Travel to Central and South America: A Reopening Timeline, Country by Country

Crowds Line Up at Caixa Economica Federal to Receive the Second Installment of the Urgent Government Benefit Due to the Coronavirus (COVID - 19) Pandemic
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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. 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 in most countries, 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 are restricting travel from Brazil and other Latin American countries.

Read on for a country-by-country listing of border status, quarantine restrictions, and more information on travel throughout Central and South America.

Argentina

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. Regardless of vaccination status, travelers will need to show a negative test taken within 72 hours of travel and must self-isolate for at least seven days in their destination.

Belize

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 show proof of vaccination, a negative PCR test taken 96 hours, or an antigen test taken 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

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. All travelers will need to have proof of medical insurance and a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours before their flight, depending on the traveler's origin. A 10-day quarantine, plus a PCR test to be taken on the seventh day, is now required.

Brazil

With over 17 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.

Chile

Chile's borders are only open to citizens and residents, 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 will be required to complete a 10-day quarantine, which will not be lifted until they test negative. The first five days must be spent in a quarantine transit hotel.

Direct flights to Chile from the UK 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 10 days before their arrival, will not be allowed to enter.

Colombia

Foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens, are allowed to enter Colombia. Travelers no longer need to show a negative test and there is no requirement to self-isolate.

Costa Rica

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.

Ecuador Continues On Alert For Coronavirus
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Ecuador

Commercial flights to Ecuador have resumed and the country is open for all foreign tourists, but travelers will need to provide a vaccination card, negative test taken within three days before their arrival, or proof of recovery from COVID-19. Upon arrival in Ecuador, travelers presenting symptoms will be tested on arrival. If a traveler tests positive, they must isolate for 10 days.

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 72 hours of traveling to the islands, unless you can present a vaccination card. This can be the same test you take to enter Ecuador, as long as your total travel time fits into the 72-hour window. There is no requirement to quarantine once you get to the islands.

Guatemala

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 72 hours before their arrival or proof of vaccination. Foreigners who have visited Brazil, the UK, or South Africa in the past 14 days are not permitted to enter.

Honduras

U.S. citizens are allowed to enter Honduras but if they are not vaccinated, they will need to show a negative test. Only travelers showing symptoms will be required to quarantine. all travelers must also complete the immigration pre-check form and should print out their confirmation before departing for Honduras. Honduras will not allow entry to any traveler who has been in the UK or South Africa within 21 days, or South America within 15 days, of arriving in Honduras, unless they are a Honduran national or legal resident.

Nicaragua

The Nicaraguan government does not have any travel bans 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.

Panama

U.S. citizens are allowed to enter Panama, but all travelers will need to provide a negative taken within 48 hours of arrival, regardless of vaccination status. Non-vaccinated travelers will be tested again upon arrival, but fully vaccinated travelers will be exempt from this test as long as they can show proof of vaccination. Travelers who test positive will be required to quarantine at a hotel or hospital for 14 days. All travelers must also need to sign an affidavit before flying ensuring they are in good health.

Any non-Panamanian traveler who has visited the UK, India, South Africa, or any South American country before arriving in Panama will need to show a negative test taken within 48 hours and must quarantine for 14 days at a hotel.

Peru

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. All travelers will be required to complete a mandatory 14-day quarantine on arrival and sign an affidavit of health. However, they can test out of this requirement if they test negative on arrival. Peru will not allow the entry of foreign nationals who have visited either Europe or South Africa within 14 days of arriving.

Uruguay

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 isolation.

Venezuela

Americans with a visa are allowed to enter without quarantining but will need a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours of arrival.

Article Sources
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  1. U.S. Embassy in Argentina. "COVID-19 Information." May 26, 2021.

  2. U.S. Embassy in Belize. "COVID-19 Information." June 3, 2021.

  3. Belize Tourism Board. “COVID-19 Update for Travellers.” May 27, 2021.

  4. U.S. Embassy in Bolivia. "COVID-19 Information." April 29, 2021.

  5. U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Brazil. "COVID-19 Information." May 26, 2021.

  6. U.S. Embassy in Chile. “COVID-19 Information.” June 9, 2021.

  7. Government of the United Kingdom. "Foreign Travel Advice: Chile." June 11, 2021.

  8. U.S. Embassy in Colombia. "COVID-19 Information." June 10, 2021.

  9. U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica. "COVID-19 Information." June 8, 2021.

  10. U.S. Embassy & Consulate in Ecuador. "COVID-19 and Travel Information." May 25, 2021.

  11. U.S. Embassy in Guatemala. "COVID-19 Information." May 5, 2021.

  12. U.S. Embassy in Honduras. "COVID-19 Information." June 11, 2021.

  13. Government of the United Kingdom. "Foreign Travel Advice: Honduras." June 11, 2021.

  14. U.S. Embassy in Nicaragua. "COVID-19 Information." June 9, 2021.

  15. U.S. Embassy in Panama. "COVID-19 Panama Information." June 10, 2021.

  16. Government of the United Kingdom. "Foreign Travel Advice: Panama." May 25, 2021.

  17. U.S. Embassy in Peru. "COVID-19 Information." June 1, 2021.

  18. U.S. Embassy in Uruguay. “COVID-19 Information. June 14, 2021.

  19. U.S. Embassy, Venezuela. "COVID-19 Information." June 2, 2021.

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