• Planning Your Trip
  • Entry Requirements

Welcome to Costa Rica!

Requirements to enter the country.

Entry to Costa Rica has been opened to tourists from all countries.

All tourists must comply with the immigration processes established in the General Immigration and Aliens Act (Ley General de Migración y Extrangería).

During your visit in Costa Rica, you are required to comply with the health protocols put in place by private companies when participating in any tourism activities in the country.

In accordance with Article 42 of the General Law on Immigration and Aliens (No. 8764) and Article 30 of the Immigration Control Regulation (Executive Decree No. 36769-G), foreign nationals intending to enter Costa Rica must provide:

  • A valid passport or travel document. Passports and travel documents will only be accepted if they can be read electronically in line with the guidelines established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and must be valid for the period set forth in these guidelines.
  • Visa, if required under these guidelines.
  • Proof of economic means, with a minimum of US$100.00 (one hundred US dollars) per month or partial month of legal stay in the country.
  • Return ticket to the country of origin or plan of onward travel that includes the next destination.
  • No impediment to entering Costa Rican territory.


The maximum legal stay for foreign nationals will be determined by the immigration agent upon their entry into the country.

Countries in the first group: UP TO 180 CALENDAR DAYS, NON-EXTENDABLE 

Countries in the second group: UP TO 30 CALENDAR DAYS

Countries in the third group: UP TO 30 CALENDAR DAYS, EXTENDABLE

Countries in the fourth group: UP TO 30 CALENDAR DAYS, EXTENDABLE

Please remember:

  • In order to enter Costa Rica, you will need a ticket for a return flight, which the immigration official will ask to see when you arrive. It is recommended that you make a photocopy of your passport with the entry stamp, which you should carry with you at all times during your stay.
  • The number of days you are permitted to stay in Costa Rica will depend on the group your country of origin belongs to.
  • The immigration official may ask you to demonstrate that you have the funds needed for your stay in the country.
  • The immigration official may indicate in your passport that your permitted stay will be for a different amount of time.
  • Visitors to Costa Rica must have a valid passport and proof that they will be leaving the country before their visa or entry stamp expires.

All travelers must therefore have a ticket for return or onward travel.

Non-residents must have a ticket for return or onward travel if they:

Are arriving on a one-way ticket.

Are entering the country with a return ticket that is more than 90 days after their date of arrival.

Are flying to Costa Rica and flying out of a different country.

By law, a return or onward travel ticket may be on one of the following means of approved commercial transportation:

  • A pre-purchased bus ticket out of the country.
  • A pre-purchased flight out of the country.
  • Proof of passage on a cruise ship.

Obligatory declarations when entering or leaving Costa Rica:

When entering or leaving a port of entry to Costa Rica, if you are carrying an amount equal to or greater than US$10,000 in cash or securities, or its equivalent in other currencies, you must request and complete the form designated for this purpose in the immigration checkpoint and present it to the Customs Authority for verification. The declaration must be made before finalizing the corresponding immigration procedures.

Failure to follow the provisions of Costa Rican law (No. 8204, Article 35) will result in the immediate forfeiture of the money.

What kind of vaccines do visitors to Costa Rica need?

As of July 30, 2007, Costa Rican authorities require all travelers from the following countries to have a certificate of vaccination against yellow fever: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, The Gambia, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Bolivia, Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador, as well as the Republic of Guyana.

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  • Enter Costa Rica
  • Travel Guide
  • Required Documents

Required Documents to Enter Costa Rica

This is a tricky question as the regulations have changed several times without notice over the last few years.  Therefore, we recommend that you visit the Costa Rica Embassy website for exact details.

Traveling to Costa Rica is easier than you may think. Little is required of tourists to enter the country, but regulations are likely to change without much notice. Here are our tips for making your visit trouble free.

Free Vacation Planning

The short answer is: You will need the following documents to enter Costa Rica:

1. A passport that is valid for at least 6 months after your arrival to Costa Rica.

2. An airline ticket in your name to leave Costa Rica within 90 days of your arrival date.

Citizens of the United States, Canada and most European countries are not required to have a visa to visit Costa Rica.

Visit the Costa Rica Embassy website for your specific country .

You will be required to present a yellow fever vaccination certificate if you are traveling from any of the following countries: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Guyana, and Venezuela.

Once in Costa Rica, you are required to carry your passport or a copy of it which includes the complete photo and data page as well as the visa stamp page.

Unsure of what to do? Let us make you a free custom trip plan!

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Entry Requirements for Costa Rica – (Mandatory Documents List)

Ready to discover the ‘Pura Vida’? Ensuring a smooth entry into Costa Rica begins with meeting the necessary travel requirements. This guide breaks down the current entry requirements for Costa Rica, including visa information, health protocols, and documentation you should prepare. While entry is now more streamlined, with no COVID-19 testing or vaccination mandates, knowing what’s expected will ensure your entrance is as welcoming as the country itself.

I’ve been in and out of this country hundreds of times dating back to 2000, and it’s a breeze if you have the right documents, so let’s get into what you’ll need to enter the country.

Table of Contents

Costa Rican Government Mandated Entry Requirements

  • Travelers must ensure their passport is valid for more than six months upon entering Costa Rica and check for specific visa requirements based on nationality, with some countries being visa-exempt while others may require prior approval.
  • Costa Rica has lifted many of the COVID-19 restrictions, but health protocols remain important with recommendations for yellow fever, Hepatitis, and MMR vaccinations, and travel insurance is highly advised.
  • Visitors to Costa Rica must demonstrate proof of financial means ($100 per month of stay) and provide documentation for a return ticket or onward travel, along with compliance to Costa Rican laws and customs, and adherence to safety guidelines and insurance coverage.

Navigating Costa Rica’s Entry Regulations

Passport and travel documents with Costa Rica entry stamp

The nation of Costa Rica is a treasure nestled in South America, inviting guests visiting Costa Rica to immerse themselves in its rich ecological variety, picturesque terrains and the welcoming ‘Pura Vida’ approach inherent to its culture. Anyone entering Costa Rica must be mindful of specific entry regulations that govern international travel into this country. Such measures include ensuring passport validity and understanding visa requirements for different countries—each critical for facilitating an effortless journey.

In response to global health events, the Costa Rican government has laudably relaxed some restrictions in order to simplify entry into the country. Yet it remains imperative for travelers entering Costa Rica to keep abreast of current entry requirements enforced by the local authorities. These protocols are not mere formalities. They play a significant role in safeguarding both visitors and citizens alike within the bounds of beautiful Costa Rica.

Passport Validity and Condition

When planning your expedition to Costa Rica, remember that a valid passport is crucial for entry into the country. It’s important that your passport not only be current, but also remain valid for at least six months beyond the date you intend to enter Costa Rica. Many nations have this requirement as a measure against travelers overstaying their permitted time.

Maintaining your passport in pristine condition and ensuring it has minimum one empty page is vital. Border authorities value such passports highly. These pages are destined for those sought-after stamps which chronicle your globetrotting adventures – and certainly, you’d like to include the story of your trip to Costa Rica among them!

Visa Necessities for Various Nationalities

The entry requirements to Costa Rica vary significantly depending on the traveler’s country of origin, mirroring the nation’s rich biodiversity. Those holding passports from any of the 95 countries that are exempt from visas, such as all members of the European Union, along with citizens of both the United States and Canada, have no need for a visa when traveling to Costa Rica. These individuals may enjoy an extended stay in this verdant land – up to 180 days – which grants ample opportunity to immerse themselves in Costa Rica’s dense rainforests, pristine beaches, and bustling urban areas.

On the other hand, visitors hailing from certain nations will find it necessary to obtain a visa before they’re able to revel in this equatorial haven. A number even face additional scrutiny by requiring approval from The Commission for Restricted Visas prior to their journey beginning. To prevent any potential disruptions or disappointments during travel plans, checking your specific national requirements well ahead is highly recommended, caution is always preferable!

Health Protocols and Vaccination Mandates

Yellow fever vaccination certificate for Costa Rica entry

In the wake of the pandemic, prioritizing health and safety has become crucial when planning to travel. Fortunately, Costa Rica discontinued its COVID-19 national emergency measures as of April 1, 2022. This means travelers can now enter the country without having to adhere to any restrictions associated with the pandemic. Nevertheless, it is advisable for travelers to keep abreast of any new health advisories and protocols that may be issued.

As part of maintaining stringent health standards for visitors entering Costa Rica, yellow fever vaccination remains a key requirement alongside current considerations regarding COVID-19 prevention. Additional vaccinations such as Hepatitis A and B along with MMR are suggested for traveler’s wellbeing. For those who intend on engaging closely with local wildlife or visiting specific regions within Costa Rica, they might find themselves needing prophylactic treatment against malaria and a rabies vaccine too.

Yellow Fever Vaccination Requirements

Remember to bring your yellow fever vaccination certificate if you are coming from a country with yellow fever virus exposure. This rule is mandatory for visitors who are 9 months of age or older. Carrying this documentation not only helps prevent the transmission of yellow fever, but it also protects the health of the public significantly.

Before entry into Costa Rica, travelers arriving from certain countries like Angola, Burkina Faso, and Benin must show proof they’ve been vaccinated against yellow fever. Should your travels only include transiting through these nations’ airports without leaving their immigration area, then there’s no need to worry about presenting a vaccination certificate—you’re exempt in such instances!

COVID-19 Considerations for Entry

Following the global impact of COVID-19, many nations have put strict border controls in place. Costa Rica has opted for a less restrictive entry policy. Currently, travelers do not need to show proof of vaccination or negative test results for COVID-19 when entering Costa Rica—though it’s important to stay vigilant!

While obtaining travel insurance is no longer mandated by Costa Rican authorities, securing it remains wise due to ongoing risks related to COVID-19 and other health concerns while abroad. Companies such as Trawick International provide extensive travel insurance options tailored for those planning trips to Costa Rica that cover:

  • Expenses arising from COVID-19 treatment
  • Ample medical coverage inclusive of conditions related to the virus
  • Compensation for trip delays
  • The optionality of including Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) benefits

Investing in such an insurance plan adds a layer of assurance and safeguards your finances during your escapades whether you are soaking up sun on its stunning coastlines or navigating through the bustling urban environment San Jose offers.

Financial and Return Ticket Guidelines

Traveler showing onward ticket for Costa Rica entry

Before setting off for Costa Rica, you must remember to take care of more than just selecting the right swimsuit and securing accommodation. Strict guidelines around financial means and return tickets are in place that you’ll need to comply with. Every foreign national looking to enter Costa Rica must demonstrate they have ample funds for their stay by showing evidence that they can afford at least US$100.00 per full or partial month planned in the country.

It’s compulsory for all tourists entering this tropical paradise to show a return ticket or proof of onward travel arrangements – a policy many countries enforce as an assurance against visitors extending their stays beyond what’s permitted. Travel documentation should clearly indicate your intentions either to travel back home or continue on to another locale after leaving Costa Rica, underlining the importance of planning how you exit before you even arrive!

Demonstrating Financial Capability

Demonstrating financial solvency for your visit to Costa Rica is a straightforward process. You will need to show that you have at least $100 for every month or part of a month that you intend to stay in the country. This proof can be provided via an up-to-date bank statement or an official document verifying access to the requisite funds.

Upon arrival, it’s possible that immigration officials will request evidence of these economic means as you enter Costa Rica. Though such checks are not consistently applied, it’s wise to come prepared with appropriate financial documentation so as not encounter any unwelcome complications during entry procedures.

Onward Travel Documentation

Under the stipulations for entering Costa Rica, evidence of your subsequent travel arrangements must be presented. This documentation can include any of the following:

  • A return ticket to where you originated
  • An onward ticket indicating your next stop after leaving Costa Rica
  • A bus ticket that has been bought in advance and will take you outside of the country
  • Confirmation of a flight reservation
  • Verification that you have secured passage on a cruise ship

Regardless if your arrival is via a one-way fare, or if your round-trip flight departs over 90 days post-entry—or even when traveling into and exiting from different nations—you are obligated to possess either an onward or return travel document. Border officials may need proof thereof upon entry by land as it confirms intentions not to exceed permitted stay durations. Thus having such proofs ready for presentation is recommended. In alignment with directives issued by The International Civil Aviation Organization, maintaining this proof plays an integral role in ensuring fluidity throughout travels.

Immigration Procedures Upon Arrival and Departure

Immigration official checking entry documents in Costa Rica

Travelers entering Costa Rica must undergo Immigration Control. This process requires that they present their passports for verification and obtain an entry stamp as part of the country’s immigration procedures. The stamp will indicate how long the traveler is permitted to remain in Costa Rica, with a possible duration ranging from one day to 180 days.

Visitors are expected to observe the General Immigration and Aliens Act while staying in Costa Rica. Compliance with this includes adhering to both the period authorized by their entry stamp and respecting all applicable laws and customs throughout their visit.

Encounter with the Immigration Official

The process of entering Costa Rica involves understanding the Costa Rica entry requirements, which include:

  • An encounter with an immigration official
  • Being asked for proof of exit and proof of funds
  • Your tourist visa is necessary for entry, but it doesn’t guarantee admittance
  • The final decision rests with the immigration official at the point of entry
  • It’s vital to be prepared with all necessary documentation and to respond honestly to any inquiries

Dealing with immigration officials can sometimes be daunting, but remember, they are there to ensure border security by verifying the information provided. It’s crucial to maintain a respectful and patient demeanor during this process. After all, your interaction with them is your first step towards exploring the beautiful country of Costa Rica.

Departure Protocols

Before you depart from Costa Rica, it’s crucial to address certain exit formalities. Notably, there is a $31 departure tax which might already be factored into your airline ticket cost. In cases where it isn’t included, the tax can be settled at any of the international airports within Costa Rica using cash or credit cards like Visa and MasterCard. As you bid farewell to the scenic vistas and lush wilderness of Costa Rica, remember that this departure tax needs to be resolved.

Upon exiting Costa Rica, declaring any sum of money or securities amounting to US$10,000 or more is mandatory under costa rican law. Neglecting this regulation could lead to confiscation of those assets. Consequently, as you prepare for your return journey, ensure adherence both memorable experiences and significant sums are appropriately documented according to established protocols leaving no room for oversights during time embark on future adventures beyond borders costa rica.

Staying Compliant with Costa Rican Laws

Every country has its own unique customs and laws, and Costa Rica is no different. As a visitor, it’s essential to respect these and stay compliant with Costa Rican laws. This includes everything from dressing modestly when visiting religious locations or conservative rural areas, to adhering to health protocols set by private companies when participating in tourism-related activities.

In Costa Rica, the phrase ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do’ truly applies. Whether you’re dining at a local restaurant, attending a religious ceremony, or riding a four-wheeler on the beach, remember to respect local customs and laws. After all, as visitors, our goal should be to enjoy and appreciate the beauty of the country without disrupting the local culture and traditions.

Respecting Local Authorities and Customs

Traveling to Costa Rica presents a wonderful chance to experience a unique culture. It’s crucial, though, to recognize that norms acceptable in your own community might differ when you’re in Costa Rica. Bear these cultural practices in mind:

  • In more traditional regions especially, keep public displays of affection subdued.
  • A common practice while dining is to express gratitude with a simple ‘gracias’ each time you take a drink.
  • It’s impolite to not finish the food on your plate.

When it comes to physical interactions like shaking hands or giving pats on the back, they should be done only if both parties agree, as this respects the personal space of Costa Ricans. Visitors are expected to honor local religious traditions by dressing appropriately and avoiding taking photos during worship services or ritual events. As one indulges in the ‘Pura Vida’ way of life, make sure that respecting indigenous customs and individuals remains paramount.

Legal Obligations for Tourists

Adhering to the legal requirements set by Costa Rican law goes hand in hand with showing respect for its traditions and customs. Tourists are obligated to declare any sum of cash or securities that is at least US$10,000 upon entering the country through immigration. Not doing so may lead to confiscation of those funds in accordance with laws in Costa Rica.

It’s also important to note that certain activities are prohibited by law, such as driving ATVs on beaches or busy roads. Always make sure you’re familiar with and follow local rules when planning your activities. Observing these legal duties demonstrates respect for both Costa Rica and its citizens while helping you avoid potential legal issues during your visit.

Safety Measures and Travel Insurance

Tourist with travel insurance overlooking Costa Rican landscape

Embarking on a journey is about immersing oneself in new environments, connecting with different individuals, and forging memories that last a lifetime. Safety and security play an equally important role in ensuring your experience remains positive. That’s why implementing precautionary measures and securing travel insurance are pivotal for an unworried adventure to Costa Rica. Some of the key reasons why acquiring suitable travel insurance is vital include:

  • Ensuring coverage for medical treatment
  • Protecting against trip cancellation
  • Guarding against theft
  • Offering protection amidst natural disasters

Securing travel insurance should be considered as fundamental as remembering to bring your passport.

Besides obtaining appropriate coverage, it’s also recommended to stay updated regarding local crime statistics and adopt preventive strategies like traveling together with others, steering clear of secluded areas after dark, and choosing transportation services that are officially recognized and easily identifiable by their markings can significantly contribute to maintaining personal safety during your travels. It pays off more often than not to prioritize caution!

Importance of Travel Insurance

As you organize your journey to Costa Rica, obtaining travel insurance is a key step. Bear in mind that many health insurance plans from the U.S. don’t extend their coverage overseas. It’s essential to secure a robust travel insurance policy that provides protection for:

  • Medical costs
  • Cancellation of trip
  • Natural calamities

Investing between 5% and 7% of your total vacation budget on these policies ensures you have security while exploring.

Companies like Travel Guard and Safe Travels Outbound present diverse insurance options designed to cater to various needs along with round-the-clock emergency assistance when traveling—this makes them apt choices regardless if you’re embarking on an individual excursion or bringing the whole family along to Costa Rica. Ensure your travels are safeguarded with appropriate travel insurance before setting off.

Safety Tips for Tourists

During your stay in Costa Rica, it’s important to be mindful of your safety. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Minimize the display of wealth to avoid attracting thieves.
  • Be cautious of strong ocean currents when swimming at beaches.
  • Stay updated on local weather conditions.

When choosing tour operators for activities in remote areas, make sure they are permitted by the Ministry of Health and carry insurance and certified guides. If you’re engaging in adventure activities, familiarize yourself with the route, ensure proper equipment, and heed the advice of experienced guides or locals. Taking these safety measures will not only ensure your wellbeing, but also enhance your travel experience.

Costa Rica’s vibrant culture, diverse landscapes, and warm people make it a dream destination for many travelers. However, understanding and adhering to its entry requirements, from passport validity and visa necessities to health protocols and financial proof, can make your journey smoother. Always remember to respect local customs, adhere to legal obligations, and prioritize your safety. With these guidelines in hand, you’re all set to experience the ‘Pura Vida’ lifestyle that Costa Rica offers!

Frequently Asked Questions

What travel documents are required to enter costa rica.

When traveling to Costa Rica, ensure you have a passport that remains valid throughout your visit. It is necessary to possess either a return or an onward ticket and provide evidence of sufficient funds for your stay. Don’t forget any other essential travel documents required for entry.

Do you need any vaccines to go to Costa Rica?

Indeed, when planning a trip to Costa Rica, it’s advisable to be vaccinated against diseases such as hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and typhoid. Vaccination for yellow fever and additional health precautions may also be necessary. For tailored recommendations based on individual health needs, consulting with a healthcare professional is the best course of action.

What can’t you bring into Costa Rica?

Before entering Costa Rica, be aware that the import of certain items is prohibited. This includes plants, seeds, fruits, vegetables, as well as substances that deplete the ozone layer and asbestos. You are not allowed to bring in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals or any natural products intended for pharmaceutical use.

It’s essential to adhere to these rules when traveling to Costa Rica. Compliance with these regulations is a must for entry into the country.

Do I need a visa to visit Costa Rica?

Depending on your country of origin, a visa may not be required for entry into Costa Rica. Citizens from 95 countries that are exempt from visas, such as those in the European Union, along with individuals from the United States and Canada, have the privilege to enter without a visa.

To determine the exact entry requirements applicable to you, it is advisable to consult information tailored to your nationality.

What are the health protocols for entering Costa Rica?

If you are traveling to Costa Rica from a nation where there is a risk of yellow fever virus transmission, it’s required that you possess a certificate proving you have received the yellow fever vaccination.

Starting April 1, 2022, Costa Rica does not mandate any particular COVID-19 vaccination or testing prerequisites for entry.

travel documents costa rica

About  Tim Schmidt

Tim Schmidt is a 20+ year Entrepreneur and Digital Marketer. A Fort Lauderdale-based "Digital Nomad," he enjoys traveling as much as possible with family and friends. AllWorld is his escape to document all of his adventures, including being a hardcore "foodie." He has property in Costa Rica and visits several times each year and is happy to offer his expert advice for planning your trip.

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8 Essential Travel Documents for a Trip to Costa Rica

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Welcome to this guide on planning your Costa Rica trip and the 8 essential travel documents you will need. Before hopping on that plane, it’s crucial to be well-prepared with the necessary travel documents to enter the country. In this guide, we’ll cover all the entry requirements for Costa Rica, from passports and visas to health certificates and travel insurance. By following our tips, you can save time, avoid unnecessary stress, and focus on enjoying your Costa Rica vacation to the fullest. Let’s make sure your journey to Costa Rica is as magical as you’ve always imagined!

1.Valid Passport.

Your first question may be, “Do I need a passport to enter Costa Rica?” Yes, you do. To enter Costa Rica, a valid passport is required for most travelers. The passport should be valid for at least six months beyond the planned departure date from Costa Rica.

The process for obtaining or renewing a US passport involves several steps. First, applicants need to fill out the appropriate application form, either DS-11 for new passports or DS-82 for renewals. They must then submit the completed form, along with supporting documents such as proof of US citizenship, identification, passport photos, and the applicable fee. These materials can be submitted in person at a passport agency or acceptance facility, or by mail. The average turnaround time for routine processing is typically 4-6 weeks, but expedited services are available for an additional fee, reducing the processing time to 2-3 weeks.

The cost of a US passport varies depending on several factors. For a first-time adult applicant, the passport book fee is currently $110. The passport is generally valid for 10 years for adults and 5 years for minors (under the age of 16)

Please note that processing times, fees and validity periods can be subject to change, so it is always recommended to check the official U.S. Department of State website for the most up-to-date information.

Depending on your nationality, another travel requirement may be a visa to enter Costa Rica. Citizens of many countries, including the United States, Canada, and most European countries, can enter Costa Rica for tourism purposes without a visa for up to 90 days. However, it is always recommended to check the visa requirements specific to your country of citizenship before traveling.

What’s the difference between a passport and a visa?

A passport and a visa are two separate travel documents that serve different purposes.

A passport is an official government-issued document that certifies your identity and citizenship. It allows you to travel internationally and serves as proof of your nationality. Passports contain personal information such as your name, date of birth, photograph, and a unique passport number. They are required for entry into almost every country around the world.

A visa, on the other hand, is an endorsement or stamp placed in your passport by the authorities of a specific country. It grants you permission to enter, stay, or transit through that country for a specified period and purpose. Visas are typically obtained in advance from the embassy or consulate of the country you plan to visit. The type of visa you need depends on the purpose of your visit, such as tourism, business, or study.

In summary, a passport is a universal travel document that verifies your identity and citizenship, while a visa is a specific authorization granted by a country to allow entry for a particular purpose and duration. It is important to check the visa requirements of your destination country well in advance of your trip and ensure that your passport is valid for the duration of your travel.

Tourists visiting Costa Rica on a tourist visa are generally allowed to stay for a maximum period of 90 days. This period is calculated from the date of entry into the country and includes the day of arrival. It is important to note that overstaying the allowed period can result in fines or other penalties.

If a longer stay is desired, tourists can apply for an extension at the Costa Rican immigration office, known as the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería (DGME), before the initial 90-day period expires. The extension may be granted for up to 90 additional days, but it is subject to approval by the immigration authorities.

Please note that immigration policies and procedures can change over time, so it is always recommended to check the official websites of relevant authorities for the most up-to-date information.

3.Ticket/Boarding Passes.

Be sure to either print out your boarding passes at home or keep them handy on your airline app. You can also print out your boarding passes at the airport kiosks when you first arrive.

4.Return or Onward Ticket:

Costa Rica requires proof of onward or return travel, which means you must have a ticket showing that you will be leaving the country within the allowed time frame (usually within 90 days for tourists). This can be a return flight ticket or a ticket to another destination.

5.COVID-19 Requirements:

Due to the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, travelers to Costa Rica may be required to present additional documentation, such as a negative PCR test result taken within a specified timeframe before arrival. Check the latest COVID-19 travel requirements and restrictions imposed by the Costa Rican government or your airline before your trip.

On my recent trip to Costa Rica in 2023, there were no COVID-19 requirements for either our entry or our return to the United States. Hopefully things will remain this way; but do check any precautions ahead of time, just in case.

For more official information on the current state of travel safety in Costa Rica, visit the US State Department’s website here .

6.Travel Insurance Documents

Hopefully, your trip will go wonderfully and you won’t need your travel insurance, but you’ll rest better knowing everything is covered “just in case”. Bring whatever cards you are issued and keep handy the phone numbers to call in case you need a trip cancellation or have a medical emergency.

Choosing travel insurance shouldn’t be complicated. You want to get good coverage for all your activities and all the “what ifs” that you worry about, plus great customer service.

Lucky for you, there’s World Nomads. Check them out as you do your research.

Coverage with World Nomads includes:

  • Emergency Overseas Medical & Dental Expenses
  • Emergency Medical Evacuation & Repatriation
  • Trip Cancellation or Interruption
  • 24-Hour Assistance Services

Click the banner below to get a free quote:

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(This is a general summary only. Restrictions, exclusions, and limitations will apply. Coverage may not be available for all countries, states, or provinces. Benefit limits may vary depending on the plan chosen. Get a quote for full details.

While World Nomads is great for overall coverage, you’ll be happy to know they also cover a long list of adventure and extreme sports!

Here are just a few of the many activities covered by World Nomads insurance:

  • mountain biking
  • hang gliding
  • bungee jumping
  • snoozing by the pool and an iguana tweaks your nose…

..and many more!!

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Additionally, it is recommended to have travel insurance that covers medical expenses and trip cancellation in case of any unforeseen events.

7.Reservation Information.

Have all the contact info, receipts, and addresses ready for all your reserved transportation and accommodations. If you’re planning on grabbing a taxi when you exit the airport, you’ll want the address of your accommodation ready to share with your driver.

I know this sounds obvious, but there may be a lot of noise and distractions competing for your attention, so just have your plan in mind. I love visiting other countries but am always a bit overwhelmed with culture shock in the first few minutes. For my own safety and peace of mind, I like to be extra prepared to avoid being seen as a “deer in the headlights” in a strange environment.

8.Driver’s License

If you decide you’re going to rent a car and do your own driving in Costa Rica, you will need to bring your driver’s license from home.

The official website of the Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT) states that “A valid driver’s license from your home country is valid for driving in Costa Rica for a limited period. If you plan to stay longer, you will need to obtain a Costa Rican driver’s license.” (Source: ) Currently, the limited period for using your own home country’s driver’s license is 3 months.

9.Photocopies of your passport, visa, credit cards and other important travel documents. Keep these photocopies separate from the originals, in case either is lost.

Glassed-in metal detector entrance of a bank in Playa del Coco, Costa Rica

Can I use credit cards in Costa Rica?

Credit cards from the US are widely accepted in Costa Rica. Most hotels, restaurants, and shops in popular tourist areas accept major credit cards such as Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover. However, it is always a good idea to carry some cash as well, especially in more remote areas where credit card acceptance may be limited. Additionally, some places may charge an extra fee for using a credit card, so it’s a good idea to check with the establishment before making a purchase.

Is US cash accepted in Costa Rica?

Yes, you can use US cash in Costa Rica, but it is recommended to have small denominations as larger bills may not be easily accepted or may be subject to lower exchange rates. It is also advisable to carry local currency (Costa Rican colón) for smaller purchases and in more remote areas where US dollars may not be accepted.

How do I exchange US dollars for Costa Rican colones?

In Costa Rica, it is generally recommended to exchange US dollars to Costa Rican colones at local banks or authorized currency exchange offices. These establishments usually offer competitive exchange rates and are considered safe and reliable. You can find banks and currency exchange offices in major cities and tourist areas.

We found a very good bank in the town of Playa del Coco, in the province of Guanacaste. We felt very safe exchanging money there, due to the high security measures in place. We had to pass through a glassed-in scanner as we entered the bank, and then the ATM machines were set apart and watched by bank employees, so there were no issues of strangers trying to access our money.

It is advisable to avoid exchanging money at airports, hotels, or street vendors, as they may offer less favorable rates or have higher fees. Additionally, some businesses in Costa Rica accept US dollars directly, especially in tourist areas, but it is still recommended to have local currency for smaller establishments and transactions. Before exchanging money, it’s a good idea to compare rates and fees at different locations to get the best deal.

I hope this list has helped set you on the path to preparing your exciting trip to Costa Rica! With just a little planning and the correct documents, you’ll have the confidence and peace of mind to soar into a vacation land waiting to welcome you with all its natural treasures.

Buenos viajes!

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  • Immigration

Essential Documents for Traveling to Costa Rica

If you're planning to travel to costa rica, make sure you have the necessary documents. here is a list of important documents you need to carry when visiting costa rica..

Essential Documents for Traveling to Costa Rica

Key Takeaways:

  • To travel to Costa Rica, you need a valid passport (expiring at least 6 months after your arrival) and proof of onward travel.
  • Some nationalities require a pre-arranged visa, while all travelers must have health insurance that covers COVID-19 expenses.
  • If traveling with minors, additional documentation, such as a notarized consent letter, may be required. Preparing ahead will ensure a smooth journey.

Essential Documents for Your Costa Rica Trip

Traveling to a new country requires preparation, especially when it comes to ensuring you have all the necessary documents for entry. Costa Rica, with its lush rainforests and breathtaking coasts, is a popular destination for travelers from around the world. To make sure your visit is as smooth as possible, here’s a list of important documents you’ll need to have on hand when traveling to this Central American gem.

Valid Passport

Your passport is the primary document you need when traveling internationally. For entry into Costa Rica, your passport must be valid for at least six months following the date of arrival. Remember to check the expiration date well in advance of your trip.

Return Ticket

Immigration officials might require you to show proof of onward travel. This can be in the form of a return ticket or a ticket showing you’re leaving Costa Rica to continue your travels elsewhere. This is to ensure you do not intend to stay longer than your tourist status allows.

Entry/Exit Requirements


Be aware of the visa requirements that apply to your specific situation. While many travelers can enter Costa Rica without a pre-arranged visa, some nationalities do need one.

Also of Interest:

Biometric travel boom: digital transformation and new passenger data regulations, singapore-malaysia qr code system enables passport-free border crossing.

For an official statement: > “Visitors to Costa Rica must fulfill entry visa requirements according to their nationality, as determined by the Costa Rican government.”

For the most current visa information, always consult the Embajada de Costa Rica or the consulate nearest to you.

Proof of Financial Means

Another requirement you may encounter is the need to prove financial means. This is to show that you have enough funds to cover your stay. Typically, you should be able to demonstrate that you have a minimum of $100 for each month of your planned stay.

Health Insurance

Due to the ongoing global health scenario, Costa Rica now requires travelers to have health insurance. This insurance must cover accommodation in case of quarantine and medical expenses due to COVID-19. The policy must be valid for the entire duration of your stay.

Before traveling, please verify the latest health requirements as these may change.

Minor Travelers

If you’re traveling with minors, additional documentation may be required, such as a notarized letter of consent from absent parents or guardians. Check with the embassy for precise requirements to ensure a smooth entry process for the entire family.

A Smooth Journey Begins with Preparedness

Gathering all necessary documents before your trip can save you from potential headaches at the airport. Always double-check the expiration dates on your official documents and keep electronic copies accessible in your email or a secure cloud service.

Traveling to Costa Rica can be an adventure of a lifetime, and with the right preparation, you can focus on enjoying the country’s natural beauty and rich experiences. Remember that immigration policies can change, and it’s always best to stay updated with the latest information.

With your documents sorted and your bags packed, you’re ready to experience the pura vida lifestyle that Costa Rica is famous for. Buen viaje!

And there you have it, my fellow travel enthusiasts! Remember, a smooth journey begins with preparedness. So gather your papers, check those expiration dates, and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime in Costa Rica’s paradise. For more travel tips and insights, head on over to Happy travels, amigos!

FAQ’s to know:

FAQ 1: What are the essential documents needed for a trip to Costa Rica? To travel to Costa Rica, you will need a valid passport that is valid for at least six months after your arrival date. Additionally, you may be required to show proof of onward travel, such as a return ticket or a ticket showing your departure from Costa Rica to another destination. It is important to be aware of the visa requirements for your nationality, and some travelers may need to obtain a pre-arranged visa. Make sure to have proof of financial means, generally at least $100 for each month of your planned stay, and have health insurance coverage for the entire duration of your trip.

FAQ 2: How can I stay informed about the visa requirements for Costa Rica? To stay informed about the most up-to-date visa requirements for Costa Rica, it is recommended to consult the Embajada de Costa Rica or the consulate nearest to you. These official sources will provide accurate information regarding the visa requirements based on your nationality. Remember that immigration policies can change, so staying updated is essential.

FAQ 3: What additional documents are needed for traveling with minors to Costa Rica? If you are traveling with minors to Costa Rica, you may need additional documentation. It is advisable to check with the embassy for precise requirements, but typically you may be required to provide a notarized letter of consent from absent parents or guardians. Ensuring you have the necessary documents will help facilitate a smooth entry process for the entire family.

What did you learn? Answer below to know:

  • True or False: A valid passport is the only document required for entry into Costa Rica.
  • What is the minimum validity period required for a passport when traveling to Costa Rica?
  • What document might immigration officials ask for to ensure you have plans to leave Costa Rica within the allowed timeframe? (a) Hotel reservation (b) Proof of financial means (c) Return ticket (d) Visa


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Travel and Moving Blog

Traveling to Costa Rica During Covid-19: Entry Requirements, Protocols & What to Expect

  • Jenn and Matt
  • Covid Travel , Practical Travel


Last Updated: June 15, 2022

With the Covid-19 pandemic, travel as we know it has certainly changed. But what is traveling to Costa Rica like right now? With some key changes and extra precautions, we think that visitors can still experience what makes this country special. Beautiful beaches, verdant green mountains, diverse wildlife, and warmhearted locals. In this post, we’ll share what you need to know when traveling to Costa Rica during Covid-19. We’ll cover entry requirements, and let you know what to expect at hotels, restaurants, and on tours.

Traveling Costa Rica During Reopening Covid


No More Health Pass, Insurance Requirement, QR Code, or Mask Mandate.

On February 23, the government eliminated the Covid entry requirements and made some other key changes. Specifically, as of April 1, 2022:

1. The health pass is no longer required for entry.

2. A negative Covid test is not required for entry.

3. Travel insurance will not be required for unvaccinated visitors.

4. QR Code Program – Businesses will not be required to ask customers for proof of vaccination to enter and can all operate at full capacity. Previously, nonessential businesses had to operate at 50% capacity if they didn’t require vaccination. The government has abandoned this plan. For more information on the QR code program, read our post, Costa Rica’s Vaccine Passport . 

In addition, as of May 11, 2022, masks are no longer required in Costa Rica for the general population. Here is the link to the applicable law (in Spanish). 

Current Entry Requirements

Regular entry requirements are in effect. These can be found on the Costa Rica Tourism Board website . 

To enter, you need to show:

1. A valid passport.

2. Proof of leaving the country, usually within 90 days ( e.g. , plane ticket).

3. Visitors from certain countries will need a visa.

More Covid Travel Information

Testing positive.

For information on Costa Rica’s quarantine period and how it works when you test positive, read our post, Testing Positive for Covid in Costa Rica .

Covid Test for Return Home

If you need to get a Covid test in Costa Rica before you go back home, check out our post, Where to Get a Covid-19 Test in Costa Rica . This has a detailed list of where to get a PCR or antigen (rapid) test by town.

At-Home Covid Testing

Read our article for some essential info about using a self-test to reenter your home country.

Old Costa Rica Entry Requirements for Tourists

Below are the previous entry requirements that were in effect through March 31, 2022. THESE ARE NO LONGER REQUIRED, but we are keeping the information in this article so that you are aware of the past requirements.

To enter Costa Rica, visitors will need to do the following. For the requirements for Costa Rican citizens and residents, see the section below.

IMPORTANT: Costa Rica no longer requires a negative Covid test to enter . This requirement was eliminated  in 2020.

1) Complete an Online Epidemiological Form (Health Pass). * Only required up until March 30, 2022.

The form can only be filled out within 72 hours of your flight, not sooner.

This short form called the Health Pass (found here ) asks for personal information like your name, age, nationality, passport number, and flight details. You will also need to provide your hotel/accommodations in Costa Rica. 

If you need to show Covid travel insurance because you are not vaccinated, you will need to indicate if you are using one of the Costa Rican companies or an international provider. If an international provider, you also will need to upload your policy certificate to show it meets Costa Rica’s requirements.

If you are fully vaccinated and not getting Covid travel insurance, you will upload your vaccination card or certificate. 

Note: If you are vaccinated and the Health Pass is still asking for proof of insurance, select International Insurance and upload your vaccination card. A reader asked the Costa Rica Tourism Board about this glitch and this is what they suggested.

The Health Pass ends with making you agree to declarations. One is that you do not have symptoms of Covid-19 now and that you will comply with a quarantine order if you get Covid-19 during your visit.

A QR code then will be generated, which you can show on your mobile phone.

English Language Option: The Health Pass defaults to Spanish, but there is an option at the top right to change to English.

Tip: The form only works 72 hours or less before your flight . You can’t fill it out sooner than that. If you are within the 72 hours, the problem may be your web browser. Some people have reported problems when using Chrome. Microsoft Edge seems to work without any glitches.

Airports reopen in Costa Rica

2) Get a Travel Insurance Policy if You Are Not Fully Vaccinated or a Minor. * Only required up until March 30, 2022.

Unvaccinated visitors (adults 18 and over) must purchase travel insurance for the duration of their stay to cover their expenses in case they get Covid-19. The insurance must cover medical expenses and accommodation expenses for 14 days of quarantine. Specific coverage amounts are provided below.

FULLY VACCINATED TRAVELERS AND MINORS: On July 9, 2021, the Costa Rican government announced that fully vaccinated travelers and all minors (under 18) do not need to show Covid travel insurance as of August 1. The specific requirements are detailed below in Section 3.

You have two options for the insurance. One is to purchase it directly through a provider in Costa Rica. These have been preapproved by the Costa Rican government to offer Covid-19 insurance, so these policies will be automatically accepted. 

Alternatively, you can buy insurance that meets the requirements through an international insurer of your choice. Then you will need to go through an additional verification process. See below for more details.

For coverage amounts, $20,000 USD in Covid-19 medical coverage is required if you use a Costa Rican insurance company. If you use an international insurance company instead, the minimum amount is $50,000 USD. Accommodation coverage in case of quarantine is the same no matter which coverage you choose ($2,000 USD).

IMPORTANT NOTE ON LONG-TERM STAYS:  Refer to the section below called Long-Term Visits and Visa Lengths for information on how your insurance coverage affects your visa.

Costa Rica Insurance Options

Currently, there are three companies in Costa Rica that are approved to sell Covid insurance, INS (the government insurer), Sagicor (a private company), and Blue Cross Blue Shield Costa Rica (a private company). You can buy the INS insurance through their website directly or using a local broker for no additional cost. You can buy a policy from Sagicor or BCBS directly through their websites. 

Sagicor’s rate is a flat daily rate, which usually makes it less expensive for shorter trips than INS.

The INS rate is more variable based on your age, trip length, etc. We have heard from people that it is usually cheaper for longer visits than Sagicor. 

Blue Cross Blue Shield bases the cost on your trip length only. Here is a link to a chart with pricing.

International Insurance Options

International insurance policies are also acceptable, provided they meet the minimum requirements. Specifically, the insurance must cover at least $50,000 USD for medical expenses associated with Covid-19 and $2,000 USD in accommodation expenses to cover at least 14 days of quarantine. You can find these requirements on the Tourism Institute (ICT)’s website .

We have been hearing from readers about international insurance options that they have used to enter Costa Rica. ICT has approved the policies when submitted for approval. So they seem to meet Costa Rica’s requirements, including the $2,000 for accommodation coverage in case of quarantine. 

Here is a list of international insurance options.

Trawick International is the most popular because of their affordable rates. Many people have told us their policy was easily accepted when entering Costa Rica. Trawick offers the Safe Travels Voyager plan for US residents. The mandatory $2,000 accommodation coverage is included under Trip Delay.

Trawick also has two plans for travelers from other countries (outside the US). These plans meet Costa Rica’s requirements as well. They are the Safe Travels International plan and Safe Travels International Cost Saver plan. 

Other international insurance companies that travelers have used include Insubuy , Travel Guard Preferred , and Seven Corners . Seven Corners offers coverage for residents of almost every country, with some exclusions.

*Note: If you purchase a Trawick insurance policy through the links above, we earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. This helps support our site and allows us to keep this information up to date. Thank you! 

Canada Residents:  For Canadian residents, we have heard of people entering with TuGo and Blue Cross Blue Shield. For BCBS, they request a confirmation letter from them saying that it covers Covid and the $2,000 USD accommodation expense.

Another option we recently heard has worked for Canadian residents is Manulife . See comment from Bari on December 30. We have also heard that it worked for a couple of other people in December.

If you know of another insurance option, please let us know in the comments below.

IMPORTANT : Keep in mind that these insurance companies/policies have not been preapproved by the Costa Rican government. So you will still need to upload them for approval as part of the Health Pass. 

We also cannot vouch for the companies in general, as we have not used them before ourselves. So you will need to do your own due diligence to make sure that the specific policy you’re buying meets the requirements and you are comfortable. Make sure they cover $50,000 in medical expenses for Covid-19 and $2,000 in accommodations due to quarantine.

If you’re using international insurance other than the widely used options above, we highly recommend emailing ICT/the Tourism Board with your policy information in advance so that you don’t have any problems. Print the email response from ICT and bring a hard copy in case you need to show it at the airport.

ICT’s email is [email protected] 

Verifying Your International Policy

The country’s Tourism Institute is in charge of verifying that international policies comply with the requirements. The process is now digital. You will give your insurance information as part of the online Health Pass (see above). 

You will upload to the Health Pass an insurance certificate (issued in English or Spanish) stating the following. It would still be a good idea to bring this document with you.

  • The validity of the effective policy during your visit to Costa Rica.
  • That it guarantees coverage for medical expenses associated with the pandemic disease COVID-19 in Costa Rica, for at least $50,000 (US dollars).
  • That it includes a minimum coverage of $2,000 for extended lodging expenses due to pandemic illness.

After you complete the Health Pass, it will automatically generate a QR code that you can show Immigration when you check in for your flight. 


If you still have questions about insurance, refer to our separate post, Costa Rica’s Required Travel Insurance . This provides more detail and covers 15 frequently asked questions.

3) Show Proof of Vaccination if Fully Vaccinated. *Only required up until March 30, 2022.

If you are fully vaccinated, you do not need to show Covid travel insurance to enter Costa Rica, provided you meet certain requirements.

You need to show proof of full vaccination (two doses, or one dose for Johnson & Johnson) through a record or vaccination card. The approved vaccines in Costa Rica are Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Astra-Zeneca, Johnson and Johnson, Sinovac-CoronaVac, Sinopharm, or Covaxin. 

The document/vaccination card must include:

  • Your full name
  • Date you received each dose. *The last dose must have been administered at least 14 days prior to travel.
  • Formula (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Astra-Zeneca, Johnson and Johnson, Sinovac-CoronaVac, Sinopharm, or Covaxin)

You will still need to fill out the online health pass.

You will upload your vaccination card or vaccination certificate to the health pass in advance. You will not need to show a hard copy. 

Minors: All children under 18 do not need to show Covid travel insurance to enter Costa Rica.

4) Abide by the Regulations Put in Place by Costa Rica’s Ministry of Health During Your Visit 

You must abide by all government regulations regarding Covid-19 during your visit. We cover below the requirements at the airport and throughout your trip.

Long-Term Visits and Visa Lengths

If you are planning a long-term visit to Costa Rica and are not vaccinated, you should know about an important government circular.

On November 1, 2020, Immigration announced that the number of days granted to tourists upon entry would depend on the travel insurance purchased. So, for example, if someone purchased 14 days’ worth of insurance, they would be granted a 14-day visa stamp. 

Normally, the standard visa duration in Costa Rica is 90 days. (The exact number of days is up to the discretion of the immigration official, but 90 days is standard.) However, because tourists were purchasing insurance to cover only a small part of their stay ( e.g. , insurance for 7 days with the intention to remain in the country for several months), Immigration issued this rule.

So be sure to purchase insurance for the full duration of your stay. If you want to stay for 90 days, purchase 90 days’ worth of insurance and make sure your plane ticket out of Costa Rica matches and is for the same date. 

Monthly and Annual Rental Car Discount: If you are planning a longer stay in Costa Rica, be sure to check out our monthly and annual car rental page. The rates are much lower than just renting by the day or week. This is through Adobe Rent a Car, who we have been recommending for years. 

Showing Your QR Code and Documentation to Airport Officials

We have been closely following how it has been going for people entering Costa Rica during this time. The process seems to have become fairly streamlined and straightforward. As long as you have the right insurance and have a QR code, you shouldn’t have any problems.

At the airport during check in, the airlines usually want to see only your QR code and not the actual paper insurance documents. Still, if you’re using international insurance, it’s not a bad idea to bring a hard copy of the insurance certificate showing the necessary coverage, just in case. 

When you arrive in Costa Rica, officials will check your QR code and only need to review your documentation if needed based on what you submitted online through the Health Pass. We have heard from many people that getting through customs and immigration at the airport has been very fast.

Costa Rica Entry Requirements for Citizens and Residents, and Tourists with a Direct Relationship

Below are the entry requirements for (1) Costa Rican citizens; (2) residents of Costa Rica; and (3) people with residency applications in process.

Citizens and residents are no longer required to quarantine for 14 days after entering Costa Rica.

Costa Rican Citizens and Residents

Permanent residents and temporary residents with legal status (cedulas) will need to present their passport, cedula/DIMEX card (or approval resolution if they haven’t received their DIMEX yet), and complete the Health Pass .

In addition, they will need to either (1) prove that their Caja payment is up to date; or (2) if their Caja is not current, purchase insurance with a minimum coverage of 22 days. During those 22 days, the resident is expected to settle up their Caja to ensure they are paid in full. Previously, residents could enter only with proof of their Caja being paid; however, after a few people were denied entry recently, the government modified this requirement.

For additional details on the requirements for residents, visit this website .

People with Residency Applications in Process

Those who have filed their residency application but have not yet been approved are considered tourists for purposes of entering Costa Rica.

Nationals only need to complete the Health Pass to enter.

What is Open for Tourists?

Costa Rica has been working hard to reopen its economy for tourism.  As of April 2022, most of the tourism industry is back open again. 

Costa Rica had a very strong high season in 2021/2022. High season starts in December and ends in April.

As of April 15, 2022, 85% of the population has had at least one shot. 78% are fully vaccinated (two doses). 

For information on Costa Rica’s current Covid numbers, read our separate post Costa Rica and the Coronavirus .   

Businesses, Tours, and Attractions

Update: As of March 7, 2022, there are no restrictions to business hours .

Restriction Until March 7:

Businesses with a health permit (stores, restaurants, bars, etc.) can operate from 5:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. This is consistent with the driving curfew, which is also now from 5:00 a.m. to midnight.

Restaurants, bars, supermarkets, shops, etc. are open at 50% capacity. On December 1, this increased to 100% capacity for those businesses requiring proof of vaccination.

Hotels are open at full capacity, but common areas like pools and hotel restaurants need to be at 50% capacity. 

Casinos at hotels are open at 75%, subject to certain limitations. 

Beaches are open from 5:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. every day. 

National parks can operate at 100%. 

This government website has more specific information on what is open (in Spanish).

Costa Rica Beach During Covid-19

Driving Restrictions/Curfew

Costa Rica has driving restrictions that limit travel based on license plate number. [ Note: These ended on March 7, 2022. ] Since rental cars are exempt, most tourists will not be affected by this. If you are pulled over by transit police during your stay, you will just need to show them your rental car contract.

Keep in mind, though, that there are nighttime curfews. Countrywide, driving is currently permitted from 5:00 a.m. to 12 a.m. Rental cars are still exempt from these requirements, but if you want to avoid getting pulled over, we’d recommend avoiding driving during the curfews.

