*This post may contain affiliate links, as a result, we may receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) on any bookings/purchases you make through the links in this post. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read our full disclosure.


Since December 2019, Coronavirus (COVID-19), a severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has been spreading worldwide, affecting the lives and wellbeing of millions of people around the world. The first case of COVID 19 in Costa Rica was confirmed on March 6, 2020, and the virus has been circulating in the country ever since.

COVID 19 in Costa Rica

Since the beginning of the COVID -19 pandemic in Costa Rica, the local government has taken a very fast and proactive role in managing coronavirus in the country. They closed schools, prohibited mass gatherings, shut all non-essential businesses, and closed the borders within just 10 days of the first case being confirmed in the country. 

A few months into the pandemic, Costa Rica has been praised for being one of the most successful nations in the fight against Coronavirus. The country had the lowest death rate in all of Latin America and has been one of the most successful at flattening the curve. 

However, as of May 2021, Costa Rica entered a third wave of the pandemic, and cases soared. The country experienced a record number of hospitalizations, which put a strain on the public healthcare system. With the rise in cases, a spike in COVID-related deaths followed. The country reported 65 deaths on May 10—its highest number of coronavirus-related deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Now, as of late August 2021, Costa Rica has received a large number of vaccines from the United States and is ramping up vaccinations. Meanwhile, average daily cases are increasing while reporting 2,162 new cases per day with 10-15 deaths per day. About 59% of the population of Costa Rica has received at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

For the most up-to-date information on the number of cases, you can visit the Ministry of Health Facebook.

COVID 19 in Costa Rica: Current Situation

Current Statistics (August 2021)

Average daily cases: 2,162 (299 infections per 100k people)

Average daily deaths: 14

Total confirmed cases: 455,784

Total COVID-19-related deaths: 5,431 (1.2% fatality rate)

Vaccinations

As of late August 2021, 59% of Costa Ricans have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Approximately 20% of the population is fully vaccinated.

Border Opening

As of August 2021, all of Costa Rica’s borders are open to tourists, residents, and citizens arriving by flights, boats, and land crossings.

Entry Requirements 

Negative COVID tests are NOT required to enter Costa Rica. As of Aug 1, 2021, minors and fully vaccinated tourists can enter the country without health insurance.

All tourists, regardless of the country of departure, must present the following documents upon arrival in Costa Rica. 

  • A complete epidemiological Health Form (aka Health Pass) found here.

Fully Vaccinated Tourists and Minors

Fully vaccinated tourists with completed vaccines of Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, or Johnson & Johnson, can travel 14 days after their final dose. Fully vaccinated tourists and minors must also present:

  • Proof of vaccination through vaccination certificates and vaccination cards attached to your Health Pass

Unvaccinated or Partially Vaccinated Tourists

Unvaccinated and partially vaccinated tourists still require medical insurance to enter Costa Rica. Unvaccinated and partially vaccinated tourists must also present:

  • Health insurance which covers medical insurance in case of COVID (min $50,000 coverage) and $2,000 coverage for extended hotel stay in case of self-isolation requirements due to a mild COVID case

Proof of travel insurance must be attached to the Health Pass application and submitted to the Costa Rican government within 48 hours before departure. 

This submission will generate a QR code, which is required to be shown at the airport prior to departure and to the Costa Rican border security/immigration upon arrival in the country. 

Very few international insurance companies offer the right insurance policy for Costa Rica. Two Costa Rican companies: INS and Sagicor are two pre-approved companies. Their policies start from $10/person/day. The other approved option is Trawick International’s Safe Travels Voyager Policy – it is much cheaper,  at just $40/person/month, but is only available to US citizens/residents.

There are currently NO mandatory quarantine requirements for tourists entering Costa Rica. 

Mask Requirements

Mandatory mask requirements have been in place in Costa Rica since June. They apply to all residents and visitors (even if fully vaccinated) and are required in many public situations, including:

  • Any employee interacting with the public (e.g. waiters, bank tellers, public transport drivers, etc)
  • Drivers and the public using public transport (e.g. buses, taxis)
  • Officiants and guests at religious services
  • In theatres and cinemas
  • Anyone visiting a health center, prison, drug or alcohol treatment center, or centers caring for at-risk populations
  • For caretakers attending to the elderly or those with disabilities, especially at nursing homes or residential alternatives
  • Call-center employees who share cubicles
  • Customers at banks
  • Inside any public establishment (restaurants, hotels, etc.) except while eating or drinking
  • When purchasing your ticket to a National Park (can be removed after)

Emergency Alerts

As of Aug 16, 2021, Costa Rica’s National Emergency Commission (CNE) has issued an Orange Alert for the entire country.

