Last week, Costa Rica announced that it would no longer require visitors to provide negative PCR tests to enter the country from Oct. 26 and on. During the same announcement, Costa Rica’s Minister of Tourism, Gustavo J. Segura broke the news that starting next month, the Central American country would ease its pandemic border restrictions and begin welcoming back air travelers from all countries. The announcements come as a bundle of good news for those who have limited vacation days or wish to skip the mandatory tests and quarantines imposed by other countries. For cautious others, they may highlight risk over reward.
"The decision to open to all international travelers on Nov. 1 takes into account the recommendations of the Pan American Health Organization and local experts who have successfully guided us through a phased reopening during the pandemic,” Segura said in a statement given to TripSavvy. “Reactivation of the tourism industry is essential to our economy's recovery."
Right now, Costa Rica’s borders are only open to Uruguay, Jamaica, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, China, roughly half of the United States, and all of Canada, Mexico, the EU Schengen Zone, the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, and Central America. All U.S. travelers are currently required to show proof of residency from an approved state in order to enter Costa Rica, though this will no longer be needed after Oct. 31.
While it may seem Costa Rica is playing it fast and loose—especially when compared to the rigorous entry and pre-entry requirements we see for other sunny destinations like St. Kitts and Nevis or Belize (which received one of our shiny 2020 TripSavvy Editors’ Choice Awards for its pandemic response)—the country is not alone in its leniency. As of right now, air travelers from all countries are permitted into Mexico, with no PCR test or quarantine required. However, while Mexico only recommends that all entering travelers have a health insurance policy covering COVID-19, Costa Rica requires it.
If traveling with an international insurance policy, all visitors must show certified proof that the policy covers the duration of their stay in Costa Rica, provides a minimum of $2,000 worth of COVID-19 lodging coverage, and has at least $50,000 worth of COVID-19 medical coverage. (Travelers can also opt to buy a qualifying local policy through Costa Rica’s National Insurance Institute.) All visitors will also be required to fill out a digital Health Pass.
“We ask that international travelers visiting Costa Rica continue to abide by the COVID-19 health and safety protocols implemented by our government in order to avoid contagion and the spread of the virus,” Segura added. In other words, just because you may not have to jump through as many hoops to get into the country, travelers shouldn’t expect it to be willy-nilly once they’re here. Costa Rica’s pandemic protocols still apply, and travelers will be expected to wear masks, social distance, adhere to tourism site capacity restrictions, partake in any temperature screenings, and follow sanitary guidelines.
Currently, the U.S. Department of State has Costa Rica listed under continued travel advisory of Level 3: Reconsider Travel due to coronavirus threat.