Safety and Sanitary Measures That Travelers Need to Follow in Costa Rica 

Since tourism is a huge part of the local economy in Costa Rica, the government is ready to welcome visitors once again. They have emphasized, however, that visitors need to follow all sanitary requirements to slow the spread of Covid-19. Costa Rica has a socialized health care system and a limited number of hospital beds that are filling up quickly. Making sure that the hospitals do not become overwhelmed is essential to further reopening tourism, and keeping both visitors and local residents safe.

Below are the main protocols that visitors to Costa Rica will need to abide by.

Follow Airport Protocols 

Upon landing on Costa Rican soil, travelers must wear face protection (cloth mask that covers the nose and mouth) and comply with all airport protocols. This includes following the physical distance requirements, allowing for their temperatures to be taken, hand sanitizing at designated stations, and following any other sanitary measures.

Stay in Your Social Bubble 

Costa Rica uses the social bubble philosophy for social distancing. People are encouraged to stay within their personal social bubble. Your social bubble is the people who you live with, most commonly, your family. For travelers, this will be easy. Your social bubble will be whoever you are traveling with.

You’ll notice when you get here that some common areas will be partitioned off or marked for social bubbling. At a few of the more popular beaches, they have put up bamboo markers to space people 1.8 meters (6 feet) apart. At other public spaces, similar measures have been put in place.

Social Bubble Costa Rica

Wear a Mask 

Masks covering the nose and mouth are required in most indoor spaces in Costa Rica. One is needed at grocery stores, all other stores and shops, banks, on buses and at bus stops, and in taxis. Some tours and attractions may require masks as well, so it’s always a good idea to carry one with you.

Masks are not required for customers at restaurants. However, the staff needs to wear them.

The government has stated that if you do not wear a mask, you may be denied entry. Businesses can temporarily lose their operating permit if customers are found in violation, so most establishments take the rules very seriously.

Masks During Covid in Costa Rica

Preventative Measures to Protect Travelers (and Locals)

Sanitary protocols.

The Ministry of Health and President’s Office have established various sanitary guidelines that all tourism businesses must follow to protect both travelers and workers. Costa Rica’s tourism institute, the Instituto de Costarricense de Turismo (ICT), has specific guidelines that implement these protocols.

We have combed through these guidelines at length. They are extremely detailed and cover many different situations. They address the measures that tour guides and the staff at restaurants, hotels, rental car companies, etc. need to follow. They are aimed at providing training for the people who you will be interacting with during your trip.

Below are some notable measures that tourism businesses need to follow. They include measures on cleaning, sanitation, social distancing, personal protective equipment, food preparation, and lots more. This list is by no means exhaustive. We just included some of the more essential and interesting points.

Handwashing and Masks Requirements Costa Rica

Safe Travels Stamp 

In addition, it is worth noting that Costa Rica has received the Safe Travels stamp from the World Travel and Tourism Council . It has implemented 16 global health and hygiene protocols to promote safety in tourism.

Health and Safety Protocols

Preventative measures at SJO Airport include signage with physical distance guidance throughout the airport, sanitizing carpets, handwashing and sanitizing stations, temperature checks, continuous cleaning and disinfection, and luggage arrangement service at baggage claim.

For departing flights, a guard will screen at the entrance to make sure only passengers will be allowed in the terminal. Ticketing agents will be behind glass barriers. There will be social distancing in seating areas, and boarding passes will be self-scanned.

Airport Health Accreditation

In October, San Jose Airport received the Airport Health Accreditation from the International Council of Airports. This recognizes that SJO Airport has safe facilities and that appropriate precautions are being taken to reduce health risks. SJO Airport is currently one of 58 airports around the world with this designation.

Hotels have many measures in place, including the following.

At check in, the receptionist should wear a mask and maintain social distance with fellow employees and guests. The reception area should be cleaned at least every 30 minutes.

Marks should be put on the floor to ensure guests are at least 1.8 meters apart.

Guests should handwash/sanitize before check in.

The phone numbers of hospitals and medical centers should be posted in the reception area.

Pre-check-in should be used whenever possible to limit time at the reception desk.

UV technology should be used to disinfect room keys.

Bellhops should disinfect the guest’s luggage as well as the baggage cart afterwards.

Cleaning staff needs to wear personal protective equipment (a uniform, mask, and gloves). They follow strict cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing procedures using approved chemicals. They should clean all bedding without shaking it and deep clean high-touch items like remote controls, doorknobs, light switches, lamps, coffee makers, etc. They need to keep a cleaning record.

Whether a room should be cleaned daily should be decided by the guest.

Guests should be informed of the sanitary practices being carried out at the time a reservation is made and on the hotel website.


At restaurants, employees must wear a mask and follow handwashing and cough and sneeze protocols. The restaurant must maintain and refill soap and hand sanitizing stations (automatic if possible) and in the bathroom. They must constantly clean and disinfect, with records to keep track.

Restaurants can be at 50% occupancy (or 100% capacity if they require proof of vaccination). Tables should be rearranged so that the backs of chairs are at least 1.8 meters apart.

Digital menus should be used when possible.

Markings should be added to the floor to maintain social distancing at waiting areas (bathrooms, cashier areas, etc.).

Food at buffets and salad bars should be handled by workers only.

Social distancing at restaurant in Costa Rica

Tours can operate at 50% capacity within social bubbles (or 100% capacity if they require proof of vaccination).

Tour guides must inform clients of the sanitary protocols and rules that they will be following during the activity.

Tour guides must have personal protective equipment, including masks. They must maintain distance between themselves and clients and have hand sanitizer available. They need to regularly disinfect frequently touched items like binoculars, scopes, lifejackets, flashlights, etc.

Social distancing between people of different social bubbles must be maintained. There should be at least 15 meters (50 feet) between different groups.

For hiking activities, they will limit groups to no more than 6 people. Groups should be people from the same social bubble. *You will see that many tour operators are offering only private tours for this reason.

Handwashing is required before entering a tourist site and when leaving.

Electronic payment is encouraged.

If a tour guide suspects a Covid-19 case, they will communicate this with the Ministry of Health using the official methods.

Hanging Bridge in Monteverde

Rental Cars and Shuttles

Shuttle van companies need to clean and disinfect all vehicles before and after use. They need to give special attention to high-touch areas like handles, railings, seatbelts, seats, dashboards, and mirrors. They should keep daily cleaning records and wear personal protective equipment.

Drivers and personnel should wear a mask or face shield. They need to ensure that passengers comply with the mask requirement and not allow anyone in the van who appears sick.

They need to provide visitors with hand sanitizer before they enter the vehicle and disinfect their bags. Cleaning products and hand sanitizer should be available in the vehicle at all times.

Companies must display the sanitary protocols of the Ministry of Health in vehicles. They will provide information to passengers about ways to minimize health risk.

Rental Cars

Rental car companies must follow similar requirements.

They need to intensify cleaning and hygiene measures in their offices, focusing on surfaces where there is greater contact (e.g., handles, reception furniture, doorknobs, computers, railings).

Cars must be cleaned and disinfected before and after each rental using approved products. They should keep daily cleaning records. Employees must wear personal protective equipment.

Masks and gloves must be provided to employees who work with customers directly.

Hand sanitizer should be available to customers.

Companies should mark the floor to maintain social distance among customers who are waiting.

The temperature of both customers and employees should be taken upon entering a rental car office.

For car pickups and deliveries not at the company’s office ( e.g. , at hotels or vacation rentals), the employee must inform the customer in advance of the preventative and cleaning measures being taken. The employee will use preventative measures when interacting with the customer to maintain social distance. Examples include asking the customer to put the keys on the hood rather than exchanging them directly for returns and disinfecting high-touch areas like the steering wheel, gear lever, and door handle when dropping off a car for a customer.

Companies should email vehicle inspection reports to customers.

They should implement electronic payment methods or contactless credit/debit cards when possible.

Where to Get a Covid-19 Test in Costa Rica

If you need a Covid-19 test at the end of your trip for purposes of onward travel, there are several convenient options. Read our separate post, Where to Get a Covid-19 Test in Costa Rica , for recommended hospitals and labs and what to expect.

Last Updated: May 17, 2022

Have a question about traveling to Costa Rica during Covid-19? Leave us a comment below.

Looking for more information check out these posts:.

Costa Rica and the Coronavirus : We are updating this post almost every day with the latest data and restrictions in place.

Living in Costa Rica During Covid-19 : Our more personal account on what it has been like to live in Costa Rica during this time.

Destinations Summary Guide : If you’re at the beginning of your planning, this guide can give you a head start. It summarizes every destination we cover on our website to help you narrow your itinerary.

Rental Car Discount : If you plan to rent a car during your upcoming trip, check out this discount to save 10-20% with one of the most reliable companies in Costa Rica. Safety protocols are a top priority.72

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We are a 64 yr old Canadian couple that were planning a 6 month trip to Costa Rica but sadly we had to cancel it is almost impossible to go for a test in Canada and get the results within 48 hrs and that insurance is very costly you can’t buy it here and buying in CR will be over 1200 for 3 months.The 90 day stamp visa holds us back also in other yrs we could do the border run not now it’s sad because we would have helped all the businesses probably would have spent 20 to 25 thousand dollars

Hi Gerald, The government announced the other day that they are going to reconsider the insurance so hopefully the rate through INS will go down significantly or they will start accepting international insurance. Yes, border runs will be tough for quite a while as it is unlikely that they will open the land borders since Panama and Nicaragua have such high numbers. Thanks for commenting and we are hopeful that things will turn around soon.

John, thank you. I take it you are in Costa Rica now and everything worked fine with the insurance? Do you know if Travelex only reimburses medical expenses or if with preauthorization, medical providers will just accept what Travelex pays to them? I don’t really expect you to know the answer, but just wondering if you’ve done some research on how the actual medical payment process works?

I just visited in November. I got the sagicor insurance, printed the receipt out, and had the heath pass printed as well. I breezed through customs without any problems. paid about $77 for the week, but no problems. everything in CR is about the same except face masks EVERYWHERE and bars close easier on weekends. still had a great trip!

I have noticed in many of the international travel insurance plans there is a reference to quarantine under either trip delay or trip interruption provisions. Any idea if these would aply to Costa Rica’s requirement?

Hi Jim, Yes, we have noticed that too. Those plans could work but it is up to the discretion of ICT, so we would email them that language to be sure. And print out their response and bring it with you just in case. Their email is [email protected]

We purchased travel insurance through World Nomads for our upcoming trip (October 30). A World Nomads representative I spoke with on the phone didn’t think the policy met the $2,000 coverage for quarantine – she thought quarantine would be covered under Trip Delay, which only has a $500 limit – but we submitted the policy details to the Tourism Authority via email and received their approval the next day! Seems they, and I, think quarantine accommodation is covered under Trip Interruption, which has a $2,000 limit. The policy is considerably cheaper than those offered by the two Costa Rican companies, and their website is MUCH easier to navigate. Hope this helps.

Very helpful – thank you!

Did you have to purchase the travel insurance prior to emailing them to get the approval? Or did you just have to send them the policy. I don’t want to purchase something only for the Tourism Authority to not accept. Thanks!

Hi Jessie, No, you don’t need to purchase the policy in advance. They just need to know the exact coverage that is provided in order to tell you if it meets the requirements.

Hey Jenn and Matt I just want to let you know your spot on. My Husband and I have property in Lagunas. I have been following you for years. I just want your readers to know. That traveling at this time is hard. But Costa Rica has it down. We traveled in November for 2 weeks from New Jersey. I was so pleasantly surprised. Everything that I just read Was so true!! My husband and I think the USA should take note. Thank you Jenn and Matt for all this great information. I hope and pray that everyone that travels to Costa Rica continues to stays safe. We will be coming back on Jan 25,2021 for 2 weeks. I would love to meet both you and Matt. On our way down the coast. Pura Vida Let me know if that’s possible. Love Kathy and Craig

Hi Kathy and Craig, Thanks for following us. Funny, we actually lived in Lagunas for a while. Small world. Maybe we will run into each other sometime in the future. Right now, we’re keeping our circle small due to COVID. Wishing you safe travels. Pura vida!

We own a house in Costa Rica. We do not need accommodation insurance. What do I need to prove we do not?? I should mention I am a US cirizen

Hi Michelle, People have been using the deed for their property to avoid the accommodation insurance. It needs to be in your name.

Hi Jenn and Matt Do we need a return flight ticket to enter Costa Rica…or can we fly in and book our return (within the 90 days) while we are in the country Trying to stay flexible in these trying times Best Tony

Hi Tony, Yes, a return ticket within 90 days has always been a requirement. You could always get a flexible fare ticket and change your departure date later on. Just be sure to purchase insurance for the maximum amount of time you’ll want to stay because your entry stamp will be based directly on your insurance. It’s a pain to get additional time on your visa later so better to plan it out well in advance. Thinking it through, it’s probably best to have your plane ticket be for the maximum stay also so that you definitely get that many days for a visa. Best to have your plane ticket exit date and insurance match.

Thanks. Great site. Really useful information. Well done.

Hi Jenn & Matt. Thanks so much for all the information on your website. I am travelling to Costa Rica next week for 60days. I have an annual travel insurance policy, do you know if this is accepted or does it need to be trip specific? Thanks Ellie

Hi Ellie, That should be fine. We don’t think it has to be trip specific. It just needs to cover your dates of travel. They should base your visa stamp on your plane ticket exit date.

Hi Jenn and Matt thanks for the helpful info. Our testing location is asking for our passport information in advance. Is this normal

Yes, that is normal. They have to gather certain information from each person to send to the government. This is for all Covid testing. You will have to fill out a form online as well beforehand with some personal information. It is only used internally by the government for tracking Covid data.

Hi Matt and Jen: Normally I live about 10 miles south of San Isidro, on the road to Pejibaye. I had to come back to Florida and I’ve been stuck here for almost a year. Unfortunately, I am not a Costa Rican citizen. — I just received my second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. Have you heard if the Costa Rican government to ease insurance restrictions for vaccinated foreigners? Thanks for all your help and the wealth of information. And thanks for your time.

Hi Garry, Unfortunately the government hasn’t said anything about removing the travel insurance requirement if you have had the vaccine. If they do, we will be sure to update this post.

If you have proof of a long term rental, you should be able to avoid the accommodation insurance coverage and only need to show medical coverage.

Hope you can get back to CR soon!

I’m curious if you are aware of any updates re: insurance requirements?

I really do not want to be traveling at all right now and I haven’t left my tiny community in coastal California since 2/2020 due to pandemic. I have to go down because my “host” family of 34 years – mami is in heart failure and wants to see me again. This is a horrible experience to say the least.

I receive dose 2 pf Pfizer-BioNTech on April second, I plan to depart immediately. I am planning to completely isolate with “family” there with no plans to sight see go to beaches etc.

Thank you for any advice, I may only stay for 10 days.

Hi Emily, As of now, you still need to show the travel insurance to enter Costa Rica even if you have already been vaccinated. We will update this post if anything changes. Sorry you are coming back for such a sad reason. Safe travels!

I was having a hard time finding a place to add a comment so hopefully this reply to yours is ok. We are travelling to Costa Rica from Canada in February. We are fully vaccinated but still have to get a PCR test done prior to returning home. Our question is about what happens if we test positive and are required to quarantine in Costa Rica, is there any accommodation set aside near Liberia for Covid positive travellers. Thank you.

Hi Margo, You get to choose your accommodations if you need to quarantine. It can be a hotel or vacation rental. The government does not have accommodations set aside for Covid quarantine.

Hello. If one tests positive in Costa Rica where would they quarantine? Is this something they choose themselves?

Hi Margaret, Yes, you choose your own place to quarantine. We just came out with a post about testing positive in Costa Rica. Here is the link .

Hi there. Do you have a list of which hotels the feed into Arenal Hot Springs will be open Oct 5? Not just the room but the springs as well? Thanks.

Hi Mel, Here is what we know. Tabacon Thermal Resort and Spa is closed now and expected to reopen on Nov. 13. The Springs Resort and Spa is still closed too. As far as we know, the following are currently open: 1. Arenal Springs Resort and Spa 2. The luxury Nayara Hotel and Nayara Springs 3. Arenal Kioro Suites and Spa 4. Baldi Hot Springs Resort and Spa 5. Hotel El Silencio del Campo (has a few hot springs pools)

These are some of the most popular options with hot springs on site. You can learn more about many of these in our post La Fortuna Hotel Guide .

I stayed at Baldi Hot Springs hotel and used their facilities for two days on November 13 & 14. It was great because there were hardly any people there and the rooms were 50% off.

When traveling back to the USA, do people have to quarentine in Costa Rica for 14 days then they are allowed to fly back to the USA?

Hi Tommy, There isn’t any general requirement for the United States. Some states are requiring a negative Covid test before you can reenter and others require a 14 day quarantine. Some states don’t require anything, it just depends on the specific state. Here is a link to a CNN article with a state by state breakdown:

Hi there how strict is the health pass exit date? A few of us are thinking of extending our trip by a week or two before heading back to Europe and heard that many people are doing it but not sure if it’s ok and how to do it (without flying out)?

Hi Caro, Technically you would be overstaying your visa. What you’re supposed to do to stay longer is purchase more insurance and then request additional time from Migration. Not sure how easy that is. We have heard you can do it at the airport but haven’t heard anyone report back on how it worked out. Yes, people are overstaying. They may not get caught but it could be noticed upon exiting the country or if you ever tried to enter again. It also seems risky if you are driving here, as your foreign driver’s license is valid via your visa stamp so your stamp needs to be valid. Hope that helps!

Hi caro – how did the visa extension work out? Did you just simply overstay? Any info would be greatly appreciated!!! Thanks 🙂

Does anyone know if I can overstay a few days past the 28 days on my visa? Any experiences? I don’t think that adding a few days to the Trawick insurance policy would be difficult, but I don’t know how to extend the visa, or if it’s necessary at all.

Hi Karen, We have heard secondhand that Trawick won’t extend your policy if you’re already in Costa Rica. But you could purchase INS or Sagicor locally. Or another international policy.

For information on our staying your visa, see our responses to Andrea on Jan. 2 and Jon on Dec. 28.

hi there. Lots of great info on here. I am very interested in the land border open to EXIT CR and wonder if you could point me to the source of this information because I have asked the question of Outlier Legal whether it would be possible to purchase an onward bus ticket instead of a return flight ticket as a way of achieving our entry as tourists with the intent to apply for residency immediately upon arrival in CR. They told me that the land borders are closed and there is no alternative to purchasing a round ticket as a tourist. Appreciate anyone else chiming in her too. Thanks

Hi Elizabeth, Land borders are open to tourists exiting but not entering. The Migration website doesn’t say it directly but on their page with the requirements for exiting the border toward Nicaragua, it talks about extranjeros (foreigners). We have also heard from a few different people that they have successfully exited to Nicaragua.

Some people will say otherwise, but a plane ticket (as opposed to a bus ticket) has always been required as proof of departure from Costa Rica. It’s supposed to be back to your home country. So that may be why Outlier said that. Not sure.

Hello there; I’m planning a trip to Nicaragua, through Costa Rica in mid February. I need to stay in San Jose for 2 days in order to get a covid test done before going on to Nicaragua. Is there a limit in the amount of time I can stay in Costa Rica before moving on to Nicaragua? Thank you so much.

Hi Jose, When you arrive in Costa Rica, they will give you a visa stamp for the number of days of insurance you have purchased. So if you buy two days’ worth of insurance, you’ll be given two days in the country. The maximum length of a tourist visa is 90 days.

Thank you so much for your reply. I hope you don’t mind; but I have another question, maybe is a silly question but I need to ask to put my mind at ease…… If I purchase 5 days’ worth of insurance; but decide to leave after 2 days, is that okay? Thank you for your attention to this matter, much appreciated.

Yes, of course! 🙂

We visited Costa Rica back in 2019 and fell in love.

I have been worried to hear about the impact of the loss of tourism and I wondered if you were aware of any legitimate ways we can help from afar?

I’m just conscious there are a lot of internet scammers out there and I thought perhaps I would contact someone on the ground?

I hope you don’t mind and that there is a way we can help.

Natalie Beaumont

Super informative article. Has anyone used Safety Wing (Nomad Plan) as insurance to enter Costa Rica ? The insurance policy meets the requirements on paper, but just wanted to know whether someone who used it could confirm. Thanks

Hi Umar, We haven’t heard of anyone using it yet but maybe someone will chime in.

I recently arrived on March 29 and did not notice until recently that the border official only stamped me 7 days on my passport. He asked to see my itinerary back to Canada (I’m a Canadian passport holder) and it’s for June 6th. I did all the proper protocols with health pass and also have covid policy until June 7. I called ICT and they directed me to immigration phone number (but auto responses are in Spanish). Even asked my tico boyfriend to help with calling but there was no option to talk to an agent. Finally talked to Canadian embassy who forwarded me to the consulate – they recommend I email seguros@ict (which I believe was the same dept I contacted primarily) with my situation and attach my covid policy. I did that as well as my email itinerary of going back. Not sure what else I can do – they also said to contact the call Center 1311 but to do that after I email. Still waiting for a response (only been a day) but I’m still not sure If there’s anything else I need to do. This is my third time in CR, and both times before, they gave me 90 days. Both times were at SjO, but this one I went to LIR. I don’t want to break any laws with overstaying but Not sure why it’d only be 7 days. Questions with the border officer was fine..Any feedback would be great ! Gracias

Great information – thank you! We miss Costa Rica and were thinking about returning in March. Hopefully by then, the U.S. sees improvement and we will be permitted. Fingers crossed!

Hi JP, Yes, fingers crossed that travel is happening again like (almost) normal by next March. We are hopeful!

Great summary Matt, hopefully some of the restrictions will ease up in the future because the insurance thing is really an expensive add on for tourists.

We are struggling with the 72 hour covid test….we are scheduled to fly wed at 6am and there is no open testing sites on sunday…..any hope of allowing something different? Rapid test, saliva test or greater window? There are no tests guarantee 72 hour results and don’t want to risk not getting on the plan, so might have to cancel just because of yhat

Hi Amy, Unfortunately, they are not making exceptions to the 72 hours or test type. A PCR test is required. Where are you traveling from? People have found private testing sites that can meet the time requirements in many places in Canada and the US. Sometimes it is expensive, though. You could join this excellent group on Facebook called Costa Rica Bound and use the search function to see if anyone has traveled from where you are coming from:

In that group, people have been sharing their experience entering CR during this time and it has been very helpful. Hope you can figure out a way to make it work.

I feel that Costa Rica is arbitrarily discriminating against U. S. citizens. Allegedly based on COVID regulations of WHO, an entity that discriminates against the U. S. for calling out its CCP bias and our defunding, it still makes no sense. Of course, Germans are known for their lock-step obedience to government regs and thus a low death per Million count, Spain has a death per M that is 125% of the U. S. I have been here for a year assessing whether I want to stay permanently. I doubt I will stay.

How much is the ins insurance and do they sell it at the airport

Hi Giovanni, The INS insurance is based on your age and trip duration. You can buy it using this link . We expect the government to make an announcement about insurance soon, hopefully allowing for more choices, as the INS insurance is quite expensive.

Thank you for providing excellent information for international tourists. I am Canadian and have a six month trip booked arriving November 1 so really hope I don’t have to cancel. The insurance is a big problem and very costly. Not sure as to the time required to obtain a COVID-19 negative test. These are challenging times for sure!!

Hi Charlene, Challenging times, for sure. Hopefully by November 1, things will have settled down some and maybe some requirements will be less strict. They are definitely still working out the kinks. We expect the government to annouce changes to the insurance requirement today (hopefully allowing international policies), after there were a lot of concerns over the price of the INS policy. We’ll keep you updated!

Thank you…… are doing a “standup job” through your website……for tourists!!

what happens if your flight from Canada goes through Mexico City?

Hi Iris, Only flights that come direct from an approved country are permitted.

First, thank you for all this informative information! But just to make sure…US citizens are not yet allowed to enter into CR, right?? I’m dying to go! I daydream about working for a week or two there in a remote hut in the jungle…please let me know if I cannot enter 100%, being a US citizen 🙁

Hi MS, Yes, currently US citizens are not allowed into Costa Rica. Hopefully that will change soon. Glad our site has been helpful to you!

Hi Jenn and Matt, Great info thank you! We are planning to travel from Canada this winter. Can you confirm LIR airport is still closed and any info on re-opening.

Hi AC, LIR Airport has all the protocols/approvals in place to have flights but there aren’t any flights scheduled yet as far as we know. They are starting with flights into San José for now. Private charters have started coming into LIR, though. Flights from Canada are supposed to be scheduled in the coming months (we’ve heard Sept.), but so far, we’ve only heard into San José. But that could change. Hope that helps!

Hello Jenn and Matt, I’m an American citizen who arrived in early March before the Covid concerns hit critical mass, and my two month stay got extended to five and counting. After sheltering in place, I’m leaving tomorrow to do some traveling around the country prior to my departure in 10 days. I followed your link for insurance to, but wondered if you could offer clarification. I believe I’ve read in two of your articles the need for 20K/4k, and 50k/4k medical coverage and accommodation coverage respectively. Their website quote seems to support 20K/4K from what I can see. Also, I had used World Nomads insurance previously in my trip, which after some earlier confusion in whether they covered Covid, seems to offer the coverage as well. Is the link to the provider you list the only one we should be working with as far as CR’s government is concerned? Or do you know if other companies can offer similar coverage? Thank you!

Hi Brian, There are currently 2 insurance companies in Costa Rica that are approved to offer the Covid insurance: INS, which you already found, and another company called Sagicor . The government (head of insurance in CR) has preapproved these companies, so if you purchase through them, you are ensured that your policy will meet minimmum requirements. We updated our article tonight to make that more clear. Maybe give it a quick reread to see if it helps clear things up.

As for the $20K vs. $50K, the correct amount you need for medical if you use an international insurance company is $50K. This comes directly from the ICT’s website. You can find the link here . We’ve read the Ministry of Health’s latest official decree from Aug. 5 in La Gaceta where all this originally came from, and it doesn’t say anything specific about the exact amount required for medical and accommodation expenses, only that it has to cover minimum medical expenses for hospitalization for Covid and 14 days of lodging – you can see the full text below if you’re interested. The $50K language seems to have come from a letter from the new Minister of Tourism, Gustavo Segura, that was recently circulated (see this article for more). The $20K amount was relevant before but we can’t locate an official document with it right now. Maybe it applies to the amount that the Costa Rican insurance companies are required to cover, as you said? Not sure why there would be a difference in coverage amount but we would assume that the ICT is correct on the amount since they are the ones verifying policies.

Hope that helps. As for the World Nomads coverage, does it also cover lodging expenses for quaratine? That seems to be the tricky point.

Translation of Decree 42517-MGP-S, as revised on August 5 “Have travel insurance that covers at least accommodation expenses and medical expenses generated by the disease COVID-19, offered by one of the insurers authorized by the General Superintendence of Insurance in Costa Rica and duly registered with said authority; or have current insurance with international coverage to cover medical expenses generated by the COVID-19 disease, minimum medical expenses equivalent to the costs of confinement to a hospital for the time required by said hospitalization and minimum coverage of 14 days for lodging expenses, […]. In case that the insurance with international coverage does not comply with any of these requirements, the foreign national must purchase travel insurance offered by any of the insurers authorized by the General Superintendence of Insurance in Costa Rica and duly registered by said authority.”

Hi, and thanks, so much, for all your hard work in keeping this site up to date!

I don’t understand the the meaning of the “(except for a temporary closure from August 10-21)” statement. …Why the temporary closure, and what will be closed?

“Previously, most businesses were closed in orange alert zones except for those that sell essentials (e.g., grocery stores, pharmacies). However, starting on August 1, more businesses opened in these zones (except for a temporary closure from August 10-21).”

Hi,. Was just st wondering if the insurance requirement is affected by people who have been fully vaccinated? Still required? Thank you

Hi Mary, Yes, right now Costa Rica is still requiring the insurance even if you have been vaccinated. We cover this and other FAQs in our separate article, Costa Rica’s Required Insurance: 15 FAQs ( ).

If anything changed, we will update our articles.

Hi Mary! I’m not surprised to see that your question has been answered, definitively, by Jenn and/or Matt! Thanks Jenn & Matt! : )

Hi, I just posted the question regarding a temporary closure of businesses from August 10=21.

After returning to the main page, I discovered, through further reading, the following explanation: “The purpose is to allow the economy to reactivate but provide a pause that allows the healthcare system to rebound.”

I guess that would be the answer to my question, even though it still seems slightly confusing.

In any case, thanks again & Stay Healthy!!!

Hi Glen, Yes, that was the rationale behind the temporary closure from August 10-21. They have since relaxed some of that and allowed some businesses to open in orange alert areas during that period because a lot of people were upset. The strict driving restrictions are still in place, though, so even though the businesses are open, people can only drive two days a week. But this doesn’t apply to most tourists, since rental cars are exempt from the driving restrictions. It’s all very confusing, for sure!

Hi Jenn & Matt! Thanks, so much, for your considerate reply!

As a wildlife videographer, for obvious reasons, Costa Rica has been my #1 destination! My first visit was in 1993, and after many years had passed, I’ve visited nine times since 2017 ..sometimes for extended stays of more than two months. I’m sure you know that a lot has changed since 1993, when there was no proper road into Puerto Viejo, and one had to cross a stream by very carefully driving over two wooden planks!

Well, in spite of development, most fortunately, if one chooses a propitious location, it is still quite possible to enjoy the marvelous, and diverse Wildlife without even having to leave the house! : )

If you ever have a little “free” time, and a good internet connection, you might enjoy checking out a couple of my videos, which clearly illustrate the reason I keep returning to Costa Rica to film wildlife! ..who knows may even see someone you know!  : ) primarily featuring the southernmost Pacific cost (Cabo Matapalo and Punta Banco): primarily featuring the southernmost Caribbean side, near Punta Uva:

Meanwhile, Thanks again for all your hard work with keeping your site up to date! Stay Healthy!!! All very best wishes to you all!!! Glen Smith

ps. I’m going to wait to return until it’s “fun” to travel again ..the sooner, the better!!!

Glen Smith, Mato Palo and Punta Uva are two places I’ve been wanting to go to for a long time. I’ve been to Playa Zancudo and to Puerto Viejo numerous times, but have never made it to the end of the road on both coasts. Thanks for the videos. I’ll have to watch them later.

Hi Jay! Thanks for your message! You are most welcome! Hopefully, you’ll enjoy the videos, and eventually make it to Punta Uva and Cabo Matapalo! Punta Uva is pretty close to the border, and where I was in Matapalo was about 18 km from Puerto Jimenez, which was enough rough road for me, even though that road continues another 27.2 km. to Carate! : )

Hi Jenn & Matt! Thanks, so much, for your considerate reply! The logistics of travel are often challenging, even under far better circumstances, so, considering the restrictions (understandably) imposed during this bizarre episode, I will wait until everything is much closer to “normal” before returning to Costa Rica for the eleventh time. ps. I have to assume that a comment, and previous reply I posted were rejected because they contained a couple url’s for my (nonprofit) Costa Rica Wildlife videos. Is that correct? If so, it might be helpful to add some guidelines for comments/posts. In any event, thanks again for all your hard work! Stay Healthy!!! All very best wishes!!! g.smith

Hi Glen, Sorry, we did not reject your previous comment. We just did not have the time yet to get around to approving it. We go through them to make sure there is no spam getting through. Thank you for sharing your videos. We will check them out. A couple of months ago, we spent some time in Pavones and Punta Banco and loved it. Very beautiful and full of wildlife, we can see why you’d be inspired to do videos there.

Hi Jenn & Matt, Thanks for your reply! I apologize for failing to consider the fact that you have so much work to do sitewide! Your work here is much appreciated! Thanks again & Stay Healthy!!! All very best wishes!!! g.smith

Hi Jenn and Matt! You guys must be exhausted trying to keep up with, and report, all the daily changes as this bizarre episode drags on! I’m exhausted from just skimming through the many many posts! : ) Thanks, so much, for your amazing dedication to locating and relating helpful information! Hats off, too, to the stalwart travelers who are willing to endure all the stultifying, and often confusing, requirements and restrictions! I’ve visited Costa Rica many times, but I’ll have to wait until the entry situation is Much Easier! I’m sure we’re all Hoping that will be Soon, and 2021 will be much Brighter! Hang in there & Keep Hope Alive!!! Thanks so much, again! All very best wishes to your family and you and all!!!

I am a CR resident now in the US who left CR before 24 March. I plan to return next month on one of United’s repatriation flights from Houston. I understand that under current protocols, I must agree to self-quarantine at my home for 14 days upon arrival at SJO. I live in Brasilito, Guanacaste, approximately a 4.5 hour (non-stop) drive from SJO. Are you aware of any requirements imposed by the quarantine order on travel from the SJO airport to one’s place of CR residence? Because of my uncertainty over how many hours it will take to clear Health and Migracion checks at SJO (I’ve heard stories of up to 3 hours), I would like to overnight at an airport hotel and either travel to Brasilito the following day by rental car (with Brasilito area dropoff) or take a tourist transit van. Thanks.

PS – I’ve found highly informative your many posts on CR life as I navigated details for living in Costa Rica. Muchas gracias!

Hi John, We have not yet seen the exact text of a quarantine order but would assume that they want you to go straight to your house, even if it is hard with your flight arrival time. You could ask a lawyer in CR for their opinion since they would know more. We can give you the contact of a reputable firm that does immigration law if you’d like. Just reply to this thread and we can send the info by email. Glad that our posts on living here have been helpful to you. Welcome home soon! 🙂

I am in the same situation as John, a Permanent Resident who left before March 24. I am currently working in the USA waiting to return to CR. Is there anything that I can do to avoid the 14-day quarantine? Would you please provide contact information to an immigration lawyer?

Hi Steve, You can avoid the 14 day quarantine if you come with a negative Covid test and are traveling from an approved state where you have been for at least 14 days. We will send you the lawyer contact information now. Look for it in your email. Thanks!

Hi Jenn and Matt – Thanks for your very prompt reply. Yes, please send me the contact info for the firm you referenced.

You’re very welcome, John. We just emailed you the information.

I just wanted to say thank you for having such an amazingly thorough site! I’m in the US and know it will be a while before I’ll be able to come down (insert very sad face), but your site provides a ton of useful information and helps me stay on top of the latest developments. Sending healthy vibes to CR from CA!

Thanks Lindsay! Glad the info has been helpful to you. We have our fingers crossed for the US!

Thanks for providing all this info! Short question: is it easy to travel around Costa Rica these days? I’ll be going in early september, and will hopefully spend some time at the caribbean coast due to drier weather.

Hi Fred, Rental cars and tourist transfer companies are exempt from the driving restrictions so it’s not too hard to get around. Many things are opening up. You should just be aware of if you are traveling to any orange alert zones where there are more restrictions (beaches close at 9:30 am instead of 2:30 pm, etc.). Currently, nowhere on the Caribbean coast is under an orange alert. You can use this link to check for alerts – they have a nice interactive map.

It should be great weather-wise for your trip to the Caribbean. Hope you enjoy it and everything goes smoothly!

We have a trip planned for early November but I am concerned about the COVID testing. 48 hours is way too short of a turnaround time and I hope they will expand the window up to 7 days. It’s too big of a risk for us to proceed with our trip with the 48 hour testing because our free cancellation for our hotels expires 48 hours before our day of arrival!

Hi Jon, Yes, the 48 hours is very difficult for people. We have been hearing it a lot from Canadians who are trying to get here. Hopefully the government will expand the window as you suggest. We will update this post if we hear about any changes. We are also announcing any big updates on our Facebook page as they happen if you’d like to follow along there.

Thanks for your updates! Costa is now allowing a limited opening to the US, however obtaining a 48hr PCR test and results in the US at this time is close to impossible!! It seems this “opening” will be very, very limited unless the approved states have faster test result capabilities. Unless the 48hr requirement is relaxed to 96 hrs or something less stringent, I am curious who will actually be eligible to make the trip? At this time, the turnaround time for a PCR test can be 3-7 days for results.

Hi David, Yes, the 48 hours will be really tough to meet from what we’ve been hearing. Hopefully the government realizes this and allows for a little more flexibility. People in Canada have been struggling to get their results in time but they are making it happen. The first flights have arrived from Canada (private) and it seems that everyone got in, although there were some problems for people who didn’t get their results in time. They had to wait it out at the airport from what we understand. Others had their results already. It sounds like people in Canada are paying extra to process their results faster. We’ll update this post if we hear about any changes to the requirement.

Thanks for all the great information on entry into Costa Rica. Very helpful and informative!! My wife and I are building a home in Hacienda Pinilla and are expected to at least hear the country to starting to open up the boarders. Even if they make you jump through a bunch of hoops to make it happen. We live in Colorado so keeping our fingers crossed our stated is added to the list of approved states soon. We are hoping to make a trip or two down in October/November if/when CO gets added. The trouble I’m having right now is finding any international travel insurance companies that will include the $2K accommodation insurance in their policy, if you find anything in your research please let me know. I’ll continue to check for updates on this page and your FB page as well. Thanks again!!

Hi Erik, We’ll be sure to update this post if we hear of any international insurers that cover the accommodation piece. So far, we haven’t heard of anything. Hope you and your wife can get back to Guanacaste soon! It seems optimistic for Colorado after what the Minister of Tourism said during the recent press conference.

Tilley! – Fancy seeing you here! We’ll be in Tamarindo at Capitan Suizo on 11/15 for 10 days. Would be great if we ran into each other!

Did you find insurance yet or testing?

Thanks for the response, Matt and Jenn. I went with INS, which actually defaults to the 20K coverage, so that is what I have, and frankly, was the easier of the two companies (plus the ICT link here) to navigate, though it seemingly requires you to name a Costa Rican citizen or resident as a beneficiary, or at least there were no straightforward ID options for American beneficiaries (e.g., via passport, or gov’t ID). I was lucky to have someone I knew to get through that part of the process. And another sticking point was trying to enter what the purpose of my travels were, which required a 4 digit code I didn’t know, vs. a fill in the blank answer. I eventually managed to get through it somehow.

Anyway, thanks again and cheers.

As a Canadian I booked my flight through New Jersey as an overnight stay as I could not get a direct flight from Canada in August or September. Have not seen my wife who is a Costa Rica resident (not citizen) since the winter. I did get a reasonable rate on insurance through INS for my 90 day stay at my home in CR. I am now worried about two things. 1) Ontario says it takes 2-5 days to get results and therefore not enough time to get result and download. I am also worried about the 14 day stay requirement from one country. I have been in Canada for many months and since I am travelling though the US even though its a state they are allowing in will I be denied entry.

Hi Greg, The government announced today during the press conference that test results within 72 hours are fine now, so that should help some. Still doesn’t get you to 5 days, but maybe you can get a private lab to guarantee results within that time frame? If it is helpful, we heard second hand from someone who recently arrived in CR that their test results were slightly over (not by a full 24 hours but a good chunk of time) and they were still let in.

As for whether you need to stay in NJ for 14 days before, we’re not totally sure but it seems that since NJ is on the approved list, you shouldn’t have any problems. In addition, since your wife is a Costa Rican resident, that should help as well. The language of the official decree seems to say that you can enter as a tourist because your wife is a CR resident. You would need a copy of your marriage certificate to prove the link, just like you would if she were a CR citizen. Check out this link . They are a reputable law firm who has been following this issue closely. You may want to reach out to them to see if this is true because it would be an easier way in. Best of luck and hope everything works out!

Thanks for your note back. That is good news. In Ontario testing can only be done at public health facilities but I will go to one that is close to the lab where they process the samples. My understanding is I need to download the results before I arrive with the Health questionairre. Is this the procedure? In regards to New Jersey with an early morning flight to CR I will stay in the airport overnight when I fly in from Toronto the night before instead of a hotel just to make sure there is no issue. Thanks for a great webinar and your quick and through answers. I am going to apply for residency and will contact the lawyer about this.

Hi guys, thank you so much for this super informal post. It’s been so helpful, I have scoured it several times! I just heard the news that CR will extend the PCR test turnaround time to 72 hours from 1st Sept ( ). It has not been updated on the gov website, tourism website or health declaration yet. But if you could shed any light on it at all that would be amazing. Thank you.

Hi Sophie, Glad our post has been helpful to you!

Yes, during the press conference today, we heard the Minister of Tourism announce that test results within 72 hours are fine now. They also expanded the list of US states that can enter. Starting on September 1, it’s Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC (along with the other 6 states previously named – NY, NJ, CT, ME, NH, and VT). On September 15, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Colorado will be allowed too. The formal legal resolution is not out yet. But once it is, we will update this post with more details. Should be official, though, since it came directly from the Minister of Tourism.

Hi Jenn & Matt, thank you so much for your prompt response and all your help putting together this informative page. I think I can speak for all your readers when I say we really appreciate the work you put in! I’ll keep checking back here and on the gov website. Hopefully we should have final confirmation and be able to book our flights. (YAY)

Hi Jenn and Matt. Thank you so much for your advises. I just came back to Costa Rica as a resident, from Europe, and I have negative test for covid. But I have to be in quarantena. I have read this: Residents will be required to do a 14-day quarantine unless they are traveling from an approved country, have been there for at least 14 days, and have a negative Covid test that meets the requirements above. My question is what is an official note from Ministerio de Salud? Because of course, I would do anything fot not to be in quarantena:)

Where I could call?

Many thanks. Petra

Hi Petra, If you came from an authorized country and were there for 14 days prior to traveling and also have a negative Covid test, you should not have to quarantine. Circular AJ-146708-2020 says this. Go to section 2, Personas con permanencia legal autorizada, part 5, Orden Sanitaria. It says:

“A toda persona con permanencia legal autorizada bajo una de las categorías migratorias supra citadas, se le deberá aplicar una orden sanitaria de aislamiento por 14 días, con fundamento en los decretos 42238-MGP-S y 42513-MGP-S.

Consideraciones importantes sobre orden sanitaria para residentes -Si la persona proviene de un país autorizado y al momento de realizar el control migratorio logra demostrar que permaneció en dicho país al menos los 14 días previos a su abordaje en el vuelo, así como haberse realizado dentro de las 48 horas anteriores a su salida hacia Costa Rica, una prueba denominada PCR-RT de COVID-19 con resultado negativo, podrá obviarse la orden sanitaria de aislamiento antes referida. -PARA ESTE SUPUESTO DEBEN CONSTAR LOS 3 REQUISITOS ANTERIORES, CASO CONTRARIO NO SE PUEDE EXONERAR DE LA ORDEN DE AISLAMIENTO A LA PERSONA.”

It talks about test results taken within 48 hours but this has been changed to 72 in another place. Hope that helps. I’m not sure how you would get the isolation order reversed at this point in a timely manner but you could ask a lawyer.

Hello Jenn & Matt, Thank you so much for this very detailed and accurate information! I am from Colorado and my boyfriend is from Costa Rica, we have been hoping to see each other since the borders closed in March.

I was very excited to see Colorado on the list of states that can enter the country, but I am having trouble figuring out what flights I can buy, and I am curious if you have any input.

I was hoping to travel to Costa Rica as soon as possible (maybe September 17th) But, based on the calendar that is posted by “Embajada de Costa Rica en los EE.UU.”, it seems that the only available flights are on United from New Jersey. Is it correct that these are the only options for commercial travel? I ask because United is listing flights from Houston to SJO that are only ~$250, whereas the flights from New Jersey are ~$1850!

I am also curious if there is any information about return flights in October that you know of.

Finally, do you have a recommendation for somebody that I can contact to get more information about this? My first thought was to try to call the U.S. embassy in Costa Rica, but I haven’t tried yet, and am not sure how easy it is to get ahold of someone.

Thank you again for providing this wonderful opportunity for information!

Hi Sarah, Glad our site has been helpful to you! Yes, everything is very confusing now. Hopefully we can shed some light on the flight options for you. The flights out of Houston are reptriation flights. Technically, by law , tourists cannot fly on these unless they fall within an exception, like having a first degree familial relationship to a Costa Rican. So I don’t think you could take one of those flights, but I could be wrong.

We have only seen those same flights you’ve seen out of New Jersey so far, for regular commercial flights. Not sure why they are so expensive. They should be adding flights from Colorado soon, we would think. Maybe closer to the 15th, you will see more options (doesn’t allow for much planning, we realize). The government doesn’t want to let in too many flights to start – everything is to be very gradual. They did mention having some out of LaGuardia and JFK too, though.

The US Embassy in Costa Rica coordinates repatriation flights, but we don’t think they would help with commercial flights. The Embajada de Costa Rica en los EE.UU. Facebook page has the best source for flight info/schedules we’ve found so far, but they don’t update it much. Maybe a travel agent who books international flights would be able to help. Best of luck!

Hi, Along a similar line, my wife and I are planning on traveling to Costa Rica from Oregon (approved state) in late November for 10 days. However, we’re planning on spending Thanksgiving with family in Guadalajara Mexico (approved country) for 5 days. My question is are we required to be in Mexico for 14 days prior to being allowed into Costa Rica given that we’re flying from an approved US state and an approved country?

Hi Gary, The 14 days is only required if you’re coming from an unapproved state/country so we think you will be fine, since both Oregon and Mexico are approved. We’ve never heard of this exact fact pattern before but hope they wouldn’t give you a hard time. You should be all set.

Thank you so much for the quick response!

Thanks for this! We have a place in Ojochal and are excited about the possibility of visiting soon since our state is on the approved list.

That’s great, Dee! Hope you can get back to your place in Ojochal soon.

Hello, I’m reaching to see if anyone has an update regarding an accepted international travel insurance policy? My wife, three children, and I are planning to temporarily relocate to Santa Teresa this coming October. The domestic policies are prohibitively expensive! Any guidance would be much appreciated:]

We still have not heard of any options for international insurance.

Does anyone have any suggestions for Christopher?

Hey, it’s Christopher again, I’ve been in touch with Heymondo about adding the 2k quarantine coverage. They told me that it’s already in the works, but for those seeking insurance it would be great to reach out to them to add a little extra pressure as the domestic policy is insane!

Hey there, Christopher. I’ve been doing some research on travel insurance companies and found Heymondo. I went to their website and saw that when you click in Heymondo Premium, under “Emergency medical & dental expenses overseas” capsule it says something about “Unforeseen hospital expenses Up to $4,000 USD ($100 USD every 24 hours )”, doesn’t that mean that it covers extended lodging expenses?

I usually use Seven Corners travel insurance when I go to Costa Rica. 60 years old. $ 500,000 policy called Choice. They said for special covid insurance $50,000 the insurance I normally pay $35 for 10 days would be around $91. For my friend 44 years old it was $49. I could pay an extra $25 for trip protection. They said this would cover hotel in case of sickness but did not specifically say for covid. I emailed them and this is what they said: “ Please see 3.2 – G for below wording. Although it does not specifically say ‘quarantine’ it does indicate the cost of the hotel room would be covered if ordered by a physician and the person remains under their care. “A” outlines room/board expenses, which would still apply – the hotel room expense would be in place of the hospital room expense. [They] would need to stay within the standard daily expense of a hotel room/board to be considered eligible and determination would be made at the time of claim”

(g) Hotel room when the Insured Person, otherwise necessarily confined in a Hospital, is under the care of a duly qualified Physician in a hotel room due to unavailability of a Hospital room due to capacity or distance or to any other circumstances beyond the reasonable control of the Insured Person;…” I hope to be able to take a trip in Dec to Costa Rica. I could buy this and submit it for approval and if they deny it, probably I’d get the one that isn’t INS listed above. for me it would be $11.30 per day. INS wanted more around $17.18 per day.

Hilary and Mary, thanks so much for your responses! I have opted to go with the INS policy as there was still too much uncertainty and would rather not chance it.

Hello Jen and Matt

I will flying to LIR from EWR this Saturday 09/12. I had my PCR test taken today but they gave me a window of 24hr to 5 days depending on the processing of the lab due to the demand. Will I have any issues at arrival if I don’t get my results back on time ?

Hi Rich, Sorry, we didn’t get to your comment in time. Hope you were able to enter without too much trouble.

Jenn and Matt- I’ve followed your blog and think it’s a huge help for those of us struggling to get things done in Tiquicia.