Orange Alert areas show a large increase in confirmed cases. As of August 2021, the largest number of confirmed cases are in the Alajuela and San Jose cantons (via Ministerio de Salud). 

COVID-19 Orange Alert Map of Costa Rica
Emergency Alert Map of Costa Rica. Image via CNE.

For the latest updates to Costa Rica’s Emergency Alerts, visit the CNE’s interactive map.

Driving Restrictions

Driving restrictions have been in effect across Costa Rica since March 23. Current restrictions are in place until August 31 and are as follows:

    • Mondays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 1 or 2 cannot drive.
    • Tuesdays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 3 or 4 cannot drive.
    • Wednesdays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 5 or 6 cannot drive.
    • Thursdays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 7 or 8 cannot drive.
    • Fridays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 9 or 0 cannot drive.
    • Weekends:
      • Odd plates cannot drive on Saturday the 14th.
      • Even plates cannot drive on Sunday the 15th.
      • Even plates cannot drive on Saturday the 21st.
      • Odd plates cannot drive on Sunday the 22nd.
      • Odd plates cannot drive on Saturday the 28th.
      • Even plates cannot drive on Sunday the 29th.
    • At Nighttime Weekdays & Weekends (10 p.m. to 5 a.m.): A nationwide nighttime restriction continues to be enforced. All vehicles are banned from driving from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m (extended 1 hour as of Aug 9, 2021).
Costa Rica Driving Restrictions. Image via CNE
Costa Rica Driving Restrictions. Image via CNE

Note that the standard list of vehicle exceptions still apply. Rental cars, tourism vehicles, and those driving to/from the airport, a hotel, or work are exempt from the driving restrictions.  

Going forward, September driving restrictions open up vehicle circulation on weekends. From September 1 – September 30, new driving restrictions are as follows:

  • Mondays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 1 or 2 cannot drive.
  • Tuesdays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 3 or 4 cannot drive.
  • Wednesdays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 5 or 6 cannot drive.
  • Thursdays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 7 or 8 cannot drive.
  • Fridays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 9 or 0 cannot drive.
  • Weekends: All vehicles can drive.
  • At Nighttime Weekdays & Weekends (10 p.m. to 5 a.m.): A nationwide nighttime restriction continues to be enforced. All vehicles are banned from driving from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Costa Rica Driving Restrictions September 2021
Costa Rica September Driving Restrictions. Image via CNE

What’s Opened?

As of August 2021, the majority of businesses can remain OPEN across the country from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. (previously 9 p.m.). This includes shops, hotels, restaurants, bars, casinos, salons, national parks, and all open-air tourist activities. Beaches are open, but only from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. (previously 6 p.m.). Public transportation is also available. 

Capacity restrictions are still in place for certain activities:

  • Hotels that sleep 100+ people: Capacity reduced to 75%
  • Bars: Capacity reduced to 25%
  • Most establishments including restaurants, supermarkets, gyms, museums, and malls: Capacity reduced to 50%
  • National Parks: Capacity increased to 100%
  • Social Events: Capacity limited to 100 people
  • Religious Events: Capacity limited to 500 people
  • Business/Academic Conferences: Capacity limited to 500 people
  • Public Transportation: Capacity is limited to sitting room only

During September 2021, Costa Rica will open up with 10% capacity at the National Stadium. This will allow 3,000 people to attend the men’s World Cup qualifier matches (Sept 5-8) and women’s friendlies (Sept 16-19) with social distancing in mind.

Generally, all establishments can remain open with the exception of a few activities like concerts and nightclubs. For a list of prohibited activities and establishments, go HERE. 

COVID 19 in Costa Rica: General Rules

The Health Ministry asked all residents to observe and adhere to a number of general rules as it pertains to COVID 19. 

  1. No one with a cold or flu, or with respiratory symptoms, should leave the house.
  2. People with high-risk factors should avoid going to public places.
  3. While in public, maintain a distance of 1.8 meters (6 feet) between anyone not in your “social bubble.”
  4. Do not touch your face in public without first washing your hands.
  5. Do not sing, shout or speak loudly in public.
  6. Wear face masks, especially on public transportation or if remaining in a public place for more than 15 minutes.
  7. If possible, take the temperature of patrons before allowing them into an establishment

What happens if you contract COVID-19 while in Costa Rica?

If you test positive for coronavirus or come into close contact with someone who has, you may be issued a self-isolation order. You will be required to remain at your place of residence (hotel, apartment, etc) until that order is lifted. If you are caught violating a stay-at-home order, you may be detained. You cannot leave the country until the order is lifted.

