COVID-19 has surged in many parts of South and Central America, where it has spread rapidly among indigenous communities with minimal access to health care and in densely populated cities like São Paulo, Buenos Aires, and Lima. Borders were closed and most commercial flights to the region were halted at the beginning of the pandemic and while some countries remain closed indefinitely, others have already reopened for international tourism. American travelers are welcome, so long as they can meet the testing and quarantine requirements for entry.
After new strains of the virus were discovered in the United Kingdom (UK) and South Africa, some Latin American countries have suspended flights from the UK, South Africa, and Europe. A Brazilian variant has also caused concern and some countries may be restricting travel from Brazil.
Read on for a country-by-country listing of border status, quarantine restrictions, and more information on travel throughout Central and South America.
Some international routes are operating, but these are sporadic. Unless they are permanent residents in Argentina or have direct relatives who are Argentine citizens, U.S. citizens are not allowed to enter. Travelers will need to show a negative test taken within 72 hours of travel and must self-isolate for seven days in their destination.
U.S. citizens and all other foreign tourists are allowed to enter Belize with different entry requirements for each kind of traveler. Everyone traveling to Belize must download the Belize Travel Health App to submit their health information and negative PCR test result 96 hours prior to their departure or antigen test within 48 hours. Tourists will only have the option of using approved Gold Standard hotels and tour operators and transportation will be pre-organized.
Bolivia’s quarantine and travel restrictions vary from city to city, and while air borders have reopened for returning Bolivian residents and citizens, the country's land and water borders remain closed. There's no requirement to quarantine for those who show no symptoms during the health screening, but all travelers will need to have a negative PCR test taken within three to 10 days before their flight, depending on the traveler's origin.
Flights from Europe have been suspended until March 15 and travelers will not be allowed to enter if they have spent any time in Europe in the previous 14 days unless they hold residence in Bolivia, in which case they must also isolate for 14 days.
With over 10 million confirmed cases, Brazil is the hardest-hit country in Latin America and has the third-highest number of cases in the world after the United States and India. While Brazil has restricted its land and water borders indefinitely, foreigners, including U.S. citizens, are allowed to fly to Brazil. Travelers do not have to quarantine but are required to show a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departing for Brazil and fill out a Traveler's Health form.
All flights between Brazil and the UK have been suspended temporarily. Anyone who has passed through the UK within 14 days of arriving in Brazil will not be allowed to enter and vice versa.
Chile's borders are open to foreign visitors, who will have to provide a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours before arriving, submit a health declaration noting any symptoms, and provide proof of health insurance that will cover any coronavirus-related illnesses. All travelers, regardless of nationality, will be required to complete a 10-day quarantine, which will not be lifted until they test negative.
As of January 15, direct flights between the UK and Chile have been suspended. Any traveler who is not a resident or citizen of Chile, and who has been in the UK at any point in the 14 days before their arrival, will not be allowed to enter. Direct flights from the UK have also been suspended until further notice.
Foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens, are allowed to enter Colombia but international flights are limited. All visitors will need to show proof of a negative test taken within 96 hours before departure, fill out the immigration form online 24 hours before flying, and follow the protocol outlined by the Colombian Ministry of Health. A 10-day quarantine is only required for those who are unable to obtain a test. Flights from the UK have been suspended indefinitely and anyone who arrives indirectly from the UK will not be allowed entry unless they qualify for an exception.
Costa Rica has opened up to all U.S. citizens and it is no longer necessary to show a negative test or quarantine, but travelers will still be required to purchase medical insurance and complete an online epidemiological form. Costa Rica's Immigration officials have the authority to determine the length of any visitor's stay as it corresponds to the coverage dates of their insurance policy.
Commercial flights to Ecuador have resumed and the country is open for all foreign tourists, but travelers will need to provide a negative test taken within 10 days before their arrival. Upon arrival in Ecuador, passengers may be randomly selected to undergo antigen testing. If a traveler tests positive, they must quarantine at a government facility in Quito or Guayaquil. It is not possible to self-isolate at home and all quarantines will be managed by the government.
The government has more strict regulations in place for anyone wishing to visit the Galapagos Islands. If traveling to the Galapagos, you must be tested within 96 hours of arriving. This can be the same test you take to enter Ecuador, as long as your total travel time fits into the 96-hour window. There is no requirement to quarantine once you get to the islands.
La Aurora International Airport reopened for international flights in September and all foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens, will be allowed to enter the country without needing to quarantine so long as they show a negative test taken within 96 hours before their arrival. Guatemala may deny entry or mandate quarantine to anybody non-Guatemalan who has spent any time in the UK or South Africa within 14 days prior to their arrival.