I’m a little in limbo here at the moment. I’ve been married to a Costa Rican lady for over 35 years now and coming here each year as a tourist while building a retirement home in Santo Domingo all that time. Primarily though we both lived and worked in the US. We are ready now to retire here and I will seek citizenship by virtue of our marriage and the fact that I’ve been here for over two years. (It doesn’t have to be all at one stretch – you can add up the time) This qualifies me for citizenship assuming a clean FBI report which is no problem. It becomes one however as I need to return to the US to make that happen as well as securing an apostilled Birth Certificate. Also my current tourist visa now expires 18 November. I tried to enroll in the caja but since I have no status other than “Tourist” I was unable to do so. So now you can see the problem. When my wife and I arrive in January she will have to purchase 22 days insurance (not a huge problem as she is in her 50’s.) I, however, am 76 with health issues and having to buy an insurance policy thru the time I can become a citizen and register with the Caja would be prohibitive I’m afraid. I was hoping that applying for citizenship even though all documents would have to be updated at a later date might change my status allowing me to sign up with the Caja. When I read your words to the effect the anyone who has applied for but not received residency will be treated as a tourist I became aware that I might be dreaming….. So – do you see any way around this dilemma? Any and all suggestions or referrals would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for all you’ve done for so many. Tim

Hi Tim, We’ve been giving this some thought, and it seems you’re in a tough place. It’s true that if you file for citizenship, you will be treated as a tourist for entry purposes right now until you get approved. So that you would need to purchase the required insurance, since you won’t be eligible for the Caja yet. Your wife being Tica can get you into the country no matter what, but that doesn’t exempt you from the insurance requirement.

Such a hard time right now. We don’t have any creative solutions but you could see if a lawyer would have any ideas. Sorry we can’t be of more help. Hope you can figure it out. Pura vida!

We have our flights arriving on Oct 2nd, it will be myself and young child 3.5 years……I Have been following updates on your site and from other friends who live there. Is this correct that under 12 years does not need the testing ( which is very invasive and Im not looking forward to this myself ) ….thou I called the embassy to asked if the saliva testing was approved, which they said no….

My main question would be that no testing is required for children under 12?

Hi Piule, A COVID test is not required for children under 12 so your 3.5 year old won’t need one. Yes, the saliva test is not allowed. It has to be a RT-PCR test. Hope your travels go smoothly!

Hi again Piule, We are very sorry for the confusion, but someone else just asked this same question so we began to question the information. We are not sure if a test is required for minors under 12. We think it is not required but are not finding definitive information to verify. Please see our detailed response to Lucy from today, Sept. 14. We will be updating this post as soon as we find out the right information!

Hello Jenn & Matt,

This is an interesting and important topic. Thank you for providing as much on this as possible, this is helpful. I spoke with the embassy and it seems that things are changing day to day. To see what is required its good to double check with the embassy and on their website each day.

Hello Jenn and Matt, Thank you so much for your very comprehensive website. Ever since visiting Costa Rica with my husband in 2001, I have been dying to return with our children. It seems this Thanksgiving might be an affordable time for us to come. Starting Sept.15th, it seems that residents of Colorado will be admitted to the country, even if we travel through Florida. What remains to be seen is whether Spirit Airlines will be operating flights into San Jose (end of Novmeber), whether we will be able to receive test results within 36 hours of our departure (both tests we have taken before/after traveling in Colorado have taken 5-6 days for results), and whether our medical insurance provider, Blue Cross Blue Shield covers COVID-19 medical expenses. Sounds like I need to make a few phone calls before booking flights and accommodation. Any suggestions/tips are welcome:)

Hi Tanya, We haven’t heard anything yet about Spirit offering flights from Denver, but yes, calling the airline may get you some information.

The COVID test time requirement is 72 hours, not 36, so that gives you a little more time.

We don’t think BCBS covers the accommodation piece of the insurance requirement (you need $2,000 in coverage for accommodation expenses in case you contract Covid during your visit and need to quarantine). But it would be worth a phone call. Hope you can make the trip with the kids happen! Thanksgiving is a great time to visit.

Also, we just heard that National Jewish in Denver can guarantee results within 48 hours –

Matt, Thank you for the updated information. I was booked on a repatriation flight, but decided to cancel that flight and wait for reopening for California after October 1st. I really don{t want to have to spend 14 days in quarantine. Do you have any information about when the Nicaraguan border will reopen or when there will be flights from San Jose to Managua? Jay Redden

Hey Jay, the borders seem to be open for crossing in Peñas Blancas and Avianca is already preparing to start their commercial flights to Nicaragua.

Hi Jana, Where did you hear this about the Penas Blancas border being open? We have been following Costa Rica’s coronavirus news closely for months and would be very surprised if either land border opens (Nicaragua or Panama) anytime soon. There was a big problem with people getting across the Nicaragua border early on when it was closed and bringing Covid. Nicaragua also isn’t on the list of countries permitted entry by air.

Jana, December 10 and the border is still not open from Nicaragua to Costa Rica for tourists, just residents and citizens of Costa Rica and their spouses, children. Now looks like maybe March until Costa Rica opens the borders to tourists.

Hi Jenn and Matt – I was hoping to head to Jaco for a long weekend in October (from Virginia). However, do you know if bars opened yet, or is it just restaurants ? One other thing – the 72 hr test result – is that 72 hrs from when you took the test or from when you got the result ?

Hi Kevin, Yes, bars are open now. They have the same rules as restaurants so have to be at 50% capacity and have the same hours.

The 72 hours is from when the sample is taken. Hope that helps!

Hello! Thanks so much for providing such clear and helpful information. Your site has been super helpful over the years as we’ve planned trips to Costa Rica.

My question: do we bring paper documents of Covid test results and insurance coverage with us and show them to immigration officials? Or do we upload them somewhere before we leave?

Thanks so much for your help.

Hi Jayne, Glad our information has been helpful!

Yes, you will need to upload your Covid results to the online health pass, which you will fill out 48 hours before your flight. Here is the link:

You will get a QR code to show the airline in order to board the plane. We explain this in more detail above under Health Pass in the Entry Requirements section.

Thanks for responding so quickly! Follow up question: Will I need to fill out the forms 48 hours before we leave or can it be less than that? I’m anticipating our covid results will come back sometime between 24 – 2 hours before we leave. Also, do we upload the insurance documents as well? And is there a lag time while they’re being processed and approved? And do I need that QR code before I get on the plane to head down there? Thank you so much for helping unravel and understand all these details!

Hi Jayne, It can be filled out less than 48 hours in advance. We think the idea is that this gives the Tourism Institute time to review your information. But people have entered Costa Rica and filled out the form later than 48 hours before. Yes, if you are using international insurance, you will need to upload the policy. If you’re using one of the CR options, you won’t need to. We have heard that the airlines have been checking for the QR code prior to boarding. So have your test results ready if you didn’t get a green on your QR code in advance – see the section above on Verifying Your International Policy. We aren’t sure how long it has been taking to get the QR code. But as far as we know, people haven’t been having problems entering as long as they have their test results in time and meet all other requirements. If you are on Facebook, a good group to join to hear people’s first hand experiences about entering Costa Rica right now is Costa Rica Bound. Here is the link:

Everywhere I go…urgent care centers etc. all are telling me it can take 5 days to get results back. I live in U.S. and am having trouble finding a place that can turn around results this fast and I live in Atlanta, home of the CDC, I would like to know where people are going to get the fast turn around PCR tests done

Hi Christian, Did you look into AllCare ? They have a location in Atlanta and it seems they can guarantee results in 36-72 hours for the RT-PCR test.

Great information – thanks! You mentioned that kids under 12 do not need a COVID test to enter Costa Rica as a tourist. I can’t seem to find that info anywhere. Please let me know where I can verify that. Thanks!

Hi Lucy, We found this information in a document released by the Costa Rica Consulate in Miami back in July when the requirements were first being discussed. You can find an excerpt of it here – see question 7. It was also covered by local news sources here, like The Tico Times . The information is also currently on the Costa Rica Embassy in Italy’s information on entry requirements and on the Costa Rica Embassy in the UK’s website.

But we just went through the official Costa Rican government resolutions and circulars on entry again and couldn’t find it anywhere. This document issued by Migration (CIRCULAR AJ-1467-08-2020) makes it sound like a test is required, even for minors. This is in Section 3.c.4. on Tourists, the requirements section. At the top of the section it talks about the requirements applying to minors as well.

So honestly, we aren’t sure. The test probably isn’t required for minors under 12, but you would want to confirm this before trying to get on the plane obviously. You could reach out to the ICT to find out. We are going to do so as well and will update our article with the verified information once we know. For now, we are going to take that part out of our article. Sorry for the confusion. You would think that things like this would have clear answers, but they don’t always make it easy here! 🙂

Hey Jen & Matt,

Thanks so much for your informative post.

I wonder if you could help me with a travel insurance related question please?

In the UK I have found an Insurer that will cover up to £5m for medical expenses relating to covid so way above the $50k that is required.

For the lodging expenses if you have contracted covid then they will pay up to £5m to cover accommodation costs until you recover, test negative and can fly back to the UK.

I am not sure if this meets the requirements or not? The guidelines say ” $2k for lodging expenses issued as a result of the pandemic” but it isn’t specific as to whether this means that you have contracted covid leading to extra expenses or because say for example a local lockdown that extends your trip?

If it is the latter then that’s a shame because I would have enough savings to cover accommodation costs myself in excess of the $2k they require.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts

Hi Justine, That sounds like adequate coverage for the accommodation expenses requirement. The idea behind that requirement is that you would have insurance to cover accommodations if you were issued a quarantine order by the Costa Rican government because you contracted Covid during your visit. That’s why it’s connected to 14 days…the $2k USD is supposed to be enough to cover the 14 days of quarantine. So you should be all set. Hope that helps!

I’m also looking for uk insurance companies that comply with CR requirements; which company are you using please. Thanks

Hi Jen and Matt,

Thanks so much for your help. It is much appreciated.

Gill – this insurance is with Battleface

I am a student looking to come to Costa Rica to study Spanish for three months in mid-January of 2021. Are the requirements that the government has enacted the same for all (including students) who wish to come to Costa Rica?

Hi Frank, Yes, the requirements are the same for students. Best of luck with your plans!

Thanks for that information. Would it also be correct to assume that the requirements are the same for anyone (businessman, tourists, missions workers, etc.)? I’m in the process of seeing if the travel insurance that my organization requires when traveling abroad will meet the standards required by the country of Costa Rica. I really appreciate your up to date information. It is extremely helpful.

Yes, same requirements as far as entering the country. The general breakdown of categories is tourists, citizens, and legal residents. There may be a different type of visa for missionaries (possibly, we aren’t sure), but they would still need to meet the special Covid entry requirements.

Hello Jenn and Matt, I have been devouring all the comments in this blog and I must say, it is wonderful! I have a question, my sister needs to fly in on Friday and we are going nuts trying to find insurance. INS is way to expensive for a 16 day trip! Are there any companies that you recommend? And two, my sister will be staying with me at my home and not at a hotel. She has dual citizenship, cédula and US passport, does she have to have coverage for the accomodations even though she will be staying at a house? Do you know? Thanks in advance for the advice!!

Hi Lizzy, Glad our site has been helpful to you! We’re just wondering, if your sister is Costa Rican, why does she need to get insurance at all? Citizens only need to fill out the health pass online as far as we know. If she is entering on a tourist visa and does need insurance, people have been talking in the last couple of days about the company Travelex having an insurance product that meets the insurance requirement for the $50k in medical coverage and $2k in accommodations. She will still need the insurance for accommodation even if she is staying with you. If she is entering as a citizen, she will get a quarantine order for 14 days unless she’s coming from an approved state/country and has a negative Covid test. Hope that helps!

Hi Jenn and Matt! All info helps, thanks! She is a CR citizen, but she lives in NY therefore she travels with the cédula and the US passport. She does need the insurance, thanks for the tip, becasue eventhough she is Costarican she does not pay into the CCSS. As she is coming from NY, approved State and negative Covid test, she does not have to quarantine. Thanks and Pura Vida!

That makes perfect sense! Good luck with the insurance. I didn’t mention it before but Heymondo is another company that is working on having insurance that will work in CR. You could check their site to see if it’s ready. As of a couple of days ago, they were still working on it.

Hi – Any information for entering Costa Rica by boat? We’ve been hanging out in Mexico while waiting for the end of hurricane season and plan to sail toward Costa Rica at the end of October. If we test in Chiapas during check-out from Mexico will that test be valid if we do not check into another port on our way south?

Hi Kyle, Mexico is now an approved country as of October 1 so that will help you out. Here is the applicable text re: arriving by sea from the Tourism Institute’s website . It sounds like if you will have been sailing for 14 days and have a negative test, you will be all set. If less than 14 days, they will give you a quaratine order for the difference in days.

“Those who entered the country by sea from the list of permitted countries and who have not made a stopover elsewhere, should not be subjected to isolation if they have been sailing for more than 14 days.

If the passengers do not bring with them the negative RT-PCR test taken 72 hours prior to the trip to Costa Rica, or they set sail in an unauthorized city or country, they will receive a sanitary isolation order for 14 days from, from which will be deducted the number of days on the high seas, counting from the last port departure date recorded in the yacht or sailboat’s log.”

Hi Jenn and Matt. My husband and I will be traveling to CR in April. We are a resident of California and we have a 15 hour layover in Miami before continuing on to Liberia. The rules state that you may not leave the airport. We had intended to walk across the street to the airport hotel for a good night’s sleep and catch the morning flight to Liberia. I would assume that this is allowed. Can you check with someone? Thanks Beth

Hi Beth, Officially (according to ICT, the Tourism Board), you are not supposed to leave the airport during the layover. This is the guidance that has been given by a well known law firm in Costa Rica that does immigration law. See this article on their website . Practically speaking, we have heard that people have been staying at airport hotels and entering Costa Rica without a problem as long as they stay under the 18 hour requirement. Hope that helps.

Hi Jenn and Matt. Thanks for your sensible reply.

Insurance is overpriced just like Costa Rica. There are websites with links to companies with cheaper insurance. Costa Rica isn’t what it use to be. They are all about money but more than tourist money.

Hello Everyone! Does anyone know if the LAND border between Nicaragua and Costa Rica is open (Penas Blancas) as of September 25? Many thanks for this wonderful site

Hi Matthew, All land borders between Costa Rica and Nicaragua are still closed. We don’t expect them to open for some time. To give you an idea, the government recently extended tourist visas automatically until March 2 as long as you enter CR before the end of October. This is to help those who live here on tourist visas who normally renew their visa by going to the Nicaragua or Panama border. The Panama land borders are closed still too.

I was booked and set to go – then travel clinic cancelled my booking due to the high number of tests they have to do and are backed up. I have already purchased my insurance, and all other entry requirements. Do you know if CR government will allow 14 day quarantine if you cannot present the negative result upon arrival?

Hi Summer, Unfortunately, you cannot enter as a tourist without a negative Covid test under current regulations. The only tourists who can enter without a test are those who have a direct relationship to a Costa Rican (e.g. the mother, father, or sibling of a Costa Rican citizen). If you read Spanish, it’s at the very end of this document . Vinculo refers to having a direct relationship/link to a CR citizen. Sorry!

Hi – Apologize in advance for the length of my note. My husband and I were originally scheduled to travel to Costa Rica (Osa Peninsula) in April 2020. We bought travel insurance from CSA (now General Global Assistance) in Jan 2020, just a few days before Covid was determined to be a “foreseeable” event.

Because of the travel restrictions, the lodge where we will be staying allowed us to postpone our trip and we’re now scheduled to travel to CR from MD in late Nov 2020. CSA allowed us to modify our travel dates accordingly with only a slight increase in the premium. Our policy includes $50K for medical expenses and roughly $7K per person for trip interruption. According to CSA’s customer service folks, we’re covered under the medical piece if we contract Covid while in CR (because we purchased the policy when we did) and they said quarantine would be covered under the trip interruption. All good so far but they’ve indicated that the summary of benefits is all that is needed and that they don’t provide a separate certification letter in advance as a claim would need to be submitted after the fact. Do you know if the summary of benefit would be sufficient for entry? We also have medical insurance with 100 percent international coverage. We can upload that policy as well if need be when we upload the travel insurance. Just trying to determine in advance if what we have is sufficient although we realize that things are changing daily. Greatly appreciate your informational assistance! It’s been great thus far. Thanks, Donna

Hi Donna, Is it clear from the language of the summary of benefits that trip interruption would cover the $2,000 for quarantine due to Covid specifically? I think they will be looking for that. You could try to just wait and upload it when you do the Health Pass online 48 hours before and then just purchase an alternative insurance last minute if they reject it, or say that more information is needed. You could also try contacting ICT/the CR Tourism Board at this email to get an answer in advance: [email protected] They may be slow to respond.

We realize that this is not a satisfying answer but think they will want it to be very clear that the accommodation piece is included before letting you in. Hope that helps some. Let us know how it turns out if you get an answer from ICT.

Hi Donna, My family is traveling to the Osa Penninsula in Dec. 2020 and scheduled the trip with the same travel insurance as yourself prior to the pandemic — we also have personal international coverage. Was this travel insurance and your personal medical insurance good enough for entry? Pura Vida – Theresa

Hi Theresa – I bad several phone conversations with CSA and they felt confident that our policy would meet the insurance requirements but they were unable to provide the necessary certification as the language as it relates to the $2K lodgings is too broad. They did provide us with what they called an “embassy letter” but it focused primarily on the medical benefits and did not mention Covid at all. I may still send the policy to the Tourism folks for review but my husband and I have pretty much decided to just buy a second policy from one of the Costa Rican providers. The price isn’t too bad ($198 for 2 people for 9 days) and we will have peace of mind from the immediate and automatic certification that it will provide. The global policy might be ok but we’re a bit concerned about something possibly going wrong during those 48 hours just before the trip when the health pass has to be done. Anyway, hope this helps a bit and that you have a great trip. This will be our third trip to Costa Rica and the second to the Osa Peninsula. The Osa area is absolutely beautiful and I’m sure you’ll love it!

Thanks much for the quick response. Unfortunately, no, the policy simply notes trip interruption so appreciate the suggestion to follow up with the ICT. Will definitely reach out to them and will let you know how it goes. Will also continue to work with CSA to try to obtain a bit more clarification of the coverage, in writing.

Thanks again, Donna

Sorry about the typo. Supposed to have said “had several conversations,,,,”

My husband and I ate Mexican residents. We have a trip scheduled to Costa Rica from Mexico City on November 3. We fly from Cabo San Lucas nov 2 to Mexico City. Do we need to have a Covid test 72 hours before departure. That would mean Saturday. Also do we need a travel policy coming from Mexico

Hi Renee, Mexico is an approved country as of October 1, as in approved for travel to Costa Rica, but you will still need to meet the entry requirements. The way it works is only visitors from approved countries are allowed in theoretically, and then to actually be allowed entry, they each need to meet the entry requirements. So yes, you will need a Covid test done with 72 hours of your flight from Mexico City and the required travel insurance. All the requirements are outlined above in our post. Hope that helps.

In your 10/2 post about traveling during Covid you mention that United is “aiming” to have a flight from Denver to CR at the end of Oct. We’re about to book a trip to CR over Thanksgiving week and may hold off if it’s pretty solid that United will be flying direct by then. Can you provide any more info on United’s plans or a link to the source of the info? I can’t find anything about it just Googling. Thanks! Your blog is the best on out there for CR. Great work!

Hi Tom, That was from a Sept. 6 article from an English-language newspaper in Costa Rica called the Tico Times. They said that the ICT (the Tourism Board) announced several new flights, including the one from Denver that United hoped to add in October. ICT works with the airlines and Costa Rica’s civil aviation administration on getting new flights into the country. Here’s a link to the article:

We checked some online government sources and didn’t see anything more about the new direct flight so your best bet would probably be to call the airline to see if they have any info. Hope that helps!

We own our home in Costa Rica. Would that be sufficient as far as insurance for isolating is concerned? We usually stay for 90 days each trip. We are Canadians.

Hi Collin and Bev, A reputable law firm here that specializes in immigration asked ICT if owning a home would cover the insurance requirement to have the $2,000 in accommodation/quarantine expenses. ICT responded saying yes it would cover it but noting that there is no formal decree or regulation that supports this. So it is still kind of a risk depending on who you get at the airport. People have done it, though, and have entered successfully without problems. Here’s a link to the law firm’s website where they explain this:

Hi Jenn and Matt! I am an American currently in Costa Rica on a tourist visa. Do you know if I can take a 2 week trip to Mexico and come back to Costa Rica directly from Mexico?

Hi Sandra, Mexico is an approved country so, yes, you would be able to take a trip there and then come back to Costa Rica. You would still need to get a negative Covid test and meet all other requirements, though.

Thanks for the information. We would still purchase Covid insurance which probably would still cover that.

Seven corners travel insurance have a couple of options for us travelers that will cover quarantine and covid related illness up to $250,000 for those traveling from the US. You do have to pay attention to which plan you get and there is some variation depending on the state.

First and foremost, your site is very good and informative. I have rented a house year round for the past 10 years. My Cigna health plan is a international plan, but like all lacks the $2000 lodging required. I thought perhaps a notarized letter from owners could be acceptable, but I cant take that chance and getting an answer from Costa Rica, has been lets say impossible. I stay in CR for 3 weeks, then return back to the US every 3 weeks for work. I have decided to just buy an INS policy, option 1 is very expensive, option 2 was $192 for the 3 weeks, it appears that option 2 will meet the requirements. Any thoughts?

Hi Aaron, That is tough. As we have mentioned above in replying to someone else, a reputable law firm in Costa Rica that specializes in immigration and has been closely following this issue, has said that they asked ICT if proof of owning a home or a long term rental was sufficient to avoid the $2K in accommodation coverage. They received a written confirmation that it was acceptable. But ICT also noted that this is not in any formal decree or resolution. The rental needs to be for at least 1 month, so in your case with 3 weeks, that wouldn’t be enough time. Here is the link with more information.

If you could extend your stay to a month, you could try that and upload the insurance to the Health Pass since you already have it, and bring the letter for the rental with you. But it is all very uncertain right now so you may want to just go with the INS for this first trip back to avoid any hassle.

We are hopeful that a cheaper international option will come out soon. We are talking to one company that is in the final stages of having the accommodaton piece covered. People have been telling us that Seven Corners has a policy that covers Covid medical and accommodation. We went to the site and weren’t able to verify that ourselves, though. Best of luck!

I see right now that Nicaragua is not on the list of approved countries. I plan to fly into Liberia, then hop across the border to Nicaragua. However on the return, it looks like a 14 day quarentine period would be required before flying out of Liberia again?

Hi Robert, Costa Rica has only opened its air borders. The land borders with Nicaragua and Panama are still closed. So you won’t be able to cross the border to Nicaragua at all.

Living in Canada and purchased our own condo in Jaco 2019. It is NEAR to IMPOSSIBLE for us canadians, to obtain the damn RT-PCR test due to huge backlogs and waiting times, NEVER MIND the 72 hours before flight. I’m sure I’m not the only one in this situation. We plan to come back to our home away from home in December 2020. Costa Rica authorities should consider on site airport testing for travelers. Thank you very much for putting up here such detailed INFO. Respectfully.

You’re welcome! Yes, we hope the testing gets easier. We can understand the government wanting to have the more accurate PCR test, but it is prohibitively hard for a lot people. Hopefully it will get easier soon and you can get back to your house. Pura vida!

Hi there, I saw a few post earlier from people asking about a negative covid test for children? Have you heard any more news regarding that? Do children/babies need to get a test to? Thanks so much!

Hi Tom, We just sent a follow up message to ICT/the CR Tourism Board. We will reply again to this comment when we hopefully hear back.

Hi, a couple of questions. In your entry requirements you say the rapid test is not acceptable for entry to CR. But right after that you have an American Airlines link that says they are doing 3 different test options now for DFW-Costa Rica and one of them is an on-site rapid test at the airport. What is correct here? Also an insurance question. Is INS or Sagicor the only acceptable insurance companies in Costa Rica? Thanks so much.

Charlie, The RT-PCR test is required. As it states in the American Airlines press release, they launched this initiative to offer preflight testing for several destinations, not just Costa Rica. So that is probably why they list the rapid test (other countries/states they fly to accept it). For Costa Rica, the current requirement is the RT-PCR test. It looks like the LetsGetChecked test offers the right test. The testing options through Carenow seem to be the rapid test so wouldn’t work (unless you can get the RT-PCR if you go to a Carenow location – this is unclear from their website). This situation is still developing so we do our best, but don’t have all the answers. We update this post as we learn more and things develop.

Yes, only INS and Sagicor are currently approved for Costa Rica options for insurance. You can also get an international policy but we don’t know of any currently that cover the $2k in accommodation.

Hello. The test is the RT-PCR test. Not the rapid PCR test or any other test (yet).

Insurance: I can’t find any international companies that cover the 2k accommodation requirements. There are plenty that cover everything else. If you find any info on travel insurance companies, please send a post.

Hi Mike, Yes, we will reply to this thread and update our article if we hear of an international insurer that works.

Hi! We are traveling to CR next week & can’t wait to be there once again. I have a question regarding the insurance purchase. We have decided to purchase the INS insurance as it is approved by CR. Is it best to do this at the time you fill out the health pass or better to purchase it before that?

Hi Carol, It is better to purchase the insurance in advance in case you encounter any problems or have questions.

Hi! ? Health pass ? Do you fill the health out as a family (husband and wife ) or do fill as individuals

You fill it out multiple times for each person in your family.

Hi, We are hoping you can help clarify some travel questions/concerns. We just had a HORRIBLE experience with United Airlines. We are moving to Costa Rica. We had scheduled our move back in March when 4 days before leaving Costa Rica closed the borders. We left Sacramento CA Friday Oct 2nd, flew into Houston. We had to get our checked bags due to a policy that if more than a 12 hr layover (shortest layover I could find) you have to recheck bags. This forced us to leave the airline gate area and TSA and go to United’s Check in lobby. (as a side note, we were traveling with our 2 16 yr old dogs as Emotional Support Animals) We had all our documents that are required. When checking in United told us our Covid test was past 72 hours. We had taken them approx 68 hours before leaving Sacramento. United said the tests should be taken 72 hours before leaving the U.S. It was our understanding per the CR US Embassy website that explains it and has a link to Tico Times with clearer verbiage that it was to be done prior to leaving your home state. The following is a bullet point in Tico Times….RT-PCR diagnostic test with a negative result; the sample must have been taken within 72 hours of departure from the country/state of origin. United would not listen to us and would not book us to go to Costa Rica. They even recommended we leave the airport and go have a test done in Houston. We had to explain to them we cant leave the airport because Texas is not an approved state for travel. They would not even look at our approved QR codes from our Health Pass from Costa Rica. They also told us we should have had the tests done right before leaving, which we explained we wouldnt have had the results upon arriving in Houston. We had to get our Drs involve to escalate to even get the result within the 72 or less hours required. The only option they would offer us was to fly back to Sacramento Ca. So we did. Overall the United Houston Agents and Supervisors were rude, uncaring and clearly did not care. We are now trying to re plan getting to Costa Rica. This time we are exploring American Airlines. Could you clarify, with what you know, about when/where the Covid test needs to be done. Which flight applies to the 72 hours, the originating flight from Sacramento CA or the flight leaving the U.S. (which if it is the U.S. it doesnt make sense if you cant leave the airport for non approved travel states at least till Nov when all states are approved) We appreciate your assistance and expertise. Thank you!

Hi Steve, So sorry you had to deal with all that. We have heard a few accounts about airlines (mostly United) not knowing the correct rules. Mostly things have gone well for people entering who have done everything correctly, but you are not alone in what happened.

As far as we know, the 72 hours is from your first flight to Costa Rica, so Sacramento in your case. Someone in a Facebook group all about travel to Costa Rica during Covid said that she confirmed this with ICT and had it in writing. She actually had similar flights as you, San Francisco to Houston to SJO. She lives in California. Here is what she said ICT said: “The PCR test must be taken before your departure time of your first flight to Costa Rica. In your case, before SFO.”

So United was incorrect, as you know. She received this in writing by emailing ICT through their website. They have not been responding to all inquiries, unfortunately, but it would be worth it to try to get it in writing if you can. I wouldn’t think it would happen to you a second time, but just in case, having it directly from the CR government to show the airline should work if you run into any problems. If you use their chat function on this page , I think you can get an email address. Hope you have a much easier time this time. It would be worth it join that Facebook group we mentioned before too – called Costa Rica Bound .

Hi there! Just a few more ?’s My husband & I are traveling together. Should we purchase the INS insurance as individuals or can we purchase as a family? We are leaving for CR on Saturday of this week, how far in advance do we need to purchase the insurance?

Hi Carol, You can price it out, but it will probably be more economical to purchase the insurance as a family.

For timing, you will need the policy number to put in the Health Pass. You will probably fill out the Heath Pass the day before you leave, since you will also need to upload your Covid test results. So maybe purchase the insurance 2-3 days before Saturday, so you have a extra day or so in case you have any problems. If for any reason you can’t come on the trip, the insurance probably won’t be refundable so better to wait until a little closer to your departure.

Steve, I think I chatted with you or your partner in another forum. Did you make it to Costa Rica?

Hi Jay. Yes you chatted with Kevin. Yes we did make it. Did you?

Hello, thanks for the excellent information and for answering so many questions!

I am planning on getting married Nov 1st 2020 and my family was hoping to be able to attend.

Biggest question right now is, my sister is US born but was registered as an infant in CR (our father is costa rican) and therefore has a cedula # but she has never gotten her actual cedula. She has three kids, all under five. Her husband is a US citizen. Seems like they would all have to come as regular tourists from the US as opposed to citizens right? My concern is the covid testing of the children, and the insurance requirements for them as well. It all seems extremely cost prohibitive right now.

Thanks again

Hi Daniel, We think that they would all have to come as tourists if your sister doesn’t have a cédula and doesn’t pay into the CCSS. But you could double check with a lawyer. We know of a great firm in Costa Rica that has been helping a lot of people facing various issues with entry right now. If you’d like their contact info, let us know and we can email it to you.

We still have been unable to get a response from ICT about if children need the Covid test. The law firm may know the answer to that too.

Regarding insurance, price it out because it may not be that bad for them since they are younger. INS has two options, one of which is cheaper. If they aren’t staying for too long, it might be affordable. Hope that helps, and hope they can make it down here for your wedding.

Hi Jenn & Matt,

I continued to be amazed in how you respond to each and everyone of us with such professionalism. Here is my dilemma if you don’t mind sharing your advice. I am booked on Air Canada out of Toronto on November 1. I am still hoping AC doesn’t cancel this flight, as they did with all flights into SJO for the month of October. My Province is charging $400 CAN (very high) for the proper test within 72 hours (keeping my fingers crossed). I originally booked my flight for six months planning to do a border run at 90 days. Now I can’t do this. Do you have any suggestions? I don’t really want to fly anywhere for 1-2 days and then have to obtain another negative COVID test in order to return to CR.

Hi Charlene, Not sure you are aware of this, but you will need a plane ticket back to Canada within 90 days of your arrival anyway. This has always been an entry requirement so you will still need to show this. Many people in your position get a refundable ticket and then cancel it after they get here.

Immigration at the airport will give you a 90 day stamp (or whatever exact number of days they give you; it’s in their discretion but it’s normally 90 days). Although this will be what’s in your passport, it won’t really matter because the government has extended tourist visas. Since you will be enter on Nov. 1, you will be allowed to stay until March 2 without having to leave the country. See below for more. That will get you until March. Hopefully things will have changed by then.

Tourists (non-Residents) who entered the country after December 17th, 2019, and until November 30th, 2020, may legally remain in Costa Rica until March 2nd, 2021. This is an automatic extension.

Thank you!! Your responses are very easy to understand. Do you think a one way refundable return ticket to Canada will be acceptable within 90 days? My original ticket is not returning until April 30, 2021.

Yes, that will work fine, Charlene. You’re very welcome!

I know this may be a late response, but I would buy a one-way return ticket just before your departure and cancel it when you get in. You have 24 hours to cancel without any penalty.

Hi Charlene, we are taking your airplane back to Toronto on November 1 and hoping it isn’t cancelled as well! I just called Air Canada and they said there is no conditions or warnings on the flight (ie. dependant on Government restrictions)

The COVID test is no longer required, so you can save your $400.

Why is Sagicor the only approved private insurance company? Is there no competition. Who owns Sagicor. Why does Sagicor need to cover $50K and INS only $20K? Is the government collecting data on the number of claims that are filed for Covid coverage from INS and Sagicor so we will eventually be able to see the cost to tourists and the lucre collected? Are the rules in their infinite detail copied from Governor Whitmer of Michigan or from the WHO. What is the cost of implementing these bizarre intricate rules; has a cost benefit analysis been performed?

Hi All. I just finished filling out the Health Pass for our trip to Costa Rica tomorrow and can confirm that for my minor children (aged 5 and 7) it did not ask to upload proof of a COVID test. It did ask to upload proof of insurance though. For myself I had to upload my drivers license, COVID test and proof of insurance. I went with Sagicor because it was ~$100 cheaper than INS for the family. Hope this helps someone since I’ve been all over the blogs and facebook doing research. Wish us luck!

Thank you, Adam! This is so helpful. We have updated our article to share your experience with others. Seems likely that the test is required only for ages 12 and up but we will see what other families who are traveling say. Thanks again.

Hello, trying to travel in December from USA. However, no medical facility can guarantee 72 hr notification of PCR-RT test. Any relief on this? Can I board awaiting results? Thanks.

Hi Jeffrey, Unfortunately, the RT-PCR test is the only one allowed right now and there are no exceptions to the time requirement. We have been hearing that the airlines want to see your test results when checking you in so you likely wouldn’t be able to board awaiting the results. Did you try all the links for labs that we give above? Some of the options are for test kits to be mailed to your home. One of the links is to , which lets you put in your state to find a lab in the area. Hope you are able to find an option.

Hi again Jeffrey, Just thought we’d follow up to let you know that the CR government just announced today that they will no longer require a negative Covid test to enter the country. This is starting on October 26.

Great to hear! Thank you for responding quickly. It allows for our planning now!

Hi thanks for your extreme helpfulness 🙂 I am a US citizen who “got stuck” here in Costa Rica since March, so have the extended visa until March 2, 2021. 1) I have an upcoming flight back to the US from 10/14 until 10/26, which counts as 12 or 13 days? 2) Correct me if I’m wrong, but Costa Rica requires that I quarentine for 14 days in the US before traveling back here on the 26th? If so, I will have to change my return flight to either 10/27 or 10/28 depending on how you count the days. 3) Since I was here for the initial lockdown/extended visa, I heard that if I return back here by 10/31, I am still in the category of tourists who can stay until 03/02/21? or will I just get a 90 day stamp from my day of return?

Thank you SO much. I have been researching for hours and still confused. Peace to everyone reading this.

Hi Sophia, Assuming you are flying to an approved state, we think you should not have to quarantine there for 14 days before re-entering, since you will be coming from Costa Rica. They should only require the standard entry requirements including showing your driver’s license to prove you are a resident of the approved state you will be traveling from. If you are nervous since it is not 100% clear and want to play it safe, you could change your plane tickets. I think those days would count as 12 days so you would need two more.

Yes, you will re-enter as a tourist, and because you will be arriving before Nov 30 (immigration extended the date again), you will be eligible for the automatic visa extension for tourists of until March 2. The immigration agent will still stamp your passport officially with 90 days or whatever they give you in their discretion but it will be valid until March 2, 2021. Hope that helps!

We are traveling from the USA – we own a home in Puerto Viejo where we will be staying for 86 days beginning early November – we are in the process of applying for residency and will be submitting our paperwork while we are there – can we provide ownership documentation to show that we have solid accommodations for the entire time we are in CR instead of needing to purchase $2000 accommodation insurance?

Hi Brenda, We recently responded to this same question about if proof of owning a home or having a long term rental agreement was sufficient to avoid the need to get the $2,000 in accomodation insurance. Please see our response to Aaron Abaurrea on October 6. Thanks!

Thank you for the excellent information. We decided to obtain INS insurance…. we found it to be similar in cost to an international medical insurance plan – we have been waiting to get back to our home since May and don’t want to take any chances since this trip we are relocating our two cats to our CR home… Your website is so very informative and now have it “bookmarked”.

That’s great, Brenda. Definitely better not to take any chances. Glad we could help. Feel free to also sign up for our newsletter (free). When you first subscribe, we send out a short series of articles about travel in Costa Rica, then we just send our new articles after that with any pertinent updates on what’s happening in Costa Rica. Here is the link if you’re interested.

I am a Costa Rican/ American Citizen. I currently live in Florida and want to go see my family. I am traveling with my 6 year old daughter who is a Costa Rican citizen. Do we need the insurance ? where can I get tested in Tampa ? Its been 4 years since we have seen the family and were going to go back in June but had to cancel our tickers. Any help is greatly appreciated 🙂 Thank you

Hi Tania, Yes, I think you will need the insurance since you have not been paying into the Caja.

For testing in Tampa, this website has a lot of information. Under the Privatized Testing Options section, it gives some lab options. The one from Pixel by LabCorp is an at home RT-PCR test that says it can give results in 24-48 hours. Just be sure you know how to administer the test correctly, as we have heard of people sometimes getting inconclusive results with these home tests due to them not being done right. There are some more testing options listed on the site as well, which may have drive through testing options. Just be sure to check that you are getting the RT-PCR nasal swab test. Hope that help!

We are traveling to CR in November. It states that we need International insurance that will cover for accommodations if we get Covid. If we own our home do we need that insurance and if we don’t what do we need to show imigration?

Hi Bridget, Unless you have residency in Costa Rica, you need the insurance coverage. Specifically in regards to your question about the accommodation coverage, we recently responded to this same question about if proof of owning a home or having a long term rental agreement was sufficient to avoid the $2,000 in accomodation insurance. Please see our response to Aaron Abaurrea on October 6. Thanks!

Is the government protest impacting tourist from traveling/driving a rent a car from SJO to Jaco, Dominical, Manual Antonio and Osa and then back to SJO to fly home. I do emphasize with the CR citizens and hope the CR government does the right thing sooner rather than later.

Hi David, Currently, there are no roadblocks between SJO and Jaco, all the way south past Esterillos. Unfortunately, however, there are still some in Paquita on the way to Quepos, at the Dominical bridge, and at the large bridge before the turnoff to the Osa. They aren’t allowing much traffic to pass through right now. The best way to get local conditions is to map your route on WAZE. We are hopeful that this will all be over very soon. They seem close to reaching agreement with the government.

Regarding the RT-PCR test Jet Blue is partnering with a testing company, Vault, to offer 72 hours or less turnaround for Covid test results which is fantastic. American Airlines has also partnered with a testing company as well. The potential problem with the Jet Blue / Vault test relating to entry into Costa Rica is that it is a “saliva” based RT-PCR test (not nasal swab). Do you guys know if this will be accepted by Costa Rica? I have read the entry requirements and they only state it must be an RT-PCR test—but just want to be sure. Also, FYI there is a company CovidConsultants guaranteeing 24 hr turnaround with RT-PCR tests both nasal swab and saliva based. These tests (including Vault) are done at home the Express shipped back to testing companies. Thanks!

Hi David, Yes, the regulations state that an RT-PCR test is required without specifying the nasal swab test, as far as we can tell. This is from the circular from Migration to Migration employees, consulates, and the airlines in general. Everyone does talk about the nasal swab version, though, and not the saliva test. Elsewhere in the regulations , in other contexts, they talk about the polymerase chain test being the best option right now (for various reasons), and that this test is performed using samples of nasopharyngeal cells obtained with a swab. So referencing the nasal swab test. This was back on August 5, so maybe before the saliva PCR test was an option.

From looking at the Vault website , it seems that their RT-PCR test uses the same technology as the nasal swab test, so maybe it would be okay? Presumably your results would say RT-PCR, which is what they would be looking for at the airport and upon entry into Costa Rica. But we aren’t 100% sure. You could try to get confirmation from ICT.

Hi again David, The Costa Rica government just announced during today’s press conference that they are eliminating the Covid test requirement starting on October 26. Just thought we’d let you know.

I states that the test must be done within 72 of your flight leaving the country. I have a 12 hour layover in Houston. My flight leaving Louisville Ky. is at 7:15 a.m. (local time) and I don’t depart Houston until 8:15 p.m. (local time). Chances are I will be in Texas before I get my results.

Just got off the phone with United, they are telling me I must have my test results before boarding in louisville, ky. with my flight not leaving Houston until 8:15, total of about 15 hours. CR requires it to be within 72 hours of departing the “country”. Can you shed any light on this? Has anyone else had this issue?

Hi Bryan, The 72 hours is from your first flight, so in your case, Louisville. Layovers are fine but have to be less than 18 hours. The 72 hours language is vague but this is what everyone is saying based on their experience at the airport and with immigration.

Someone also recently confirmed that it’s based on your first flight to Costa Rica with ICT/the Tourism Board. Please see our response to Steve B. on October 9.

It makes sense since you will need to upload your test results to the online Health Pass, then you’ll get your QR code to show the airline at check in. Hope that makes sense.

Hi again Bryan, Costa Rica’s Minister of Tourism just announced that Covid testing will no longer be an entry requirement starting on October 26. So you won’t need a test if you are entering on or after the 26th. Just thought we’d let you know.

Just wanted to give an update regarding acceptance of “Saliva” versus “Nasal” based RT-PCR tests. I reached out to the ICT/Tourism board and this was the response: “As long as the test is PT-PCR, not necessary must be nasal.”

So, there you have it. This is good news because the saliva test can be self-administered at home and there are testing services guaranteeing 24-72 hour turnaround to meet the time requirement. PS Your 2 Weeks in Costa book was a great read!

Thanks for all the info! It has been super helpful. I’m a Us citizen that’s been in Mexico for the last 5 weeks (the same place) and am flying to Costa Rica on Saturday. I’ve done some research on where I can get a Covid test in Mexico City and am planning on going to médica sur… they say they give results within 24-48 hrs but I’m a bit worried that it could take longer then I won’t be able to go. Have you heard of any places in Mexico City that guarantee quick results?

Also, how do I prove that i have been at the same place my whole stay in Mexico? I’m staying with a family. Not a hotel or anything.

Hi Jack, We don’t have a lot of readers coming from Mexico City so haven’t heard of a testing facility that can guarantee quick results. If the lab you found says they can do it within 24-48 hours, hopefully they can meet that.

Your passport stamps should be enough to prove you’ve been in Mexico for at least 14 days. They may not even ask for it, but if they do, it should be sufficient for them to see your entry and exit stamps. Hope that helps!

Thanks! I found a place that can get results in that time frame. So fingers crossed it works out

Hi again Jack, The Costa Rica government just announced today that Covid testing will no longer be an entry requirement starting on October 26. So you won’t need a test. Just thought we’d let you know.

Where do you purchase a home kit? How do you prove to the CR government that you had a negative test if you self administered?

Hi Dave, Various labs are offering an RT-PCR home kit. This test has been authorized for use by the FDA. People have used them to get into Costa Rica without a problem so there shouldn’t be an issue with self-administration. One place that offers them is LetsGetChecked . Usually the way it works is they send you the kit through FedEx or similar overnight, you do the swab, and then they email you your results.

One problem with this is you need to make sure you’re administering the test correctly, because it you don’t, you may get an inconclusive result. Better to use a drive through testing option if there’s one in your area or we’ve heard of some that will do a virtual appointment to help you get the sample to make sure it’s done right.

Hi Jenn and Matt! First, thank you so so much for your informative site and all of the effort you put into offering and clarifying information always and especially during this crazy and confusing time. I have followed your posts and the comments sections religiously since getting stuck in the US in March. I live primarily in CR. I am wondering if you might be able to offer any clarity on the tourist visa situation? I am returning home on Nov 2. Because I am still reliant on the tourist visa for my time there, I have been confused about when to schedule my departure from CR flight. Generally, it would be just short of 90-days. Are people getting tickets with a departure all the way up to Mar 2 even if that makes the stay beyond 90 days? Or do you know if immigration is still adhering to a 90-day turn around? Any insights would be so greatly appreciated! Thank you mucho for all of your efforts!

Hi Catherine, Glad our site has been helpful in getting you back to CR!

Even though tourist visas have been automatically extended (provided you arrive before November 30), we think you should still have a 90 day plane ticket to show upon entry. We haven’t seen anything about a change to that, and people have been reporting that they have been receiving a 90 day stamp. It’s just semantics since you will be allowed to stay until March 2, but it’s safer to have the 90 day plane ticket. Hope you have smooth travels on Nov. 2!

Thank you so much for this insight! Be well y pura vida!

I have tried to fill out the Health Pass form but it consistently responds after Step 0 with the message “an unexpected error has occurred.” An American AIrlines ticket agent tried to help to allow me to obtain the QR Code. He failed. I missed the flight. Has anyone else had that problem or is it my computer/phone clumsiness?

Hi Paul, Sorry we are just responding now. We have heard of this happening to people just in the last few days. It seems to have been a glitch with the Health Pass website. Apparently they just kept trying and eventually it worked. Very sorry that this happened to you and you missed your flight. What a huge inconvenience.

Thanks so much for all of this information! I have reviewed all of the comments and your replies and reached out to ICT but still have not received any response. I am in BC, Canada and while there are private labs here that will do travel-related asymptomatic tests for travelers for a hefty fee, they only do NAAT-PCR tests, not RT ones. They are still PCR tests but they are based on taking a swab from the very back of the throat, not the nasal passage. I saw the response above about them not requiring it be nasal but I haven’t been able to get an answer on whether an NAAT test would be accepted. I am hoping yes but definitely want clarification before I book my travel (that would be over Christmas 2020). Any info on whether these are being accepted? Do you know any Canadians that have come from BC that have gained entry to CR? Cheers!

Hi Kindra, Yes, we saw the comment above from someone who got ICT to confirm that the saliva PCR test is okay, so it probably is, but like you, we would want to get that in writing from ICT to avoid any potential problems.

In the Facebook group called Costa Rica Bound (you could join this), a woman said that she got her nasal swab PCR test done at the TravelSafe Clinic on West Broadway in Vancouver. She got her results in 36 hours. It is a nasal swab test, but they are calling it a NAAT-PCR on their website. It seems to be the same as the RT-PCR but we’re not totally sure. She did get into Costa Rica, though, so maybe you could follow up with her for more details to find out what the results will say once you get them back. It was a post from Sept. 28 – you can use the search function in the group and search “BC.” Let us know if you can’t find it. Otherwise, ICT should hopefully get back to you soon. Good luck!

Hi again Kindra, The CR government just announced during today’s press conference that Covid testing will no longer be an entry requirement starting on October 26. So you won’t need a test. Just thought we’d let you know.

Hi Jenn and Matt,

Thanks for all the great info!

I have an insurance question for you and all of your readers:

My family of 4 is planning to travel to CR for ~85 days from mid November 2020 to Mid February 2021. I received an insurance quote from the INS website and it is going to cost my family of 4 ~$1,000 for our 3 month stay. Outrageous!

I work remote and my employer provides me and my family with Medical coverage of $1,000,000, however they don’t offer 14 day quarantine coverage of $2,000 so it appears ICT won’t approve of my employer’s insurance policy. Has anyone found a workaround for this? Should I book a return plane ticket that is 7 days from my arrival date and then just change the return flight later to reduce the amount of the insurance policy I am required to purchase? I totally understand the need for insurance to avoid being a burden on the local government, but this entire process seems like a money grab or shake down.

Hi Pete, If you changed your return ticket date, that would be an option, though not the best one. People are most likely doing that, though, since the insurance is expensive. Even the people who live here on a tourist visa long-term are likely just getting the 90 days of insurance, even though they intend to stay for much longer than that. There are a lot of flaws in the system. We have been talking with one international insurance company who is close to having a policy that will cover the quarantine expense, but it isn’t ready yet, unfortunately.

My husband travel+ medical insurance for 3 months for our family of 6 from Safe Travels Voyager Insurance for $159. Check out . The agent confirmed that it does cover all the Costa Rica Requirements.

Hi Katelyn, Thanks for sharing this. We would say that you should just make sure that the insurance does actually meet Costa Rica’s requirements. Since international insurance is not preapproved by the Costa Rican government, it’s a good idea to send your policy information to ICT in advance to ensure you don’t have any problems getting in. ICT’s email is [email protected]

Thank you for your reply 🙂 I did email the Visa letters to that address and received a positive response. It was a huge relief!

Thanks for all this info!

Me and my partner are itching to travel and have looked at spending two weeks over Christmas and NYE in CR. Do you think its worth the journey or will there be many restrictions, such as park and tour closures? We would plan on most likely backpacking across San Jose, La Fortuna/Arenal, Monteverde, Puerto Viejo and possibly Manuel Antonio over 2/3 weeks. Would this be a difficult journey and come with many problems?

Thanks, Lee

Hi Lee, Take a look at the info we give above in the section called What is Open for Tourists? You’ll see that almost everything has been opened back up, including most national parks. Just about everything should be going as usual with Covid precautions in terms of hotels and tours by the time you would get here for Christmas. That is the busiest time of year here so people will want to be up and running by then, even if they are still closed now. We have heard about a lot of hotels that are set to reopen in November. Buses are still running as normal if you plan to take the public bus.

Hi there, thank for all of the great information. I was wondering if you have any feedback for my particular issue. My family and I (U.S. citizens) are traveling to Costa Rica on January 2nd, 2021. In order to satisfy the COVID testing requirement, we would need to be tested on December 30th. There’s no way any lab is going to have our results ready by January 2nd, especially since New Year’s Day is a national holiday. Do you have any idea what we should do? Thanks in advance!

