Finally, the opening of Costa Rica is taking place, slowly but at least happening. Here is the most updated information I could get my hands on as of August 23, 2020. Opening the Airports is a major first step to getting back to some kind of normalcy in Costa Rica and is a welcome relief for many, not just the people of Costa Rica.
The Costa Rican government has been evaluating each week how to restart the economy, as well as how to best protect the people of Costa Rica. As tourism is a major economic factor for this country, the Government recognized the need to start allowing more tourists in the Country. It can feel like a moving target at times as their plan changes almost every day. However, with the opening of the Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) near San Jose, and by September 5th the Liberia International Airport (LIR), it is a good start. The first flights in to Guanacaste (LIR) will be operated by United Airlines, starting September 5, while Air Canada will follow with flights in October.
In early August the government declared that tourists from Canada, the EU, Great Britain, and a few other countries are allowed to visit but there will be strict protocols to follow and hence there was a lot of confusion. Then in mid-August, the opening of Costa Rica was expanded to 44 more countries. But the United States was not included. Restrictions for temporary residents as well as permanent residents was also changed to allow these people to come back home to Costa Rica.
On August 19th the announcement was made that residents of 6 US states; New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine and Connecticut will now be allowed to travel to Costa Rica. There are additional requirements for US citizens. Here is the most recent information:
A) All people entering Costa Rica must complete the digital epidemiological form. This is known as the “Health Pass” or “Pase de Salud.” Here is the link to the form: https://salud.go.cr/
B) Everyone arriving to Costa Rica must obtain a negative PCR-RT coronavirus test. The sample for this test must have been taken within 48 hours of your flight to Costa Rica. Best to have the form in hand upon arrival.
C) Everyone must purchase travel insurance that covers accommodation in case of quarantine and medical expenses due to COVID-19 for the duration of the stay. The insurance policy can be international or purchased from Costa Rican insurance companies that offer the required coverage, such as The National Insurance Institute (INS) https://www.ins-cr.com/ and Sagicor https://www.sagicor.cr/ . It is important to know that if you choose a foreign insurance policy it must demonstrate proof (in English or Spanish) that their policy is valid during the entire planned trip to Costa Rica. The Insurance must cover medical expenses in cases of COVID-19 while in Costa Rica, for a minimum of fifty thousand dollars ($50,000.00 USD). The policy must also include a minimum coverage of two thousand dollars ($2,000.00 USD) for expenses of extended lodging due to the pandemic.
If you happen to be a property owner in Costa Rica but do not have residency, you are still required to have the insurance coverage.
D) All persons from the United States must prove by showing their driver’s license, that they live and reside in one of the states that are allowed to come.
In the coming weeks the Costa Rica government will continue to evaluate which tourists from areas in the United States and other countries will be allowed in to the country. The opening is slow and cautious, but continuing.
Starting August 22, to the 30th, most establishments with sanitary permits are allowed to operate nationwide. This opening of business is a welcome relief for locals as well as expats living here. Basically, any retail company like auto repair shop, a barber shop or salon can legally now open if they have a up to date health certificate.
Please note with the opening of the country to tourists, masks, face coverings or face shields are required to enter any indoor establishment that is open for business.
So, if you have been planning a trip to Costa Rica, keep those plans open and be patient, your time will come. As my mom used to tell me when I was a kid, “it is well worth waiting for something you really want than to just give up your dreams”.