U.S. citizens are allowed to enter Honduras, but they will need to show a negative test and will be required to quarantine for 14 days if they are showing symptoms. They must also complete the immigration pre-check form and should print out their confirmation before departing for Honduras. As of December 23, Honduras will not allow entry to any traveler who has been in the UK or South Africa within 21 days of arriving in Honduras, unless they are a Honduran national or legal resident.
The Nicaraguan government does not have any travel restrictions in place and most airlines have resumed service. U.S. citizens are allowed to enter Nicaragua if they can show a negative test result and do not need to quarantine if they are not showing symptoms. Traveling to Nicaragua is not recommended due to the widespread criticism about its response to the coronavirus. The government has denied that the pandemic has affected the country greatly despite the increasing number of noticeably quick and secretive burials of recently deceased people. There is still a dispute within the country about what the real death count is.
U.S. citizens are allowed to enter Panama without needing to quarantine as long as they can show a negative result from a test that was taken within 48 hours of their flight to Panama. Travelers who can't obtain a test before arriving will be tested at the airport and required to quarantine at a hotel if they test positive. After seven days of quarantine, they'll be tested again and allowed to leave if negative. Travelers will also need to sign an affidavit ensuring they are in good health. Any non-Panamanian traveler who has visited the UK or South Africa within 20 days of arriving in Panama will not be allowed entry. Panamanian nationals and residents may enter but they'll need to be tested.
Peruvian airports have reopened for international travel between Peru and the U.S. and American travelers over the age of 12 will need to show a negative test taken within 72 hours of their flight. As of January 4, all travelers will be required to complete a mandatory 14-day quarantine on arrival and sign an affidavit of health. Peru will not allow the entry of foreign nationals who have visited either the UK, Europe, Brazil, or South Africa in the 14 days prior to arriving.
Generally, U.S. citizens are not allowed to enter Uruguay. However, exceptions are being made for some travelers in the case of family reunification or humanitarian efforts. Authorization should be requested through the online application system. Approved travelers will still need to provide a negative PCR test result taken within 72 hours of their flight, show proof of medical insurance to cover COVID-19, and sign an affidavit stating they've had no symptoms in the past 14 days. All travelers will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days or until they can produce a second negative test, which should be taken on the seventh day of their isolation.
Americans with a visa are allowed to enter without quarantining but will need a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours of arrival. Reports say that many Venezuelan patients and doctors are avoiding being tested for the virus, due to the inhumane conditions of the government's mandatory quarantine facilities.
U.S. Embassy in Argentina. "COVID-19 Information." March 3, 2021.
U.S. Embassy in Belize. "COVID-19 Information." March 1, 2021.
Belize Tourism Board. “COVID-19 Update for Travellers.” March 3, 2021.
U.S. Embassy in Bolivia. "COVID-19 Information." February 22, 2021.
Government of the United Kingdom. "Foreign Travel Advice: Bolivia." February 22, 2021.
U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Brazil. "COVID-19 Information." February 10, 2021.
Government of the United Kingdom. "Foreign Travel Advice: Brazil." March 1, 2021.
U.S. Embassy in Chile. “COVID-19 Information.” March 3, 2021.
Government of the United Kingdom. "Foreign Travel Advice: Chile." February 19, 2021.
U.S. Embassy in Colombia. "COVID-19 Information." February 23, 2021.
Government of the United Kingdom. "Foreign Travel Advice: Colombia." February 19, 2021.
U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica. "COVID-19 Information." March 2, 2021.
U.S. Embassy & Consulate in Ecuador. "COVID-19 and Travel Information." January 21, 2021.
U.S. Embassy in Guatemala. "COVID-19 Information." January 29, 2021.
Government of the United Kingdom. "Foreign Travel Advice: Guatemala." February 24, 2021.
U.S. Embassy in Honduras. "COVID-19 Information." February 26, 2021.
Government of the United Kingdom. "Foreign Travel Advice: Honduras." February 24, 2021.
U.S. Embassy in Nicaragua. "COVID-19 Information." March 3, 2021.
U.S. Embassy in Panama. "COVID-19 Panama Information." March 3, 2021.
Government of the United Kingdom. "Foreign Travel Advice: Panama." March 4, 2021.
U.S. Embassy in Peru. "COVID-19 Information." March 3, 2021.
Government of the United Kingdom. "Foreign Travel Advice: Peru." March 1, 2021.
U.S. Embassy in Uruguay. “COVID-19 Information. March 3, 2021.
U.S. Embassy, Venezuela. "COVID-19 Information." February 24, 2021.