Hi Josh, The 72 hours is not flexible. It doesn’t allow for extra time for holidays or weekends, unfortunately. We’d think that you should be able to find a lab that can guarantee the results in time, though, as long as you get the sample taken on the 30th. You could look into those tests you can do from home like letsgetchecked if it seems that everything will be closed on New Year’s Day. We have heard of people getting results in as little as 24 hours, or even less. Best of luck.

Hi again Josh, The CR government just announced during today’s press conference that Covid testing will no longer be an entry requirement starting on October 26. So this will no longer be an issue for you.

Thanks so much for the info!

Hello All. GREAT NEWS! After extensive research for my boss who has a planned trip in Decemeber, I was successful in finding a Travel Insurance Agency that provides Approved Travel Insurance for Costa Rica. It was just implemented today!! Call Trawick International (888) 301-9289. You likely have to leave a message but I got a call the next day (today) and was able to purchase the approved insurance that includes the mandatory $2,000 accommodation coverage. They will even send a link on how to forward the certificate to Costa Rica customs ahead of time. Best of Luck to all on your travels!

I’m California resident (green card holder) but my passport is from non-approved country. Any chance you know if I’m allowed to visit during Thanksgiving? Thanks!

Hi Elizabeth, All countries will be able to travel to Costa Rica starting on November 1, so you won’t have any problems. They announced this last week. You will still need to meet entry requirements (Covid test, insurance, etc.).

Great! Thanks for the quick response. Contemplating now since the travel insurance cost as much as our plane tix and there are 4 of us 😭

We just updated our post with some options for international insurance that people have found and say meet the requirements. So you could check those out. Hope it works out and you can come to CR!

We are aware (and have used) a covid 19 test from Vault Health which is an FDA approved RT qPCR test – which seems to meet the requirements – except that it is not a nasal swab it is a saliva test. Will this be accepted? We have serious issues with the nasal swab test

Hi Stephen, The requirement is for an RT-PCR so if that is what the test is, it should be okay. That said, we have not heard of anyone using a saliva test to get into Costa Rica. You could email ICT/the Costa Rica Tourism Board to confirm that it is ok, then print out the email to show in case you have any problems during check in at the airport or in Costa Rica. Also be sure to confirm with Vault Health that your results will say that the test was an RT-PCR.

Hi again Stephen, The CR government just announced during today’s press conference that Covid testing will no longer be an entry requirement starting on October 26. So this will not be an issue anymore. Just thought we’d let you know.

MEDICAL TOURISM Planned May-ish 2021 (Facelift)

The information provided here, along with the comments have been great data points. Hopefully, this COVID-19 hysteria will have calmed down by May 2021, but the COVID Nazis are not letting up. (I live in Calif USA) I follow Stanford University, and this Professor Of Medicine talks about the sensitive test, that doesn’t know one coronavirus from another. (a cold or flu are coronaviruses, as we all know).

Dr Jay Bhatt. MD Public Health guy, and Mstr in Economics,

as well as a Professor Of Medicine at Stanford University. One of my favorite COVID-19 data points.

I watched an MD/Microbiologist about colds and flu 2 yrs back are being umbrella-ed. I will be quarantined at a recovery facility anyway for 2 weeks, so I am not a risk to CR. Besides, I believe I had it in March. Looking forward to my trip, and meeting the great people of CR. The COVID Ins situation will be hashed out as the ins actuaries see low risk and high profits.

My boyfriend will be picking me up from the airport. Will he be able to meet me inside? Or will he have to wait outside of the airport? Also, if he is able to meet me inside, I assume a welcome kiss is not allowed, is it? ♥

Even before Covid, no one was allowed to enter the airport for pickups. You will exit after baggage claim and then he can wait right outside the door for you.

Hi there, I must say your site has been very helpful when planning my trip! And I also would like to ask you if you know where I could book a pcr-test while in Costa Rica? Have a lovely day!

Hi Alexandra, We just wrote a short article about this since multiple people have asked: Where to Get a Covid 19 Test in Costa Rica . Hope that helps and glad our site has been helpful with your planning!

Hi Jenn & Matt, this is such wonderful news about the negative COVID test being waived. My flight arrives on November 1, just in the nick of time!! I’m purchasing the CR COVID medical insurance. May I ask about the Health Pass? If I was to fill in the form today, how does it know that I’m not travelling tomorrow vs. Nov. 1? I’ve tried to fill it in as a practice run, but it keeps saying “error”.

Also, if I could not get the Health Pass to work properly, could I take all my hard copies for proof, and still be accepted for entry at the SJO Airport. I’m unsure if Air Canada will be checking on entry requirements before I depart from Canada. They should do so in Toronto, but I don’t want to assume anything.

Thank you, Charlene

Are you aware of any COVID testing facilities at or near the SJO airport for travellers leaving Costa Rica to show on their return to Canada?

Hi Joseph, We have had a few people ask this so we just wrote a quick article about it: Where to Get a Covid 19 Test in Costa Rica . We identify a lab near the airport. CIMA Hospital in Escazu is reasonably close too. There is no testing done at the airports.

Hello, I have been trying to ge to Nicaragua for a few months with Spirit, but have had my reservations cancelled many times. I see that Spirit is now flying to SJO. If I do nt plan to stay in C.R., but just plan to take a bus to Penas Blancas. Entering Nicaragua the same day, Would I be able to travel w/o getting the Covid insurance?

Hi Joe, That must be very frustrating to have your flights be continuously cancelled. Costa Rica’s land borders are still closed so we’re not sure exactly if you can get into Nicaragua via Penas Blancas. We have heard you need a special permission from the Nicaraguan government. Assuming you could get in that way, Costa Rica would want you to purchase the insurance since you will need to be stamped into the country. You’ll need to meet the regular entry requirements so they will also want to see a plane ticket back to your home country. Some people in your situation just get a refundable ticket. So one idea is to get it for a day or two stay in Costa Rica, then you would only need to purchase the insurance for those couple of days. We think that could work. Such a complex time right now with travel. Best of luck to you.

thank you for this amazing resource!

question — if i’m already in costa and i want to extend my trip one week, is it necessary to extend the insurance or anything? or is it okay to just move the return flight and stay?

Hi Chris, Glad our site has been helpful!

Technically, they would want you to extend the insurance to make sure you’re covered in case you get Covid while you’re here. It would be a good idea to have it. But no one is going to check.

Hi, Is it still true that if you arrive up until 31st of october in costa rica you can stay till the 2nd of march? Should I book my proof of onward travel after 90 days? or the 2nd of march, and same thing with the health insurance? thank you

Hi Ann-Sophie, Yes, tourists who enter before November 30 get an automatic visa extension until March 2. Regarding onward travel, as far as we know, they are still giving 90 day visas as the standard visa length (the immigration official, can, however, give less time, in their discretion). So you should get a plane ticket showing you will be leaving in 90 days. As for the health insurance, they will want to see it for the duration of your stay based on your plane ticket. You should still make sure you have travel insurance for as long as you plan to stay if it is longer so that you’re covered.

This Site is fantastic! What a wealth of information! Thanks Jenn and Matt! Regarding insurance. I purchased insurance through Travel Insured International. The cost for $100k medical as well as trip cancelation was $389. This is for two people for 65 days in CR. To get to the required $2000 for quarantine they added an upgrade which added an additional $1000 to the existing $1000 travel delay amount. This cost was $35 for the two of us. There was some debate among the folks at Travel Insured if this insurance would meet the requirements for the quarantine lodging portion, since quarantine is not mentioned specifically. I’ve emailed seguro at ITC to see. Since we leave on Sunday (Nov 1) I expect I might not hear back, but then if not, will just purchase something pre-approved on Friday when I’m able to do the Health Pass form. Though I’m a bit worried since all I ever get are errors on that site. The info above to keep trying is invaluable. Note that I found that Safe Travels Voyager through Insubuy you mentioned above is only $99 for medical requirements only. Much better than the $1400 Sagicor wanted. Also, I was never able to get a quote from INS. As far as I can tell their site is broken as the html for entering a date will not work and just returns NaN/Nan/Nan no matter what I do.

Hi Alan, Glad our information has been helpful!

That’s strange about the INS website. We just tried it in Google Chrome and it worked fine. The calendar popped up in the trip start and finish fields, then the Days of Journey field populated based on that. We can see how that field (Days of Journey) does default to that “NaN”, but it went away after we put in the start and finish info. Maybe try Chrome? Though you are probably getting a better price anyway through that international company.

Hope you hear back from ITC soon. We have been hearing from people that they are indeed getting a reply to insurance questions in a fairly timely manner. Best wishes for smooth travel on the 1st!

Wow – just stumbled upon this forum and am inspired by your information and responsiveness, Matt & Jenn. Thank you – from all of us!

I am currently in Nicaragua with a group of American motorcyclists riding from the US to Argentina. We are waiting at the border of Costa Rica, and after much research, still can’t seem to find accurate information on estimates of when Costa Rica’s land borders will re-open. (There are rumors floating around about October 31st re-opening, but we can’t find this confirmed anywhere.)

Have you heard anything new in this regard?

In addition: for those having troubles with the “online health form” (as I did when experimenting) – try with another browser. Chrome provided an error on every submission but Microsoft Edge worked the first time, funny enough. Hope this helps!

Hi Dan, Wow, that sounds like quite an adventure!

Unfortunately, we don’t have any info on when the land borders will reopen. As you probably know, the country has loosened entry requirements and will open to all travelers on Nov 1, but it’s just the air borders. They had a lot of problems with people bringing Covid from Nicaragua at the beginning of all this so it may be a while yet. They also extended tourist visas for people entering by the end of Nov. to allow them to stay until March 2. This helps people who live in CR but on a tourist visa since it doesn’t require them to leave the country to renew their visas, which is harder now with land borders being closed. But, currently people who enter starting on Dec 1 will just get a regular visa (typically 90 days) and have to leave the country when that expires. So you can take what you want from that. At this point, we aren’t sure what the government will do next. Eliminating the testing requirement came as a big surprise to us after they had been taking such a conservative approach up until this point.

Thanks for the tip on the health pass! We’ve already relayed it to one person having problems.

Jenn & Matt –

Thanks again for your reply here! (And glad that the “Microsoft Edge / Health Pass” tip has helped!)

Given the most recent “update” to the land border restrictions on Nov 1: allowing Costa Rican residents to enter via land borders – do you have any information / ideas on when this will be opened up to tourists? (I’ve seen news articles mentioning a “staggered approach”, but we’re completely in the dark about whether this will be over weeks, months, or more..!)

Thanks again – you guys are awesome!

Hi again Dan, Unfortunately, we don’t have any insight into when land borders will open for tourists. We haven’t seen anything in the news or during the daily press conferences. Sorry we can’t be of more help!

Dan, I had the same issue with Chrome. Thanks for the tip on Edge. Like you said, worked first time! Huge help! Thanks!

One other tip for filling out the Health Pass. Using Edge on my computer I was not able to fill in the form for my daughter. When I tried to start the process over, it already showed my information and said I was editing. The work around I found was to use another computer to fill out her form.

My husband is going to Costa Rica November 1, 2020 (Sunday!) And we have been trying to fill out the digital epidemiological health pass every day since Monday Oct. 26. After filling out the first page and hitting enter we get an error message. Every time! He’s starting to panic. Has anyone else been experiencing this same issue and any advice on how to resolve? Can he fill out a paper application at the airport? It’s just perplexing

Hi Julia, You can’t fill out the form until 48 hours before your flight. So you should be able to do it today based on when your departure time is on Sunday. Also, some people have been having problems using the browser Chrome when filling it out. If that happens, try Microsoft Edge. Definitely have it completed prior to going to the airport because the airlines will want to see it at check in.

How does contact tracing work? Since dropping the negative Covid test requirement, I am afraid that if someone in our inbound flight ends up with Covid, will all the passengers on that flight be forced to quarantined for 14 days? If so, a one-week trip could result in a three-week stay. Also, we are staying at a surf camp with limited space and would not be able to quarantine there for the required 14 days. How easily would we be able to find accommodations that will accept quarantined guests? Thanks!

Hi Eileen, We don’t think the contact tracing works on such a broad scale like that here in Costa Rica. From what we have heard, at this point in the pandemic since cases are more widespread (than in the beginning), they seem to focus more on tracking people in your direct social bubble. So friends/family or co-workers that you were in close proximity to for extended periods. We don’t think they would track down the people on the same flight if someone ended up sick.

Thank you so much for your amazingly detailed and informative site.

My husband and I are coming to Costa Rica for the second time in early January 2021. We would like to take the public buses for part of our trip, a d rent a car for the balance. Could you tell us what covid precautions are being taken on the buses? The longest ride we have planned is from San Jose to Sierpe (on the way to Drake Bay.)

Hi Christina, Masks are required during the ride and at bus stops. There are capacity limits too – they can fill all seats, plus have some standing passengers. The number of people who can travel standing varies based on the distance traveled and width of the bus aisles (the range is around 10-30 people standing). This is regulated and specific to the bus company/route.

You may want to price out renting a car for your whole stay, as the rate may be the same or very similar for, say, 10 days vs. 14 days. We’ve found from helping client that often the price is the same to just leave the car parked in Sierpe while you’re in Drake Bay, even if you’re not using it. Definitely a lot more convenient and less stressful in these times to drive the long distance to Sierpe rather than take the bus.

Here is the link to our Rental Car Discount page in case you haven’t seen it. Our readers get 10% off the base price plus a free second driver, etc. Hope that helps!

Hi Jenn and Matt, My daughter and I are also leaving for Costa Rica on Nov 1, assuming we can get the insurance approved. I read this web page again and read through all the comments again, so hopefully not rehashing what you’ve already answered. I bought insurance through Travel Insured International that covers as best I can tell the requirements. I guess we’ll find out. I did send an email to verify this last week, but have not heard back yet from ICT. For trip insurance and medical it’s around $400 for the two of us for two months. I checked with both INS and Seguro and they were around $400 from INS (for medical only of course) and $1,400 for Sagicor. I was having trouble with the website at INS with Chrome, but it worked fine with Edge. Sagicor is around $11/day per person and so might be more economical for shorter stays. I’m getting antsy about this as it is Friday and we leave Sunday. Also, I submitted all the information a few hours early, forgetting about what I had read here on the 48 hour requirement (there is nothing on the Health Pass site that mentions this). It seemed to go through fine once I used MS Edge instead of Chrome. I got a QR code and the last page of the form indicated I was waiting for the insurance to be approved. So, not sure if I caused problems by applying 50 hours before my flight instead of 48. After all this, I’m hoping I can just purchase the INS insurance at the last minute if necessary. It sounds like that part is automated and not needing a person to look through the policy. It sounds like United will need to see the QR code and see approval before allowing flight. I’ll be doubling up on insurance if I do that. Pretty expensive lesson, but might be good if something goes bad. I could have saved some grief if I’d found your site before I bought the insurance.

Hi Alan, Hope all goes well for you today. You should be ok based on what you’ve said. If the insurance doesn’t work, like you said you can just purchase the INS last minute. They do have a more limited coverage option (I think it is Option 7?). Fingers crossed for an easy day of travel for you!

What email address did you send your insurance doc to? Have you heard back?

Hi Dave, We were just about to get back to you on your question on our other Covid post. The email is [email protected]

Thank you so much for keeping us all updated! It’s hard to find information. We are currently selling our house with hope to move and come as visitors for a year to see how life is living in C.R. before buying. So we have no idea if we will have a buyer tomorrow or in two months?!! Do you know if the land borders are open to Panama as yet? Also, we would need travel insurance right?

Thank you so much for this comprehensive article … I have been searching high and low for information regarding the difference in Covid medical insurance coverage requirement between the local ones ($20,000 USD) and foreign ($50,000) … what a big different !!

By the way, the $2000 quarantine accommodation coverage requirement … does that fall under the ‘Trip Interrupt” policy? I can’t find any specific wording in the insurance policies to make sure that I’m covered for that requirement.

I bought insurance from Travel Guard (includes $50K medical coverage) and send the letter I received from TG over the the Seguros@ict email and have not heard back yet. It’s been 4 days. Anyone else facing similar issues and what are you doing?

I just got a response from someone at and they told me that the TravelGuard Preferred product does meet the requirements.

Hi Kenny, I don’t see travel guard preferred includes the $2,000 accommodation though. Trip delay only covers $200/day, up to $800. Can you share how you get urs?

Hi Liz, We looked at the policy coverage briefly for the Preferred plan and it seemed to cover the quarantine under Trip Interruption. Go to “Description of Coverage.” This is covered for 150% of the trip cost so seems like it would work to cover the needed $2K in accommodation expenses.

I just got a response on approval for mine. This is me emailing the [email protected] email. I got the AIG/TravelGuard preferred product since that covers $50K. The only thing that looks like the $2000 accommodation coverage is trip interruption. I also check Allianz and they have a similar product. I would have paid for Alliaz during the AA,com checkout but the product they offered only covered $20K.

Hi Kenny, Thanks for the helpful info! We will add the AIG/TravelGuard Preferred product as an option in our article soon.

Hi Jenn and Matt! Your post has been so helpful 🙂 We are looking to head over in the next couple of weeks. We plan to go to Tortuguero, Sarapiqui, La Fortuna and Monteverde, however we can’t work out if it would be best to hire a car or rely on public transport? We realise if we do hire a car it would probably be best to get buses then boat to Tortuguero then return to San Jose and pickup a hire car from there for the rest of the trip (unless there is an easier way?) However, we are not able to speak Spanish so I wonder if it is best to rely on taxi’s and shuttles? Are there any reputable shuttle companies you would recommend? I am just thinking if we are staying in a hotel and wanted to drive 2 minutes up the road to a restaurant for dinner would it be easier to have a car or are taxi’s very easy to come by (in COVID times). Thank you sooo much for any advice you can offer 🙂

Hi Rea, We would recommend taking a shuttle or the bus for the first part of the trip to Tortuguero/La Pavona boat docks, then renting a car for your time after Tortuguero. No rental car companies have office at the docks to Tortuguero, but the company that we recommend, Adobe Rent a Car, will send someone from their office nearby and deliver the car to you at the boat docks. So that you can avoid going back to San Jose. This will likely be the same price or maybe even cheaper than taking shuttles to get around. Here’s a link to our rental car discount page. To get pick up at the La Pavona boat docks, just select Guapiles/PN Tortuguero as the pickup location.

The public bus is another option but this is harder to navigate and will take a lot longer to get places. With four destinations, it’s probably better to either shuttle or rent a car. If you’re more comfortable shuttling, we book shuttles and would be happy to help you. Here is a link to our Shuttle Booking page where you can see prices and information.

we own 5 homes in costa rica if you own property will that satisfy or reduce the cost of the insurance you need You can quarantine in your own home right? we can prove we own the homes listed in the national registry if that does not work are there any plans of considering ownership in t0 need to pay for additional insurance to provide a safe place to quarantine

Hi Gary, It is not official but people have been avoiding the accommodation/quarantine part of the insurance requirement by showing proof that they own a home in Costa Rica. Deeds from the National Registry should work. You will still need the Covid medical coverage, but that is easy to find.

That’s great! So Adobe would deliver a car to us at which dock? (La Pavona?) I had actually enquired with Adobe and they said about getting to their office in Guapiles, I just wasn’t sure how we would go about that once we get off the boat at La Pavona? I will definitely use your Adobe discount link, thank you again 🙂 As the trip is going to be very last minute I don’t know if we will have time to book the transport from San Jose to Tortuguero so may need to take public transport, to your knowledge is that all running okay at the minute and the buses are following the same schedule? Just conscious of how things might be different during COVID. Thank you again so much.

Unless something has changed, Adobe should be able to pick you up from the boat docks and bring you to their satellite office in Guapiles to get the car. We would just go ahead and make the reservation through the widget on our site and get confirmation from them that they can do that (they should be able to). You won’t have to put your credit card in right away and can cancel last minute if you need to. Let us know if you have any problems and we can speak to our rep there to help.

We can book you on a private shuttle from San Jose to the boat docks for Tortuguero if you’d like. We would just need around 3 days to get everything arranged in time. Here is the link again to our shuttle booking page. If you decide to take the bus instead, they should be running as usual, yes.

Hey, I just rang the Adobe office in Guapiles and they said to collect us from the boat dock in La Pavona there would be an additional fee of $85 – is this in line with what you thought? Thank you so much 🙂

Yes, there is an extra charge. It should cover picking you up at the boat docks in La Pavona, about 1 hour from Guapiles, and the fee for picking up and dropping off at different offices (e.g., Guapiles for pick up and San Jose at the end). There’s always an additional charge for picking up and dropping off in different places. It’s an extra $85 but will save you 2.5-3 hours of driving back to San Jose, which would be in the wrong direction for getting to Sarapiqui. Our Rental Car page has more details on things like this so feel free to check that out for more information.  

That makes perfect sense 🙂 Just final, final question (so sorry!), when you can upload your documents 48 hours before your flight, is that 48 hours before our flight takes off? Or 48 hours before our flight lands in Costa Rica? (Takes off from London at 10:40am but doesn’t land in Costa Rica until 8pm) – we plan to get a policy with an international insurer but can’t confirm 100% if it matches the entry requirements so we want to upload it as soon as possible so they can review and if they say no to the policy we still have as much time as possible to cancel that one and then purchase a new one before flying. Thank you so much for all of your help, you’ve been great.

It’s 48 hours from your first departing flight, so from London in your case.

You need to email your insurance policy to the Tourism Institute now so that hopefully they can get back to you about if it meets the requirements before you fill out the Health Pass. Their email is [email protected]

Great info here! My daughter and I are permanent residents in Nicaragua and going to fly back to Texas for a bit and then return to Nicaragua, but there is the 72 hour pcr test complication and I think we would not be able to be tested, get the results and hand the original lab report over within the short time allowed in Nicaragua. Sooooo, I am wondering about flying into CR, getting a test to present at the border on a Ticabus to Managua. Is the land border open to get into Nicaragua by bus or rental car? I would not be returning to CR but staying in Nicaragua. Any advice? Thanks!

Hi Jeff, We know there are labs in Houston that can guarantee results for a PCR test in 72 hours, if that’s where you’re flying from. You could try this website to search for testing facilities:

If you still need to go through Costa Rica first, we have heard that, yes, the land borders are open for tourists exiting (but not entering). We’re not sure of the particulars so can’t elaborate on that. For where to get a PCR test in CR, here’s a link to our post with several options: . Hope that helps!

Thanks so much for your response Kinda makes sense but many time things that make sense are not the case

Hi Jenn and Matt. As everyone has said, this site is amazing. I noticed your site has said that if you buy insurance through INS, that you will need less coverage (up to $25,000 in medical costs?). I wanted to confirm that on the Costa Rican Embassy website, but I am not finding it? I have also emailed the seguros website. My wife and I purchased through INS (we are both 34 years old) and the total was about $236 USD. I hope its the right one! We leave on the 11th!

Hi Mar, It’s $20,000 in medical coverage if you use a Costa Rican insurance company like INS. This is right on the Costa Rica Tourism Board’s official website (“National insurances meet all the requirements to have coverage of medical expenses for illness, including COVID-19, for a minimum amount of $20,000 and coverage for extended lodging expenses or quarantine, due to pandemic illness, for a minimum amount of $2,000.”).

If you purchase through INS or Sagicor (the CR options), they are automatically approved to meet Costa Rica’s requirements. So you will be all set. Hope you and your wife have a great trip!

Quick question on the health pass. Do you have to provide details of all places you will be staying. I’m thinking of planning my stays as I go along in the trip instead of booking everything weeks in advance.

Hi Jo, The form only requires that you enter one destination address so you can just put the first place you’ll be staying.

Hi. I am interested in a vacation to Costa Rica but want to do more hiking, biking, adventure, surfing/diving, beach – possibly stay in a cabin vs the resort. What are you best ideas, areas, cities, locations. Thank you.

Hi Malia, There are a lot of places in Costa Rica that meet those parameters. We would recommend starting with our Destinations Guide . That will give you a feel for all the different towns we cover on our website – about 30. It links to our more detailed articles, so that once you find something that looks good, you can learn more about it.

Hi Jenn and Matt, I’m wondering if you’ve heard from anyone who has gotten confirmation from the ICT that they will accept the policy that INSUBUY and/or Trawick offers especially for Costa Rican entry insurance?

Hi Kirk, Yes, people have told us that they have successfully entered using both Insubuy and Trawick.

Hi Jenn & Matt

My wife and I are flying in around 7pm on 21/11. Would you recommend us booking accommodation in Alajuela (near the airport) or in San José? I guess baggage reclaim and entry process will take some time so we might not be out of the airport before 9pm.

We are Swiss and are going to use our Swiss insurance policy covering all essential elements according to the Costa Rican entry requirements. In case nothing will go wrong with the entry process I can let you know and you can share it on your web site. I could maybe very helpful for Swiss people thinking of travelling to Costa Rica during the pandemic.

Thanks Fabian

Hi Fabian, If your flight arrives around 7 pm, yes, we would recommend staying overnight near the airport. The airport process will take around 1.5 hours most likely, depending on how many other planes are landing at the same time. Here is a link to our article Best Airport Hotels Near SJO with some recommendations.

That would be very helpful if you could let us know how your entry goes using your Swiss insurance policy. Thank you for thinking of that. We will keepa lookout for your update. Hope you have smooth travels!

Hi Jenn and Matt

I just want to let you know that the entry process worked smoothly. They asked for the QR code, duration of being in CR, occupation and name of accommodation. Insurance policy was not requested to show again. I am glad everything worked out perfectly. Thanks for your advise!

That’s great to hear! Thanks for reporting back.

Hi Fabian, I’m curious how long it took you to get through the airport and where you wound up staying?

Hello Fabian, I like to enter Costa Rica with a Swiss travel insurance, possibly from my Krankenkasse. Which one did you use that was accepted?

I used Swica and my wife Sanitas. But don’t worry all Swiss insurance will work to meet entry requirements.

Dear Fabian

I am insured with CSS but they say that they do not cover the quarantine lodging. It seems I have to buy the extra insurance provided by the Costa Rican insurance company.

A few questions. Planning our first trip:

1) Any luck with UBER for getting around or is it better to go for the rental car route? Our flight arrives 11pm their time and we were hoping to get an UBER before we commit to a rental car. Is UBER allowed to operate at night past curfew?

2) I just read the details of my trip policy insurance and it doesn’t meet the $2,000 housing cost. Is there no way to self-insure? We have trip insurance already and our medical plan covers expenses out of the country. It seems over-the top to have 3 coverages just to get to the $2,000. Anyone else with this problem? For the length of our trip it would be $1,000 to insure through INS.

3) I’m looking for town recommendations inland within 1 hour of the airport for the final leg. If we can get in on multi-age pickup soccer/football that would be even better?

Hi Kari, Here are our thoughts on your questions.

1. We’re not sure if Uber can operate outside the driving restriction hours. Taxis can, but Uber may be different. We usually recommend people take official orange taxis from the airport. Rental car agencies will be closed when you arrive.

2. There is no way to self-insure, unfortunately. We have heard that there is a less expensive INS option with more limited coverage, that would cover you for the $2K in accommodation. You could contact an insurance broker in CR to see if they could help, since the INS website is not user friendly. Here is a link to a reputable company.

3. If you are flying into SJO, Jaco is about an hour away.

I rode an Uber recently during curfew hours and did not seem to have any problems except the low availability of drivers in the Cartago. I had to wait almost two hours to get a pickup.

Hello, Love your website, and your story! I was wondering if you’ve received any feedback from American travelers about having difficulty boarding their flights bound for CR due to insurance pending status, or other concerns from the airlines that those travelers haven’t met the destination country’s requirements?

Hi Maria, Most people are not having problems anymore now that the testing requirement has been lifted. We cover this issue in our post under the section Showing Your QR Code and Documentation to Airport Officials. So maybe go give that a quick read. Glad our site has been helpful to you!

I have a quick question in regards to car service after 10pm. The flight that we are thinking about taking arrives at 10:03pm and we would need to take car service to the hotel, however I wasn’t sure if they are running at that time due to the curfew hours?

Hi Michele, Licensed taxis and shuttle vans are exempt from the driving restrictions. So you won’t have any problems arranging transportation to your hotel after 10 pm.

Hi! Is there any chance you might know if its possible to take a boat from Nicaragua over to Costa Rica now with Covid restrictions? And cross the border that way instead of air/land? Have a lovely day!

Hi Alexandra, Not sure if you are talking about entering via river from Nicaragua or via ocean. The rivers are highly regulated and you wouldn’t be able to get in that way. For maritime entry by yacht or sailboat, you have to meet the same requirements as those entering by airplane so need insurance and to fill out the Health Pass. The ICT website ( ) has some information and a contact email in case you have more questions.

Hi! We will arrive to SJO next 30th Nov and read in some webpage that Claro airport office for SIM card closed in April, we imagine that because of COVID crisis.

Anyone can confirm if the office is already open? Our flight arrives at 20.00, will this office be open around 21.00 approx?

Hi David, We’ve heard from a few different people that Claro is back open at SJO Airport (Kolbi is still closed). I’m not sure if the office will be open that late. If they aren’t, you could always pick one up at a store. Here’s a link to some places that sell Claro: There are options around the airport in Alajuela.

Also, you may already be aware, but Claro’s network isn’t as big as Kolbi’s. If you’ll be traveling around, you may want to get Kolbi instead to have better coverage.

Sure, we just thought in Claro for the convenience of getting the SIM Card even before leaving the airport.

If this is not the case, we already heard about the better Kolbi’s coverage and definitely will go for that option.

Thanks for the reply!

At the baggage reclaim zone you can find a small CLARO booth selling you different SIM card packages.

I just found your blog and it’s been very helpful. I’m looking to come to Costa Rica for the first time in late Jan 2021 for about 7 days or less. What would be a guestimate on insurance thru one of the Costa Rican companies for this duration?

Hi Kaeleigh, Glad our blog has been helpful to you.

Sagicor is usually cheaper for short trips. They are around $11/day per person so $77 for 7 days.

Thank you so much for this useful information! It’s been a challenge trying to navigate the new travel requirements. My boyfriend and I were in Arenal in 2017 and can’t wait to return to see more of this beautiful country. We plan on visiting again sometime in the spring next year.

Hi Jenn and Matt, your website is amazing. My family is noodling over moving to Costa Rica for 4-6 weeks later this winter to avoid the Boston dreariness. We would be 5 adults (including my in-laws, who are 70+) and 3 kiddos, currently aged 3 months – 5). My husband and I will be working, so need a place that’s likely to have good WiFi, and since my in laws are older, we’d prefer to be within a reasonable distance to a decent hospital, should something happen with Covid. Between focusing our Villa rental search in the Manuel Antonio-ish vs Tamarindo area, do you see a clear winner? We also have a long history with carsickness with our little ones, but I think there should be a direct flight from Boston to Liberia and San Jose, Covid cancellations not withstanding.. Thank you!

Hi Bea, What a fun opportunity for your family!

The larger private hospitals closed in Liberia, near Tamarindo. There are good small private hospitals and clinics but the larger options are only in San José. So maybe for medical care, the central Pacific coast would be better. Fast internet can be found in either place.

Manuel Antonio is about 2.5 hours from San José. It has a great private clinic in Quepos though, if anything came up. You could also look at the Jaco area ( ), which is even closer to San José. There are some smaller beach communities to the south that are quieter and have more rainforest.

If you end up seriously doing this, we could help more with the logistics through our video chat service ( ). A lot of people have been coming for extended visits during Covid, and we’ve been helping them figure things out.

We purchased the insurance that Iberia airline offers in partnership with Allianz. We filled the Pase de Salud and we just got the ok from CR officers.

Insurance covers up to 60,000€ (approx 72,000$) for medical expenses and up to 1820€ (approx 2200$) in accomodation, for 60€ (72$) two people 11 days.

Useful at least to people flying with Iberia, we are from Spain.

Regarding ICT confirmation of an international travel insurance policy, does anyone have any idea how long one might have to wait for a response? We have contacted them 3 times in the last 3 weeks, twice through their e-mail address and once through their contact us section on their website. We are hopefully planning to come for the month of March, as we have been doing for the past 15 years. We don’t want to wait until the 48 hours before the flight, only to find out it is not accepted. Feeling frustrated…maybe someone can advise?

Hi Lindsay, We’re sorry to hear that you haven’t received a response yet. Some people have reported it taking a while but I haven’t heard three weeks. You could try reaching out through ICT’s Facebook page ( ). We were having a hard time reaching them for a client but got through using that. We would recommend writing your questions in Spanish to increase the likelihood of getting a response. You could just run it through Google Translate if you need to. If that doesn’t work, people have been giving the specific email addresses of employees at ICT who they were in communication with on some of the Facebook expats groups. Check there if you are in those. If you aren’t, let us know and we can see if we can find an old post for you with the info.

Hi! Your site was so helpful in the last few weeks before our trip, so I wanted to provide some tips that may be helpful to people looking for info from someone who has recently traveled to Costa Rica from the US, and a couple small hiccups some members of our group ran into that are easy to avoid.

Travel Insurance – Trawick:

We just had a group of several families spend +/- 10 days in Costa Rica. We all purchased the Trawick policy and it worked great. The cost for our family of 2 adults and 2 teenagers was $87 for 10 days versus $420 with Sagicor. -Make sure you select the Safe Travels Voyager plan as it is the only one the specifically includes the $2000 quarantine accommodations under the trip delay provision. (I spoke with a Trawick customer service rep prior to purchasing who was extremely helpful and knowledgeable if you have more questions.) -Also, if you do not need it to serve as traditional travel insurance, but JUST need to to meet the entry requirements for Costa Rica, set the cost of travel as $0. Obviously if you want the typical travel insurance coverage, enter the particular travel cost you want covered and it would still include the trip delay/quarantine accommodation provision required for entry. -In the email confirmation you receive, there will be a single page “visa letter” for each traveler. This is the document you need to show as proof of the proper insurance – have the copy for each individual traveler in your party.

Health Pass/QR code:

-When completing the health pass, use the form drop downs, especially the calendar for dates (if you type in dates in American format, it will tell you that you are not inside of the 48 hour window to complete, so just select from the calendar. Format must be day before month.) -Upon completing the health pass, make sure you receive an email with the full form that includes the QR code and all your details (name, flight, date, etc). We had some members of the group who did not receive the email, so they just took a pic of the QR code upon completion and ran into trouble. Able to board first flight fine, but when making connection in Houston (on United) the gate agent would not accept just the QR code as proof that they had completed the health pass, so they had to scramble and complete a whole new health pass on their phones at the gate before being allowed to board. Very stressful when making a tight connection. -The health pass can be somewhat confusing when completing for a minor child as the guardian. Complete the passenger info at the top of the page for the minor, then below is the information to add for the guardian of that minor.

While we were in Costa Rica (Guanacaste) we felt good in terms of the Covid protocols being followed and felt like the hotel and restaurant staff everywhere we went were following safe practices. We already wish we were back! Safe travels to all and Pura Vida!

Thank you for circling back with this very helpful information! Glad your entry went well.

Hey TM I’m traveling to CR next and I saw your recent detailed post. I’m planning to stay for 3 weeks at multiple accommodations via airbnb. Do you think I will have trouble getting approved on the health pass since I’m staying in multiple locations? Also just to confirm, you fill out the health pass within 48 hours of your flight correct?

You only have to put the address of your first destination, not all of them.

And yes, within 48 hours – it will not allow you to complete prior to that window. It is pretty straightforward, you shouldn’t have any troubles.

Thank you so much for the Trawick recommendation. It very helpful and we are all set for our trip. Was there anything that happened that you didn’t plan for with respect to traveling during covid?

Hi guys, I am grateful to you for all the info already presented here. I don’t know how you find the time to respond to every single question.

My question is for any Canadian who has recently arrived or purchased acceptable travel insurance for Costa Rica. I was initially depending on AC’s free Covid insurance, which from what I understand does not meet the full requirements and only covers trips up to 21 days. So I am back on the market for a cheap coverage that meets the Costa Rican requirements. My trip is about 24 days, age 53. My thinking is if I buy the Costa Rican pre-approved ones, the government may never lift this requirement – just like that dreaded exist tax. Anyone with any recent experience, please respond. Let’s know wherever you found cheap deals.

I am traveling to CR on Dec 17. I submitted an insurance quote from insubuy to [email protected] . I sent 3 emails so far to check if the insurance for my family of four is ok. So far no response. How long should I wait? Thanks for all the great info on your website

Hi Srinivasan, That is a long time to wait. We have suggested to others to contact ICT using their Facebook page: That worked for us.

Many people have successfully entered using Insubuy so as long as you buy the right policy that includes the $2,000 usd in accommodation coverage, we wouldn’t worry about it too much. You will be able to upload the policy when you do the health pass and it should be accepted without any problems.

No response to my messages via Facebook and email so far. I would like to get confirmation before I arrive to avoid any hassle.

We just searched some old Facebook threads for emails at ICT that people gave. Try this one [email protected]

Thank you for your great website and the very helpful information. We will be traveling through Costa Rica in January and would like to continue traveling to Bocas del Toro in Panama. Do you know whether it is currently possible to travel from Costa Rica to Panama by land or only by plane? Thank you very much for your answer.

Hi Tina, Land borders are still currently closed for tourists entering Costa Rica but they are open for exiting. So you would be able to leave to go to Panama but not get back in unless you fly.

Do you know of a Canadian Insurance provider who could provide an acceptable policy. Our daughter has coverage under her company benefits but I do not see it mentioned anywhere about covering the accommodation expenses for 14 days of quarantine. She will be staying with us. Any idea if that will be acceptable for that part?

Hi Joseph, I am not sure if your house will work to avoid the quarantine coverage if she is not traveling with you. People have been showing the deed, in their name, as proof. But you could write ICT to ask since she is a family member. Maybe it would work?

For Canadian residents, we have heard of people entering with BCBS. They request a confirmation letter from them saying that it covers Covid and the accommodation expense. Another option is Tugo:

Thank you for the great info, it’s helpful. If I want to continue staying in costa rica after 90 days, what must I do to renew the visa? Kindly advice. Thank you very much.

Hi Yvonne, Glad our site has been helpful! You will need to leave the country then fly back in, until they open land borders. The maximum visa length for tourists is 90 days. So then you’ll need to enter like normal and have the insurance for the full 90 days.

Thanks for reply. I’ll be flying into costa rica on 17 Dec, do you know if the below rule would change by then? I’ve not purchase insurance yet.

“On November 1, Immigration announced that the number of days granted to tourists upon entry would depend on the travel insurance purchased.”

We don’t think they will change this until the end of Covid. They want to make sure you have insurance for your whole visit in case you get Covid. They are trying to protect the health care system.

Hi! Can you suggest a Costa Rica website that details current entry requirements for yachts? Thanks!

Hi Ross, The Costa Rica Tourism Board says they people arriving by yacht need to meet the same requirements. So you need the travel insurance and to fill out the online Health Pass. You also need to show immigration the document “International Ship Sailing and Dock” in authorized marinas. Here is a link to the Tourism Board’s website: Only certain marinas are authorized entry points so you should contact them in advance for more details.

Hello everyone .I am going to CRfor 3 months,this insurence agency was recomended to me.In my opinion ,itis very advant ageus .Does anyone know if the Costa Rica goverment accepts .Thank you very much for any information Tony

Hi Tony, We’re not sure. We’ve never heard of that company. Maybe someone else will have had experience with it.

Thank you very much for this helpful information! I have one question on the Health Pass. I understand that one question is to list the countries you have visited in the last 14 days. If a US citizen has visited Mexico within the 14 days before arrival in Costa Rica, will there be any issues with entry? Thank you!

Hi Marie, No, you won’t have any problems. Costa Rica is allowing all countries in now. There are no restrictions.

Thank you! Just reserved a car using your link.

Do you happen to know if Costa Rica sells iso-butane fuel cannisters (for jetboil and other small cooking stoves)? I know there’s Walmarts there but unsure if they carry this fuel. I can’t find anything on the web about this.

I am so grateful so stumble upon your blog! My husband and I are traveling there for Christmas and NYE. I’ve read on your blog regarding driving restrictions and I’m curious if we are “required” to book all accommodations before we arrive. We typically wing our places since we never know how much time we’re spending in a general area. Also, do you know if campgrounds are open? We are planning on renting a 4×4 suv and hope to camp (about 50% of the time). Any insight is greatly appreciated˜!

Hi Anna, No, you aren’t required to have all your accommodation reservations made in advance so that won’t be a problem. You will only have to enter your first destination into the online Health Pass.

Yes, campgrounds are open like normal, subject to the standard health restrictions. Feel free to check out our rental car discount ( ) as you’re shopping around for a 4×4. Our readers get 10% off, a free second driver, and you could request a free cooler too!

Hi guys. Fantastic and informative website. Thanks so much for providing this. May I ask one question. Regarding the insurance. I don’t have an international travel insurance and I want to go to Costa Rica from Dec 30th until January 30th.

So I followed the advice given on the website here and compared the prices for INS and Sagircor.

Is it possible that the price difference is that extreme?

According to my research INS is 115 pound but Sagicor is 230 pound. It would be interesting to hear your opinion if this is possible.

There are 2 options for INS, one which covers accommodation expenses of 2000 and one of 4000 Dollar it must be. The 2000 one is enough isn’t it?

Or does the INS require already an international insurance as a basis?

Thanks so much for your answer in advance

Hi Sebastian, It is possible that there is such a big price difference. Sagicor has a fixed daily rate, whereas INS is more variable and tends to be cheaper for longer visits like yours. We are not sure of the particulars of the various INS options but their plans are preapproved by the CR government. Yes, you only need the $2,000 USD in accommodation coverage.

Many people are finding it helpful to go through a local broker in Costa Rica to get INS coverage. They can help answer your questions and send quotes to you, and they don’t charge extra. One company doing this that people have had good luck with is Best Insurance Costa Rica. They have information on their Facebook page about how to contact them for the required entry insurance: . We use them for our regular health and car insurance.

Hope that helps!

Have your heard if the Panama or Nicaragua land borders are open yet for tourists in Costa Rica to do border runs? If not, have you heard when they might be open? I have to leave by January 30 and hoping to do a border run returning back to CR.

Hi Charlene, Land borders are closed for tourists entering still. If they reopen, we will be updating this post as soon as we hear. We have heard rumors of them reopening in December but have nothing to substantiate that.

Jenn and Matt, I heard rumors too from my source in Nicaragua, who is in the tourism industry there, who has a contact inside Migracion in Costa Rica. In November, he said the rumor was reopening to tourists December 1, then December 15, and now he’s saying not until March. The head of Migracion was in a video in late October or early November saying that there’s a slow process and eventually will open for tourists. I was hoping by Christmas, but it appears that’s exactly what they are trying to avoid now, thousands of people coming across the border all at once. Citizens and residents, and their close family members are still allowed into Costa Rica by land border, so it would seem they would want to suppress the annual exodus of thousands of resident/citizen Nicaraguans back home to Nicaragua in December and their return in January. No one really knows what the infection rate is in Nicaragua and deaths are mostly listed as pneumonia. I have a close friend who is the person taking the samples for the Covid-19 tests and running the PCR machine at one of the major public hospitals in Managua, and he has informed me that the Nicaraguan government is publishing false information, that almost everyone that tests positive in the hospital dies, and that their deaths are not listed as Covid-19. So the virus could be raging at rates higher than anywhere else, and the resident/citizen Nicaraguans could be returning with a very unpleasant late Christmas present for Costa Rica.

Hello again. I was reading a Tico Times article about entry requirements which was published today, December 7, and it said that if you own property in Costa Rica, proof of ownership can waive the lodging expenses requirement for your insurance policy. We do own a small piece of property in the Osa and have proof, so we will check with ICT to see if we qualify. I thought I would post this in case it may apply to other travellers.

this is site a god send, thank you for tending to it so well. Its a great resource, My family and I are looking to go to Puerto Jiminez ( my fourth time to CR) at months end til mid January. I will be consulting this site to get more info as we near the departure.

I will ask if there’s anything we should know about traveling with a infant during this time ( that we wouldn’t already normally know? per Costa Rica ?

Just listing an Airbnb as a destination will suffice?

Thank you again for what you do

Hi Sebastian, No, there shouldn’t be anything different about traveling with an infant that you would need to know. They aren’t requiring the Covid test to enter so you won’t need to deal with that.

Yes, you can put the Airbnb house name and location on the Health Pass. Glad our site has been helpful. We hope your family has a great visit to Puerto Jimenez!

Hello, I’m flying to Costa Rica from Dec 26-Jan 4th. But, I’m seeing that Costa Rica is in the red right now and on high alert on the CDC website. Is that not the case?

Hi Kumi, I’m not totally sure, but I think Costa Rica has been Level 4 for a while. Not too much has changed lately. Active cases have actually gone down slightly since early December. Hospitalizations are up some, but there is still plenty of capacity. You can follow the situation with our other Covid post , which updates the data several times per week. Or, you could read this article from a local newspaper to get an idea. Costa Rica seems to be doing a pretty good job overall, but of course, everyone needs to continue to be careful. We recently got back from a trip to another region of the country and felt very comfortable with the precautions in place. We hope that helps!

Hi. I was recently in Costa Rica in November since the lockdown and since my last trip there in February 2020. I was surprised how fast the Immigration and Custom process went.

The most important part is to make sure you have/obtain the correct travel insurance coverage as required (make sure to note the one BIG different in requirement between the local and international insurance companies). Also, I found that Trawick International Travel Insurance that I used was a lot cheaper than the local ones (more than half the local ones). Make sure your travel insurance covers the WHOLE duration of your time in CR.

And then, 48 hours (2 days) before your travel date (that would be December 24 for you), check in with the Health Pass site to upload your insurance information. I have seen people (not being aware of this) and had to struggle at the gate just before boarding … very bad !!

Do you know what questions are asked on the health pass? (Other than what you’ve already stated in the article)

Hi Nate, The health pass also asks for your date of birth, email, phone number, sex, occupation, trip purpose, country of origin, countries visited in last 14 days, and name of traveling companions. If you want to see exactly what they ask, you can go through the form by putting in whatever information you want and then just not submitting it at the last step.

Hi Jenn and Matt Thank you SO much for all your information on CR. Does anyone know if the Travel Insurance included with Westjet (Canada) for 21 days is acceptable? I have tried to ask ICT multiple times and have had no response. And does anyone know of an acceptable Canadian Travel Insurance plan to extend our days of coverage? We are booked to travel in January for 61 days. Thanks!

I still haven’t heard about the Westjet included travel insurance being acceptable or not.

In the meantime I have found a quote from Trawick is quite reasonable. This is also available travelling from Canada. Also I went through the CR company that is recommended here by Jenn and Matt: They were prompt in their reply and were able to give me a two option quote from INS without the difficulties negotiating the INS website. Thanks

Hi Tanya, We follow some of the Costa Rica Facebook groups and most people think the Westjet policy does not meet the requirements. But some people have said they entered with it, no problem. You could join the group Costa Rica Resources for Expats and Tourists – if you use the search function, you can look up old threads.

We’re glad that Best Insurance was helpful.

Thank you so much for the link to the Facebook group. I think we will just either go with Trawick or INS via Best Insurance for peace of mind. This will be our second visit to CR. The first was a three week tour around, and now we are spending a month near Uvita and a month in Samara, to feel a little more settled into the lifestyle. Thanks for your terrific website as I have done loads of research through it! Really getting excited now!

Hello Tanya; Did you hear back about the Westjet coverage yet? I also have emailed but no answer…What day are you leaving? We are leaving Jan 16th and getting nervous about the insurance. Also, were you able to extend it? Thanks so much!

Hi Karen, We are also leaving Jan 16th! I have gone round and round in square circles and have decided that to be safe and hassle-free, we are going to get insurance for our whole trip on INS via . Hope this is helpful…. Perhaps we will be on the same plane ?? Have a terrific trip.

Good news! I got a reply back and she said the Westjet insurance is sufficient!! We just purchased the extra days from the Tugo site (which is the underwriter for Westjet) so what a relief!! Maybe yes we should be on the same flight; have a look for a middle age couple. I have shoulder length light brown and my hubby has grey hair and not much haha. Cannot wait!!

Fantastic! Thank you so much for letting us know! We are in our sixties, hubby is 6’6” and slender. I am shorter and plump! Haha.

Hi Karen. Question about the additional days you purchased. Does anyone know on the health pass if we can have more than 1 policy? Also does anyone know if lodging $2k USD is coverage for the family or per individual?

Leaving the snowy north in a couple weeks!

Hi Pamela, Yes, you can upload more than one policy to the Health Pass if you select international insurance. The $2K requirement is per person, not per family.

hi Jenn and Matt,

Moving ahead with our Costa Rica vacation and getting so excited!

