plus tax for seniors. Must make appointment. 24-48 hours turnaround.
• LABIN: 506 2586 7000. Costs 59,000 CRC with credit card, 66,670 in cash. If test taken in the morning, turnaround time is 24 hours. If test is taken in afternoon, turnaround time is 36 hours. They have a drive through center in Barrio Pinto, Zapote and can provide same day results there.
• Echandi: 506 2258 4334. Costs 53,100 CRC plus tax. Turnaround time is 24-48 hours. They have a drive through testing site in the Escazu site.
• Laboratorio Páez: Phone 4000 0667. Costs 53,000 CRC plus tax. Turnaround is 24-48 hour time, better to make an appointment.
• Laboratorios San José: 506 4055 4141. Costs 70,000 CRC plus tax. Turnaround time is 24 hours Monday through Friday, if test taken on weekend it is 36 hours.
Liberia COVID Testing
• Hospital Metropolitano +506 2521 9595. 48-72 hour turnaround time. 68,000 CRC plus tax.
• Laboratorios Paez 506 4000 0667
• Hospital San Rafael Arcangel: 506 2690 550 or 2666 1717. email@example.com. Costs 110,000 CRC plus tax, 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
Liberia Airport COVID Testing
Laboratorio Echandi is now offering rapid antigen testing at their location by 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.
Contact them via Whatsapp 506 6223 2290 or call 2668-0043 or 2105-1495. Email is firstname.lastname@example.org. They offer same day results within 1 hour and you must arrive at the airport 4 hours early. $65 USD for 1 hour antigen.
They also offer a next day PCR test for $99 USD (results between 11 AM and 11 PM day after the test) option.
COVID Testing Tamarindo/Flamingo/Conchal/Grande/Brasilito/Langosta/Potrero
•Beachside Clinic in Huacas. Results within 72 hours. Phone 506 2653 9911 or 506 2653 5053. Email email@example.com your name, passport number, phone, email and travel date to make an appointment.
• Lab Medical Huacas: Next to the dental clinic in the Gollo Centro Comercial in Villarreal. Phone 506 2653 3131
• Hospital Metropolitano Turnaround time is 36 – 48 hours. Phone 506 4000 3822 Whatsapp: 506 8465-7484. Can make appointment 4-5 days in advance via Whatsapp or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Test costs 70,720 CRC in cash, 68,000 CRC with credit card. Offers antigen testing.
• Diria Medical Clinic: Costs $200 USD. Offers 24/7 testing with results in ~ 30 hours. Cost ~$200 USD
• Laboratorio Clinica Huacas: In Huacas, phone 2653 6866.
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.
For Tamarindo and Langosta, ReNu Vitamin IV Therapy offers house calls (their registered nurses will go to your place of accommodation to take your sample). Cost is $125 USD plus tax, turnaround time is 48 hours via email. Phone 8327-4188
Playas del Coco (Gulf of Papagayo, Ocotal, Hermosa, Panama) COVID Testing
• Coco Medical and Dental Center 506 2670 1234. $160 USD a test. Results in less than 72 hours.
Nicoya COVID Testing
Laboratorio Clinico Ricardo Cerdas. WhatsApp number 506 8589 3682 or office phone 2685 5175. Can go to your hotel or you can go to the clinic. Results in less than 72 hours. Testing available Mon – Friday, 7-830 AM. They can go to Samara, Nicoya and nearby locations.
Samara COVID Testing
Centro Medico Dr. Freddy Soto, 506 2656 0992. But he charges $300 USD a test so I don’t recommend him. Instead, reach out to Laboratorio Dr. Ricardo Cerdas from Nicoya (information above) to arrange your test in Samara
Nosara COVID Testing
Paradise Medical Services (takes 72 business hours, not including Sundays) 506 2682 1212
Montezuma COVID Testing
Montezuma proper 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 Testing
Jaco COVID Testing
• Laboratorio Clinico Jaco: 506 2643 2118. In Jaco Walk Plaza. Can go to your hotel or you can go to the clinic. 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.
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 Testing
• Laboratorio Biotest (48 hours results) 506 2772 0909
• Lab. Calderon Gonzalez: Phone 506 2771 2030 and 2772 4897.
Puerto Jimenez COVID Testing
Laboratorio Clinico Puerto Jimenez. Phone 506 8820 2457.
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca (Limon) COVID Testing
• Laboratorio Bioclinic: Cost is 80,000 CRC + tax. 48 hour turnaround. Email: email@example.com or Whatsapp 506 8950 9101
• Laboratorio Dr. Eric Casto: In Limon, phone 506 2785 3106.
La Fortuna COVID Testing
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Do I Need to Wear a Mask in Costa Rica?
Yes, masks are required in Costa Rica for citizens and tourists. You must wear a mask 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. Face shields are no longer accepted as the only form of indoor protection and if a face shield is used, a mask must also be used.
Other 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.
As of April 17, 2021, there are some driving restrictions. Driving is allowed during the hours of 5 AM to 11 PM every day of the week. Rental cars are exempt from driving restrictions as well as people going to/from hotels and airports.
On Saturdays, vehicles with a license plate ending in an even number can drive. On Sundays, vehicles with a license plate ending in an odd number can drive.
Monday – Friday: the following driving restrictions apply only to downtown San Jose.
• Monday – Vehicles with last license plate digit ending in 1 and 2 can’t drive.
• Tuesday: Vehicles with last license plate digit ending in 3 and 4 can’t drive.
• Wednesday: Vehicles with last license plate digit ending in 5 and 6 can’t drive.
• Thursday: Vehicles with last license plate digit ending in 7 and 8 can’t drive.
• Friday: Vehicles with last license plate digit ending in 9 and 0 can’t drive.
All tourists must follow sanitary measures and regulations including but not limited to mask wearing, hand washing, temperature taking, social distancing, etc.
Tourists must stay in their “social bubble” and stay at least 6 feet (1.8 meters) apart from others social bubbles.
What Is Open in Costa Rica Right Now During COVID-19?
Pretty much everything is open in Costa Rica right now with few restrictions.
Most businesses close at 10 -11 PM on weekdays and 10-11 PM on the weekends. Banks are open and ATM’s are available. Stores like clothing, souvenirs and shoes are open with maximum 50% capacity and mandatory masks.
Accommodation and Lodging
All hotels can operate at 100% with a 50% maximum capacity in common areas like restaurants and swimming pool.
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 and casinos are open with a maximum capacity of 50%. 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 (called pulperia in Costa Rica) and pharmacies are open as normal hours.
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 driver and passengers inside Ubers 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.
As for national parks, all parks may open regardless of location and open to a maximum capacity of 100%.
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. Here is the full list on the government site.
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.
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.
• Right now is a difficult time to be a solo traveler. Many tour companies require a minimum of 2 people to operate and due to low volume, there aren’t many tours available. If you can, rent a car and DIY.
• 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. Read our Costa Rica cost of traveling post for more information
Bring as much of your own gear you can like face masks, hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes, water bottles, reusable shopping bags, rash guards and beach towels. To go even further as a sustainable traveler, bring your own cutlery and reusable straws.
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.