Disclaimer: Traveling during the pandemic should be done so with great caution. Please refer to the State Department and the CDC for more information and travel at your own risk. This article is about traveling between the United States and Costa Rica, and this information does not apply to travel between any other countries.
As one of the few countries that can be reached from the United States without requiring a negative Covid test upon entry, it has become a great vacation for those looking for an exotic escape while doing so in relative safety.
However, the rules surrounding entry to Costa Rica and entry back home to the United States can be a little confusing, requiring hours of research. We decided to try it out so that we could help others navigate the process.
Getting to Costa Rica
Once you’ve found a great deal on flights to Costa Rica, there are a few things you need to do.
- Insurance- Acquire Costa Rica specific travel insurance for each person traveling. We used Trawick International, which is approved by the Costa Rica government. We found this more affordable than the Costa Rica recommended insurers. The requirements for Costa Rica travel insurance are that you need to have $50,000/person in medical expenses, including coverage for Covid-19, and $2,000/person coverage for “trip delay” that will cover any expenses while you quarantine for 2 weeks and test again.
- Health Pass- Within 48 hours of arrival, fill out the Costa Rica Health Entry Form, which can be found here. Input all of your personal information, travel dates, and insurance information. NOTE: You do not need a negative covid test before going to Costa Rica as of November 2020.
- QR Code- You will immediately receive a QR code via email (one per person) called a Health Pass or Passe Salud.
- Receive Clearance- You should receive an email within the next day from the Costa Rica Tourism Board, letting you know that your information is all recorded and insurance is accepted.
- Board Flight with Health Pass- You will need to bring your QR code with you, along with your passport, to board your flight to Costa Rica. I recommend printing out your Health Pass in case your phone dies or you lose it. Better safe than sorry. But having it on your phone works too. Airline employees will check to see that you have your code, but may not scan it.
- Scan QR Code- You will need to scan your QR code at passport control once you arrive in Costa Rica.
It took us a while to figure out the insurance and the health form, but once we had everything squared away, boarding our flight and arriving in Costa Rica was quick and easy. They’ve done a pretty good job of streamlining the process.
Once you are in Costa Rica, you should always wear your mask unless actively eating or in your hotel room or vacation rental or swimming. Costa Rica is not getting too many US visitors right now, so resorts and beaches are not very crowded, but always be safe and also respectful to the locals. You don’t want to spread any germs while you’re visiting their country.
Getting back home from Costa Rica
If you’re traveling back to the United States, any passenger 2 years or older will need to show proof of a negative Covid test to check into your flight. Tests will cost anywhere from $80-$200. If you are staying at a resort, they may be offering free testing, or at least on-site testing options. Here is the process that you need to go through to get back home:
- Confirm Test Type with Airline- Find out which test your airline accepts (PCR or Antigen). Note that the U.S. Government is not regulating your negative tests, it is the airline’s responsibility.
- Epidemiology Form- Fill out the epidemiology form for Costa Rica online, found here. You will need to fill out one form per person. Once the form is submitted, you will be shown an application number on the screen.
- Application Number- Save the application number that you will receive after filling out the form
- Testing Appointment- Make an appointment with a doctor or a testing lab within 72 hours of when your flight leaves. Make sure to ask about result turnaround when booking. Note that the rule is within 72 hours of boarding your flight, not 72 hours of arriving in the US. This is nice, because it should give you a few more hours on your time. You can find testing locations in Costa Rica here.
- Take Test- Get your Covid test (and hopefully be negative) If you have a positive test result, call 1322. English-speaking operators will be able to help you. You will need to quarantine for 2 weeks and then test again before boarding your flight. If you are very sick and require medical attention, call 911.
- Test Results- Get your test results via email, most likely in PDF form.
- Save Results- Save your results to your phone or print them out at your hotel. Check with your airline to see if they will accept printed or electronic test results.
- Attestation Form- Fill out the CDC Attestation form, found here. I recommend printing these before your trip and just taking them with you. If you have children, write your name at the top and their name in the small space below, then sign your own name. Note: the airline will most likely have these forms when checking in, but it makes the check-in process much longer if you have to fill them out then.
- Wash Hands- When you arrive at the airport, wash your hands at a handwashing station outside the airport.
- Costa Rica Customs- You will get in line at your airline to check-in and the Costa Rica authorities will inspect your passport, your attestation form, and your negative Covid test. You will get a special sticker on the back of your passport that says you’ve been cleared to board.
- Go Home- Board your flight and get back home safely!
For more information and updates, this site is a great resource!
I hope this was not too confusing and will help you navigate getting to Costa Rica and home safely during this time. Please let me know if you have any questions!