We are flying to Puerto Jimenez the day after we arrive.

I’m traveling with two small children and would love to know an hotel near SJO airport that I you can recommend ( close enough so we can get back there the next morning for our Sansa flight at 1030am.

Sebastian, I can recommend a small hotel about 15 minutes from SJO airport in Alajuela called Hotel la Rosa de America. We stay there every year at the beginning and end of our trip. Rooms are comfortable and clean, gardens are beautiful, staff are helpful and friendly, and there is an onsite restaurant for breakfast and dinner. They can arrange a ride for you to and from airport…cost is $22 U.S. each way. Hope you have a wonderful vacation!

Hi Sebastian, Yes, La Rosa de America ( ) is a good option close to the airport. They have family rooms too. It’s in our SJO Hotel Guide ( ). You could check that out for some more ideas. Another excellent choice is Hotel Terrazas de Golf, about 10 minutes from the airport. Our readers get a 10% discount there too.

Thank you for this comprehensive post. I have a question about insurance. We have a global health policy from Globality Health that covers the health coverage requirement ($50,000 USD). But it does not cover the $2,000 in lodging coverage. However, we have Credit Cards with tens of thousands of dollars of room and a bank account with over $10,000 in cash available. If we show these documents will that be OK? We haven’t seen that answered anywhere.

Hi John and Lindsay, Unfortunately, proof that you have funds to meet the $2,000 is not enough. You have to have insurance coverage to satisfy the accommodations requirement.

Hi. I am traveling to Costa Rica on December 27th. I own a house in Costa Rica and will be staying there for 8 days. I have family in Costa Rica who are telling me that I no longer need the insurance to enter the country. Hoping you can clarify if it is still needed..? Any insights are appreciated. Thank you!

Hi Sandra, If you will be visiting on a tourist visa, you will still need the insurance (medical coverage for Covid) but not the accommodation coverage if you own a home. You just need to present proof of the ownership. Some people have used the registered deed. Here is a link with more information: Hope that helps!

My GeoBlue travel insurance policy did not have a $2000 hotel quarantine coverage, but since I was staying with a friend in a private residence, they waived this requirement. I don’t know if they will do that with every tourist, but in my case, I was granted the exemption.

I just arrived in Costa Rica on Dec 19, 2020. We purchased the Trawick travel insurance and had zero problems. It has a provision for Covid and Costa Rica’s requirements. $98 for a family of 4.

Hello, We arrived on Saturday from Montreal and the insurance provided with Air Canada (Manulife) is approved by the Costa Rican authorities. When we purchased our tickets, the insurance was included with the tickets but they changed that a few weeks ago and you now need to be an aeroplan user to have it included (it’s free to become a user if you are not). Hope this helps !

Thank you for the information, Marie-Claude. This will be very helpful for those traveling from Canada!

That’s great to know! 🙂 What kind of information did you have to provide on the health form to show proof of this insurance? Did you have to call Air Canada or Manulife? I am an Aeroplan user, so this will apply!

I called Manuvie and they sent to me the PDF of the insurance plan and I also added the email confirmation from Air Canada with the tickets numbers. Please note that is only valide for trip of 21 days or less

Hello and many thanks for your fantastic blog.

We are flying to CR on 30th of December from EU. Is it necessary to have a return flight ticket? We have to show it when entering CR? … We would like to buy return flight ticket from CR during the stay (flying back between 16-19 January)…. When we fill insurance form from INS and pay, we get papers and confirmation per return or do we have to wait hours/days for it?

Thanks a lot and I apologize for disturb

Hi Petr, Yes, you will need to show a return ticket out of Costa Rica. This has always been required. Perhaps you could get a flexible fare that would allow you to change the date. Otherwise, you could get a fully refundable ticket and just cancel it after you arrive.

The INS policy should come soon after you request the policy online. But we would do it at least 5 days or so before your trip just in case their online system is having problems, which it sometimes does. After that you will be able to do the Health Pass 48 hours before your flight. With an INS policy number to put in, you should receive your QR code instantly.

Hi. I’m at Costa Rica due an interview at the US Embassy for a visa. But today after the interview they asked me to stay longer, due some processing time. Now I’m very worried about the health pass. Any news about buying more insurance and then extending the health pass and days of my stamp? It would be really complicated to take a flight, spend 72 hours outside and then come back.

Also, always check your stamp when entering. I got 16 days of insurance and they put 15 days on my stamp. I’m very confused about what they consider day 1.

Hi Leticia, We have heard that you can extend your visa stamp by purchasing more insurance and going to the airport to request additional time for your stamp. We’re not sure of the specifics, though, sorry.

Thanks for the tip on making sure the number of days granted is correct. Hope everything works out for you!

Thank you very much for your response,… Last thing I would like to ask is, do you know about any international insurance approved by ICT which is for EU residents (travelguard, insubuy are fantastic, but only for US citizens)

Sorry, everyone we have heard from coming from the EU has bought the Costa Rica insurance. Maybe someone will be able to chime in with an option for you.

Hi, we purchased 15 days of COVID insurance, but want to stay in Costa Rica longer. What’s the process for extending our stay? Thank you

Hi Jon, The most recent information we have is that you need to first purchase the required insurance for the number of additional days you want to stay (total maximum, including the amount of time you have already been here, is 90 days). Then you have to go to Migration in La Uruca, San Jose and pay a fee (we think you need an appointment) to get the additional time. Again, this is all information we have heard secondhand and can’t verify.

Another way to do it according to this website from a reputable law firm is to purchase the insurance and then make an appointment with Migration to file for residency in Costa Rica. The insurance plus the Migration appointment is supposed to be enough if anyone ever questioned you, even if you have no intention of actually filing for residency. But again, the law firm makes it seem like this isn’t totally legit either. This issue is a gray area now. Good luck!

Hi there – Great detail here. The best I’ve found in one place. Do you have any information about the COVID precautions being taken by Costa Rica’s domestic airlines (Sansa, Green, etc)? And are they generally sticking to schedules or are they cancelling flights that don’t fill up? I need to get from SJO to Tambor on arrival and am deciding between a short connecting flight and a much longer drive with a hired driver.

Hi Joran, Honestly, we have not heard much lately about how it is going with the domestic airlines so we can’t help on this one. You could try asking in one of the Costa Rica Facebooks groups to see if others have experience. A large one is Costa Rica Resources for Expats and Tourists .

Hi, thanks for the most thorough information! Do you know if it is possible to get the INS insurance at SJO airport. I know one can get it via their website, but I’m wondering if it is possible to get it at the airport also (in case something is wrong with my international insurance). Thanks a lot!

Hi Emi, Yes, you can buy INS at the airport if you need to if there are any problems with your international insurance. Someone from the Tourism Board would be there to help you.

Hi all, here’s my experience entering Costa Rica Dec 23, 2020: insurance from non-CR companies will take review time and may be rejected if policy does not state clearly about accomodation expenses coverage. Mine was Assist Card (ICT approved) from Argentina. Finally I paid for SAGICOR, got the Health Pass validated and went through inmigration control in less than a minute at SJO. I still have my own insurance in case of accidents, only hired SAGICOR as it’s mandatory to enter the country. It’s about U$D 10/day, seemed like a waste of money but my advise is…if you’re really tight on your budget avoid travelling during covid era straightaway. Great website guys, thanks!!

Hello, I will be traveling on the tourist visa in January and will buy international health insurance in US. We own a condo in Costa Rica and don’t need to pay for lodging. How can we get an exemption from $2,000 lodging insurance requirements? What kind of proof can we provide? I emailed to various entities but received to no reply.

Hi Maria, We have heard of people showing the deed for their house to avoid the accommodation requirement. I think it has to have your name on it. People have also mentioned having a lawyer in Costa Rica write a letter on their behalf.

Matt and Jenn,

Thank you for the blog! My fiance and I have been thinking about coming to Costa Rica in January so I have been checking this almost daily. We are so torn if it is responsible to be traveling to CR from North Carolina where we currently live. We plan on quarantining and getting a covid test just to make sure we do not travel while sick, but I still worry that is selfish for us to take a vacation in Costa Rica. Can you share your thoughts on this as Americans who are currently living in Costa Rica?

Hi Gina, It sounds like you are being very responsible with how you would travel since you plan to quarantine and get tested. We wouldn’t feel bad at all coming and think the opposite actually about being selfish. Tourists are being welcomed in the country by and large right now, since so many locals have been struggling fincially since Covid. So definitely come if you are up for a trip. Costa Rica really is a great place to travel right now. We have taken a few small trips within the country and have felt very comfortable overall. Hope that helps!

I am looking to book a flight from the Netherlands to Guatemala with a layover in Costa Rica. Does Costa Rica have any travel bans, covid testing requirements, or any other precautions I need to observe just for the layover (i.e. landing in SJO but not leaving the airport)? I am not a Costa Rican citizen or anything.

Hi Talia, Costa Rica has no travel bans or restrictions at all right now. And definitely not for travelers who only have a layover here. So you should be all set.

I just purchased Manulife Insurance (on December 29) for an extended stay starting early January. I emailed ICT attaching my confirmation letter outlining compliance with the required coverage amounts, as well as the policy itself (the cover letter states that the policy covers me for my full stay in Costa Rica). I received confirmation that the policy does indeed meet the requirements — and I got a response within 2 hours! I also had friends that purchased Manulife for an extended stay — and they had no issues with the health pass or immigration upon arrival in late November. A few things to note: the Manulife Policy now includes the trip interruption (which covers the lodging costs) as part of the entire policy rather than an add on. So if you buy the Manulife Covid policy, you will have the lodging covered. Also, I worked with a great agent that did a lot of research — while the approved Costa Rican policies will get you into the country, the coverage does not include some critical components (i.e. repatriation). So if you are an international traveler, best to choose a comprehensive policy and get confirmation that it will meet the entry requirements.

Hi Bari, Thanks so much for the information. We updated our post to include Manulife as an option for Canadians. It’s great that it looks like their quarantine coverage meets the $2k USD requirement. That seemed to be a problem for many other options in Canada. We also made sure to remove your last name. Thanks again!

Hello Bari I looked up Manulifes covid policy and it stated $2000 CAD for the lodging, whereas CR’s requirement is asking for USD. Did you have any questions from ICT or immigration. regarding this? I was thinking of emailing them the policy and seeing if they will approve it. Thanks in advance!

Hi there thanks for the info you provide in this blog it’s been very useful throughout my travels through CR. I am currently in san jose, having been forced to extend my stay by two extra days while I wait for negative pcr test results. I have a question about the extension of my stay: -the insurance for travel I had purchased doesn’t include the extra two days, is that going to be a problem? -also, I think border authorities at the airport had stamped my passport and included the number of days I’d stay here, which is now longer – that could also be a problem? Thanks! Andrea

Hi Andrea, Technically you’re overstaying your visa. It’s likely that no one will notice but they could fine you. Probably not a huge deal, though. If you explained why you had to overstay, it should make sense to them. No one will check about the insurance but you could buy 2 more days if you wanted to, to be safe.

Hi Guys, I have to fly from the US to CR in May 2021 for a 4 week stat. I was student in CR until Covid hit and the completion of our classes is in May. I understand that we need add’l insurance now, but can’t read Spanish (the insurance websites are in Spanish). Do you or anyone know the estimated Covid Insurance cost in US dollars for a 4 wk stay in CR? I really appreciate your help and your blog. I’ve been following it since March 2020. Thanks!

Hi Lisa, Sagicor is around $11 per person per day. INS is usually a little less expensive for longer visits like yours. We would recommend contacting an insurance broker in Costa Rica for help with the quote for INS. They don’t charge extra and can walk you through the process. One good option is Best Insurance Costa Rica. They have information on their Facebook page about how to contact them. They speak English.

Ohhh Thank you!!!!

Hey all! Thanks so much for your detailed site and for answering everyone’s questions. I was able to get into CR via Trawick no problem, though I never received an email (took a screenshot right away). What is your opinion if we change our flight to extend, and also extend insurance? Will there be any repercussions on being allowed into the country? I’ve heard of people doing this but not sure what happened when they left. We have been here since 17 December and have an original flight out on 24 January. Let us know your thoughts!

Hi Juliette, You’re supposed to request a visa extension through Migration after you get the additional insurance. For more info on that, see our response to Jon on December 28. Short answer is, probably nothing will happen but it’s still a risk. Someone could notice at some point that you overstayed, especially if you plan on coming back for another visit. It’s a fine for overstaying but is against the law so not a great idea. Of course, people are doing it still. Hope that helps!

Your website is fabulous – thank you for all the information. I haven’t been able to find an English policy form for INS. Do you know if the 2000USD accommodation coverage is for the cost of person / private accommodation (hotel or Airbnb) should we need to extend the trip because we test positive, or is it incase we need to go to a hospital and stay there? I interrupt it as the former. thank you very much again. Your website is fabulous!

Hi Clare, Yes, it’s to cover hotel/vacation rental cost in case you test positive and have to quarantine.

Glad our site has been helpful!

Hi! Great info. We are planning a trip in March. I’m a little confused about the medical insurance part. We are each traveling from the US and have our own medical insurance. Do we need to get a printout of what’s covered abroad? I understand the part about the travelers insurance and Healthpass. Thanks again!

Hi Roxie, The medical insurance is part of what you need to show for the travel insurance coverage. The travel insurance has to cover (1) Covid-related medical expenses and (2) accommodation expenses in case of quarantine. The medical expenses can be covered through an international policy or a carrier in Costa Rica. If you want to use non-Costa Rica insurance, yes, you need a printout that clearly says you are covered for Covid medical expenses for $50,000 USD or higher. The Tourism Board will review that document to make sure your insurance meets the requirements. Hope that makes sense.

Thank you for creating this fabulous website – it’s like one stop shop place for CR. Very helpful.

Question regarding insurance- if we buy Trawick International or Insubuy’s policy then do we still need or should email to ICT for their approval before submitting HealthPass? These companies have very good rates compared to the CR polices. We will be traveling to CR in 2 weeks.

Regarding Pacuare white water rafting – do you have any recommendations for a tour company? We want someone who can pick us up from our hotel near SJO, take us to the rafting site and then drop us at La Fortuna at the end of day? We plan to do one day rafting trip. Thanks in advance.

Hi Aakash, At this point, I don’t think you need to submit them for approval in advance by email. Many many people have entered successfully using these companies. You will still upload the information when you do the health pass online anyway.

We haven’t done ourselves or booked for a client the Pacuare River tour out of San José yet so we don’t have a recommendation for that.

Great, thanks Jenn & Matt for your quick response!

One question I have an international policy so I assume I’ll get a purple QR code after submitting Health Pass, right? Is the QR code generated immediately or it takes some time?

I’m asking because I wonder what happens in the following scenario: 1. I will fill the Health Pass and get a purple QR code 2. I will get my flight and in the meantime someone will validate my insurance? 3. What happens if at the CR airport I will found out that my insurance is not enough? Is there a way to buy other insurance at the airport?

My insurance covers all the requirements, but it’s kind a vague when you take a look at the English confirmation. All the details are in the contract that is in polish only.

Thank you in advance

Hi Jacek, I think the requirement is that the insurance certification be in English or Spanish so just make sure that whatever part you have in English clearly says it meets the requirements or it may not be accepted.

Yes, I think you would get a purple QR code. It will be generated instantly. Most likely, they will just review your documents when you get to Costs Rica and the airline may want to see them too. If for some reason your insurance isn’t accepted, then yes, you could buy local insurance at the airport. Hope that helps! Most people have been saying lately that everything went much better than they expected so try not to worry.

I love your site, it is very informative for those traveling to Costa Rica.

I arrived on November 8th my pass port was stamped for 81 days. Is there a way for me to stay until the match extension or will I have to leave on January 27th and come back?

Hi Bryan, If you arrived on November 8, your visa is automatically extended until March 2. All tourists who entered before December 1, 2020 got that automatic extension. So even though your passport stamp will be expired, you’re good until March 2 and don’t need to do anything. Here is an article that explains this:

Hi there, Happy New Year everyone!! My parents and I (Canadians) returned to CR just last Friday (Jan 1) As they are residents here, my aunt and I were the only ones who needed to purchase insurance. We got Manulife, which for 3 months came up to around $720.00 approx, which wasn’t bad at all. The one thing that gave us a hard time was the Health Pass. What I would say is make sure ALL information is completed properly. I know it says edit, but do not edit!! This causes a lot of problems. Take your time and fill it out. If no confirmation comes, as long as you have a code you’re ok I guess, but to be honest, it doesn’t hurt to resend in another Health Pass. I had to do that for my aunt and I, as my parents confirmations came back right away. When I redid my aunts and myself, it came right away too. Having a hard copy doesn’t hurt either, it may actually make it easier for the immigration officers to scan and check. This website actually helped a lot, and I appreciate the fact that the owners of it are keeping a close eye on immigration changes and so on. Very kind of y’all. Another thing: if you are flying with a guitar ( we flew with 3 guitars, 2 standard, 1 jumbo), do not pack your case. This may be common sense to some, but there are people posting on other websites saying to pack the cases and everything; don’t . Causes issues at security, as they need to check inside the case. Do loosen your strings a little bit just in case. And DO insist on gate checking if they say anything, especially with Air Canada (they are a bit….strange). Once at the gate, when they announce boarding for those who need extra time, go and present yourself and guitar and they should SHOULD allow you on to find space. We were fortunate to be able to take our guitars onboard. Anyways just somethings to think about and keep in mind. Everyone’s experiences are different but hopefully this helps. Stay safe and well 🦋🦋

Thanks for the info. It is a relief not to make that trip at the end of January. I hope to find a place in Jaco and move there before I make the border run.

Hi, I appreciate the attentiveness of this comment section. I came across a comment earlier about using World Nomads for insurance and it ending up being okay with the new $2000 Covid requirement– but I lost the comment and believe it was from many months ago . -I just am curious if you know anything else about this and if it is acceptable still or who to contact to check if it is accepted.All of the other options seem to be extremely expensive for 90 days of coverage … Thanks so much and hope to hear back xx

Hi Nicole, We haven’t heard anything about World Nomads since the last comment. We just looked up their policies briefly and didn’t see specific coverage for accommodation expenses due to a Covid quarantine. It does talk about quarantine under Trip Interruption, but the language is unclear. You could reach out to the company to see if they meet Costa Rica’s requirements.

Hi Jenn and Matt! Great site! it has helped us a lot with our planned year there starting on Tuesday the 12th. Dumb question that I can’t find an answer to. I bought the grupo ins policy for the first 3 months for my family. Question is: does this work like normal health insurance or is it only for covid? Like, if I broke my arm, would it function like a normal health insurance policy? Thank you in advance.

Hi Luke, We don’t know everything about the INS travel insurance coverage, but in general, yes, it would cover you for non Covid-related illness and accidents. Here’s a link to the policy language:

It’s in Spanish but you could upload the document using Google Translate.

Hi Jenn and Matt! This site has been incredibly helpful as we begin planning our trip. Thank you so much. One question: we are planning to come for 3 weeks in February and may choose to stay longer. Knowing this, we will likely purchase insurance for 5 weeks (incase we decide to stay) – do you suppose we will have issues with the health forms since our flight home is currently scheduled for only 3 weeks and will not match the dates on our insurance?

Hi Mira, It has always been a requirement to show a plane ticket out of the country. Even if you have 5 weeks of insurance, they will probably still base your visa length on your plane ticket exit date. Maybe not, but we wouldn’t risk it. If they did that, you’d need to get a visa extension for the extra two weeks in you decide to stay. And that process is not easy. So we would get plane tickets for the full five weeks, get a five week visa based on that, and then modify the plane tickets if you decide not to stay.

COVID Tests for Onward Travel – children under 6

Hello Jen and Matt – I really appreciate all the information you provide in your website. Great job!

We are a Canadian family of four that arrived on December 26th. As you may know, the Canadian government now requires a negative COVID test within 72 hours of your flight home. We are staying in Tamarindo, and based on your website were able to find the Beach Side Clinic in Huacas that has a drive through testing facility. I just found out today when I called to confirm our appointment that they cannot provide a test for my son who is 5 years old. They said we would have to go to San Jose. Do you have any advice on this?

On a separate, but related note, we are also considering staying longer than originally planned. INS insurance company confirmed this is no problem, but after reading your website I now see we have an issue with our tourist visa which only covers our original trip duration. Will we need to return to immigration at the airport in Liberia to obtain an extension on our visas? Thanks for any guidance you can provide!

Hi Steve, Glad you were able to confirm with Hospital Metropolitano that they can test your son!

On the tourist visa, yes, you are supposed to request an extension. A while back, people were saying you could do this at the airport by paying a fee. But we don’t know of anyone who has successfully done it at the airport. Otherwise, the standard protocol is to make an appointment at Migration headquarters in La Uruca, San Jose. There is supposedly a loophole to this, though – see our response to Jon on Dec. 28 for more details.

Thank you both very much!

Hello Jen and Matt – I’m trying to call the Direccion General de Migracion contact centre number “1311” using my Canadian phone but can’t find the right combination and keep getting an error message. Do you how I can call this number from my phone? Thanks!

Hi Steve, We aren’t sure you can use the hotline outside Costa Rica. You could call the main number to find out: (506) 2299-8100.

Hi Jenn and Matt, I would second all of the comments commending you both for such an informed site. Thank you very much

So like many others my fiance and I are not ready to leave Costa Rica after our 50 days stay. We would like to just spend an additional month here. I have read through all the comments and see that right now there is not really a firm answer on the best way to do this. I know you said that you have been unable to verify going to the airport and getting the visa extended, but can you confirm that a person has successfully extended their tourist visa at the Migration office at La Uruca?

Thanks very much

Hi Graeme, Yes, what you have summarized is how it stands now – there’s not really a firm way to extend your stay other than leaving by plane and coming back in. I assume you saw about the possible loophole where you make an appointment to file a residency application. Not that practical, though. We don’t know of anyone who had successfully gone to La Uruca for additional time. An immigration lawyer in Costa Rica would have a better idea, though. Let us know if you’d like the contact info for the firm we recommend.

Hello Jenn and Matt – I just sent a post a little bit ago requesting guidance on COVID tests near Tamarindo for kids under 6. Beach Side Clinic told me this morning that no one in the area can do tests on kids under 6. My apologies but I just reached out to Hospital Metropolitano in Huacas and they confirmed they can! Yay!

We need help, we have conflicting information. We would like to fly to costa rica in february (for 14 days), We know what are entry requirements for the country, one of them: “Purchase health insurance It is mandatory that tourists purchase travel insurance, covering their accommodations in case of quarantine and medical expenses due to COVID-19 illness”.

Oue questions: we need insurance for 14 days or 22 days? (“Foreigners with temporary or permanent residence or temporary category who return to Costa Rica, and who are not up to date with the corresponding payments with the Costa Rican Social Security Fund, must purchase a temporary local insurance for 22 days or bring an international insurance that complies with the requirements of a foreign tourist”).

Hi Katarina, If you are visiting as a regular tourist, you need the insurance for the exact length of your trip. In your case, 14 days. That other language is talking about people with legal residency in Costa Rica. It does not apply to you.

Thank you for the quick reply. You are very helpful 🙂

Hi Matt and Jenn! Thanks for your article. We are in the San Vito, Coto Brus area, scheduled to return February 2, and just found out about the testing requirement to reenter the US. Are you aware of any testing sites in San Vito?

Hi John, We just talked to a private clinic in San Vito and they said there are no private testing options in the canton/county of Coto Brus. Testing is only available through the public health care system, which requires that you be showing symptoms. So Uvita or Quepos would be your closest options, unfortunately. We are reaching out to labs and clinics in Rio Claro, Golfito, etc. so check back in case we can find something closer. The government is trying to get more labs to start offering the test so more may be added soon.

Thank you so much for your help!

HI there. So glad I found this blog. I am so confused about the insurance. My health care provider in the US can provide me with a declaration of insurance document showing I have $50000 of international health insurance. Would that work? When I talked to Anthem, they said they have been getting a lot of calls about this.

I’m so confused about the $2000 for extra stay in case you contract Covid while there. Couldn’t I just show a bank statement or a credit card limit document to prove I have funds to pay for accommodation?

Many thanks in advance.

Hi Nicole, Yes, that would work for proof of the $50,000 in medical coverage, as long as it explicitly says you are covered for Covid.

For the $2k accommodation piece, unfortunately, the only way to satisfy this requirement is through proof of insurance. People have been saying that Trawick is the least expensive option for US residents. Otherwise, you could reach out to a local broker in Costa Rica to see what the options are for covering only the accommodation piece. If you search the comments for Best Insurance, you will find contact details.

Hi! This is a very helpful site! I lived in Costa Rica in the early 90s when I was in my 20s, and I’m excited to go back with my family in Feb. However, our plans may be foiled. I just read about the new Covid testing requirements. I see that a test must be performed between one and three days prior to boarding the flight to Costa Rica. Is it true that rapid test is not acceptable? I saw that on one website, but I can’t find it confirmed anywhere else official. Rapid testing is available but the PCR testing in New York does not come back reliably in that timeframe, so we would have to cancel our trip which is so disappointing!

Hi Catherine, Currently, Costa Rica does not require a negative Covid test to enter Costa Rica. This was eliminated in October. Maybe you are thinking of the new CDC order that requires US citizens to show a test when flying from abroad. Costa Rica has many testing facilities. You can read our post, Where to Get a Covid-19 Test in Costa Rica for more details:

Oh wow! You are right. I read that wrong! I was on the CDC website on the Travel to Costa Rica page. It says to get tested 1 -3 days before you go to Costa Rica, but that must be their recommendations and not the Costa Rican requirement. Thank you so much for clarifying and for your quick response! I will check out the link to the sites in Costa Rica that will test us before we leave.

Just wondering why people are getting in using manulife however the policy covers $2,100.00 canadian an not american. Thanks for all of the help 🙂 My husband and I are looking for cheaper insurance and we are travelling from Toronto Canada.

Hi Tayla, Go search the comments – a couple of people who used Manulife explained how it worked for them. See Bari on December 30, 2020 and Marie-Claude Lepine on January 17, 2021.

Hi I think I posted my comment in reply to somebody instead of scrolling down to here. sorry about that. Thank you so much for all the information you share so freely. It is very helpful. My husband and I are planning to apply for residency immediately upon arrival in CR. We will probably take out INS policy for a certain time but after we have presented our application for residency, whilst waiting for the CAJA to kick in would we be required to keep on paying the INS COVID cover for the whole time leading up to obtaining this residency status or can we take out plain old health insurance. Asking because this can take months to come through and wouls be exorbitant. Thanks in anticipation

Hi Lizzy, Unfortunately, we think you will still be considered tourists for entry purposes until your residency application is approved. They will stamp your passport for the number of days you have purchased insurance so you will want to get 90 days. Once you apply for residency, you won’t need to leave the country for visa purposes but will have to if you want to drive, since your foreign drivers license renews concurrent with your visa stamp. So then to get in again, you will need additional days’ worth of insurance. We think that is correct but it’s best to check with a local lawyer.

Isn’t that a bit weird? Having applied for residency upon arrival we would also want to apply for CR driving license. It would be strange not to be able to drive around until your residence came through. I will check this out tho because it doesn’t make sense. Thanks for all your advice. It is so valuable.

Yes, it is weird and doesn’t make sense but that’s how it is. You can’t get a Costa Rican drivers license until your residency is approved. It actually gets crazier too – once your residency is approved, you have to wait for your visa stamp to expire by one day before you can go get the license. We went through this a few years ago. Had to keep doing border runs while our residency applications were pending in order to drive.

Wow, it’s fantasmagorical. Thanks for your insights

Hola! I have a question regarding length of visa/new policies on entry. I am a Canadian, currently in Costa Rica with my partner. We intended to be here January 2nd to February 27th. A couple days ago we got an email from our flight carrier WestJet informing us that our flight had changed due to reduced flights and cancellations. We are now departing on the 28th of February. We entered with blue cross- I had screen shots confirming the coverage of covid related issues, the summary of travel benefits, as well as an email from a Tourism official saying the documents provided were sufficient for entry. Needless to say our passports are stamped with a 57 days not 58 days. Any advice on how to proceed? Insurance is not an issue as we are covered for the full amount of time we are away but we also don’t want to break the rules of entry with customs. Any tips or info on who to contact for info would be great!

Thanks for this great blog! It was super helpful before and during our trip! Pura Vida!

Hi Kyrsten, We wouldn’t worry about being one day over. Yes, it is technically overstaying your visa. But odds are no one will notice since it is only one day. And if they do, you can explain the circumstances to them about your flight getting changed and how it was out of your control. Have documentation about that handy in case anyone asks. It’s good that you have your insurance for the extra time. Shouldn’t be a big deal. Hope you enjoy the rest of your trip!

Hi Jenn and Matt! Thanks for all the great info! I had a question about insurance…weird right? I am a Canadian citizen, living in the U.S. on a Green Card, and will be traveling to CR for 3 weeks. Which insurance do you recommend for me? I don’t know what’s considered a “longer stay.” Here in the U.S., anything over 2 weeks is unheard of. Everywhere else, 3 weeks is considered mediocre. Also, how is it in Jaco right now? This will be my fourth time visiting Jaco and I’m wondering how different my trip will be this time. Thanks for all your help!!!

Hi Christian, By longer stay, we meant around a month or more. A lot of people are coming for the full 90 days because they have work and school virtually.

The cheapest insurance option is probably Trawick. Not totally sure but you may be able to get it because you are living in the US (it is for US residents only). For the Costa Rica options, Sagicor is probably cheapest.

As for what it’s like, Jaco has a lot going on right now. Not as busy as normal in January but busy enough to be fun. Here’s a link to our post about what it’s like to travel in CR now with more information:

Hi, my wife and I would like to come to Costa Rica for our 40th wedding anniversary. Do you think this is something that is doable and is there any company you know of that is doing tours at this time?

Hi Kirk, Yes, many companies are doing tours in Costa Rica right now. Tourism is down some but there are still a lot of people traveling. You can read our post, What It Is Like in Costa Rica Right Now ( ) for more information.

Hello! Some sites say you might be asked for proof of economic solvency. Is this usually the case recently? Bcos at the moment I’m not sure yet how to secure a bank statement online thru my bank since I’ve been traveling too. Any kind of info would help. Thanks a lot!

Hi Joanne, No, normally that is not a requirement for entering via air. Sometimes they ask for it at the land borders (which are currently closed to tourists entering), but not the air borders.

Hello, Do you know if there’s any way I can exit CR and return in one day to extend my stay? Or, can I extend my stay somehow? I am teaching remotely in Jaco, CR, and my 90 days is up on Feb 18. I entered on Nov 21. I’m unclear on whether I can stay until March 2. I am teaching in a college in New York, and the semester ends May 15. It will be difficult for me to board a plane while teaching during the week, and I am afraid to catch Covid by travelling internationally. Please let me know if you can help. Best, Shane McConnell

Hi Shane, If you entered on Nov. 21, your visa was extended until March 2. That extension applies to people who entered before Nov. 30.

Since land borders are closed, you can’t do a border run to renew your visa, unfortunately. You can’t get an extension beyond 90 days. 90 days is the limit. There is a strange loophole where you can make an appointment to apply for residency in Costa Rica (even if you don’t intend on actually applying), but I think that only applies to those who entered after Dec. 1. Here is a link with more information. You could ask an immigration lawyer if there are any other options.

Thank you for this detailed reply. I’m determined to not board a plane for a few months. Can you recommend a local lawyer I could hire to help me?

Sure, we will send you an email with the contact information now.

Hi Jenn and Matt, thank you very much for all of this helpful information. We are planning on visiting CR for a week and had a question about the insurance requirement. Just in case you had the info at your fingertips. If not, no worries. We are with a health sharing organization (not insurance) that can write a letter to the effect that any needs we have up to $125,000 can be shared and covered. Would you recommend that we reach out beforehand or do you know of others who have entered CR with that type of medical arrangement? Much appreciated!

Hi Marshall, Glad our information has been helpful!

We don’t know of anyone who has entered with coverage from a health sharing organization so we would recommend reaching out to ICT beforehand. Make sure you are also covered for the mandatory $2,000 in accommodation coverage in case of quarantine.

Hi Matt and Jenn – so to get it right, all we need to enter CR is the Health Pass questionnaire answered and Sagicar(sp?) insurance for the number of days we plan on staying, correct? And to exit and enter the USA, all we need is an email or letter form the lab saying we are negative, right? Thanks for your blog!

Hi Carlos, Yes, that’s right for what you need to enter Costa Rica. To get back into the US, under the current CDC requirements, yes, you just need an email or a letter from the lab with the negative test result. We have a separate post that breaks down the CDC requirements if you would like more information. Here is the link .

Thanks so much guys! We are going to wait a while since the COVID tests are super expensive compared to other countries. Right now it is not worth it for us since we were planning a quick 4-5 day stay, but we’ll try again. Thank you so much for the info – you folks are the best. By the way, they now offer COVID tests in the Marriott property in Guanacaste as well.

Hello, Thank you so very much for your website/forum, it is immensely helpful. I am a U.S. national I entered the country following all requirements, I was issued a 31 day visa to coincide with my insurance coverage and departure flight, I own property in CR. I now wish to extend my visit by 2 weeks, I am unable to make an appointment with migracion ( ) as the online portal is not functioning and for a week the phone line for appointments (1311) has a message which says “try again later”, as a result extending as suggested by the CR Govt. is not an option. Do you know if it is possible to access immigration at the airport, without a flight arrival/departure to speak with an immigration officer to request an extension? Secondly, I understand the inherent risk of overstaying ones visa,( my arrival date did not coincide with the moratorium) do you know or have you heard of the penalties or repercussions of overstaying ones visa by 2 weeks in the time of Covid? ( I would extend my insurance coverage) Again thanks so much for your time and information.

Hi Mac, What a pain that you cannot use the Migration portal or get through using the hotline. That is strange that the hotline is not working – are you calling using a Kolbi phone? We have heard about going to Migration at the airport, but nothing specific. I don´t think it will help you at this point since Migration now has a system in place for how to request extensions, even though it isn´t currently working. You could go through a lawyer here to see if they have any ideas on how to reach Migration.

Fines for overstaying your visa are temporarily suspended due to Covid. But they will be collected retroactively once/if they start up again. Here is an article with more information. One thing to be careful about is if you overstay and are driving, your foreign driver’s license will not be valid since it renews concurrent with your visa. Hope you can get this figured out without too much trouble!

Hi Mac! Can you let me know if it is possible to renew at the airport or if you find there’s another way? I have the same issue with migration. The system seems to be unresponsive.

We just heard that the reason Migration’s website is down is because of a security breach. A law firm here reported about it recently.

Hello and thank you for this informative article. We are from the USA and will be coming next week. We have a home in Costa Rica, do we need the accomidation insurance as well??

Hi Kevin, People who own a house have been showing proof of ownership, like a deed, to avoid the accommodation coverage. There is nothing formal in the Migration regulations about this but we know of several people who have entered successfully this way. Here’s a link with more information. Safe travels next week!

Hi I will be traveling in a month with my husband and parents.. my husband wa shorn in cr and has a cédula. Do we need to get insurance or no?

Hi Cynthia, You would need to be paying into the Caja to not need the insurance, we believe.

Thank you for the reply. What’s the caja? And do you know who I should call to find out if I need insurance?

The Caja is the public health care system in Costa Rica that all citizens and residents have to pay into. You need to either show that you are paying into that system so that it will be available to you when you’re here in case you get Covid, or if you aren’t paying into it, you’ll need to purchase travel insurance to cover you. You can ask a lawyer in Costa Rica for sure but we are fairly certain that is the case.

Also do you know around how much will insurance be for 20 days of stay or 15 days? What is the best way to go about it? Also do we pay for it all online? Thank you

Our section on Insurance in this post has all the details for this. There are Costa Rica insurance options as well as international insurance options. The international ones, like through Trawick International, are cheaper. Here’s the link to Trawick’s site for US residents where you can get a quote to get an idea of pricing, or if you are coming from outside the US, here is a link to one of their international policies.

Flight delays from Chicago have resulted in change in flight number, maybe in delay until next day. This means Health Pass will have incorrect info for flight number and seat assignment. Can I use my “old” Health Pass which was correct when I left for airport? Or do I need a new health pass? If so, how do I correct the existing one? Or must I create a brand new one? Will the system allow me to create a new one?

Hi Leslea, We aren’t sure but would assume you can still use your old health pass. You can’t edit the date of arrival field after you receive a QR code. Hopefully the airline was able to help you with this.

Hi! We are considering a trip to Costa Rica in June 2021. All 4 adults have been vaccinated with both shots and our kids (ages 11,9,9) have not due to vaccine not being FDA approved for kids. Does this change any of the requirements for COVID health insurance requirements?

Hi Cindy, This could change, but currently, Costa Rica still requires the travel insurance even if you have been vaccinated. We just came out with an article that answers this, and other frequently asked questions, so please check it out: Costa Rica’s Required Travel Insurance: 15 FAQs .

Both my husband & I have had both doses of the Moderna Vacine. Are we still required to purchase insurance?

Hi Pamela, Yes. Please see our separate post Costa Rica’s Required Travel Insurance-15 FAQs , which answers this and other questions.

Thank you so much for the info! Incredibly helpful!! I am traveling to CR in April for a yoga retreat leaving on the 24th. When I get my travel insurance do I need to extend my coverage date of 14 days past this in the event I need to quarantine?? I’m a bit confused if I use my scheduled departure date or a later date.

Hi Shannon, Your insurance needs to be for the duration of your trip (i.e., the dates of your plane tickets in and out of the country). You don’t need to extend it to allow for a potential quarantine. That’s what the $2,000 accommodation requirement is for. Here is a link to an article we just came out with re FAQs About Costa Rica’s Required Travel Insurance . Check it out.

Thank you for helping to clarify! I wasn’t sure how it would work if I needed to extend my stay due to a positive COVID test. From what I’m reading in your link this would be covered under the “extended stay” section of the policy?? I think??

Hello! Thank you for all of the helpful info! We are traveling to CR in a week from the US for the first time! I am trying to purchase insurance and using the link for INS, but I cannot confirm if the coverage I selected is for two travelers. It does appear that I can enter both names, but I only enter one passport number. Can you confirm if the coverage is for two travelers, and the coverage is sufficient for each person?

Hi Lindsey, I’m not exactly sure what you have is for two people since I can’t see what you have before you. I would recommend asking a local insurance broker for help. They work with INS and can help you for free. Our post on Costa Rica’s Required Travel Insurance ( ) has more info about using a broker and gives contact info for one. Good luck!

Just wondering if the airline will send us the health pass to complete or is that something we have to initiate on our own?

Thanks so much for this VERY informative post!

Hi Mickey, The airline may remind you but you will need to do the health pass yourself. We have the link to it in our article. Don’t forget that you can’t access it until 48 hours before your flight.

Glad our post has been helpful!

Hi and thank you for all the information.

My question is very basic, I guess. My partner is coming from Germany and we plan him to stay for more than 3 months. Since border-runs can’t be done atm, does it work the same if we leave by plane to another country and come back to CR? Will his tourist visa be extended? (Assuming that when coming back he has to pay the insurance again like he was entering the first time) and lastly, how long would we have to stay abroad for his visa to reset?

Thank you so much and sorry for all my questions!

Hi Paola, Yes, that is how visa runs are being done right now. You just have to leave CR by plane and go to any other country. There is no set time for how long you need to be out so it can be a very short trip. He will need to buy insurance for getting back in. Make sure he buys the exact number of days he wants to remain in the country because that is how they are stamping visas. So if he wants to stay 90 more days, buy 90 days’ worth of insurance. His plane ticket out of CR should match his insurance.

Hello, Just wondering if I should fill out a new health pass since my flight was postponed by 1 day. Or is it okay that my health pass had today’s date as the arrival?

Hi Mickey, We aren’t sure but would try to fill out a new one.

Hello, I do not have a smart mobile phone. If I get the Trawick Insurance from your link and then 48 hours before my flight I do the health pass (all off of a laptop) can I just manually enter my Trawick policy # into the health pass? I don’t know what upload means. And what documentation do I need to bring with me?

Hi Charlie, Yes, you can do it that way. It will actually be easier to do from a laptop. You will just select International insurance then there will be a place where you can attach the file for your Trawick policy. Trawick will email this file to you. It’s very easy. Once you do that and finish the health pass, it will generate a code that you can show the airline when you check in. If you don’t have a smartphone, you can just print it out. That should be all you need but I would bring your Trawick policy just in case the airline or Costa Rica wants to see it.

Jean and Matt, By attach the file do you mean to just type in the information needed from the Trawick policy to the health pass?

I wish I could show you a screenshot of what you will need to do. Here’s how the insurance part of the Health Pass will look. It will say: Travel Insurance Company – you select International When you do that, some drop downs will appear. You will enter your coverage start and end date. Then there will be a part that says “Upload insurance file to validate”. When you click the box, it will let you add an electronic file/document. You will add your Trawick insurance policy that was emailed to you when you bought the policy. The CR government will want to see the actual policy and not just the policy number because they need to make sure that it meets the $50,000 in Covid medical coverage and $2,000 in accommodation coverage.

Hi! Thank you for your website and the helpful information! We just came back from Costa Rica. We rented a car and we spent 14 days in the following beautiful places: Poas Volcano, La Paz Waterfalls, Starbucks Coffee Farm, Tortuguero, Limon, Cahuita National Park, Puerto Viejo, Manzanillo National Refuge, Jaco, Carara National Park, Manuel Antonio Park, Marino Ballena Park (Uvita), Nauyaca Waterfalls, Hacienda Baru National Refuge, Montezuma, Samara Beach, Tamarindo, Playas Flamingo and Hermosa, Liberia, Ricon de La Vieja National Park, Rio Celeste Waterfall, Arenal Volcano, Tabacon Hot Springs, Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park, La Fortuna Waterfall, Monteverde Cloud Forest, Reserva Bosque Nuboso Santa Elena Forest, Irazu Volcano.

Hi Matt and Jenn, thank you so much for all the information. We will be traveling there in two weeks and would like to know what happens if our Covid tests come back positive? How can we obtain a letter or certificate from a public health official or doctor saying we have recovered and can travel (back) again?

Hi Isabel, If you test positive, the Costa Rica Ministry of Health will issue you a 14 day quarantine order. After that time, you could go to a medical clinic or hospital with your positive test result to see if they could write the letter saying that you have recovered. They should be able to without a problem.

Thank you so much!!!

Thank you for this great article Jenn & Matt! I’m heading back down in a couple weeks and in pre-pandemic times I normally buy two one-way tickets to CR because I don’t always know my departure date. However, in this case after reading through everything I know I need to have my return flight match up with my insurance. Would you recommend buying a round-trip in this case vs two one-ways? I know it’s still technically allowed to have two one-ways but I’m trying to minimize complications and make it a smooth process I just run the risk of having to incur the costs of changing that return flight.

Follow up to that – If I bought 90 days of insurance with a return 90 days later and decided to come back to the US sooner would that create any issues?

Thank you putting together such a useful resource here! Any advice would be much appreciated.

Hi Kyle, We don’t think having two one-way tickets should cause any problems. It shouldn’t matter if you show a one way or round trip as long as it has you leaving within 90 days.

If you leave early, that wouldn’t cause any problems.

Best wishes for smooth travels back to CR!

Jenn and Matt, I can’t thank you enough for your guidance. Your site was the most helpful resource for us to plan our vacation. We just got back from a marvelous week in Costa Rica. We had no trouble booking our Covid test to return to the US; the entire process was smooth and efficient. Just a note concerning the receipt of the results, we had the rapid/antigen test done at Clínica Bíblica in San José, which they say takes 2 hours. but I wasn’t holding them to it, knowing they must be very busy, but after 4 hours, I decided to find out if there was a delay, so I called the hospital and spoke in Spanish with someone about our results. Thankfully the person answering the main number had access to our results and was able to email them to us. Not a big deal but just something to keep in mind, especially if you’re getting a test at the last minute.

Hello! Thanks for this very helpful website. My family has referenced it frequently. We are currently in CR winding down our 2 week stay. We are thinking of now staying 1 more week. Does anyone know if I can just go ahead and purchase more insurance or if there are some official CR policies or rules/things we would need to do to extend our stay 1 extra week? We currently have a return ticket for Saturday 17 but want to push that to Sat 24th.

Hi Jenn, Officially, I think what you are supposed to do is purchase additional insurance for your stay and email it to the CR government. This is because the government has extended the validity of tourist visas until June due to Covid so you can fall into that category even though you’re only staying a little past your original visa stamp. Here is a link that explains more and gives the email for who to send your information to:

Hi, I was in the process of purchasing the Trawick Insurance(figured since you recommended and it would be a way to help you in some way with commission…why not?!) but I had a few questions so I thought I would give them a call. They still had an old message from being closed for Easter, no problem, I will call tomorrow. Then I started reading the reviews…..some even specific to buying the insurance for Costa Rica…the reviews are overall horrible. The majority of recent reviews are 1-2 stars and mostly saying they are a scam. Now I am super nervous to go through with the purchase. Have you worked with this company recently? Are you confident that they are reputable and reliable? Thank you for your blog and all of your hard work.

Hi Cyndi, We have not personally used Trawick ourselves as we are residents in Costa Rica and don’t need the insurance. But many of our friends have without problems. We also monitor several locals’ groups on Facebook for people living in or traveling to Costa Rica. People are talking about the insurance requirement every day on these forums. We have not heard any negative reports about Trawick. We did see a review from someone on a website about how they could not enter the country with it and had to purchase one of the Costa Rica insurance options at the airport last minute (Sagicor). Literally thousands of people have used Trawick to enter, including people we know personally, and this is the only problem we’ve heard of. It is definitely good for entry. Trawick is a legitimate company; we have emailed and talked to them several times and their customer service has been very responsive whenever someone has needed a change to their policy details after purchasing.

As for how they are if you have to file a claim, we haven’t heard anything negative. We would recommend joining some of the Facebook groups and searching on there for people’s experiences. One of the largest groups is Costa Rica Resources for Expats and Tourists: . If you search “Trawick claim” there is a good thread with the admins of the group saying they have not heard anything negative. Of course there are probably dissatisfied people out there (most insurance companies have overall bad reviews online), but most Costa Rica travelers are just buying it for purposes of entering the country because it’s inexpensive. If you are worried, you could go with another company and pay a little more for the peace of mind. We hope that helps.

Thank you, this is very helpful. I agree that you will △⃒⃘always have people that are dissatisfied. Most of the reviews I read the people that seemed happy did not actually need to use it. Regardless, I am going to go ahead and purchase it today and will do so through your link in hopes that it helps you a little for keeping up with all of this. Thanks again for your time.

So sad. I may have taken my last trip to Costa Rica last week when the nightmare began. I wish I had come across your page before I had left. (Several folks I met while briefly there told me about your webpage). Anyway, I have very good insurance with Blue Cross, and when I got the QR code I had submitted pages of documents along with a coverage letter. When I got to Costa Rica the deal changed. Everybody (without exception) who had not purchased insurance through the Costa Rican INS (Instituto Nacional Seguros) carriers was sent to “the office” which really has turned into nothing less than a government sanctioned insurance scam. The so-called immigration officials they have chosen for this “shakedown” are impossible to deal with. The women told my insurance company” “if {h}e gets COVID I need you to send a letter that you’re going to pay his hotel…” The representative from Blue Cross said that was the most “ignorant” thing she’s ever heard. Not only the way it was asked, but the tone. They even have a goon in the office because as this situation develops over time they become more aggressive forcing insurance on people . Be forewarned, the situation has become more and more confrontational. I asked the airline to just turn around and go back (but wait you need a COVID test) I paid for two days of INS insurance, and went into town to get a PCR COVID test before leaving 2 days later. The insurance salespersons (disguised as immigration officials) then got very nasty with me and demanded that I show a return ticket two days later. Before I could leave the sales office (don’t forget they have a goon there) I had to literally show them (and later the immigration officer) a return ticket to the USA.

The takeaway from all this is I am truly saddened after years of going to Costa Rica that a shortsighted policy to shore up a failing INS system on the backs of the tourists is behind this “auguafisestas.” Let us not forget the great Ticos who stood up last year to this hapless President who was ready to plunder Costa Rica with IMF money and pay for it with punishing taxes. Hey, just talk to anyone in the lodging or hospitality industry, already punished with a 50% limitation decree, who are now seeing the effects of people (like me) who were the bread and butter of their industry not coming back.

Yet another example of not letting a crisis go to waste. The mentality of President Quesada to burn the furniture to stay warm– while ignoring the long term damage by such a small minded policy totally breaks ranks with the public policy which has so long served the Costa Rican people very well: get the tourists and foreign investors– and do whatever it takes to keep them coming back for generations like no other country in Central America has been able to do. Again so sad!