Call 1322 or 911 if you are experiencing a medical emergency. 1322 is Costa Rica’s coronavirus hotline. Both services are offered in English and Spanish.

Where to Get COVID test in Costa Rica?

US, Canada, the UK, and a number of other countries now require passengers to show a negative COVID test before boarding a flight to the country. The test must be taken within 72 hours to departure and without it, airlines have the right to deny boarding. 

If you require a COVID test to depart Costa Rica, there are more than 100 private labs and hospitals in Costa Rica that offer PCR COVID testing. The price of the test ranges from USD $100-150. Getting the test in San Jose is cheaper than elsewhere in the country. 

In addition to labs and facilities, both Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) in San José and Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport (LIR) in Liberia offer on-site COVID-19 testing for outgoing travelers.

CLICK HERE for a list of all the labs/hospitals/clinics that offer COVID testing in Costa Rica. The easiest way to secure an appointment is to call the clinic or send them a Whatsapp. Most clinics will be able to communicate in English. 

COVID 19 & Costa Rican the Economy

As with everywhere in the world, COVID 19 has had a devastating impact on the Costa Rican economy, particularly as it affected tourism, one of the largest segments of the local economy. According to the Central Bank of Costa Rica (BCCR), Costa Rica’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is expected to decrease by 3.6% due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 600,000 people who directly and indirectly make a living from the tourism sector have suffered great losses as a result of the pandemic. 

Since November 1, when the country officially reopened to tourism, arrivals into Costa Rica have been at just 20% of what existed before the pandemic. 

But it’ll be a long and difficult road to recovery. 

Do you have any questions about COVID 19 in Costa Rica? Leave a comment below!

6 thoughts on “Coronavirus (COVID 19) in Costa Rica: Current Situation & Travel Requirements (UPDATED)”

  1. Hi
    I hope you are well and having a great week!
    Myself and my boyfriend are looking at travelling to Costa Rica for 2 weeks from the 14th-28th November. We were planning on going from La Fortuna to Tamarindo to Guiones and then Santa Teresa. With regards to COvid 19 will the beaches/national parks/restaurants/bars be opening. Im just wondering as you reported the Bars were closed and the beaches only open from 5am – 2:30pm.

    Kind regards
    Kelly

    1. Hi Kelly, yes it looks like everything will be opened for the coming high season. Tourists from all countries are now welcomed to Costa Rica. You can check back on this post every week to get the latest info on the situation. We update it weekly.

  2. Meghan Campbell

    Hi there!
    My boyfriend and I are traveling to Costa Rica from May 10th until May 19th! We are considering postponing our trip due to the possibility of being stuck for ten days if we test positive … Have you heard about what happens if you test positive? Is it 10 days and then you can leave the country? Or do you have to be retested and then cleared to go? What happens if you have no symptoms but test positive repeatedly? Will you be stuck until you test negative? Curious on if Costa Rica is the best choice for a vacation right now… Thank you !

    –Meghan C

    1. Hi Meghan,

      Costa Rica no longer has any entry/exit testing requirements. So Costa Rica will not stop you from coming or going in and out of the country if you test positive. However, depending on where you are flying back to, your home country may not allow you to enter back if you test positive. So if you do get a positive test while in Costa Rica, you will be required to self-isolate and can use your insurance to pay for your accommodation for that time. Hope that helps!

  3. Have you been back to CR recently? Since covid? Did you feel safe with masks and distancing yourself? Considering an August 2021 trip to playa Carrillo, fly into Liberia, rent a car and a house on beach to distance from others. What’s your thoughts on safety of the situation there right now?

    1. Yes, we were in Costa Rica earlier this year at the height of the pandemic. Since we own a hotel in Costa Rica, we are always in touch with staff on the ground who share the latest info about the situation there. What we can tell you is that yes, it is safe to be in Costa Rica during the pandemic, given that you practice social distancing and wear a mask. The locals follow the rules and so do most visitors. Vaccinations in Costa Rica are slow although things are progressing and while the country does have a significant number of new cases daily, they are mostly concentrated in the capital city/metropolitan area. So if you want to be extra safe, we recommend that you plan to spend your holiday in nature, in National Parks and beaches, away from crowds. Stay in smaller hotels, avoid all inclusive resorts, bars, clubs, and stay away from buffets or other shared dining facilities.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

PLANNING A TRIP TO COSTA RICA? 

Over the years, we have explored Costa Rica in-depth and have put all of our knowledge into our

FREE Costa Rica Travel Guide

to help other travelers with their planning!

Scroll to Top