Hi Nico, Sorry that happened to you. They do want the insurance language to very clearly state that you are covered for Covid if you use an international policy. Many international policies do not explicitly address the required $2k in accommodation coverage in case of quarantine. For Blue Cross, we have heard of people requesting a special letter showing coverage. We haven’t heard of anyone else experiencing this kind of thing at the airport when using international insurance. We know of many people personally, both friends and clients, who have used Trawick and others to get in with zero issues. We have heard of people getting pulled out of line at immigration to check their documents, but it is usually because they don’t have the right insurance. Hopefully this whole insurance requirement will go away in the near future as more and more people are being vaccinated.

Hi Jenn and Matt, You provided a name of a person that can help with the travel insurance from the USA. We wanted to go for 3 months ,I Know his last name was Pacheco. Was it Freddy? if you could please give me his link and information so we can contact him. Thank you so much. Elsie

Hi Elsie, Yes, it’s Freddy Pacheco. Here is the link to his website:

Can I use a US drivers license to roam around and rent a car? Also can I rent a car directly at Liberia Airport?

Hi Philip, Yes, you can drive here with your US driver’s license. You should check out our post on Driving in Costa Rica for lots more information about driving:

You can rent a car from Liberia Airport. The company that we recommend, Adobe Rent a Car, has an office there. Our readers get 10% off their rates and other free extras. You can take a look T our rental car discount page for more info:

Hola! I have an 11 year old who will be flying solo to Tennessee in June or July ( at least we hope) and I have 2 questions- are you aware of any saliva testing done here for children? (we live in Heredia) and also she will be in the application process for citizenship through relation. I just gave birth to her little sister here in CR. What is your knowledge on her coming back? We called migration a whole call explained the situation and he told us that if her application is in office she won’t need to get the insurance…. but i feel different answers are always coming from different ppl in the system here…I’d love to hear your thoughts? Thank you!!!

Hi Niani, I don’t think they will do saliva testing for an 11 year old, unfortunately. They do a throat swab PCR but I’m fairly sure it’s only for children 5 and under. We have heard, though, that the antigen test isn’t all that bad so that may be okay for her.

For whether she will need the insurance, as far as we know, you need it if your citizenship/residency application is in process and hasn’t been approved yet. But if Migration said that, then maybe they have become more flexible? She could always buy it at the airport when she gets back if they make her. I would think that they would help her. You could also ask an immigration lawyer if they know for sure. Good luck and congrats on your new baby!

Jenn and Matt, thanks for preparing this site.

At the top of this page you talk about Covid Test requirements and Visa requirements as of October 26, 2021 and November 2021. I’m pretty sure you mean as of 2020 and wanted to bring this to your attention.

Hi Aaron, You are totally right. I think that happened when we did an update for 2021 and added the year to all events. Thanks so much for letting us know. We fixed it.

Hello.. I have read through the comments regarding travel insurance requirements. I will be travelling to CR in Dec.2021. Should I wait to buy the travel insurance until a closer date? I also see that Trawick Safe Traveler Plan my be the path to take. My trip is only 11 days and that includes flight travel. Would it be better to use Sagicor? I also read about uploading the documents for the Health Pass, however, how does one do that? I’m puzzled to say the least by all the back and forth regarding the travel insurance. The Trawick Quote seemed high for two people, $654 USD. Also, we are renting a place in Atenas, what do we do for an address?

Hi Dorothy, We would definitely wait to purchase the insurance. It is possible that the requirement will be gone by December. Insurance rates and options could also change between now and then.

The Costa Rica insurance options like Sagicor have their advantages and disadvantages, just like the international options. We cover this more in our article, Costa Rica’s Required Travel Insurance: 15 FAQs:

It’s easy to upload the insurance documents to the health pass. There will be a question prompting you to do it when you fill it out. Using a desktop computer is easiest. You will just attach electronic copies of the coverage certificate that the insurance company will email you.

For an address for a home rental, you can use the house name and include the town. Costa Rica doesn’t have addresses in most places. Addresses are given using landmarks but you shouldn’t need that level of detail for the health pass.

Hi Jenn and Matt: My family and I are going to CR on Tuesday, June 1st. we purchased Trawick International insurance and it was very reasonable. My question is: you say it needs “additional verification” and “IT has approved policies when submitted for approval”. Is is approved at CR airport when we arrive? or are we required to get approval before we leave? and if so how? with whom? This is a wonderful site. We have gotten our car and now travel insurance through your site. Great help. Hopefully you will be able to help with this asap. thanks Jan

Hi Jan, You will upload the Trawick coverage certificate to your health pass. As long as you do everything correctly for the health pass, it will automatically generate a QR code that will allow you to enter Costa Rica. You will show this to the airline at check in and then to Immigration when you get to Costa Rica. Trawick is accepted so the Tourism Board should not need any additional information.

Thank you so much for getting your insurance and renting your car through our site! We really appreciate your support.

Hi, I was wondering if you had any details on using Travel Guard international insurance for total coverage? I know it comes with the 2,000$ Lodging coverage, and full visa duration of insurance. 50,000$ Coverage as well. I have the letter that I will print out as well for back up with the qr code. I was wondering if you knew of anyone that was able to use this international coverage effectively.

Also, has the negative covid test to enter from the united states, LAX, been removed as a requirement?

Thank you for all the valuable information.

Hi Roarke, We don’t know anyone who has used Travel Guard to get a claim paid so can’t comment on that.

Yes, Costa Rica removed the Covid testing requirement to enter a while back. You only have to fill out the health pass and show insurance if you are not vaccinated.

You will need a Covid test to get back into the US after. Here’s a link to our post on Preflight Testing with more information.

Hello, I will be traveling to Costa Rica in June 2021. Have the COVD-19 test requirements changed since then? Did your airline require a covid test?

Hi Mya, The Covid test requirements have not changed for entering the US. The CDC still requires a negative Covid test. We will update our post on Preflight Testing ( ) if anything changes.

Hi – We will be traveling in a couple weeks and sorry if I missed this in the articles, have any of the requirements changed since the end of May? Many of the things I was ready had the requirements in effect until the end of May so wasn’t sure if they were extended and what they are now. Not able to read Spanish the government site doesn’t help me much! lol

Hi Lee, We just updated our post with all the new info. But basically, the government extended all the restrictions (this is mainly the 9 pm closure of businesses and curfew) until July 11. This goes through vacation time in Costa Rica. Cases and hospitalizations are going down so we expect them to loosen up after that date.

I’m a Nicaraguan resident and plan to travel back there by flying in to San Jose and then Ticabusing through Penas Blancas after I get the PCR test. Have you heard if the Nicaraguan authorities will accept digital results that the labs send out, or are they requiring a signed, original, lab document? This is kind of outside the area of your excellent blog (thanks for doing the blog, by the way). But I am unable to find any info and thought you all may have heard something.

Hi Jeff, Sorry, we haven’t heard if Nicaragua is accepting digital results, but it seems like they must be. I don’t think most travelers visiting would know to provide a hard copy.

Should I test positive on my re-entry test, how does the isolation work with lodging? Are tourists required to stay in their existing lodging or forced to find new lodging? I’m stressed about the thought of trying to find something quickly on my own and it being bad accommodations. Are the labs doing a good job with testing results turnaround time?

Hi Tracey, You get to pick where you stay if you have to quarantine. However, we have not heard of any tourist being issued a quarantine order by the Costa Rican government. It seems they are not doing it.

Yes, labs are meeting the turnaround times. They are used to processing Covid tests now, since they have been doing it since at least January.

Hi Jenn & Matt! Thanks for all the wonderful information! My question is when filling out the health form. It asks for a CR address. We do not have one as we are immediately going to the border upon arrival. Do you know what we put in this blank? Thanks!

You could just put the Nicaragua border as your destination if you are not staying anywhere. This is just so that Immigration knows your destination but it doesn’t really apply in this case.

Good morning! I just saw your update regarding CR not requiring travel insurance for entry as of Aug 1st if you’re fully vaccinated or are a minor. Well, my family of nine, (consisting of 7 fully vaccinated adults and 2 children ages 5 and 8), are traveling to CR on July 31st. Do you think we will be ok NOT purchasing the almost $700.00 insurance? That’s a lot of $$$ for a one day difference. Thank you so much for your assistance in this matter. I look forward to hearing from you.

Hi Donise, Many people have been asking us this question. Please see our reply to Susan (one of the last comments (#65) on our original article). We spent some time explaining our thoughts in our reply there. That should answer your question but let us know if you need anything else.

Thanks so much!

That’s tough. Technically since you are entering before August 1, you are supposed to have it for the whole trip. If there is any way to change your flight, I would do that. If not, you could risk it and see what happens when you try to enter. But if they decide you need insurance, you would have to purchase one of the Costa Rica options when you get here.

Logistically, you could see how it works with filling out the online health pass. I would think that if you are entering before August 1, it will default to requiring you to provide your insurance certificate. So that you wouldn’t get a QR code without it.

Hi Jenn and Matt. We went ahead and got the travel insurance. Better to be safe than sorry. Thank y’all for your info.

Our flight is arriving after mid-night. We were planning on taking a taxi to our hotel and then having our rental car brought there the next day. Do you know if we will have a problem secondary to the driving curfew? Do you have any suggestions for me?

Thanks, Mary

Hi Mary, Taxis are exempt from the driving restrictions.

Thank-you very much for your timely reply. Now I can start relaxing and planning out our fun activities.

For fully vaccinated travelers, are visas now being issued for 90 days?

Hi Dan, Good question. I think everything has defaulted back to how it used to be. Normally, the number of days a tourist is given for a visa is up to the discretion of the immigration official. But it cannot exceed 90 days. In the past, 90 day visas were routinely given, but they can limit the exact number of days based on your exit date according to your plane tickets. So if you’re planning a long term stay, you would want your plane tickets to show you exiting around 90 days to get the full amount of time.

Hello. My family and I are visiting Costa Rica in about 3 weeks. According to another website, vaccine shots have to be done 2 weeks prior to arrival. Is this still true? I already purchased travel insurance because we didn’t meet that criteria. My family and I have been vaccinated for about 6 months now. Has this changed? Do I still need to purchase travel insurance?

Hi Elle, You meet the requirements and don’t have to purchase insurance. The last shot doesn’t have to be done two weeks before your visit, just at least two weeks before. This is just to ensure that the vaccine has taken effect and you are fully vaccinated. So if you got vaccinated six months ago, that is fine. You can find that language on the official tourism institute’s website .

Hello, What is the protocol for securing lodging if someone tests positive and can’t leave the country (to go back to the US)? Is it just to book a hotel/vacation rental for two weeks? Does it need to be disclosed that this would be for quarantine purposes? I have family planning to travel in October and their biggest concern is getting stuck in the country.

Hi Ellen, We have never heard anything official on what the procedure is if someone tests positive and needs to quarantine. We had a client test positive recently and they were issued a ten day isolation order (only the child who tested positive; the rest of the family who tested negative were allowed to leave). They were allowed to book a different accommodation than they had before to wait out the ten days. I do think you would need to disclose the reason for the stay to the lodging but they shouldn’t be able to do anything about it. Someone else recently commented on our website saying that the Ministry of Health did not let them change their accommodations. We’ve also heard of people testing positive and never being issued a sanitary order at all. So as usual in Costa Rica, results may differ. Hope that helps a little!

Hello. My girlfriend and I received our 1st COVID vaccine in late July. We have to take a trip back to the states in a week. We have not been able to receive the 2nd dose here in Costa Rica. We are thinking of getting the 2nd dose in the US, waiting two weeks and coming back. Has anyone had a similar experience? Will the health pass allow to upload two documents for proof of vaccination (one in CR, one in the US)? Travel insurance rates have gone way up and we’d prefer to opt out of the insurance this time and be fully vaccinated. We received the 1st dose here under the premise we could request the 2nd dose if we had a special need like “international travel”. That has not been true so far. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Hi Aaron, That is really strange that they will not allow you to get your second dose when you already received the first in CR. You should have been given an appointment when you got the first shot. That is what happened for us (we got the vaccination card and our next appointment was penciled in). I would keep trying, maybe going back later in the afternoon when they likely have extra shots.

If you do have to go to the US, yes, I would think that having two documents proving full vaccination will be sufficient to enter without insurance. It is possible to upload multiple documents.

Hi Jen and Matt, I’ve loved your blog since you helped us plan our first CR trip in 2019. Now we’ve planned our 3rd trip for Jan- Feb 2022 and have appreciated your rental car and lodging discounts. We are fully vaccinated 70+ Year old retired U.S. folks in good health except that my husband has been classified “immune-compromised” due to medication he takes for Crohns. My question is about vaccine coverage in the country, which is so important for CRs recovery on every level, including making tourism safe. I check Tico Times regularly about how vaccine rollout is going but am wondering if you have any other data where public health experts expect it to be by January 2022? I really don’t want to cancel this trip – and of course none of us know if another virulent variant might be coming – but we feel we need more information about how prevalent vaccinations are. Thanks.

Hi Suzy, So good to hear from you! Yes, we totally understand your concerns. Your comment actually prompted us to write a post on vaccination rates. Here is the link to the article we just came out with yesterday: Covid Vaccination Rates in Costa Rica .

Hopefully it gives you a better idea of how things are looking. We’re optimistic that by next January/February, we’ll be in much better shape. Current projections have this wave peaking in a few weeks but we haven’t heard of any projections going beyond that timeframe. Saludos!

Thank you so much for all this valuable information! Your information has helped us feel confident with going forward for our trip in October. I am confused about the timing of the health pass. In several places I have read that it cannot be completed until “less than 48 hours before arrival”, your site states 72 hours, and other sites say “within 48 hours of your flight”. We are taking two different flights to get to Costa Rica and I want to fill out the health pass as early as possible, but not too early. When is the correct time frame, and is the time from when you land in Costa Rica or from when your flight departs? Thank you! Laura

I am fully vaccinated and planning to visit for the first time in late December 2021. With more vaccinated people contracting covid due to variants, etc, do you think the Costa Rican government will reinstate the requirement for a negative covid test to enter Costa Rica? This seems like a good prevantative measure and would increase my peace of mind. Thanks for your site, it’s been very helpful!

Hi Susan, The Ministry of Health has repeatedly said that they will not reinstate the negative test requirement to enter. Even when cases were at an all-time high. So we don’t see that happening. But Costa Rica’s vaccination rates are getting up there, which is good news. You can check out our post on Vaccination Rates for more details.

Hi there! Thank you for all this very helpful information. I saw today that CR is requiring proof of vaccination starting Dec 1st to enter the country. We have a trip planned Nov 19-29 and are not vaccinated so would be cutting it very close. Do you think we will have problems entering/ leaving the country because of the closeness of these dates? Do you know if the vaccine mandate applies to children? We have an 8 and 11 year old that will also not be vaccinated. I’m not sure if we need to cancel our trip or if we could squeak it in just in time.

Hi Erin, Glad our article has been helpful! We actually just updated it with the new information today.

As we say in the article, as of today, they have not changed tourist entry requirements so we are not assuming anything. We expect them to clarify how the vaccination requirement will apply to tourists soon.

In any case, if you will leave by November 29, the requirement will not apply to you since it starts on December 1.

Hi, Im travelling with my family of four from Canada on January 3rd 2022 for two weeks to Costa Rica. My family is fully vaccinated with the exception of my five year old daughter as she isn’t eligible for vaccination yet due to age requirements. Do we need insurance for travel if we are fully vaccinated? And if so is it just those over 18 who require a policy? I have an insurance policy through work that covers some covid related things. All your help is appreciated 🙂

Hi Danielle, Children under 12 are exempt from the vaccination requirement so you won’t need to purchase travel insurance.

Our daughter’s high school will be travelling to Costa Rica June 2022. The teachers planning the trip told us “The president of Costa Rica just announced on 10/25/21 that all travelers will need proof of Covid vaccination status to enter the country” I cannot find that information anywhere. Perhaps you can shed light on this. The school needs our decision by 11/4/21. There are at least 5 students who are now choosing not to go on this trip because they are not vaccinated.

Hi Jen, That statement is not correct as of today. Unvaccinated tourists can still enter but won’t be allowed into certain businesses like hotels and restaurants. So effectively, they can come but won’t be able to do much. There is a chance that this could all be reversed as there is a lot of political pressure right now to not put this measure in place. But as of right now, it goes into effect Dec. 1 as we outlined in our article.

Hope that helps! I know you don’t have much time to decide, but we’ll update this post if anything changes.

Hi, do you know if Airbnb’s will be allowed to be occupied by unvaccinated visitors starting January 8th? Unsure if we should cancel our trip completely or change our reservation to an Airbnb. Thanks

Hi Tracy, We think Airbnbs are covered under the hotels section as a “lodging establishment.” But some hosts are likely to not ask you about vaccination. It would be very hard for the government to enforce, unlike at hotels. Also, we wouldn’t cancel just yet. Yesterday, a court in Costa Rica approved an injunction against the vaccination requirement. Nothing is definite yet but there is currently a hold on putting the mandate in place for Dec. 1. We will update our article when we know more.

I’m a little confused by the December 1st, 2021 date and the January 7, 2022 date. Can you please clarify? Our family of six will be visiting in between those dates. We have chosen not to get the vaccine, as all of us have had Covid, and therefore have natural immunity.

Should I contact our hotels? We aren’t doing too many excursions, as we will have plenty to do at the two resorts. Thank you for your insight. Your blog is AMAZING and chock full of incredible information! Blessings to you and your family!

Hi Erin, It is confusing. The mandate was supposed to start Dec. 1 but the government is now delaying it until Jan. 8. From Dec. 1-Jan. 8, the businesses can choose to require full vaccination to enter and be at 100% capacity. If they don’t require vaccination, they have to operate at 50% capacity so can’t allow as many people in. We have heard of some hotels doing the 100% model for December, so they will check for a QR code/proof of vaccination. So yes, contact your hotels. Other businesses like restaurants are likely to just stay at 50% until January.

Hi, I’m fully vaccinated, but the Health Pass is not allowing me to get a QR code without uploading proof of insurance. I’ve tried Safari, Chrome, and Firefox. You mentioned a comment about just uploading the proof of vaccination. Is there anything official recommending this route? I’d rather not jeopardize my chances of getting into Costa Rica by going a route that turns out to be wrong.

Hi Sam, There is nothing official from the government about how to fill out the health pass other than what is on the website when you go to fill out the form. You are not legally required to have insurance if you have proof of full vaccination so I don’t think there’s any concern with not being allowed into the country. You just need to make sure you get a QR code. That is what the airline will look for when you check in for your flight. We have heard of multiple people uploading their insurance card when the form has not allowed them to get the code without adding insurance. We just tried the form again ourselves and didn’t experience that glitch so maybe try again today.

Thank you for all this information! I am booking a trip for a Pastor and this information was very helpful and answered a lot of my questions! Just wanted to say Thanks!!!

You’re welcome, Tatiana!

Hi Jenn and Matt, we are Michaela and Phil from England and have been finding your site very interesting with so much useful Covid information, thank you for that. We are due yo travel to Costa Rica on 14 December for 7 weeks and just wondered what the general feeling was in Costa Rica regarding the new variant Omicron, is there any talk of more restrictions being brought in because of this? Many thanks

Hi Michaela and Phil, Glad to hear our site has been helpful!

They are actually lessening restrictions right now. Certain businesses can increase their capacity if they verify vaccination using a QR code. They are also allowing certain large scale events and there has been talk of loosening the nighttime driving restrictions. Our cases and hospitalizations are extremely low right now. We haven’t heard anything about adding a Covid test requirement to enter because of omicron. The government had repeatedly said it doesn’t think testing works to prevent variants from entering the country. We hope that helps give you a better idea of what the feeling is here. Hope you have a great trip!

Hi Jenn and Matt. My wife and I are vaccinate and travelling with our 4 and 2 year old to Costa Rica next week. Given the recent developments with Covid, can you confirm whether or not a negative Covid test is required for children entering Costa Rica?

Hi Sean, A negative Covid test is not required to enter Costa Rica for anyone, including children. Your family will just need to fill out the online health pass.

Going to Costa Rica February 2022 from Los Angeles California. Do I have to get a Cov-19 test before coming back home? If so, many day in advanced do I need to show a negative test result? Please let me know, Thanks so much

Hi Joseph, The current requirement is to get tested one calendar day before your flight. We have lots more information about this in our post on Preflight Testing so feel free to check that out.

In the event we get a positive test before departing to Canada, is the isolation duration for COVID the same in Costo Rica? Will we be able to go the airport after 10 days? Tahnk you for your help

Hi Dominique, We just came out with a post about testing positive in Costa Rica that should answer your questions. Here is the link .

Hi, I’d like to know what are the rules if we have a positive covid test when we are in Costa Rica. How much time is the quarantine and can we do it where we want as tourists ? Thank you

Hi Lorraine, We just came out with a post about testing positive in Costa Rica that should answer your questions. Here is the link .

Thank you for taking the time to provide all this important information regarding the Covid situation in Costa Rica. It has been really helpful. I was wondering about the Health Pass and the need to provide accommodation details. Me and my boyfriend will be arriving in Costa Rica in February and we are planning on booking our accommodations as we go. Will it be enough to provide details for our first accommodation in Costa Rica? Or will it be a problem that we do not have all accommodations sorted upon arrival?

I was also wondering if it is enough that we have a return ticket from Amsterdam to our home country Norway within 90 days of our arrival in Costa Rica? Do we need proof that we will actually leave the Costa Rican border within 90 days, or will it be proof enough that we plan to be in Amsterdam within 90 days?

Thank you so much in advance!

Hi Astrid, All you need to put into the health pass is your first accommodation so that will be fine.

Immigration will want to see a plane ticket out of Costa Rica. You could buy a refundable ticket or a ticket on a site like

Thanks for posting this article – it was really helpful. I plan to travel to Costa Rica at the end of January through the second week of February. I am not vaccinated but bought the insurance that is recommended. Will I be allowed to enter some establishments or is every establishment requiring vaccination cards? If you can let me know how strict it really is, that would be great. I won’t be staying in San Jose… I will be visiting the Pacific side.

Hi Josh, Right now, almost no businesses are requiring vaccination to enter. We just got back from an 11 day trip and didn’t need to show it anywhere. So you’ll be all set. Just make sure the specific hotels you’re staying at are not requiring it. A few are.

Thanks for the helpful info! If someone is exposed to COVID before travel to Costa Rica (but tests negative and follows home country requirements) does Costa Rica’s Health Pass form request any particular information about this?

Hi KK, I don’t think so. I think it asks about current symptoms and exposure.

“Businesses with a health permit (stores, restaurants, bars, etc.) can operate from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. (applies January 10-23). This will be extended to midnight starting on January 24 until February 15.”

My question is: what happens after February 15th? I plan to arrive in Costa Rica on Feb 19 and curious to know about curfew rules.

Hi Diti, We aren’t sure what will happen after February 15. They will likely announce it in the next week or so. You can check back here for the latest information.

I apologize if this comment posts twice. (I tried to post yesterday, but do not believe I did it correctly.) Thank you so much for providing this information! We will be traveling from the US to Costa Rica on 3/25/22, returning to the US on 4/1/22. I wanted to confirm the following: – No visa is required – No travel insurance is required if we are fully vaccinated. – All information we need to provide will be asked for when we complete the health pass, which we can only do within 72 hours of our arrival. (I feel like I saw something about an electronic vaccine card, but cannot find it now and am wondering if it was referring to the vaccine portion of the travel pass. Is there something other than the travel pass I should be doing?)

We have already arranged testing for our return trip.

Thanks in advance for any reply! I have been reading a ton trying to make sure we understand everything, and just wanted to make sure I have sifted through it all correctly. We are grateful.

Hi K, Yes, everything that you have said is correct. You will just need to fill out the online health pass 72 hours before your flight. The electronic vaccine card is only if the government decides to start requiring vaccination to enter nonessential businesses. We don’t think it’s likely right now, but if it does happen before your trip, they will prompt you for information about it in the health pass. Since you’re vaccinated anyway, no need to worry. If you would like to follow what’s going on with the vaccine requirement program, here’s a lin k to our post all about it.

It’s about time! Just wish the changes were going into affect before our trip to CR this week!! We have traveled to CR four times in the past year…. we dealt with all the restrictions, but I must say, the idea of being able to travel again to the places we love without restrictions sounds like a dream! I now have hope that life will go back to the “real” normal again! Pura Vida!

I have a flight arriving in CR on March 9, 2022 and a flight leaving CR June 6, 2022. It’s exactly 90 days. Do I have to buy the travel insurance for the entire 90 days or just until April 1, 2022?

Hi Michael, The government hasn’t said anything specific about this, but last time they changed something with the insurance, they required people to purchase it for their whole trip duration. This was when they got rid of the insurance requirement if you were vaccinated. The argument was that the people needed to comply with entry requirements at the time they entered. We would get it to avoid any hassle at immigration.

It’s too bad they aren’t letting go of the indoor mask requirement- even with the other restrictions going away this will lead me to reconsider Costa Rica- we have patiently gone along with it the last two years every time we have visited but they need to catch up with the rest if the world now where masks have mostly gone away now….. wonder what they are basing the criteria on when the CDC has now advised that in most settings they are unnecessary. Such a shame that people are still living in fear and forcing precautions that are unnecessary now.

Hello, my hubby an i are planning 90 days in Costa Rica Jan 2023-March 31, 2023. Do we both need this health pass and insurance regardless of vaccination. I have looked at insurance here in the states…. about $1000 for both of us for the 90 days. If we purchase in the states will we have trouble getting in. also, how soon should we send a letter to get approval? Thank you, Linda

Hi Linda, You should go back and read our post. Maybe you have an old version? The health pass and insurance are not required anymore.

Oh my I must have read that wrong. Thank you!

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5-Minute Read: Costa Rica Covid Entry And Exit Requirements

Home » Coronavirus » 5-Minute Read: Costa Rica Covid Entry And Exit Requirements

5-Minute Read: Costa Rica Covid Entry And Exit Requirements

Written by Nikki Solano

Costa Rica Covid

Get the Costa Rica info you need by browsing our article's TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Get the Costa Rica Covid information you need, fast.

General information, costa rica medical insurance, costa rica health pass, covid testing in costa rica, passenger disclosure and attestation document, arrivecan app/website.

We all want this pandemic to be over before long, so there’s no point in dragging out Covid-related instructions. We purposely designed this article to be short and concise so you can obtain the Covid-related information you need in five minutes or less . The fewer minutes you spend worrying about Covid, the more minutes you’ll have to research and enjoy your trip. 🙂

But first, a brief disclaimer (though this pretty much goes without saying given the past year we’ve all experienced): Covid-related policies, restrictions, and requirements can change at any time . With this disclaimer in mind, instead of listing what the current requirements are, which may change between now and the day you arrive, we compiled a list of helpful resources where you can find up-to-date information. Though countless Costa Rica websites provide Covid-related information, we choose to trust official sites only, and we recommend you do the same .

Costa Rica entry requirements

Covid-19 National Situation: This website is run by Costa Rica’s Ministry of Health. It provides updated Covid-19 case counts and breaks them down by patient demographics, region, and hospital. Though the website is in Spanish, it can be translated using Google Translate .

Costa Rica Entry Requirements: This English website is run by Costa Rica’s tourism board, so it targets international visitors. It has an entire section dedicated to Covid-related entry requirements, in addition to other entry requirements (such as Visas). Specifically, it explains that prior to arriving in Costa Rica as a visitor you must a) purchase medical insurance and b) complete the Costa Rica Health Pass (more info below). To date, even if you’ve been vaccinated, the requirements still apply.

See the aforementioned link for an explanation of the type of medical insurance that’s required, the amount of coverage (monetary and duration) that’s required, and the document(s) you’ll need to prove to Costa Rican officials that you obtained the correct insurance.

Costa Rica Health Pass: To date, this online document is required to be completed no sooner than 72 hours prior to you entering Costa Rica.

US entry requirements when arriving from Costa Rica

The following three trusted English websites provide information about entering the US upon return from Costa Rica. To date, even if you’ve been vaccinated, the requirements still apply.

US Entry Requirements (for return travel from Costa Rica) provided by the Costa Rica Tourism Board:

US Entry Requirements (for return travel from Costa Rica) provided by the US Embassy in Costa Rica:

US Entry Requirements (for return travel from Costa Rica) provided by the CDC (Center for Disease Control):

Specifically, the above three websites explain that prior to departing Costa Rica you must a) obtain a negative Covid test and b) sign a Passenger Disclosure and Attestation Document (more info below). They also explain who needs a Covid test, which types of Covid tests are available and acceptable, how much a Covid test costs, which labs are authorized to provide Covid tests, how long it takes to get Covid test results, when you should get a Covid test, and what happens if your test comes back positive.

Covid-Testing Labs: To date, this website provides the name, address (with Google Map link), and telephone number of each lab that’s authorized to perform Covid testing in Costa Rica.

Passenger Disclosure and Attestation Document : To date, this paper document is required to be provided to the airline prior to boarding a flight from Costa Rica to the US.

Canada entry requirements when arriving from Costa Rica

The following three trusted English websites provide information about entering Canada upon return from Costa Rica. To date, even if you’ve been vaccinated, the requirements still apply.

Canada Entry Requirements (for return travel from Costa Rica) provided by the Costa Rica Tourism Board:

Canada Entry Requirements (for return travel from Costa Rica) provided by the Government of Canada:

Canada Entry Requirements (for return travel from Costa Rica) provided by the Embassy of Canada to Costa Rica:

Specifically, the above websites explain that prior to departing Costa Rica you must a) obtain a negative Covid test and b) provide information through the ArriveCAN app/website. They also explain who needs a Covid test, which types of Covid tests are available and acceptable, how much a Covid test costs, which labs are authorized to provide Covid tests, how long it takes to get Covid test results, when you should get a Covid test, and what happens if your test comes back positive.

Once you’ve arrived in Canada, other requirements may apply . These requirements may include having to take a second Covid test, quarantining at a hotel, and/or quarantining at home. Some of these requirements require advance reservations. For a complete list of what’s required of you once you’re back in Canada, see this checklist :

ArriveCAN website : (app available for download from the App Store and Google Play) To date, this online document is required to be completed no sooner than 72 hours prior to you entering Canada.

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5-Minute Read: Costa Rica Covid Entry And Exit Requirements

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Sadly, ai-generated costa rica blogs and guides are taking over the internet. thank you for choosing our authentic website and resources over others, for trusting our firsthand experience, and for preferring our human-backed recommendations 😀 other ways we are unique:.

✓ We choose not to display ads, sponsored content, or affiliate marketing on our blog. Because we prioritize your privacy, we don't earn money when you visit us, when you sign up for our e-course, or when you click on our links, which means the time and work we put into this blog is entirely voluntary. ✓ Ricky is a born-and-raised Costa Rican and Nikki (married to Ricky) has explored Costa Rica since the mid-2000s . ✓ We've operated our Costa Rica-based business, Pura Vida! eh? Inc. , for 16 years (and counting!) . ✓ Our Costa Rica guidebooks are published by the prestigious Moon Travel Guides brand . ✓ We only ever write about experiences we know firsthand , and we never stuff our blog with general information about Costa Rica that is widely available elsewhere . ✓ We never copy or plagiarize other writers' content . How we wish other writers would show us the same respect! ✓ Unless stated otherwise, every photo displayed on our blog was taken by us, and with our own two hands. (Unlike some other bloggers, who rely on drones to travel and conduct research for them, we actually visit and explore the places we write about .)👍🏽 ✓ We're active in promoting Costa Rica around the world . We've written about Costa Rica for Wanderlust Magazine (UK), presented Costa Rica on Rick Steves' Monday Night Travel Show and podcast/radio show (US), and served as a Costa Rica Destination Editor for Essentialist (Spain). ✓ Our work is backed by hundreds of positive reviews and testimonials ( read some here ) ✓ We are not overly active on social media . Instead of fixating on our own popularity, we spend the majority of our time exploring and researching Costa Rica, updating our various Costa Rica resources, and working with travelers one-on-one. We're focused on the quality of your travel experience , not the quantity of our followers. ❤️ 

We hope you enjoy your visit to our junk-free blog as much as your time in Costa Rica. 😊

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Costa Rica Travel Information

Costa Rica COVID Travel: What You Need to Know

July 1, 2023 By Sammi 236 Comments

If you plan on visiting Costa Rica, here is what you need to know about visiting during COVID-19. Read all about Costa Rica COVID travel, Costa Rica entry requirements, where to get a COVID test in Costa Rica and what happens if you test positive for COVID in Costa Rica.

As the COVID pandemic has been declared “over”, Costa Rica has not really updated any information about the situation in Costa Rica. We will only update this post if there are new updates.

Current Costa Rica Coronavirus Situation

Please click on this link, Costa Rica coronavirus to read the latest updates and statistics.

Costa Rica COVID Travel Restrictions and Border Opening

Costa Rica closed their borders beginning of March 2020.

On November 1, 2020, Costa Rica opened their borders to all countries in the world via air. On April 5, 2021, Costa Rica opened the land borders between Nicaragua and Panama.

Costa Rica Entry Requirements (COVID-19)

**As of April 1, 2022, all previous COVID entry requirements have been removed. Still valid on January 1, 2023.** Costa Rica does not require quarantine, a health pass, travel insurance, QR code or a negative COVID-19 test to enter. There are no COVID-19 sanitary requirements to enter Costa Rica. Entering Costa Rica is exactly how it used to be before the pandemic.

The only sanitary measures and requirements for tourists is some places may still require face masks, hand washing and temperature taking.

Traveling around Costa Rica is nearly exactly how it used to be before COVID. There are nearly zero restrictions.

Do I have to be vaccinated to go to Costa Rica?

No. You do not have to be vaccinated against COVID-19 for Costa Rica. Costa Rica is not requiring tourists to be vaccinated against COVID. Fully vaccinated, partially vaccinated and unvaccinated people can enter Costa Rica. You don’t need to have any booster shots to enter Costa Rica.

Costa Rica will not ask you for any COVID-19 vaccination information when you enter the country.

>> Get Exclusive Costa Rica Travel Tips and our Free Travel Guide Straight to You! <<

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Costa Rica COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Tourists Need to Know About

When it comes to COVID restrictions in Costa Rica, the only ones pertaining to tourists are hand washing and temperature taking when required. Face mask wearing is 100% optional in all places except required in medical and health facilities.

There are no other restrictions – no driving restrictions, no curfew, etc. Costa Rican establishments do not require any proof of vaccination to enter.

Please check our post Costa Rica COVID to see details.

Do I Need to Wear a Mask in Costa Rica?

As of May 11, 2022, face masks in public spaces, open spaces and indoors have no longer been mandatory in Costa Rica except for health officials. However, individual establishments may still require them for their guests and people can still wear them if they wish.

Likewise, the face mask mandate may be reinstated at any point, particularly indoors and public transportation settings, so please be aware of this and bring at least one mask with you still.

My Experience Flying into Costa Rica

I flew into Liberia (Guanacaste) International Airport in October 2022 and into San Jose International Airport in June 2022. Since the previous COVID entry requirements were removed on April 1st, flying into Costa Rica was exactly like how it was pre-COVID. No negative test required, no quarantine, no health pass, no insurance, nothing was checked.

At immigration, the officer will ask how many days you are in Costa Rica, your first destination and occupation.

Then after passing immigration, it is normal procedure. Pick up luggage, go through customs and then exit airport. See what it’s like to go through customs and immigration in Costa Rica in our post.

**Please note due to the increase of flights arriving at the same time, immigration and customs has been taking much longer. P lease take that into consideration for your transportation plans when you land**

Where to Get a COVID test in Costa Rica

In case you need to get a COVID test in Costa Rica whether you are feeling sick or if you need one to re-enter your home country, nearly all labs, clinics and hospitals can administer COVID tests.

Please check your home country requirements to see what they require for re-entry. **The United States has removed its COVID test requirement on June 12, 2022. That means that air travelers entering the United States from abroad will no longer need to produce a 24 hour negative COVID test result.***

COVID tests in Costa Rica are done via a nasal swab.

Cost and Turnaround Time

The cost of a COVID test in Costa Rica varies between $55-300 USD per test. Antigen tests have an average of 1-8 hour turnaround time and are cheaper ~$50 USD. A PCR test is around $150 USD with a turnaround time of around 24-72 hours. Some labs may offer same day PCR tests for ~$300 and at home tests are now available. Results will be emailed in English or Spanish.

What Happens If You Test Positive for COVID in Costa Rica?

First, if you are feeling sick or believe you have COVID-19, isolate yourself and go to a clinic or lab to get tested.

If you need hospitalization, Costa Rica will not refuse anyone who requires COVID-19 hospital care regardless of their immigration and vaccination status.

Then if you are taking the test to re-enter your home country, airlines will not let you board with a positive test result. If your home country requires a negative test and you test positive, you will have to quarantine a given amount of days (usually 5- 14), which is determined by the doctor who attended you and the severity of the disease. You will have to comply with the entire duration of your stay at home order – even if you test negative during that period of time.

Tourists won’t be penalized if they overstay their tourist visa due to a stay at home quarantine order.

This is one of the reasons why we highly tourists to purchase a travel insurance, even though it is not mandatory. Many travel insurances will now cover COVID costs and it is especially important now since travel is still very messy with lots of flight delays and cancellations. Check our post for travel insurance recommendations for Costa Rica here.

What Is Open in Costa Rica Right Now During COVID-19?

Everything. It is exactly how it used to be pre-COVID. There are no restrictions at all.

Had to Reschedule Your Trip? Here Are Some Helpful Resources

Best time to visit Costa Rica

Costa Rica destinations guide (Best places to visit)

Costa Rica weather

Mytanfeet Costa Rica destination map

How to avoid crowds in Costa Rica

Disclaimer: Costa Rica border openings, travel restrictions and entry requirements are ever changing. We do our best to update this post with the latest information as much as possible. Please remember that the decision to travel is up to you and it is your responsibility to stay safe. Make sure to check the recommendations of your country when it comes to international travel.

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2023 Costa Rica Visa Entry Requirements: A Comprehensive Guide for Travelers

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If you’re planning a trip to Costa Rica, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the visa entry requirements to ensure a smooth and hassle-free journey. In this article, we’ll provide a comprehensive guide to the tourist visa entry requirements for Costa Rica, including information on visa-exempt countries, visa requirements, and important travel documents.

Visa-Exempt Countries

Costa Rica maintains a visa exemption policy for citizens of many countries, allowing them to enter the country without obtaining a visa in advance. The following countries are visa-exempt for tourism purposes and they may remain in the country for up to 90 days:

Visa Exempt with a 30 day visa

The following list of countries are also visa exempted to enter the country without obtaining a visa in advance. However, instead of the 90-day visa these countries are given 30-day visa which can be renewed in Costa Rica.

A visa is required for these countries

Group three on the visa list is for a category of travelers who are required to enter Costa Rica with a consular visa. The period to enter Costa Rica: Once the visa is authorized, it will be valid for up to sixty days from the passport stamp. This indicates that once the consular visa is approved, the traveler has a period of up to sixty days to enter Costa Rica, starting from the date of the visa stamp in the passport.  Those that apply in this category must ensure that their passport have a minimum validity of 180 days from the date of entry into Costa Rica.

With this type of visa the initial maximum stay allowed for visa holders is thirty days. However, it can be extended up to a total of ninety days. The extension must be requested within the authorized period.

These countries have restricted visa

The fourth group on the list has a restricted visa so they will need to apply for a visa at a Costa Rican Consular office abroad. Once granted it allows the traveler to enter Costa Rica and stay for a period of 30 days which is renewable up to the maximum of 90 days.






The following countries have additional requirements so be sure to review them prior to travel. EL SALVADOR, RUSSIA, NICARAGUA, CHINA,, COLOMBIA, AND VENEZUELA


According to the reciprocal Administrative Agreement between the General Directorate of Migration and Foreigners of the Republic of El Salvador and the General Directorate of Migration and Foreigners of the Republic of Costa Rica, signed in San Jose on April 23, 2008, nationals of El Salvador are allowed to enter with a valid passport until its expiration date. The length of stay granted by the immigration control officer shall not exceed the passport’s validity period.


According to the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Costa Rica and the Government of the Russian Federation on the Conditions for the Elimination of Visa Formalities for Mutual Travel of Nationals of the Republic of Costa Rica and Nationals of the Russian Federation, dated February 5, 2019, nationals of the Russian Federation can stay for up to 90 calendar days from the day of entry.


  • Nicaraguan nationals must have a passport with a minimum validity of 90 calendar days. The legal stay period for Nicaraguan nationals is up to 90 calendar days.
  • Nicaraguan citizens may apply for a single-entry transit visa or double-entry transit visa at the Consulates of Costa Rica in Nicaragua and Panama, provided their travel is for commercial or work purposes, including agricultural activities, domestic employment, construction, private security, and care for the elderly, disabled individuals, and minors.

To apply for a transit visa, the following requirements must be met: A. Transit visa application form. B. Payment receipt for consular fees, as applicable. C. Travel tickets indicating the dates of entry and departure from Costa Rica. In the case of a double-entry visa, the second entry ticket must be dated within 90 days. D. Letter from the employer indicating the duration of employment, job responsibilities, and salary. If the employer is a legal entity, a copy of the document demonstrating the legal existence of the company must be attached. Independent workers must provide income certification from a Certified Public Accountant. E. Certification confirming the absence of criminal records for the person applying for the transit visa. F. Passport in good condition with a minimum validity of 90 calendar days from the date of entry into Costa Rica.

  • Dependents of the individuals mentioned in the previous section who are Nicaraguan nationals and have a first-degree relationship with the person responsible for their maintenance (spouse, parents, children up to the age of 25) may also apply for a transit visa. Proof of the relationship must be provided with a suitable document issued no more than six months prior, unless the document explicitly states an expiration date.
  • Visa applications not covered in this section will be governed by the guidelines for regular tourist visas established in the Regulations for the Granting of Entry Visas to Costa Rica.
  • Entry into Costa Rica with a transit visa is valid by air or land through immigration control posts duly authorized by the General Directorate of Migration and Foreigners.
  • Holders of a transit visa have a maximum period of 48 hours to transit through Costa Rica. The first entry into Costa Rica must occur within thirty days from the date of visa issuance. In the case of a double-entry transit visa, the second entry to Costa Rica must occur within 90 days from the date of the first entry.
  • The minimum validity period for Nicaraguan passports shall be 90 calendar days, and the legal stay period for Nicaraguan individuals shall be up to 90 calendar days.
  • Nicaraguan citizens may apply for a single-entry transit visa or a double-entry transit visa at the Consulates of Costa Rica in Nicaragua and Panama, provided that their travel is for commercial or labor reasons, including agricultural activities, domestic employment, construction, private security, and care for the elderly, disabled individuals, and minors.

To apply for this transit visa, the following requirements must be submitted:

  • Transit visa application form. B. Proof of payment for consular fees as applicable. C. Travel tickets indicating the dates of entry and exit from Costa Rica; in the case of the double-entry visa, the ticket for the second entry must show a date within the following 90 days. D. Letter from the employer indicating the duration of employment, job functions, and salary. In the case of an employer being a legal entity, a copy of a document demonstrating the legal existence of the company must be attached. Self-employed individuals must provide income certification from a Certified Public Accountant. E. Certification demonstrating that the person applying for the transit visa does not have a criminal record. F. Passport in good condition with a minimum validity of 90 calendar days from the date of entry into Costa Rica.
  • Nicaraguan individuals dependent on the persons mentioned in the previous section, who have a first-degree relationship with the person responsible for their support (spouse, parents, children up to the age of 25), may also apply for a transit visa. To prove this relationship, suitable documentation issued no more than six months prior must be provided, unless the document explicitly states an expiration date.

Visa applications not covered in this section shall be governed by the guidelines for ordinary tourist visas established in the Regulations for the Granting of Entry Visas to Costa Rica.

  • Entry into Costa Rica with a transit visa is valid by air or land through immigration checkpoints duly authorized by the General Directorate of Migration and Immigration.
  • The holder of a transit visa has a maximum period of 48 hours to transit through Costa Rica. The first entry into Costa Rica must be made within thirty days from the date of visa issuance. In the case of a double-entry transit visa, the period to make the second entry into Costa Rica is 90 days from the date of the first entry.

Issuance of two visas for Nicaraguan individuals.

  • The issuance of two consular visas is authorized according to the procedure established at the Consulate of Costa Rica in Managua, Nicaragua, for Nicaraguan individuals who justify the need to enter the country twice.
  • The cost of consular visas is determined by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship, and the cost of two visas must be paid.
  • Nationals of Hong Kong and Macao holding valid British or Portuguese passports will receive the same treatment as nationals from visa-exempt countries, meaning they do not require a visa to enter the country, and their stay is permitted for up to ninety days. However, nationals of Hong Kong and Macao without the mentioned travel document will require a consular visa, and the corresponding provisions of the People’s Republic of China will be applied to them.
  • Chinese nationals holding public affairs passports do not require an entry visa to the national territory.
  • Visa applications for minors of Chinese nationality will be processed exclusively by the Restricted Visa Commission. These applications must be submitted exclusively by parents or by those who can convincingly demonstrate that they are the legal representative or have custody, upbringing, and education responsibilities for the minor. The process for these applications will follow the guidelines established for minors in Chapter Six, Articles 125 and onwards, of the Regulations for the Granting of Entry Visas to Costa Rica, Executive Decree No. 36626-G. The exceptions for entry into the national territory, established in Section II, also apply to minors of Chinese nationality.
  • Chinese nationals of legal age carrying passports issued in Beijing or Shanghai may exceptionally enter the country under the No Visa category. The duration of their stay will correspond to the acquired tour, not exceeding thirty days. Individuals entering the country under this exception will not have the possibility to change their immigration category or subcategory.
  • Passport validity and legal stay period. The minimum validity period for Colombian passports shall be 90 calendar days, and the legal stay period for Colombian individuals shall be up to 90 calendar days.
  • Multiple visas for Colombian entrepreneurs. In accordance with Articles 46 and 58 of the General Law on Migration and Immigration, and Article 70, Clause 5 of Executive Decree 36626-G, Regulations for the Granting of Visas, the General Directorate and the Consulate of Costa Rica in Bogota, Colombia, may receive applications and grant visas for temporary resident status and their dependents, as well as special categories, multiple tourism visas, and business visas to foreign individuals of Colombian nationality requested by established companies in the country.

The requirements and procedures for their authorization shall be the same as stipulated in Article 150 and onwards of the Regulations for the Granting of Visas. These visas must be stamped at the Visa Unit or at the Consulate of Costa Rica in Bogota, Colombia, according to the capacity of both institutions, with the costs as stipulated in the General Law on Migration and Immigration.

The multiple visa for Colombian entrepreneurs may be granted for a period of up to 5 years. The procedure for submitting requirements will be digital according to the guidelines issued for such processing.

  • Multiple tourism visas for Colombian individuals. In accordance with Article 58 of the General Law on Migration and Immigration, the General Directorate of Migration and Immigration allows the receipt of applications and the granting of multiple entry visas to foreign individuals of Colombian nationality as long as they do not earn salaries or fees within the country and do not require residing in national territory to carry out their activities.

To apply for the multiple visa, applicants must provide the requirements established in Article 171 of the Regulations for the Granting of Visas. These visas must be stamped at the Visa Unit or at the Consulate of Costa Rica in Bogota, Colombia, according to the capacity of both institutions, with the costs as stipulated in the General Law on Migration and Immigration.

Contact the Costa Rica Department of Immigration

For more details you can visit the Costa Rica Department of Immigration website.

You can download the official publication of the visa list here :

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Entry requirements

This advice reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel. 

The authorities in Costa Rica set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact the Costa Rican Embassy in the UK . 

COVID-19 rules 

There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering Costa Rica. 

Passport validity requirements  

To enter Costa Rica, your passport must have an ‘expiry date’ at least 1 day after the day you plan to leave. 

Check with your travel provider that your passport and other travel documents meet requirements. Renew your passport if you need to.  

You will be denied entry if you do not have a valid travel document or try to use a passport that has been reported lost or stolen. 

Visa requirements 

British nationals do not need a visa to enter Costa Rica. You may stay as a visitor for up to 180 days under a tourist visa waiver, although the exact period is at the discretion of the immigration officer on arrival.

If you plan to work, or stay for a longer period, you should check the requirements with the Costa Rican Embassy in the UK .    

If you overstay, the immigration authorities can fine you 100 US dollars for each month and refuse future applications to enter Costa Rica.

Airport tax 

When leaving the country by air, you may need to pay a departure tax of 29 US dollars. Most airlines include this in ticket prices. If you need to pay it, you can use cash or card. 

Vaccination requirements  

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the vaccinations and certificates you need in TravelHealthPro’s Costa Rica guide .  

Depending on your circumstances, this may include a yellow fever vaccination certificate. 

Customs rules 

There are strict rules about goods you can take into or out of Costa Rica . You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty.  

Taking money into Costa Rica  

Declare cash, travellers cheques or goods if the value is 10,000 US dollars or more. You will get a certified declaration to show you brought it in with you. If you do not, your money or goods could be seized when you leave.   

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What to pack for costa rica: the only costa rica packing list you need.

Planning a trip to Costa Rica? This Costa Rica packing list includes everything you'll need to pack no matter what the season, plus a guide on what to wear in Costa Rica!

Many people struggle to figure out what to pack for Costa Rica and with good reason: the weather is a bit all over the place. Are there really only two seasons? Just how wet is “wet season?” Do I still need a jacket in the heat? I spent two weeks traveling through various cities in Costa Rica just as rainy season was beginning and I struggled to pack for my trip. I brought items I didn’t need and forgot some important ones. So in order to avoid doing the same, I’ve compiled this complete Costa Rica packing list: everything you need to pack for Costa Rica. Whether you’re visiting during rainy season or dry season, these are the essentials you need to pack.

Table of Contents

Weather in Costa Rica: Wet Season vs Dry Season

There are really only two seasons in Costa Rica: wet season and dry season. The temperature is constant year-round, so if you don’t mind a little rain, you can save a lot by visiting during wet season.

December – April:  Costa Rica’s dry season is the best time to experience the country to its fullest since the majority of Costa Rica’s sites are outdoors. This is peak tourist season, however, so sites are more crowded and accommodation more expensive.

May – November:  If you don’t mind the rain, this is a great time to visit Costa Rica (especially during the shoulder months of May and November) for cheaper accommodation and emptier sites. The tradeoff is that you can’t enjoy the beaches as much.

Note: Be sure to check the weather right before your Costa Rica trip since 1) rain is unpredictable and 2) your packing list will depend on which area of the country you’re visiting, since the weather varies by city. This packing list is based on my experiences traveling to the cities listed in my one week Costa Rica itinerary .

What to Pack in: Luggage and Accessories

Over the years, I’ve  somewhat perfected  become better at only packing things I need and packing carry-on only (for the most part) for most of my trips. Except for like, months and months of travel, in which case, I like to have options.

If you’re traveling to Costa Rica, chances are you’ll be visiting at least two or three cities which means you’ll be lugging your luggage from place to place (potentially via some mode of public transport if you aren’t driving). I’ve been the person that drags a wheelie suitcase through the streets and it’s honestly just not practical. So even if you aren’t usually a backpacker, I highly recommend bringing a backpack to Costa Rica for ease of transport. Doing laundry is inexpensive anyway, so it’s easier to wash your clothes once or twice instead of bringing two weeks worth of clothing in a giant bag. Trust me on this one.

  • Backpack: If you’re spending a week or ten days in Costa Rica, you can easily pack carry-on only. The Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack  is hands down the best carry-on-sized backpack I’ve ever used for travel. Not only is it carry-on sized, but it’s also incredibly comfortable and easy to carry, even for a small-framed person like me. It has tons of pockets and compartments for organization, lockable zippers, and it’s weather resistant. If you don’t think you can handle packing in a carry-on, the  Osprey Fairview 70 Backpack is just as comfortable but a lot larger and what I personally used while on my trip. Be sure to get a rain cover if you’re traveling during the wet season!
  • Packing Cubes:  I never understood why people needed packing cubes until I got some of my own. Guys, they’re the BEST for keeping organized! I can no longer travel without them. Now I can avoid what I fondly call “exploding suitcase syndrome” – that tendency for all your things to go all over the place every time you need to get one thing from your suitcase. I’m a fan of  these ones  made specifically for the Tortuga Outbreaker but if you have a different backpack,  these compression packing cubes  are pretty great too!
  • Water-Resistant Daypack:  For days where I’m out all day, I always carry a daypack.  This daypack is great because it’s durable, water-resistant, has several organizational pockets, and folds into a tiny pouch. Alternatively, consider bringing a dry bag instead. Not only does it rain a lot in Costa Rica, but the weather is also notoriously humid. Keep your valuables ( especially electronics) in a waterproof bag to avoid any kind of water damage. This is especially useful for hiking or water activities.
  • Locking Purse (optional): Costa Rica doesn’t have a pickpocketing problem and I’ve never been worried that someone will snatch something from my bag. However, I’d rather be safe than sorry, which is why I bring this handy lockable purse  with me everywhere I travel. Is it the most stylish purse I’ve ever owned? No. Does it keep me from worrying about pickpockets? Absolutely. Plus, it’s surprisingly roomy – I keep my water bottle, camera, wallet, and other stuff in there and they fit no problem. If a smaller purse is what you’re after, check out  this one  or  this one .  Note: you probably only need this if you’re spending lots of time in San Jose. If not, you can always keep your smaller valuables in this secret pocket scarf instead.
  • Organizing bags:  I learned the hard way on my first solo trip that keeping your bag organized is crucial. Otherwise, you end up repacking your bag every other day, which suuuuucks. Therefore, in addition to your packing cubes, bring along an  electronics organizer  (especially if you travel with a ton of gear),  shoe bags  (to keep your shoes away from your clean clothes, of course), a  laundry bag  (you can also use a separate packing cube if you prefer), and a  toiletries bag  (liquids spilling on your clothes make for a bad time).

If you're wondering which cities to add to your Costa Rica itinerary, don't miss La Fortuna and Monteverde! CLICK to read the Costa Rica Travel Guide: La Fortuna and Monteverde edition and start planning your trip! |

What to Wear in Costa Rica: Clothing and Shoes for Wet and Dry Season in Costa Rica

I know that clothing is always the hardest thing to pack because you want to bring clothes that are both functional and cute which is NOT easy. Remember one rule of thumb: wear and pack lightweight. moisture-wicking items . In general, people dress pretty casually in Costa Rica (especially outside San Jose), so don’t worry about bringing formal clothes (just factor in a few nicer sundresses or blouses for the evening and you’re solid). You might want to dress up slightly if you’re spending most of your time in San Jose, but again – more casual than you’re used to. Pura Vida applies to your wardrobe as well.

The weather in Costa Rica is pretty consistently warm, but you’ll still want to factor in both a rain jacket and a warm jacket if you decide to go to a mountain town like Monteverde. Note: if you’re visiting Monteverde ,  it gets mildly cold (60s – 70s Fahrenheit). Leave your winter coat at home, but bring a fleece or packable down jacket , especially for the evenings.

Wet season vs dry season: For dry season, think casual, moisture-wicking fabrics that will keep you cool and dry. In the wet season, it gets *slightly* cooler, so your wardrobe will be similar but this is when it’s extra important to pack quick-dry clothing. During rainy season, you should also add the following to your packing list: a fleece or down jacket, a pair of closed-toed shoes, a couple of long-sleeved tops and pants, and most importantly – a rain jacket. 

Tip: Spray all your clothing and gear with Permethrin spray  before you leave. It lasts up to six washes and helps you avoid bug bites.

  • Basic temperature regulating t-shirt (3): No matter what the season, you’ll want at least a few basic temperature regulating shirts, like this one (get it on Amazon instead here ). This T is specially made to be moisture-wicking, anti-odor, and offer SPF protection so it’s perfect for both the dry and wet season in Costa Rica. Plus, it doesn’t look like an exercise top but still offers a lot of the benefits of high-performance clothing. It’s cute enough to be dressed up with a cardigan or nice scarf. If you decide you love this shirt and want one with similar features, try this one ..
  • Insect repellant top (1-2): If you’re prone to sunburns or bug bites, consider getting an insect-repelling top . The mosquitos in Costa Rica do NOT mess around. Alternatively, purchase Permethrin spray to spray on your clothing before you go. It lasts up to six washes, is safe for your clothing, and repels mosquitos.
  • Long-sleeved temperature regulating top (1-2): If you’re traveling during wet season or are prone to bug bites, you’ll probably want more than just one of these tops . Wet season isn’t cold by any means, but it’s nice to have a long-sleeved top for the evenings, temperature variations due to rain, and to protect yourself from bugs.
  • Blouses / Cute Shirts (2):  For the rest of the time when you’re out and about, you’ll want to bring along  some cute tops (short or long-sleeved depending on your sensitivity to the sun). People dress pretty casually so keep that in mind when choosing clothes. Just make sure whatever you pack is lightweight!
  • Lightweight pants (2): No matter when you visit Costa Rica, you’ll want loose and lightweight everything, including pants. I’m a fan of this  particular style for the evening, but for hiking and outdoors, prAna is my go-to brand of choice for pants that are comfortable for all-day travel and outdoor activities without being ugly or looking too much like workout pants ( these are my faves). If you’re looking for more ‘technical’ hiking pants, I recommend these pants I used for the Inca Trail  (or  these if you want the convertible version) – they’re reasonably priced, comfortable, and have lots of pockets.
  • Shorts (2) : Tons of people wear shorts in Costa Rica and rightfully so: It’s hot, hot, hot. However, I did not because I’m very prone to mosquito bites and I’m one of those people who doesn’t get warm easily. If you do bring shorts, make sure you pack the quick-dry kind . Note: even if you prefer shorts, be sure to bring at least 1-2 pairs of pants along.
  • Skirts (1): You’ll probably only want to wear a skirt in the evening (unless you hike in skirts, in which case kudos!). I wouldn’t bring more than 1-2 personally. Costa Rica is more of a beach and outdoors destination.
  • Dresses (1-2): If you’re traveling during dry season, bring 1-2 nicer casual dresses that you can wear both during the day and in the evening. Most opportunities to dress up slightly are for going out to dinner as Costa Rica is pretty casual.
  • Secret pocket scarf: One of my favorite minimalist hacks for travel is to bring several scarves and several basic shirts and mix and match them to make it look like a whole new outfit. Cool trick, right? My favorite scarf to pack for every trip is this secret pocket scarf . It’s cute and functional and has the added bonus of having a hidden pocket, where you can keep your passport, some money, or any other valuable you’re worried about.
  • Swimsuits: Bring at least two! The beaches in Costa Rica are nice and you’ll probably be swimming multiple days in a row. There are usually opportunities to swim during the wet season as well. I don’t recommend anything too flimsy if you’re planning on doing water sports though.
  • Cover-up: People in Costa Rica dress casually, but you won’t see people in their swimwear away from the beach. Out of respect, bring a cover-up and wear it if you’re planning on grabbing a meal or something.
  • Sun hat: Your skin will want a break from the strong Costa Rica sun, especially if you’re prone to burning. Check out your options here .
  • Sunglasses: No explanation necessary.

Outerwear, Underwear, and Accessories

  • (1) Bra, (2) workout bras, (7) underwear:  I always bring  this workout bra  for outdoorsy days or if I want to hit the hotel gym because it keeps moisture and smells away. Same goes for this  underwear  (plus, it dries quickly for easy washing). I also pack a couple of my regular t-shirt bras and voila. Done with undergarments.
  • Moisture-wicking socks (3-6 pairs):  These  moisture-wicking socks are perfect for all-day wear without making your feet smelly or sweaty. They’re perfect for outdoor activities. Just a few pairs will do.
  • Fleece or down jacket: Even in the dry season, you’ll want to bring a fleece or a packable down jacket for potential early morning hikes or unexpected cold weather. I prefer the jacket because it’s warm but doesn’t take up much room in a suitcase.
  • Waterproof jacket:  It rains a lot in Costa Rica – especially if you’re there during rainy season. This jacket is lightweight and breathable but keeps you dry. It also fits into its own pouch to make packing lightly that much easier. Bring it no matter when you visit because the weather is seriously unpredictable.
  • Pajamas: I like bringing leggings and a basic t-shirt to wear as pajamas just in case there’s an off chance I need to wash them and wear them as clothes in a pinch. Or layer with them if I get cold. Either way, don’t forget pajamas.
  • Sun hat: Protect your skin (and your neck) from sunburns. Bring a hat .
  • Mesh bag for wet clothes : The last thing you want to do is put wet clothes in a plastic bag. They’ll start to smell and they’ll never dry. Instead, bring a couple of these mesh bags along so they don’t get gross in the bag.

Shoes for Costa Rica

  • Cute Sandals / Flip flops:  I love  these Keen sandals because they’re cute and super comfortable to walk in all day. I bring them with me everywhere and they haven’t failed me yet. I wore these whenever I wasn’t doing hiking / outdoors activities because the hiking sandals are more practical than fashionable. Alternatively, you can bring a cute pair of flip flops (I personally prefer the security of sandals though).
  • Hiking sandals: I wore these hiking sandals in Costa Rica for most of my outdoors activities and to the beach and they were perfect (even during wet season). I also wore them while swimming because a lot of the beaches have rocks (like in Manuel Antonio ). I did see plenty of people who had water shoes but eh, I prefer my items to be multi-purpose whenever possible.
  • Hiking shoes (optional): I only wore hiking sandals while I was in Costa Rica and was totally fine. However, if you prefer hiking shoes instead, then I recommend this pair . Not only are they durable and supportive, but they’re also waterproof –  very important for Costa Rica (even during dry season).

Due to an unexpected change of plans, we found ourselves in Alajuela, Costa Rica (near the San Jose airport) for 3 days. If you find yourself in the same situation, don’t worry! CLICK to read the best things to do near San Jose Airport, Costa Rica!

What to Pack for Costa Rica: Toiletries and Accessories 

  • Oral care:  Don’t forget to pack your  toothbrush, toothpaste , and  floss sticks  along. Your favorite brands might be a little more expensive so it’s easier to just bring your stuff with you.
  • Deodorant : Obviously.
  • Razors: I like to avoid looking like I just shaved my legs for the first time so I never use crappy hotel razors. Instead, I use the ultra-compact yet powerful Venus Snap for shorter trips. If you don’t have sensitive skin, you can easily pick up a razor at a pharmacy in Costa Rica.
  • Shampoo, Conditioner, Leave-in conditioner, and Soap: Word to the wise – your favorite hair and skincare brands (especially if you use ultra-niche or expensive brands) might not be available in Costa Rica or might be really expensive. I personally bring solid shampoo and conditioner bars because they’re lighter, last way longer, and don’t spill on your stuff. I like this shampoo bar  and  this conditioner bar , but of course, buy/bring whatever suits your hair type. Leave-in conditioner is a must because you’ll be spending a lot of time in water. I like this one  and  this one . As for soap, I bring along the miraculous  Dr. Bronner’s Castille Soap , which you can use to clean yourself, clothing, dishes, and more. I learned about it from some traveling friends a few years ago and now it’s my go-to travel soap!
  • Hand Sanitizer and face wipes: Costa Rica is hot and nature-y so having face wipes  or baby wipes will help you stay refreshed and cleanish, while  hand sanitizer is useful for general…er, sanitizing. Especially if a bathroom isn’t handy or it doesn’t have soap.
  • Makeup:  I’ve never been much of a makeup queen and generally get by with  tinted moisturizer ,  mascara ,  eyebrow pencil ,  eyeliner , and  lipstick both on the road and at home. You won’t need more than this in Costa Rica since you’ll be sweaty and doing a lot of outdoor activities while you’re there. Either way, remember that anything that’s prone to melting (in the case or off your face) probably isn’t best to bring anyway.
  • Chapstick:  Use it often and buy  the SPF kind . Sunburned lips are the worst (spoken from experience).
  • Sunscreen: Even if you’ve never burned before, don’t test your luck and pack some good sunscreen. It’s expensive in Costa Rica and not always easy to find because locals don’t use it. For everyday use, I use Neutrogena Clear Face Sunscreen  because my skin is prone to acne. The  original Neutrogena sunscreen  is just as good if acne is a non-issue. Neither will leave your skin feeling gross and greasy. For the rest of me, I use the solid body stick , which works well. My friends who dive told me that the chemicals in sunscreen are really bad for the ocean though, so if you’re going swimming, they recommend  All Good Sunscreen , which is safe for reefs and the planet. The more you know!
  • Insect repellent: The mosquitos in Costa Rica are absolutely relentless and I know this because I made the mistake of bringing wimpy repellent with me when I visited. Don’t be like me! Nowadays, I only use this insect repellent . Not only was it specifically voted number one in consumer tests but I can vouch for that fact that I’ve gotten fewer bites using it in other tropical destinations. Plus, you can use it on your skin and it doesn’t make you feel or smell gross!
  • Chafing gel:  The only time I ever wish for a thigh gap is when it’s hot and I’m wearing a skirt or dress. Chub rub, that uncomfortable rawness you get between your thighs from them rubbing together, is  very  real, especially when it’s hot out. I used  this anti-chafing balm and my only disappointment is how long it took me to figure out that it’s a thing that exists.
  • Menstruation things: If pads are your period weapon of choice (and you don’t want to pack some), you can easily find your favorite brands in Costa Rica. However, tampons and menstrual cups choices are limited so do yourself a favor and pack some along with you.
  • Skincare:  As much as I’m a makeup minimalist, I’m somewhat of a skincare maximalist. I use a variety of products, which I pack into  these teeny travel containers . What I don’t skimp on, though, is face moisturizer, and neither should you. Your skin will dry out from the heat and all that sun. I love the  Cerave PM moisturizer (shout out to my dermatologist for introducing me to it!) and the bottle comes in a 3 oz size, which makes it TSA-friendly. Don’t forget to pack a good body lotion  too. Your body needs hydration as well.
  • Miscellaneous:  In terms of jewelry, I  usually bring 3 pairs of earrings plus what I’m already wearing, and a few cute and matching bracelets and necklaces. Not necessities but I gotta be cute, ok? I also pack a  waterproof phone pouch (more for keeping my phone dry than taking good underwater photos), a comb / brush, a loofah, and this perfume bottle atomizer  so I can bring my favorite perfume along.

Due to an unexpected change of plans, we found ourselves in Alajuela, Costa Rica (near the San Jose airport) for 3 days. If you find yourself in the same situation, don’t worry! CLICK to read the best things to do near San Jose Airport, Costa Rica!

Costa Rica Packing List: Travel Safety and First Aid

  • Travel Insurance:  Yes, you need travel insurance for if things (hopefully don’t but often do) go wrong. I’ve been sick, needed stitches, crashed a rental car, had cash stolen and have dealt with luggage delays. Let’s just say I’ve learned my lesson about travel insurance the hard way. My go-to insurance is  World Nomads cause they’re awesome and easy to deal with. Be sure to check out the different plan options to pick one that’s right for you!
  • Luggage Locks:  Your stuff can definitely get stolen from your suitcase, whether you’re going through airport security, taking a bus or train, or staying at a hostel (or hotel, even). I’m not saying it’s going to happen, but I’m a worrywart and like to prepare for the worst. So I bring a couple of these small  TSA-approved locks  with me whenever I travel. Sure, I can’t stop someone from running off with my entire bag, but at least I can stop pickpockets in their track, heyyyy!
  • Anti Diarrheal: I have a fairly strong stomach and found that I had no issues with food and water in Costa Rica (unlike my misadventures in Peru). However, everybody’s stomachs react differently so I recommend bringing anti diarrheal with you just in case. Imodium is every traveler’s favorite treatment for travel diarrhea. My doctor tells me that you shouldn’t stop whatever is making you sick from leaving your system. However, I totally get that there are times where “better out than in” just doesn’t work (like on a hiking trip, for example). So bring Imodium if you’d like, but use it only when you need to.
  • Rehydration Salts (optional): Costa Rica is hot and if you’re out and about all day, it’s easy to get dehydrated. These rehydration salts are perfect for electrolyte replenishment, especially when you can’t keep anything down or drink water fast enough.
  • Advil:  I always bring some  pain reliever with me in case of body aches, cramps, etc. It’s just good to have.
  • Dramamine: I’m thankful that my motion sickness only warrants medication when I’m on a boat, but I totally get that others are more sensitive. If you end up on a camping trip of some sort, drive up the windy roads, or take long-distance public transportation, chances are high you’ll be in for a bumpy ride. I prefer the non-drowsy Dramamine  so I can still be a functioning human being during the day (not that naps aren’t nice too).
  • Travel First Aid Kit:  I love that this  travel first aid kit  is small enough to stick in your bag but still has tons of items in it. I’d remove the scissors if you aren’t planning to check your luggage, but otherwise, this is incredibly handy, especially if you’re going to be doing outdoorsy things.

The Perfect Costa Rica Itinerary: 7 Days of Pura Vida: Planning a week long trip to Costa Rica? Look no further - this is the perfect one week costa rica itinerary that includes adventure, beaches, and wildlife. Click to read and start planning your trip! |

What to Pack: Electronics

  • VPN: For those of you who don’t know, a VPN (virtual private network) is a service that allows you to securely and privately route your internet through a server. Basically, it makes your internet think you’re in one place when you’re in a different one. Why do you need this? Well, if you want to access your bank account or any secure online account, the sites get super sketched out when you’re in a foreign country. NordVPN is my go-to because it works even in countries where VPNs are blocked. Yay for internet security!
  • Power bank:  I don’t know if I’m a phone addict or what (jk, the answer to that is an unfortunate but resounding yes) but I legit don’t understand how people can travel without a power bank. You’re out and about all day and using your phone to navigate, take photos, and who knows what else. I always carry my  Anker PowerCore  while I’m out. It’s light, holds multiple charges, and charges phones quickly. Win!
  • An eSIM: Once upon a time, I used to collect SIM cards like 90’s kids collected Beanie Babies. I had one for each country I visited and multiple phone numbers I could never remember. Why? So I could always have internet (I’m an addict and I know it). Nowadays, I use an  eSIM . I get internet pretty much everywhere and can use it for multiple devices. Bonus: NOT having to deal with the hassle of getting a SIM card in a foreign country and you can use it for Google Maps (instead of renting a GPS).
  • Universal travel adapter:  After accidentally bringing the wrong plug for a country multiple times, I learned my lesson and bought a couple of  universal travel adapters . You can use them in every country and never have to worry about plugs again, yay! This one also has USB slots, which is super handy if you are mainly charging phones, cameras, and tablets. I usually pack two just in case and charge all my stuff with a power strip (linked below). Note: the plugs in Costa Rica are the same as they are in the U.S. so this is an optional item if you’re traveling with North American electronics.
  • Travel Camera(s):  I know all the cool kids are about that #iPhoneOnly life, but I still like taking photos with a camera. Does that make me old? Whatever, I’m embracing it. Anyway, for adventure footage and photos, the latest  GoPro is seriously the best, especially for Costa Rica. It’s waterproof, image stabilizing, and has a bunch of other cool features. Plus, you can use it to capture all your crazy activities like ziplining and canyoning. If you’re looking for a nice digital camera that doesn’t involve complicated lenses, I personally use the Sony RX100 II , which I’m obsessed with. This is the older model (I think they’re on the 6 now) but it works great. The Carl Zeiss lens takes spectacular, high-quality photos but the camera is small enough to fit in a purse. Make sure you bring protective gear for your electronics though – the humidity and rain can seriously damage your stuff.
  • Kindle:  Confession: I’m low-key a book fiend and chances are high that I’m currently in the middle of reading something. As a traveler, I don’t have the luxury of taking up precious space in my suitcase with a book or three. I was uncertain about buying a  Kindle  initially, but it’s one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. Not only can you keep guidebooks on there, but it’s also nice to be able to read at your leisure on those long distance trips or at the beach.  This particular Kindle  magically blocks sun glare somehow (sorcery, I tell you!), which is why I prefer it to reading on a tablet.
  • Portable Travel Strip (optional):  If you’re one of those annoying people charging your phone, laptop, and camera at the same time (read: me), bringing a  small travel strip  along makes powering your devices that much more efficient. I know I’m extra. Sorry, not sorry.
  • Headphones:  There are a lot of things that suck about planes, but bad headphones don’t have to be one of them. The small  Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones  do a pretty good job of blocking ambient sound on airplanes (and everywhere else). They’re small and they’re wired, making them much more practical for travel than the bulky over-ear headphones.
  • Laptop/Tablet (optional):  I work online for a living, so I always bring my MacBook Air with me. I don’t like or use tablets personally. However, you might want to bring along a lightweight laptop or your tablet just in case. Travel planning is hard to do on a smartphone (which you should also bring by the way).

If you're wondering which cities to add to your Costa Rica itinerary, don't miss La Fortuna and Monteverde! CLICK to read the Costa Rica Travel Guide: La Fortuna and Monteverde edition and start planning your trip! |

What to Pack: Travel Accessories

  • Insulated water bottle and water purifier or water purifying bottle: I always bring a water bottle with me when I travel because single-use plastic sucks for the planet and buying lots of bottled water is expensive and inconvenient. You can technically drink the tap water in Costa Rica, but if you’re a bit worried or have a sensitive stomach, purify it first. I bring along a Steripen , a UV water purifier that gets rid of 99.9% of bacteria, viruses, and protozoa, and use it in combination with my CamelBak Insulated Water Bottle . This bottle is particularly awesome because it holds 20 oz and keeps water cold, which you’ll want in a hot country like Costa Rica. If you’d rather purchase an all-in-one solution, Grayl’s water filtering bottle  is a great alternative so you can fill directly from the tap and drink almost immediately.
  • Microfiber towel: Pretty much all hotels will have towels for use on hand, but I find that it’s always nice to have a towel I can use when I travel, whether I’m on the beach, get caught in the rain, or stay at a hostel. This Wise Owl Camping Towel  dries super quickly, takes up almost no room and comes with a bonus face/hand towel for hikes and outdoor activities. I always bring it with me when I travel, whether I’m staying in a hostel or not.
  • Travel pillow: First of all, if you don’t already use a travel pillow while you’re on a plane, I’m seriously impressed because I can’t board a flight without one! In Costa Rica, you’ll definitely want to bring one along, not just for the plane but also for sleeping on long-distance buses (if you take public transport). Best believe I’m recommending that dorky but ultra comfortable Trtl travel pillow . It’s super comfortable and designed to hold your head in a proper sleeping position. Plus, it’s easy to just attach to your backpack when you aren’t using it so you don’t have to worry about bending the brace.
  • Eye mask and earplugs:  I have the hardest time sleeping pretty much anywhere that isn’t a bed, which I know is ridiculous considering how often I travel. I find that making my environment as quiet and dark as possible helps, which is why I travel with both  earplugs  and this  funny-looking eye mask . Costa Rica has a fair amount of nature noises, which may interrupt your sleep if you’re sensitive to noise. I highly recommend bringing earplugs just in case , even if you don’t sleep with them normally.
  • Travel toilet paper: I’ve been caught in a public bathroom without toilet paper enough times to always bring some along in my purse when I’m out and about. You can always buy toilet paper in Costa Rica or take some from your hotel, but I like to keep some of these small toilet paper rolls  in my purse and not worry about it. Toilet seat covers are 100% not a thing (like at all outside of North America from what I’ve seen) so if you’re particularly worried about hygiene, there are also  travel toilet seat covers .  Note: don’t flush anything down the toilet in Costa Rica, not even toilet paper. The pipes can’t handle it. 
  • Sleeping bag liner:  I’m not a germaphobe by any means but have camped and stayed in hostels enough times to know that sometimes the bedding is…questionable. Or just plain uncomfortable. This  silk sleeping bag liner  will make you feel ultra-luxurious and put a barrier between you and your bedding, which has made me feel better while camping and staying in budget hotels.
  • Travel clothesline (optional):  This  travel clothesline  is super handy for hanging swimwear, towels, and other gear to dry. Not only does it come with built-in clothespins, but it’s also easy to hook both indoors and outdoors.
  • Waterproof driving map (optional) : If you’re driving in Costa Rica and want to reference a physical map in addition to using Waze / Google Maps. This one is popular.
  • Costa Rican Spanish Phrasebook:  This  Spanish phrasebook is more of a nice to have than a necessity. However, you might find it particularly useful if you’re traveling through Costa Rica independently, especially if you’re not at tourist sites.
  • Lonely Planet Guidebook:  I’m one of those people who uses blogs to plan my trip but brings along a  guidebook  when I’m in another country. I know it’s weird, but I like having a reference along. Totally not a necessity if you’ve done proper research and/or have internet access.

Planning your trip to La Fortuna / Arenal in Costa Rica? Then check out this list of the best things to do in La Fortuna for first time visitors!

What to Pack: Travel Documents

  • Passport and copy of your passport
  • Departure ticket: you can’t enter Costa Rica without having an exit flight
  • Travel Insurance : very, very important.
  • Driver’s license if you’re planning on renting a car
  • Credit card and / or debit card
  • Cash: USD is widely accepted but you can also exchange your dollars for colones (this saves you a bit of money). Bring smaller bills ($20 and less).

More Costa Rica Resources

  • Costa Rica Travel Guide
  • The Perfect Costa Rica Itinerary for One Week: 7 Days of Pura Vida
  • The Best Day Trips from San Jose, Costa Rica: 13 Things to Do Near San Jose and Alajuela
  • 17+ Awesome Things to do in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica (On a Budget)
  • 8 Best Things to Do in Monteverde, Costa Rica for First-Time Visitors
  • 10 Best Things to Do in La Fortuna and Arenal, Costa Rica for First-Time Visitors

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Planning a trip to Costa Rica? This Costa Rica packing list includes everything you'll need to pack no matter what the season, plus a guide on what to wear in Costa Rica!

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Costa Rica Travel Advisory

Travel advisory july 17, 2023, costa rica - level 2: exercise increased caution.

Reissued with obsolete COVID-19 page links removed.

Exercise increased caution in Costa Rica due to  crime .

Country Summary:  While petty crime is the predominant threat for tourists in Costa Rica, violent crime, including armed robbery, homicide and sexual assault, occurs in Costa Rica. The Costa Rican government provides additional security resources in areas frequented by tourists.

Read the  country information page for additional information on travel to Costa Rica.

If you decide to travel to Costa Rica:

  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Do not physically resist any robbery attempt.
  • Do not display signs of wealth, such as wearing expensive watches or jewelry.
  • Enroll in the  Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • U.S. citizens should always exercise caution when traveling abroad.
  • Follow the Department of State on  Facebook,   Twitter, and Instagram .
  • Review the  Country Security Report  for Costa Rica.
  • Prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the  Traveler’s Checklist .
  • Visit the CDC page for the latest Travel Health Information related to your travel. 

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What To Pack For Costa Rica: 60 Essential Things To Bring With You


When planning a trip to Costa Rica, packing may seem like a daunting task. With its diverse landscapes, abundant wildlife, and outdoor adventure opportunities, Costa Rica offers a unique travel experience. To make the most of your trip, it’s crucial to pack wisely and have all the essentials with you.

Whether you’re exploring the pristine beaches, hiking through lush rainforests, or embarking on thrilling water activities, having the right items in your suitcase can enhance your travel experience and ensure your comfort.

In this comprehensive packing guide, we’ve compiled a list of 60 essential things to bring with you when traveling to Costa Rica. From travel essentials to clothing, footwear, toiletries, electronics, and more, this guide will help you pack smartly for your Costa Rican adventure.

Keep in mind that the specific items you need may vary depending on the duration of your trip, the activities you plan to engage in, and the regions you’ll be visiting. It’s always a good idea to check the weather forecast and research the activities available in each destination to tailor your packing list accordingly.

Now, without further ado, let’s dive into the essential items you should bring with you to Costa Rica!

Section 1: Travel Essentials

When traveling to Costa Rica, there are certain essential items that should always be a part of your packing list. These items will ensure your comfort, safety, and convenience throughout your trip. Here are the travel essentials you should bring with you:

  • Valid Passport and Visa: Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your planned departure date from Costa Rica. Check if you need a visa based on your nationality.
  • Travel Insurance: Protect yourself from unexpected events or emergencies by purchasing travel insurance that covers medical expenses, trip cancellations, and lost baggage.
  • Printed Itinerary and Travel Documents: Keep a printed copy of your itinerary, hotel reservations, flight tickets, and any other important travel documents in case of any technological glitches.
  • Copies of Important Documents: Take copies of your passport, travel insurance, and other important documents, and keep them in a separate location from the originals.
  • Money and Credit Cards: Bring a mixture of cash (both in the local currency, Costa Rican Colón, and US dollars) and credit cards for convenience. Inform your bank about your travel plans to avoid any issues with your cards.
  • Universal Power Adapter: Costa Rica uses Type A and Type B electrical outlets, so make sure to bring a universal power adapter to charge your electronic devices.
  • Insect Repellent: Protect yourself from mosquitoes and other insects by packing a reliable insect repellent containing DEET or a natural alternative like lemon eucalyptus oil.
  • Sunscreen: Costa Rica’s tropical climate means you’ll be exposed to ample sunshine. Carry a high SPF sunscreen to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
  • Reusable Water Bottle: Stay hydrated and reduce plastic waste by bringing a reusable water bottle. The tap water in most parts of Costa Rica is safe to drink.
  • Travel-sized First Aid Kit: Pack a small first aid kit with essentials like band-aids, pain relievers, motion sickness medication, and any prescription medications you may need.

By ensuring you have these travel essentials, you’ll be well-prepared to embark on your Costa Rican adventure with peace of mind.

Section 2: Clothing

Packing the right clothing for your trip to Costa Rica is essential to ensure your comfort and adaptability to the country’s diverse climates. From hot and humid coastal regions to cooler mountainous areas, here are some clothing items to include in your suitcase:

  • Lightweight and breathable clothing: Pack lightweight and breathable fabrics like cotton and linen for the hot and humid coastal regions. Opt for loose-fitting shirts, shorts, and dresses to stay cool.
  • Swimwear: Don’t forget to pack swimwear for enjoying Costa Rica’s stunning beaches and water activities. Pack at least two swimsuits so you have a spare while one dries.
  • Long-sleeve shirts and pants: In areas with higher altitude, such as the cloud forests or mountains, the weather can be cooler. Pack a few long-sleeve shirts and pants to keep warm during evenings and early mornings.
  • Lightweight jacket or sweater: Even in coastal areas, the evenings can get cooler. Bring a lightweight jacket or sweater for cooler nights.
  • Hiking or trekking clothes: If you plan on exploring Costa Rica’s national parks or hiking trails, pack comfortable and breathable hiking pants, quick-dry t-shirts, and sturdy hiking shoes or boots.
  • Rain jacket or poncho: Costa Rica’s rainy season runs roughly from May to November. Be prepared for sudden showers by packing a lightweight rain jacket or poncho.
  • Socks and underwear: Pack enough underwear and socks for the duration of your trip, including a couple of thicker socks for any outdoor activities.
  • Sun hat and sunglasses: Protect yourself from the strong tropical sun by bringing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
  • Sleepwear: Pack comfortable sleepwear for a good night’s rest.

Remember to pack versatile clothing items that can be mixed and matched to create different outfits. Embrace layers to adjust to the changing temperatures throughout Costa Rica. Laundry facilities are available in many accommodations, so you can pack light and do laundry if needed.

By packing the right clothing, you’ll be prepared for Costa Rica’s varying climates and be comfortable throughout your trip.

Section 3: Footwear

Choosing the right footwear for your trip to Costa Rica is crucial as you’ll be exploring diverse terrains ranging from sandy beaches to muddy trails. Here are some essential footwear options to consider packing:

  • Comfortable Walking Shoes: Pack a pair of comfortable walking shoes or sneakers for everyday sightseeing and exploring. Look for shoes with good arch support and cushioning.
  • Hiking Shoes or Boots: If you plan on hiking or trekking, invest in a good pair of hiking shoes or boots. These provide better traction and ankle support on uneven terrains.
  • Water Shoes: Costa Rica’s beaches and water activities call for a pair of water shoes. These protect your feet from sharp rocks and provide better grip in slippery areas.
  • Sandals or Flip-flops: For beach days, casual strolls, or just lounging around your accommodation, bring a pair of comfortable sandals or flip-flops.
  • Lightweight and Breathable Socks: Pack several pairs of lightweight and breathable socks to keep your feet dry and comfortable during outdoor activities.
  • Extra Shoe Laces and Insoles: Bring spare shoe laces and insoles in case of any wear and tear or for added comfort.

Consider the activities you plan to engage in and the regions you’ll be visiting when selecting your footwear. Opt for versatile options that can handle both urban exploration and outdoor adventures.

It’s also important to break in your new shoes before your trip to avoid any discomfort or blisters. Test them out on different terrains to ensure they provide the necessary comfort and support.

Pack your footwear in a separate bag to keep your other belongings clean and to prevent any dirt or sand from spreading to your clothes.

By having the appropriate footwear, you’ll be ready to tackle any adventure that awaits you in Costa Rica.

Section 4: Toiletries

Packing the right toiletries for your trip to Costa Rica is essential to ensure your hygiene and comfort during your stay. Here are some essential toiletries to consider packing:

  • Toothbrush and Toothpaste: Don’t forget to pack your toothbrush and toothpaste for your daily oral hygiene routine.
  • Shampoo and Conditioner: If you have specific preferences for shampoo and conditioner, it’s recommended to bring travel-sized bottles. However, many accommodations in Costa Rica provide basic toiletries.
  • Body Wash or Soap: Bring a travel-sized body wash or soap for your daily shower routines.
  • Deodorant: Keep fresh throughout the day by packing your preferred deodorant.
  • Face Cleanser and Moisturizer: Maintain your skincare routine by bringing your favorite face cleanser and moisturizer.
  • Sunscreen: Protect your skin from the intense sun of Costa Rica by packing a sunscreen with high SPF.
  • Insect Repellent: Keep mosquitoes and other insects at bay by packing a reliable insect repellent.
  • Razor and Shaving Cream: If you prefer to shave, don’t forget to pack your razor and shaving cream.
  • Feminine Hygiene Products: Pack an adequate supply of feminine hygiene products as they may not be easily available in remote areas.
  • Prescription Medications: If you take any prescription medications, make sure to pack enough for the duration of your trip. Carry them in their original packaging along with the prescription.
  • Personal Medications and First Aid: Pack any personal medications you may need during your trip, along with a basic first aid kit containing band-aids, pain relievers, and any other necessary medications.

Remember to pack travel-sized containers to comply with airline regulations. If you have any specific brands or preferences, it’s best to pack your own toiletries as the availability and options may vary in Costa Rica.

Consider packing your toiletries in a waterproof toiletry bag to prevent any spills or leaks from damaging your other belongings.

By packing these essential toiletries, you’ll be well-prepared to maintain your hygiene and feel your best during your Costa Rican adventure.

Section 5: Electronics

In today’s digital age, electronics play a vital role in our travel experiences. When packing for Costa Rica, consider bringing the following electronics to enhance your trip:

  • Smartphone: A smartphone is a versatile device that can serve multiple purposes during your trip. From navigation and communication to capturing memorable moments, make sure to bring your smartphone.
  • Camera: If you’re passionate about photography, bring a camera to capture the stunning landscapes and vibrant wildlife of Costa Rica. Consider bringing a waterproof or rugged camera for any water-related activities.
  • Chargers and Adapters: Don’t forget to pack chargers for your electronic devices, including your smartphone, camera, and any other gadgets you bring along. Additionally, make sure to bring universal power adapters for Costa Rica’s electrical outlets.
  • Power Bank: Keep your devices charged on the go by packing a portable power bank. This is particularly useful for long outings or when access to power outlets is limited.
  • Portable Bluetooth Speaker: If you enjoy listening to music or want to create a lively atmosphere during your beach days or outdoor gatherings, bring a portable Bluetooth speaker.
  • E-book Reader: If you’re an avid reader, consider bringing an e-book reader to have access to a wide range of books without the need to carry physical copies.
  • Headphones: Pack a pair of comfortable headphones to enjoy your favorite music or podcasts during long flights, bus rides, or downtime.
  • Travel Adapter for Car Charger: If you plan on renting a car or using road transportation in Costa Rica, bring a travel adapter for your car charger so you can charge your devices on the go.
  • Portable Wi-Fi Router: If you need a reliable internet connection during your trip, consider bringing a portable Wi-Fi router or check with your accommodation if they provide this service.

It’s important to remember that you might not have access to reliable Wi-Fi or power outlets in some remote areas of Costa Rica. Ensure your devices are fully charged before heading out and consider conserving battery life when necessary.

By packing these electronics, you’ll be equipped to capture memories, stay connected, and enhance your overall travel experience in Costa Rica.

Section 6: Medications and First Aid

When traveling to Costa Rica, it’s important to be prepared for minor illnesses, injuries, and emergencies. Packing the right medications and a basic first aid kit can help you stay healthy and manage unexpected situations. Here are some essential items to include:

  • Prescription Medications: If you take any prescription medications, make sure to pack an adequate supply for the duration of your trip. Carry them in their original packaging along with the prescription.
  • Pain Relievers: Pack over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen for headaches, muscle aches, or other minor pains.
  • Antihistamines: Bring antihistamines to relieve allergy symptoms, such as sneezing, itching, or hay fever. They can also help with insect bites or stings.
  • Anti-diarrhea Medication: Traveler’s diarrhea can be a common issue when visiting new destinations. Pack anti-diarrhea medication to manage any digestive discomfort.
  • Motion Sickness Medication: If you’re prone to motion sickness, bring medication or motion sickness bands to help alleviate symptoms during long car rides or boat trips.
  • First Aid Kit: Pack a basic first aid kit that includes adhesive bandages, sterile gauze pads, antiseptic wipes, adhesive tape, tweezers, scissors, and any personal medications or supplies you may need.
  • Insect Repellent: To protect yourself from mosquito bites and other insects, bring a reliable insect repellent containing DEET or a natural alternative like lemon eucalyptus oil.
  • Sunburn Relief: If you get sunburned, pack aloe vera gel or after-sun lotion to soothe the skin and alleviate discomfort.
  • Hydration Salts: Costa Rica’s tropical climate and outdoor activities can lead to dehydration. Consider packing oral rehydration salts or electrolyte tablets to replenish lost fluids.
  • Small Scissors or Swiss Army Knife: These tools can be handy for cutting tape, opening packages, or handling minor repairs.

It’s important to note that it’s always a good idea to consult with your healthcare provider or travel medicine clinic prior to your trip to discuss any specific health concerns or recommended vaccinations for Costa Rica.

Having these medications and a basic first aid kit on hand will give you peace of mind and ensure you’re prepared for any minor health needs that may arise during your Costa Rican adventure.

Section 7: Accessories

When it comes to packing for your trip to Costa Rica, accessories can make a big difference in terms of convenience, comfort, and practicality. Here are some essential accessories to consider bringing with you:

  • Travel Backpack or Daypack: A sturdy and comfortable backpack or daypack is essential for carrying your essentials, water bottle, camera, and other items during day trips and hikes.
  • Travel Neck Pillow: For long flights or bus rides, a travel neck pillow can provide much-needed comfort and support for your neck and help you get some rest.
  • Money Belt or Travel Wallet: Keep your money, passport, and other important documents safe by using a money belt or a secure travel wallet hidden under your clothes.
  • Travel Locks: Bring travel locks to secure your luggage and provide an extra layer of protection for your belongings.
  • Reusable Shopping Bag: Carry a lightweight and foldable reusable shopping bag. It can come in handy for groceries, beach trips, or shopping while reducing plastic waste.
  • Travel Umbrella: Pack a compact and lightweight travel umbrella for unexpected rain showers or to shield yourself from the sun.
  • Travel Guidebook or Maps: Although much information is available online, having a physical travel guidebook or maps can be useful for navigating and planning your activities.
  • Snorkel Gear: If you plan on snorkeling, consider bringing your own mask, snorkel, and fins for a more personalized and comfortable experience.
  • Beach Towel or Sarong: A lightweight and quick-drying beach towel or sarong is essential for lounging at the beach and drying off after water activities.
  • Sleeping Mask and Earplugs: If you’re sensitive to light and noise, a sleeping mask and earplugs can help ensure a restful night’s sleep, especially in shared accommodations or noisy areas.

These accessories can enhance your travel experience and make your stay in Costa Rica more comfortable and convenient. Remember to pack them strategically in your carry-on or daypack for easy access.

Now that you have a list of essential accessories, you can pack accordingly and be prepared for any situation during your Costa Rican adventure.

Section 8: Outdoor Gear

Costa Rica is renowned for its beautiful landscapes and incredible outdoor adventures. To fully enjoy the country’s natural wonders and take part in thrilling activities, it’s important to pack the right outdoor gear. Here are some essential items to consider:

  • Daypack: A comfortable, lightweight, and durable daypack is essential for carrying your water, snacks, camera, and other essentials during hikes and day trips.
  • Waterproof Dry Bag: Protect your belongings from water and humidity by packing a waterproof dry bag. This is especially useful for water activities, such as kayaking or visiting waterfalls.
  • Trekking Poles: If you plan on hiking or trekking through Costa Rica’s rugged terrains, consider bringing trekking poles for added stability and reduced strain on your joints.
  • Binoculars: Enhance your wildlife viewing experiences by bringing a pair of binoculars. This will allow you to spot birds, monkeys, and other fascinating creatures from a distance.
  • Water Shoes: When exploring Costa Rica’s rivers, waterfalls, and beaches, water shoes provide excellent traction on slippery surfaces and protect your feet from rocks and potential hazards.
  • Bug Net or Hat with Netting: In areas with high insect activity, a bug net or a hat with netting can help protect your face and neck from bothersome mosquitoes and other insects.
  • Sun Hat: Shield yourself from the strong tropical sun by bringing a wide-brimmed sun hat. This will provide shade and help prevent sunburn.
  • Quick-Dry Towel: A compact and quick-drying towel is handy for drying off after water activities and taking to the beach. It takes up less space and dries faster than traditional towels.
  • Waterproof or Quick-Dry Pants: Invest in a pair of waterproof or quick-dry pants for activities like rafting or hiking in rainy conditions. They dry quickly and offer protection from mud and water splashes.
  • Headlamp or Flashlight: A headlamp or flashlight is essential for evening hikes, exploring caves, or navigating areas with limited lighting. Make sure to pack extra batteries.
  • Portable Water Filter or Purifier: For remote areas and hikes where clean drinking water might not be readily available, a portable water filter or purifier can ensure you have access to safe and clean water.

Keep in mind that the specific outdoor gear you’ll need depends on the activities you plan to undertake and the regions you’ll be visiting in Costa Rica. Do some research beforehand to determine the gear that best suits your adventure.

By packing the appropriate outdoor gear, you’ll be ready to explore and fully immerse yourself in Costa Rica’s breathtaking natural beauty.

Section 9: Documents and Money

When traveling to Costa Rica, it’s crucial to have the right documents and manage your money effectively. Here are some essential considerations for documents and money:

  • Passport: Ensure that your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your planned departure date from Costa Rica. Carry both a physical copy and a digital backup.
  • Visa Requirements: Check the visa requirements for your nationality well in advance. If a visa is required, make sure to apply for it before your trip.
  • Travel Insurance: Purchase comprehensive travel insurance that covers medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and lost or stolen belongings. Keep a copy of the policy and emergency contact numbers.
  • Flight Tickets: Keep copies of your flight tickets or e-tickets accessible, both in physical and digital formats.
  • Hotel Reservations: Carry printed or digital copies of hotel reservations or confirmation emails, especially if you plan to stay in multiple accommodations.
  • Driver’s License: If you plan to rent a car, make sure to bring a valid driver’s license along with an international driving permit if required.
  • Emergency Contact Information: Carry a list of emergency contact numbers, including your country’s embassy or consulate in Costa Rica.
  • Currency: The official currency of Costa Rica is the Costa Rican Colón (CRC). It’s advisable to carry both cash (in small denominations) and a debit or credit card for convenience.
  • ATM Withdrawals: ATMs are commonly found in Costa Rica, especially in urban areas. Inform your bank about your travel plans to avoid any issues with using your cards abroad.
  • Exchange Currency: If you prefer to exchange currency, do so at reputable banks or exchange bureaus for better rates rather than exchanging money at the airport or through unofficial channels.
  • Money Security: Keep your money, cards, and important documents in a secure location, such as a money belt or a hotel safe. Avoid displaying large amounts of money publicly.

It’s always a good practice to have digital copies of important documents stored in a secure cloud or email account for easy access in case of loss or theft.

By ensuring you have the necessary documents and managing your money wisely, you’ll have a smooth and worry-free travel experience in Costa Rica.

Section 10: Miscellaneous Items

In addition to the essential items mentioned above, there are a few miscellaneous items that can add convenience and enhance your overall travel experience in Costa Rica. Here are some to consider packing:

  • Reusable Water Bottle: Costa Rica has a strong commitment to sustainability, so bringing a reusable water bottle will not only help you stay hydrated but also reduce plastic waste.
  • Travel Towel: A lightweight and compact travel towel is useful for various situations, including drying off after water activities or for impromptu picnics at the beach or park.
  • Travel Pillow and Blanket: For long flights or bus rides, a travel pillow and blanket can provide comfort and help you get some rest.
  • Travel Adapters and Power Strip: If you have multiple electronic devices, it’s convenient to bring a travel adapter and a power strip to charge them simultaneously as outlets may be limited in some accommodations.
  • Travel-Sized Laundry Detergent: To do laundry on the go or in accommodations where laundry facilities are available, bring a travel-sized laundry detergent for washing small items.
  • Snacks: Pack some lightweight and non-perishable snacks for long journeys or when options may be limited. Energy bars, nuts, or dried fruits are good options.
  • Travel Sewing Kit: A compact sewing kit can come in handy for minor clothing repairs, such as sewing buttons or fixing small tears.
  • Ziplock Bags or Waterproof Pouches: Use ziplock bags or waterproof pouches to keep your electronics, documents, and other valuables safe from water damage or humidity.
  • Reusable Cutlery and Straw: Reduce plastic waste by packing your own reusable cutlery set and straw for meals on the go or in case disposable options are not available.
  • Travel Journal or Notebook: Capture your memories and write down your impressions and experiences in a travel journal or notebook.

While these items may seem miscellaneous, they can greatly enhance your convenience, sustainability efforts, and overall travel experience in Costa Rica.

Remember, it’s always a good idea to check the specific regulations and requirements of your airline and destination before packing certain items, especially when it comes to liquids, sharp objects, or other potentially restricted items.

By including these miscellaneous items, you’ll be prepared for various situations and have a more enjoyable journey in Costa Rica.

Packing for a trip to Costa Rica can seem overwhelming, but with careful planning and consideration, you can ensure you have everything you need for a fantastic adventure. In this comprehensive packing guide, we’ve covered essential items in various categories to help you pack smartly and efficiently.

From travel essentials like passports and travel insurance to clothing suitable for Costa Rica’s diverse climates, footwear for different terrains, toiletries, electronics, medications and first aid, accessories, outdoor gear, and necessary documents and money, we’ve provided a comprehensive checklist to help you prepare for your Costa Rican journey.

Remember to tailor your packing list to suit your specific travel plans, activities, and regions you’ll be visiting. Check the weather forecast and do some research to ensure you’re well-prepared for the conditions and activities of your choosing.

By packing strategically and thoughtfully, you’ll be able to travel comfortably, stay safe, and fully immerse yourself in the breathtaking landscapes and cultural richness of Costa Rica.

Have a wonderful time exploring Costa Rica and savor the unique experiences that this beautiful country has to offer!



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travel documents costa rica

Costa Rica Guide

Travel information and maps, document backup.

You can easily lose three or four days of your vacation trying to replace lost or stolen travel documents.  Much of this time will be dedicated to simply waiting for copies to arrive at the local embassy or consulate, and some of it can be avoided by a few minutes effort before you leave home.

Be Prepared with Instantly Accessible Copies of Your Travel Documents

Costa Rican passport from 1925

You should minimally have copies of your passport, driver’s license, and any airline, or bus tickets (or the e-ticket confirmation information), and you might also consider copies of hotel and tour reservations, car rental agreements, your birth certificate and social security card, travelers checks and credit cards.

It begins to sound like you’re going to have to carry a filing cabinet around, but modern technology can be a wonderful thing.  Use your phone, digital camera, or scanner to capture .jpeg images and then attach them to an e-mail or text message to yourself.  You don’t need to carry a computer or phone with you to take advantage of these copies since the embassy, consulate, hotel, or rental car agency etc. will have one.

NOTE: the U.S. embassy will not allow you to bring your cell phone, computer or other electronics into the compound.  In order to expedite replacement of a U.S. passport you’ll want to have a copy on paper or on the cloud.

After you Arrive

You will need your actual passport to go through immigration both in Costa Rica and when you return home and you are required to carry your passport or a copy* with you at all times when traveling.

For obvious reasons it’s advisable to leave your passport in the hotel safe while you’re out waterfall rappelling or whitewater rafting but make sure you have an acceptable copy of you may end up in the hoosegow while someone fetches it for you.


Anywhere near the borders of Panama or Nicaragua there are both fixed and mobile document check booths, patrols that randomly request paperwork and you must have it for traffic stops.

*An Acceptable Copy of Your Passport

Must be made after you arrive in Costa Rica because it must include both the photo and id pages as well as the visa page showing the stamp that immigration added when you arrived.  Officially it must be a paper copy and the easiest place to get one is your first hotel or the rental agency if you’re picking up a car.

We’ve talked our way through checkpoints with a picture on our phone but unless you’re gregarious and speak Spanish well I wouldn’t recommend trying it.

Banks and rental car agencies do not accept copies so bring your original.

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COVID-19: travel health notice for all travellers

Costa Rica travel advice

Latest updates: Health – editorial update

Last updated: March 25, 2024 11:47 ET

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Safety and security, entry and exit requirements, laws and culture, natural disasters and climate, costa rica - exercise a high degree of caution.

Exercise a high degree of caution in Costa Rica due to crime.

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Petty crime

Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching, occurs frequently. Tourists are common targets for theft because they are perceived as being wealthy.

Crime against property, such as house burglary, theft from cars, and vehicle theft, is frequent. Passport theft is also extremely common and increases in frequency during the peak tourist seasons, from November to May and from July to August.

Thieves often work in teams, in which one thief diverts the victims’ attention while the other snatches their possessions. Thefts commonly occur: 

  • in popular tourist areas, including viewpoints
  • on buses, on trains, in bus and train stations as well as in airports terminals
  • in hotel lobbies
  • at restaurants, including on patios located near streets

While you’re in Costa Rica:

  • ensure that your belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times
  • carry your passport, including the Costa Rican entry stamp received at the immigration entry point
  • avoid showing signs of affluence or wearing expensive jewellery
  • avoid carrying large sums of cash or unnecessary valuables
  • avoid isolated or deserted areas
  • avoid walking alone at night
  • be aware of your surroundings, particularly in crowded and tourist areas
  • be extra cautious when withdrawing cash from ATMs
  • San José

In San José, high-risk areas for theft include:

  • the Coca-Cola bus terminal area, located between El Paso de la Vaca, Calle 12 and the Coca-Cola market
  • the inner downtown area, located between the San Juan de Dios Hospital, the National Museum, Avenida 1 and Avenida 14
  • the Mercado central areas
  • public parks

Pacific Coast

In Puntarenas province, the following areas are of particular concern for theft:

  • Jacó, including the crocodile viewing area along the Tárcoles River
  • Manuel Antonio national park
  • Cóbano area, including the small seaside towns of Mal País, Montezuma and Santa Teresa, as well as the port of Puntarenas

Caribbean Coast

On the Caribbean coast, the following areas are of particular concern for theft:

  • Puerto Limón 
  • Puerto Viejo

Residential break-ins

Residential break-ins occur. Burglars may target rental accommodations or houses and apartments owned by foreigners.

  • Choose well-secured accommodation
  • Make sure you lock doors and windows at night and when you’re away

Car break-ins and theft are very common throughout the country. Rental and luxury vehicles are a target of choice. Theft commonly occurs: 

  • supermarkets
  • restaurants
  • national parks

If driving in Costa Rica:

  • familiarize yourself with your route before starting the trip
  • keep your windows and doors locked at all times
  • keep your belongings out of reach
  • use secure parking facilities, especially overnight
  • never leave belongings unattended in a vehicle, even locked or out of sight in the trunk
  • don’t stop to change a flat tire in an isolated area, and beware of strangers offering their help
  • ensure emergency assistance and car insurance are offered by the rental agency when renting a car

Violent crime

Violent crime, including murders and armed robberies, occurs. Drug trafficking is common, and most incidents are drug-related.  The most affected provinces are:

  • Limón

Although not frequent, violent assaults against travellers have occurred on the Caribbean coast in:

  • Puerto Limón

If you are threatened, hand over your cash and valuables immediately without resistance.

Credit card and ATM fraud occurs. Be cautious when using debit or credit cards:

  • pay careful attention when others are handling your cards
  • use ATMs located in well-lit public areas or inside a bank or business
  • avoid using card readers with irregular or unusual features
  • cover the keypad with one hand when entering your PIN
  • check for any unauthorized transactions on your account statements

Overseas fraud

Spiked food and drinks

Snacks, beverages, gum and cigarettes may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.

  • Be wary of accepting these items from new acquaintances
  • Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers

Unregulated alcohol

Some people died after consuming adulterated alcohol in Costa Rica during the summer of 2019. Further incidents occurred in October 2020.

  • Be cautious if you choose to drink alcohol
  • Be wary of lesser-known or illegal brands
  • Avoid buying alcohol from individuals
  • Seek medical assistance if you begin to feel sick

Alcohol, drugs and travel

Women’s safety

Women travelling alone may be subject to some forms of harassment and verbal abuse. Incidents of sexual assault against foreigners at beach resorts and by taxi drivers in San José have occurred.

Advice for women travellers


Demonstrations take place from time to time, particularly in San José. Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation.

Costa Rican law prohibits political activity by foreigners. Participating in demonstrations or activities may result in you being detained and/or deported.

  • Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities
  • Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations

Mass gatherings (large-scale events)

Water activities

Coastal waters can be dangerous. Riptides are common. Several drownings occur each year.

Very few beaches are supervised by lifeguards.  There are no warning signs of dangerous conditions.

  • Exercise caution when swimming
  • Don’t swim alone, after hours or outside marked areas
  • Consult residents and tour operators for information on possible hazards and safe swimming areas
  • Monitor weather warnings

Useful links

  • Tips for travellers - Costa Rica Tourist Board
  • Water safety abroad

Adventure tourism

Outdoor activities, such as white-water rafting, scuba diving, bungee jumping, canopy touring and other adventure sports can be dangerous if unprepared. Trails are rarely marked, and weather conditions can change rapidly, even in summer.

Safety features on small boats used in river and lake excursions are not always reliable.

Life-threatening fauna such as jaguars, pumas, wild pigs and poisonous snakes are common in the densely wooded areas.

If you intend to practice adventure tourism:

  • never do so alone, and don’t part with your expedition companions
  • obtain detailed information on your activity and on the environment in which you will be before setting out
  • buy travel insurance that includes helicopter rescue and medical evacuation
  • ensure that your physical condition is good enough to meet the challenges of your activity
  • avoid venturing off marked trails
  • don’t camp or sleep overnight on beaches
  • ensure that you’re adequately equipped and bring sufficient water
  • stay informed of weather and other conditions that may pose a hazard
  • know the symptoms of acute altitude sickness, which can be fatal
  • inform a family member or friend of your itinerary
  • refrain from using facilities or equipment if you have doubts on their safety

National parks

You must obtain a permit to access national parks.

Nation Parks – Costa Rica Tourist Board

Road safety

Road conditions and road safety are generally poor throughout the country. Costa Rica has one of the highest traffic accident rates in the world.

Road conditions

Most roads are not paved and those paved are generally in poor condition. Driving conditions may be hazardous, especially during the rainy season, due to:

  • sharp curves
  • lack of traffic signs
  • narrow or unpaved roads

Driving habits

Drivers don’t respect traffic laws. Motorists often drive without lights at night.

While driving:

  • remain vigilant when stopped at lights or stop signs
  • keep doors locked and windows closed at all times
  • keep your valuables out of plain sight
  • avoid travel at night

Public transportation

Public bus transportation is unreliable. Schedules and routes may not be accurate. Vehicles are often late due to traffic and road conditions. Itineraries may also vary from the ones originally announced.

Pickpockets often target tourists in public buses.

If travelling by public bus:

  • keep your ID and valuables with you
  • avoid placing your bags in the overhead compartment or under your seat
  • avoid sleeping

Police checks of passengers on public transportation also occur. Officers often use those checks to determine if foreigners have overstayed the 90-day visa exemption period.

Always carry your proof of legal stay on your person.

Official taxis are safe. They are orange at the airport and red with a yellow triangle on the side elsewhere in the country.

  • Use official taxis only booked ahead of time
  • Never board taxis at taxi stands or flag taxis in the street
  • Note the driver’s name and plate number
  • Make sure the driver uses the meter
  • Never use shared taxis

We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.

Information about foreign domestic airlines

Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.

We have obtained the information on this page from the Costa Rican authorities. It can, however, change at any time.

Verify this information with the  Foreign Representatives in Canada .

Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.

Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.

Regular Canadian passport

Your passport must be valid for the duration of your stay.

Passport for official travel

Different entry rules may apply.

Official travel

Passport with “X” gender identifier

While the Government of Canada issues passports with an “X” gender identifier, it cannot guarantee your entry or transit through other countries. You might face entry restrictions in countries that do not recognize the “X” gender identifier. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.

Other travel documents

Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.

  • Foreign Representatives in Canada
  • Canadian passports

Tourist visa: not required for stays up to 180 days Business visa: required Student visa: required

Length of stay

The immigration officer will determine the permitted length of your stay when you enter Costa Rica. As a tourist, you may be granted a stay up to 180 days.

If you intend to stay for more than 180 days, you must obtain a residency status from the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería.

You may face deportation if you overstay the authorized 180-day period. Persons deported from Costa Rica will not be allowed to re-enter the country for 5 to 10 years.

  • Immigration department – Costa Rica government (in Spanish)

Other entry requirements

Customs officials will ask you to show them a return or onward ticket and proof of sufficient funds to cover your stay.

Minors with dual citizenship

Costa Rica strictly enforces requirements for the departure of minors with dual citizenship.

The Canadian passport of a dual citizen child must have a Costa Rican departure approval delivered by the immigration authorities. The granted permission may be temporary or permanent and will be recorded in the Costa Rican immigration electronic system.

The approval must be requested jointly by both parents, prior to departure, to either of the following authorities:

  • Costa Rica’s immigration department
  • the Embassy of Costa Rica in Canada

Several cases of departure denials have occurred due to the lack of proper documentation.

Minors with dual citizenship who are travelling unaccompanied must also have legally certified written consent from both parents.

Useful Links

Children and travel.

Learn more about travelling with children .

Yellow fever

Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).

Relevant Travel Health Notices

  • Global Measles Notice - 13 March, 2024
  • Zika virus: Advice for travellers - 31 August, 2023
  • COVID-19 and International Travel - 13 March, 2024
  • Dengue: Advice for travellers - 25 March, 2024

This section contains information on possible health risks and restrictions regularly found or ongoing in the destination. Follow this advice to lower your risk of becoming ill while travelling. Not all risks are listed below.

Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic preferably 6 weeks before you travel to get personalized health advice and recommendations.

Routine vaccines

Be sure that your  routine vaccinations , as per your province or territory , are up-to-date before travelling, regardless of your destination.

Some of these vaccinations include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.

Pre-travel vaccines and medications

You may be at risk for preventable diseases while travelling in this destination. Talk to a travel health professional about which medications or vaccines may be right for you, based on your destination and itinerary. 

There is a risk of hepatitis A in this destination. It is a disease of the liver. People can get hepatitis A if they ingest contaminated food or water, eat foods prepared by an infectious person, or if they have close physical contact (such as oral-anal sex) with an infectious person, although casual contact among people does not spread the virus.

Practise  safe food and water precautions and wash your hands often. Vaccination is recommended for all travellers to areas where hepatitis A is present.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country. 
  • Proof of yellow fever vaccination is required if you are coming from a country   where yellow fever occurs , excluding Argentina and Panama, or if you are coming from Tanzania or Zambia.
  • Vaccination is not recommended.
  • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
  • Contact a designated   Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre   well in advance of your trip to arrange for vaccination.

About Yellow Fever

Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada * It is important to note that   country entry requirements   may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest   diplomatic or consular office   of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It can spread quickly from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.

Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of being infected with it when travelling internationally.

Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are fully protected against measles.

  Hepatitis B is a risk in every destination. It is a viral liver disease that is easily transmitted from one person to another through exposure to blood and body fluids containing the hepatitis B virus.  Travellers who may be exposed to blood or other bodily fluids (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) are at higher risk of getting hepatitis B.

Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for all travellers. Prevent hepatitis B infection by practicing safe sex, only using new and sterile drug equipment, and only getting tattoos and piercings in settings that follow public health regulations and standards.

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious viral disease. It can spread from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.

It is recommended that all eligible travellers complete a COVID-19 vaccine series along with any additional recommended doses in Canada before travelling. Evidence shows that vaccines are very effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. While vaccination provides better protection against serious illness, you may still be at risk of infection from the virus that causes COVID-19. Anyone who has not completed a vaccine series is at increased risk of being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and is at greater risk for severe disease when travelling internationally.

Before travelling, verify your destination’s COVID-19 vaccination entry/exit requirements. Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are adequately protected against COVID-19.

 The best way to protect yourself from seasonal influenza (flu) is to get vaccinated every year. Get the flu shot at least 2 weeks before travelling.  

 The flu occurs worldwide. 

  •  In the Northern Hemisphere, the flu season usually runs from November to   April.
  •  In the Southern Hemisphere, the flu season usually runs between April and   October.
  •  In the tropics, there is flu activity year round. 

The flu vaccine available in one hemisphere may only offer partial protection against the flu in the other hemisphere.

The flu virus spreads from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Clean your hands often and wear a mask if you have a fever or respiratory symptoms.

Malaria  is a serious and sometimes fatal disease that is caused by parasites spread through the bites of mosquitoes.   There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this destination. 

Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic before travelling to discuss your options. It is recommended to do this 6 weeks before travel, however, it is still a good idea any time before leaving.    Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times:  • Cover your skin and use an approved insect repellent on uncovered skin.  • Exclude mosquitoes from your living area with screening and/or closed, well-sealed doors and windows. • Use insecticide-treated bed nets if mosquitoes cannot be excluded from your living area.  • Wear permethrin-treated clothing.    If you develop symptoms similar to malaria when you are travelling or up to a year after you return home, see a health care professional immediately. Tell them where you have been travelling or living. 

In this destination, rabies is carried by dogs and some wildlife, including bats. Rabies is a deadly disease that spreads to humans primarily through bites or scratches from an infected animal. While travelling, take precautions , including keeping your distance from animals (including free-roaming dogs), and closely supervising children.

If you are bitten or scratched by an animal while travelling, immediately wash the wound with soap and clean water and see a health care professional. Rabies treatment is often available in this destination. 

Before travel, discuss rabies vaccination with a health care professional. It may be recommended for travellers who are at high risk of exposure (e.g., occupational risk such as veterinarians and wildlife workers, children, adventure travellers and spelunkers, and others in close contact with animals). 

Safe food and water precautions

Many illnesses can be caused by eating food or drinking beverages contaminated by bacteria, parasites, toxins, or viruses, or by swimming or bathing in contaminated water.

  • Learn more about food and water precautions to take to avoid getting sick by visiting our eat and drink safely abroad page. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
  • Avoid getting water into your eyes, mouth or nose when swimming or participating in activities in freshwater (streams, canals, lakes), particularly after flooding or heavy rain. Water may look clean but could still be polluted or contaminated.
  • Avoid inhaling or swallowing water while bathing, showering, or swimming in pools or hot tubs. 

Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.

Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.

The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.

Typhoid   is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among children, travellers going to rural areas, travellers visiting friends and relatives or those travelling for a long period of time.

Travellers visiting regions with a risk of typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation, should speak to a health care professional about vaccination.  

Insect bite prevention

Many diseases are spread by the bites of infected insects such as mosquitoes, ticks, fleas or flies. When travelling to areas where infected insects may be present:

  • Use insect repellent (bug spray) on exposed skin
  • Cover up with light-coloured, loose clothes made of tightly woven materials such as nylon or polyester
  • Minimize exposure to insects
  • Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors or in buildings that are not fully enclosed

To learn more about how you can reduce your risk of infection and disease caused by bites, both at home and abroad, visit our insect bite prevention page.

Find out what types of insects are present where you’re travelling, when they’re most active, and the symptoms of the diseases they spread.

There is a risk of chikungunya in this country.  The risk may vary between regions of a country.  Chikungunya is a virus spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Chikungunya can cause a viral disease that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. In some cases, the joint pain can be severe and last for months or years.

Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.

  • In this country,   dengue  is a risk to travellers. It is a viral disease spread to humans by mosquito bites.
  • Dengue can cause flu-like symptoms. In some cases, it can lead to severe dengue, which can be fatal.
  • The level of risk of dengue changes seasonally, and varies from year to year. The level of risk also varies between regions in a country and can depend on the elevation in the region.
  • Mosquitoes carrying dengue typically bite during the daytime, particularly around sunrise and sunset.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites . There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue.

Zika virus is a risk in this country. 

Zika virus is primarily spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. It can also be sexually transmitted. Zika virus can cause serious birth defects.

During your trip:

  • Prevent mosquito bites at all times.
  • Use condoms correctly or avoid sexual contact, particularly if you are pregnant.

If you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, you should discuss the potential risks of travelling to this destination with your health care provider. You may choose to avoid or postpone travel. 

For more information, see Zika virus: Pregnant or planning a pregnancy.

American trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease)   is a risk in this country. It is caused by a parasite spread by infected triatomine bugs. The infection can be inactive for decades, but humans can eventually develop complications causing disability and even death.

Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from triatomine bugs, which are active at night, by using mosquito nets if staying in poorly-constructed housing. There is no vaccine available for Chagas disease.

Animal precautions

Some infections, such as rabies and influenza, can be shared between humans and animals. Certain types of activities may increase your chance of contact with animals, such as travelling in rural or forested areas, camping, hiking, and visiting wet markets (places where live animals are slaughtered and sold) or caves.

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, livestock (pigs, cows), monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats, and to avoid eating undercooked wild game.

Closely supervise children, as they are more likely to come in contact with animals.

Mpox (monkeypox)   is a risk in this country. It is a viral disease that can cause serious illness in some circumstances. Risk is generally low for most travellers.

Mpox spreads in 3 ways:

  • from animals to humans through direct contact or by eating or preparing undercooked meat of infected animals or coming into contact with an infected animal's body fluids
  • from person to person through close contact, including direct contact with the skin lesions, blood, body fluids, or mucosal surfaces (such as eyes, mouth, throat, genitalia, anus, or rectum) of an infected person
  • through direct contact with contaminated objects such as bedding and towels, or by sharing personal objects used by an infected person

Follow recommended public health measures   and avoid contact with animals such as rodents and primates to help prevent getting or spreading the infection.

Person-to-person infections

Stay home if you’re sick and practise proper cough and sneeze etiquette , which includes coughing or sneezing into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand. Reduce your risk of colds, the flu and other illnesses by:

  •   washing your hands often
  • avoiding or limiting the amount of time spent in closed spaces, crowded places, or at large-scale events (concerts, sporting events, rallies)
  • avoiding close physical contact with people who may be showing symptoms of illness 

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) , HIV , and mpox are spread through blood and bodily fluids; use condoms, practise safe sex, and limit your number of sexual partners. Check with your local public health authority pre-travel to determine your eligibility for mpox vaccine.  

Medical services and facilities

Health care is very good.

Public hospitals offer very good services throughout the country but waiting times may be long. Doctors rarely speak English or French.

Private clinics and hospitals provide excellent health care. They are mainly located in San José. Services may be expensive. Doctors and hospitals typically require upfront payment.

Emergency services may be limited in rural areas.

Medical evacuation can be very expensive and may be necessary in case of serious illness or injury.

Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.

Travel health and safety


Some prescription medication may not be available in Costa Rica.

If you take prescription medication, you’re responsible for determining its legality in the country.

  • Bring sufficient quantities of your medication with you
  • Always keep your medication in the original container
  • Pack your medication in your carry-on luggage
  • Carry a paper and an electronic copy of your prescriptions

Medical tourism

Canadian citizens have had serious health complications following cosmetic or other elective surgeries abroad.

Before leaving for medical travel:

  • make sure you’ve done your research
  • use reputable health-care providers only

Receiving medical care outside Canada

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a   travel health kit , especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You must abide by local laws.

Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad .

Transfer to a Canadian prison

Canada and Costa Rica are signatories to the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. This enables a Canadian imprisoned in Costa Rica to request a transfer to a Canadian prison to complete a sentence. The transfer requires the agreement of both Canadian and Costa Rican authorities.

This process can take a long time, and there is no guarantee that the transfer will be approved by either or both sides.

If you violate Costa Rica’s laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned.

Overview of the criminal law system in Costa Rica

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect lengthy jail sentences or heavy fines.

Drugs, alcohol and travel

Child sex tourism

It's a serious criminal offence to have sex with minors in Costa Rica.

Conviction may result in a lengthy prison sentence.

Child Sex Tourism: It’s a Crime


Authorities may request to see your ID at any time.

  • Carry valid identification at all times
  • Keep a photocopy of your passport and entry stamp in case it’s lost or seized
  • Keep a digital copy of your ID and travel documents


It is illegal to photograph official buildings.

Check with local authorities before taking photos.


Disputes related to property acquisition or other investments are costly and take time to resolve.

If you plan on buying property, or making other investments in Costa Rica:

  • seek legal advice in Canada and in Costa Rica before making commitments
  • choose your own lawyer
  • avoid hiring a lawyer recommended by a seller

Dual citizenship

Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Costa Rica.

If you are a Canadian citizen, but also a citizen of Costa Rica, our ability to offer you consular services may be limited while you're there. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements .

Travellers with dual citizenship

International Child Abduction

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international treaty. It can help parents with the return of children who have been removed to or retained in certain countries in violation of custody rights. The convention applies between Canada and Costa Rica.

If your child was wrongfully taken to, or is being held in Costa Rica, and if the applicable conditions are met, you may apply for the return of your child to the Costa Rican court.

If you are in this situation:

  • act as quickly as you can
  • contact the Central Authority for your province or territory of residence for information on starting an application under The Hague Convention
  • consult a lawyer in Canada and in Costa Rica to explore all the legal options for the return of your child
  • report the situation to the nearest Canadian government office abroad or to the Vulnerable Children’s Consular Unit at Global Affairs Canada by calling the Emergency Watch and Response Centre

If your child was removed from a country other than Canada, consult a lawyer to determine if The Hague Convention applies.

Be aware that Canadian consular officials cannot interfere in private legal matters or in another country’s judicial affairs.

  • List of Canadian Central Authorities for the Hague Convention
  • International Child Abduction: A Guidebook for Left-Behind Parents
  • Travelling with children
  • The Hague Convention - Hague Conference on Private International Law
  • Canadian embassies and consulates by destination
  • Emergency Watch and Response Centre

You can drive with your valid Canadian driver’s licence in Costa Rica for up to 90 days from your arrival. Even if you have been granted a longer stay, you will not be able to drive legally after the first 90 days.

You must also carry your passport when driving in the country. Photocopies are not acceptable. You may face a fine if you fail to provide proper documentation when stopped by a traffic officer.

The Costa Rican government may prevent you from leaving the country until all injury claims have been settled if you are involved in a road accident, regardless of which party is at fault or insurance coverage.  Local judicial resolution process may take several months.

In the event of a car accident:

  • don’t move your vehicle until the authorities arrive
  • remain at the scene
  • call 911 to report the accident

There are camera monitoring systems in various locations. You may receive a speeding ticket by mail if you exceed the speed limit.

Traffic fines don’t have to be paid on the spot. You can pay a fine:

  • at COSEVI (Costa Rican Road Safety Council)

If a police officer asks you for money, you may make a complaint to the Costa Rican Tourism Bureau.

  • Costa Rican Tourism Bureau
  • COSEVI - Costa Rican Road Safety Council  (in Spanish)
  • International Driving Permit

The currency in Costa Rica is the Costa Rican colón (CRC).

Credit cards are generally accepted.

It’s extremely difficult to exchange Canadian dollars in Costa Rica. U.S. dollars are more easily exchanged.

Cash withdrawals are possible with a 4-digit PIN only.

Hurricane season

Hurricanes usually occur from mid-May to the end of November. During this period, even small tropical storms can quickly develop into major hurricanes.

These severe storms can put you at risk and hamper the provision of essential services.

If you decide to travel to a coastal area during the hurricane season:

  • know that you expose yourself to serious safety risks
  • be prepared to change your travel plans on short notice, including cutting short or cancelling your trip
  • stay informed of the latest regional weather forecasts
  • carry emergency contact information for your airline or tour operator
  • follow the advice and instructions of local authorities
  • Tornadoes, cyclones, hurricanes, typhoons and monsoons
  • Large-scale emergencies abroad
  • Active storm tracking and hurricane watches and warnings  - United States’ National Hurricane Center

The rainy season extends from May to November, which sometimes extends into January.

Torrential rains and landslides occur frequently in the lowlands and mountainous areas along the Caribbean and in the Central Valley.

Seasonal flooding often causes power outages.  It can also hamper overland travel and reduce the delivery of other essential services. Roads may become impassable and bridges damaged.

Earthquakes and tsunamis

Costa Rica is located in an active seismic zone. Earthquakes and tremors occur regularly. Tsunamis are possible.

A tsunami can occur within minutes of a nearby earthquake. However, the risk of tsunami can remain for several hours following the first tremor. If you’re staying on the coast, familiarize yourself with the region’s evacuation plans in the event of a tsunami warning.

There are several active and potentially active volcanoes in the country, including:

  • Poás
  • Rincón de la Vieja

Eruptions may occur at any time. They sometimes lead to evacuations of surrounding areas on short notice.

In the event of an earthquake or volcanic eruption:

  • pay careful attention to all warnings issued for national parks
  • monitor local media to stay informed of the evolving situation
  • follow the instructions of local authorities, including evacuation orders 
  • Earthquakes  - What to Do?
  • Latest earthquakes  - U.S. Geological Survey
  • Tsunami alerts  - U.S. Tsunami Warning System
  • National Commission for Risk Prevention and Emergency Response  (in Spanish)
  • Volcanological and Seismological Observatory of Costa Rica (in Spanish)

Local services

In case of an emergency, dial 911.

Consular assistance

Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua

For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada to Costa Rica, in San José, and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.

The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.

The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, expressed or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.

If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.

Learn more about consular services .

Risk Levels

  take normal security precautions.

Take similar precautions to those you would take in Canada.

  Exercise a high degree of caution

There are certain safety and security concerns or the situation could change quickly. Be very cautious at all times, monitor local media and follow the instructions of local authorities.

IMPORTANT: The two levels below are official Government of Canada Travel Advisories and are issued when the safety and security of Canadians travelling or living in the country or region may be at risk.

  Avoid non-essential travel

Your safety and security could be at risk. You should think about your need to travel to this country, territory or region based on family or business requirements, knowledge of or familiarity with the region, and other factors. If you are already there, think about whether you really need to be there. If you do not need to be there, you should think about leaving.

  Avoid all travel

You should not travel to this country, territory or region. Your personal safety and security are at great risk. If you are already there, you should think about leaving if it is safe to do so.

travel documents costa rica

Is Costa Rica Safe to Visit in 2024? Travel Crime Advice

One of the most common questions we get asked is, “Is Costa Rica safe to visit?” The short answer is, “usually”.

We started this website to give you all the most genuine information about Costa Rica travel and we take that responsibility very seriously. 

However, one thing I didn’t consider when we started this site is how responsible I would end up feeling for your safety while you are in Costa Rica. I genuinely want you to have the best trip here possible and that means that you should feel secure while traveling.

Crime in Costa Rica is an ever-evolving issue. In general, this is a very safe country. The most common crime is petty theft. Violent crimes targeting tourists such as armed robberies, sexual assault, or homicide are very very unusual. In general, you will likely meet wonderful people and have the vacation of a lifetime. 

However, because we feel responsible, here are all our tips about safety in Costa Rica. Please read through them and please contact us if you have any safety questions.

Our Perspective on Crime in Costa Rica

Thomas and I agree that in general, we feel secure in Costa Rica. 

We, fortunately, have never had any crimes committed against us in our several years of living here. 

That being said, we also use extreme caution and I sometimes feel it is exhausting to maintain our level of security. 

Although nothing has happened to us, that doesn’t mean that we haven’t heard of crimes being committed against friends. This has always been theft in various forms.

We have had friends leave things out visible in their car and their car has been broken into, a friend got robbed walking alone at night, a friend had their house broken into, and another friend was robbed in their driveway. 

Keep in mind that these incidents have been over about 8 years of living here. This is not an everyday occurrence.

But, yes, crime happens and it can be very scary. 

However, even if you are extremely cautious sometimes you just never know. We had a crime committed against us once in Europe in a very safe neighborhood. So, unfortunately, bad things can happen anywhere.

As of now, we still feel 100% secure in recommending that you visit Costa Rica.  It is a beautiful country and in general, the threat against tourists is low. 

If at any point we feel that the security level in this country is too unstable, we will update this to reflect that. 

​How the Costa Rican Government Protects Tourists

Tourism is the biggest industry in Costa Rica. With that in mind, the government works hard to make this the safest destination for tourists as possible. 

In recent years there has been an increase in homicides. This is largely due to drug trafficking and gangs. I have read a lot of articles about it in the news recently. It seems that the government is taking action to alleviate the situation. Although, it is hard to say exactly what is being done. 

Crime rates against tourists have remained somewhat steady. However, the president of Costa Rica along with the Ministry of Public Security (MSP) are making it their mission to lower these rates.

One way they are doing that is by identifying crime hot spots. They are now working to increase police presence in these areas. 

Sometimes I wonder if this is just talk to keep tourists coming here and feeling safe, but I really don’t think it is. 

I have noticed an increase in police presence in some areas and I have even been stopped by a police officer on the beach to tell me that there had been a few robberies there recently and to keep an eye on my stuff. 

How to Protect Yourself in Costa Rica

Here are all the safety tips I suggest doing to protect yourself while traveling in this foreign country. 

Pre-Trip Preparation

Here is what you need to do before you even leave home. 

Register With STEP

If you’re a United States citizen,  enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) .

This program allows the US government to notify you regarding potential security threats in the area you are visiting, get in contact with you regarding  natural disasters , and give family and friends a way to contact you in the case of emergencies.

If you are from another country. see if your government offers a similar program. 

Check Embassy Warnings:

The US government has a whole  page dedicated to the safety in Costa Rica . 

Make sure to check it our before you travel so you can be aware of any areas to avoid or current crime situations.

Get Travel Insurance

Travel insurance  has multiple benefits. Not only will it help you out in case you get hurt, but it is also great if one of your belongings is stolen. 

Get your travel insurance quote from Heymondo here .

Give Travel Plan to Trusted Person

Inform a trusted person of your travel plans and keep them updated. I like to write out a document with all hotel info, any preplanned activities, flight info etc. for my mom.

I then update her on my license plate number if I have rented a car once I arrive in a destination.

I usually also try to check in once a day and just send her a quick message of my plans.

That way, if I go missing, somebody has a record of my intended movements. 

Travel Tip : If you are an iPhone user you can turn on “share your location” with a trusted family member or friend. That way, someone always knows exactly where you/ your phone is.

Rent Your Car Directly from a Company

Third party sites often have car rental deals that seem too good to be true…they are. These rates don’t include any added taxes, fees, or mandatory rental insurance. Check out our  guide to rental scams for more info .

We work exclusively with our favorite local rental company, Adobe Rent-a-Car.  You can get a 10% discount plus other great perks here.

Make a Photocopy of Your Passport

I suggest making one or two copies of your passport to bring with you while traveling.

Then, while in Costa Rica you can leave your passport in your hotel safe and only carry the paper copies with you. 

Get an eSIM Card

It is a good idea to always be able to stay connected and have a working cell phone.

We suggest getting an  eSIM card from Airalo  for this.

However, you can  check out our guide to SIM cards in Costa Rica  for all the different ways to stay connected. 

Purchase Security Products

This is not absolutely necessary, but there are a few products I really like for keeping me and my stuff safe while traveling. 

  • Doorstop : Put this under your door at a hotel. When someone tries to open the door the alarm will sound.
  • Money belt : Helpful for walking around towns so that your money, cards, etc are hidden. This one is also RFID blocking so nobody can scan your cards.
  • Safety Alarm :  Carry on your keys. Presd the button to activate the alarm if you are attached.
  • Headlamp : It gets dark very early here. If you plan to walk around at night it is a good idea to have a headlamp.

Monetary Theft

Here are some of the ways you can protect yourself from being scammed or robbed while in Costa Rica. 

Pay with Credit Card Instead of Debit Card

Credit cards make it easier to refute fraudulent charges than debit cards. I suggest checking your credit card account after any transactions to make sure that the amount is correct. 

Travel Tip: I t is a good idea to get a credit card that is made for travel so you will not pay a percentage on every transaction.

Keep Money in Several Locations

Don’t put all your money in your pocket or purse. It’s best not to carry much money at all, but if you have to, divide it up.

I put some in my shoe, some in my bra, and some in each of my pockets.

That way if I am robbed they hopefully won’t find all of the money and I can just give them my wallet and move on.

If you need more info on whether you should carry money or use credit cards in Costa Rica, we have a full post on  currency and paying .

Only Change Currency at Banks

The currency exchange places at the airport will give you a very bad exchange rate. Don’t use them!

Also, there are often people exchanging currency on the Nicragua or Panama border. Don’t use them either.

Instead, you will get the best exchange rate directly at a bank. 

Check All Receipts

After any payment, check the receipt to make sure the amount adds up correctly. Often in Costa Rica store employees need to manually enter the total on a credit card machine.

It is so easy to accidentally (or purposely) add an extra “0” and overcharge a customer.

We’ve had it happen to us. Luckily, the employee noticed it when he charged us several hundred dollars instead of about $50 for gas.

He was so embarrassed and pointed out his mistake to us and fixed it.

So, just double-check. 

Personal Safety and Awareness

Here are all the things you should do to protect yourself.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

When you are traveling it’s easy to get distracted by all the beautiful new sights, but you need to also be aware of the people around you.

Look around often and avoid standing in large crowds.

If you feel uncomfortable in a situation or place, just leave.

If you take money out of the bank pay attention to who is around and watching you.

Dress Like You Belong

We get it, you are on vacation and probably want to wear all your nice warm weather clothing.

However, in Costa Rica it is best to blend in.

Leave the nice jewelry or flashy items at home and dress in a relaxed way.

Don’t Walk Around Alone at Night

Unfortunately, it  gets dark by 6pm  in Costa Rica year round. 

As I mentioned above, it is a good idea to have a headlamp if you plan to walk around after dark.

Also, it is best to never go out alone.

Trust Your Instincts

If you feel hesitant about a person or a location, trust yourself. Your gut instinct is usually right. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Don’t Leave Your Stuff Unattended

If you plan to go to the beach it is never a good idea to leave your personal belongings unattended while you are in the ocean or taking a walk. 

​Keep Stuff Secure at Restaurants

A lot of restaurants in Costa Rica are open air. This means it is easy for anyone from outside to walk by your table and swipe something.

Don’t leave your cell phone, wallet, keys, etc just sitting on the table.

Also, don’t just put your purse or backpack on the back of your chair. I always put mine on the floor between my legs with one strap under my leg so it can not be taken. 

Know Your Hotel Location

If you get lost, your phone dies etc. it is good to know the place you are staying in your mother tongue and in Spanish.

In Costa Rica this is difficult because there are no addresses. It’s strange but true.

Instead, make sure you know the name of your hotel and any landmarks that are located nearby the place you are staying.

Keep Personal Info Private

People in Costa Rica generally really enjoy talking to tourists and they are usually extremely nice and welcoming.

However, to stay safe in Costa Rica you should still be cautious. Don’t reveal too much.

If you are a  solo traveler , NEVER tell anyone that you are by yourself. I always just say I’m with my husband and he is on his way to meet me.

I also never say which hotel I am staying in.

Lock Everything

When going out make sure you lock your car, hotel room etc.

Also, don’t leave anything of value in your rental car. It is not unheard of for windows to be smashed and things stolen.

When driving, lock your doors and use the AC instead of rolling down your windows.

We have heard stories of people getting robbed while waiting at traffic lights.

Because of this I always keep my purse on the floor between my feet while in the car.

Don’t Leave Your Drink Unattended

If I feel a bit sketched out by a place I always order bottled beer and keep my finger over the opening when I’m not drinking it.

Tell Someone Where You’ll Be 

In order to stay safe in Costa Rica, you should always tell someone where you’ll be when going out.

Even when traveling alone just send someone from home a quick message telling them where you are going that day.

Keep Your Room Secure

Try to get a room  not  on the first floor of a hotel (they are the most likely to be broken into).

I always put the “Do Not Disturb” sign on my door even when I’m not there, so it looks like someone is in the room.

Transportation Safety

Here is how you can protect yourself from transportation-related crimes.

Be Wary of Rental Car Issues

We have heard recently about  a travel scam  in which people are slashing tires at traffic lights and then conveniently pulling up when you pull off to the side of the road.

They will then rob you.

If you can, always drive to a gas station or another populated place before fixing your tire.

Check out our  guide to driving in Costa Rica  for more info.

Only Use Registered Taxis

Make sure to only use official taxis while in Costa Rica so that you do not get scammed out of a lot of money.

You can tell an official taxi because it will be red (or orange if coming from the airport) with a yellow triangle on the drivers and passenger side door (or green triangle from the airport). 

We wrote a complete  guide to using taxis and Uber here in Costa Rica . I suggest reading that to help you stay safe in taxis.

Be Cautious in Public Transportation

If you opt to take a public bus it is best to keep an eye on any belongings you put on the shelf above your seat.

Always make sure you keep your passport and valuables physically on you.

We have heard about people having their bags stolen while they were sleeping on public buses. 

Walk Facing the Traffic

If you walk facing traffic, motorcyclists will not be able to drive up behind you and grab your bag.

Walking facing traffic also means you will see any cars coming and are much less likely to get hit (and people drive like maniacs here sometimes).

Don’t leave Your Rental Car in a Remote Place

Sometimes cars are broken into when left in remote places.

At most public places there will be a guard watching cars. You can (usually) trust them to keep a good eye on your car.

However, we still strongly suggest that you never leave anything of value in your car and definitely don’t leave anything of value visible.

What to Do if a Crime Happens in Costa Rica

If someone robs you, let them. It’s better to have to cancel your credit cards and lose some money than to fight back and get attacked. It’s just not worth it.

If something happens to you and you need to call the local authorities just dial 9-1-1. There should be at least one person at the police station who speaks a little bit of English.

Also, it is best to contact your embassy as soon as possible. They can assist you in whatever you need as a citizen. Contacting the embassy is also important because it can help future travelers. Most embassies will then update their safety pages accordingly.

If you are a United States citizen the US embassy is located in the Pavas / Rohrmoser neighborhood of San José. The phone number is (506) 2519-2000.

Dangerous Areas

Here are some areas that are sometimes considered unsafe. In general, the larger cities such as San Jose, Alajuela, Puntarenas, and Limon tend to have a higher crime rate. 

San Jose  is the capital city of Costa Rica. This is where we live and I feel mostly safe here during the day.

However, you need to stick to exploring the downtown area or reputable neighborhoods.

If you plan to stay downtown I suggest Barrio Escalante or the area near the stadium at La Sabana Park.

Petty theft during the day is very widespread here. It is a good idea to have a secure backpack and hide stuff in a money belt.

In downtown  Alajuela , you should use increased caution.

However, above the city in the beautiful rural areas you should feel very safe.

Tamarindo  is a popular destination for families, surfers, and backpackers. It is a larger town, so mostly due to its size there tends to be more crime.

Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa  is one of our favorite places in the country. It is a beautiful remote Pacific Coast surfing town.

However, because it is so remote it seems to be a hot spot for criminals to hide out in.

This doesn’t just mean Costa Rican criminals. I also mean shady people from around the world who have committed crimes tend to hide in this area.

For example, I just watched  this episode of 48 Hours  recently about a woman from the US who murdered another woman and was hiding out in Santa Teresa. 

Anyway, during the day you should be completely fine here, but use more caution at night. This especially applies to walking alone or if you plan to enjoy the nightlife scene. 

Panama Border on Osa Peninsula

This area is mostly safe for tourists. However, this is where a lot of drugs pass through from Panama into Costa Rica. So, use caution if in very remote areas.

Other Safety Concerns

It’s impossible not to fall in love with Costa Rica, but sometimes I feel like this country is slowly trying to kill me in a million ways.

From poisonous animals, earthquakes, erupting volcanoes, weird illnesses, a crazy high UV index, etc.

So, crime is not the only thing you need to think about in regards to safety here. A few other tips to stay secure from just this crazy tropical country as a whole are…

  • Always Stay on Marked Trails : This will help keep you away from some potential wildlife threats like snakes. 
  • Don’t Swim in Weird Bodies of Water : This should go without saying, but it is easy to get weird rashes and skin issues from unclean water. Check out our  guide to safety from environmental issues  for more info.
  • Only Drink Bottled Water : In most towns, it is fine to  drink the tap water  here. However, because you are not used to the water it is best not to risk your vacation. Just buy bottled water so you don’t end up with stomach illnesses. I like to bring my refillable water bottle from home and buy several-gallon jugs while traveling. 
  • Avoid Street Food : It is a good idea to be cautious of food safety so that you don’t get sick while visiting. The best way to do that is by only eating at reputable restaurants or cooking your own food. 
  • Trust Your Instincts During Activities : If participating in day tour or activities with reputable companies you can generally expect a high standard of safety. However, if something feels unsafe to you, trust yourself. It is best not to risk your security. 
  • Be Cautious of Flooding During the Rainy Season:  It is not unusual for there to be flash floods or road flooding.
  • Be Aware of Natural Disasters : There are five active volcanoes in Costa Rica. That doesn’t mean that they are all actively erupting, but some are actually active at the moment. Earthquakes occur pretty much every day. Again, that doesn’t mean that you will actually feel them. Usually they are so minor that you won’t even notice. For more info,  check out our natural disaster guide . 
  • Wear Bug Spray : The mosquitos here are generally not a problem during the day, but once the sun goes down they come out in full force.  Mosquitos here  can carry dengue, zika, and more. So, always load up on bug spray to avoid mosquito bites.
  • Wear SPF 50+ Sunblock : One of your biggest concerns here needs to be the sun. Costa Rica is not THAT far from the equator.  The UV index is really high . Bad sunburns are often the number one medical issue that travelers face when visiting. 
  • Be Aware of Entry Requirements : Check out our  guide on entry requirements  to stay up to date on things like Yellow Fever vaccine requirements, how long you can stay in the country, etc.

It’s Not All Bad

I know this post is a lot of doom and gloom. But, in reality, Costa Rica is an amazing travel destination filled with friendly people. In general, Costa Ricans are welcoming, kind, and peaceful. 

When we first moved here after living in Europe for four years we were so caught off guard. Several people that we had never met before went out of their way to help us find a place to live, help us buy furniture, gave us things, helped us adjust to the lifestyle etc. 

We turned down a lot of help because we felt like we would then owe them something. 

It took us a while to realize that no, people here are just very kind-hearted. The country operates a lot based on helping out your friends, family, and neighbors when you can with the mindset that someday they might need help and you can step in. 

Also, a lot of people work in tourism. They want to make sure that tourists feel welcome here.

Conclusion: Safety in Costa Rica

In conclusion, there are several things that can happen while traveling in Costa Rica, but with common sense and some caution, you should find that Costa Rica is a safe place.

Overall this is a peaceful country filled with beautiful beaches, lush rainforests, and kind people. 

Costa Rica is a beautiful country to visit. However, there are some safety issues you need to be aware of before visiting to ensure that you have a great time traveling. Discover what crimes to look out for and how to protect yourself.


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  1. Entry Requirements

    In accordance with Article 42 of the General Law on Immigration and Aliens (No. 8764) and Article 30 of the Immigration Control Regulation (Executive Decree No. 36769-G), foreign nationals intending to enter Costa Rica must provide: A valid passport or travel document. Passports and travel documents will only be accepted if they can be read ...

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  4. Entry Requirements for Costa Rica

    Costa Rican Government Mandated Entry Requirements. Travelers must ensure their passport is valid for more than six months upon entering Costa Rica and check for specific visa requirements based on nationality, with some countries being visa-exempt while others may require prior approval. Costa Rica has lifted many of the COVID-19 restrictions ...

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    Passports & Other Travel Documents. Types Available (Regular, Diplomatic, Official, etc.): Costa Rica has regular, diplomatic, and official passports available. Fees: Regular: $75 USD plus 250 Colones (subject to change without notice) Appointments obtained through Banco de Costa Rica and Correos de Costa Rica charge an additional fee of $8.

  7. 8 Essential Travel Documents for a Trip to Costa Rica

    Tourists visiting Costa Rica on a tourist visa are generally allowed to stay for a maximum period of 90 days. This period is calculated from the date of entry into the country and includes the day of arrival. It is important to note that overstaying the allowed period can result in fines or other penalties.

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    6 in their own homes. They must complete the Health Pass and purchase a travel policy that covers COVID-19 care and quarantine, if they are over 18 years of age. However, they will not be able to enter commercial establishments (listed at the end of this document) that require full vaccination, except for the established exceptions (essential ...

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    How to apply for your nonimmigrant visa for travel to the United States. What documents, photos and information you need to apply for your visa. Schedule your interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate General. Find important information about U.S. Embassies and Consulates General. Choose your specific location by clicking below.

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  18. Costa Rica Travel Advisory

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