COVID-19 Resources for Costa Rica

Last update: June 15, 2021

1. Requirements for entry and departure from Costa Rica (including insurance and testing)

The Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT) is the government’s institution in charge of creating tourism policies, and is thus an official and trusted source of information for travelers. In this website they have put together all of the entry requirements, including those related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

These are the mandatory COVID-19 requirements, as of June 15, 2021:

  • Complete the “HEALTH PASS”, a digital form required by the Ministry of Health, to show upon arrival.
    • The pass will be available 48 hours before boarding, and can be accessed using an updated browser (except Internet Explorer).
    • Every individual (including minors) must complete it.
  • Purchase travel insurance (unvaccinated adults), making sure to meet the requirements described below:
    • As of August 1, Costa Rica has stopped requiring a travel health insurance policy for minors and for adult tourists who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Unvaccinated and partially vaccinated visitors are still required to obtain insurance.
    • It must cover accommodations in case of quarantine and medical expenses incurred due to the COVID-19 disease (see details below).
    • Your insurance information needs to be uploaded to the HEALTH PASS in order to be reviewed and approved by the Costa Rican authorities. If they require more information, you will be notified through the email address provided in the HEALTH PASS.
    • You can opt for international insurance or Costa Rican insurance.
      • For international insurance, you must request a certification from your insurer issued in English or Spanish and add it to the HEALTH PASS. It should note at least three conditions:
        • Validity of the policy during the trip.
        • Guarantee of coverage for medical expenses incurred due to experiencing COVID-19 in Costa Rica, for at least $50,000 USD.
        • Minimum coverage of $2,000 USD for extended lodging expenses due to pandemic illness or trip interruption/cancellation due to illness, which covers the extra cost due to quarantine.
      • Alternatively, you can buy travel insurance from the Costa Rican companies approved by SUGESE (General Superintendency of Insurance of Costa Rica), which offer their services at Juan Santamaría (SJO) and Daniel Oduber Quirós (LIR) international airports.
        • National insurance policies meet all the requirements to cover medical expenses due to illness, including COVID-19, for a minimum amount of $20,000, as well as coverage for extended lodging expenses or quarantine due to pandemic illness for a minimum amount of $2,000.
        • Authorized local insurance can be validated at the links below. If you have doubts or queries about the requirements or conditions of the insurance, please email seguros@ict.go.cr
      • We recommend buying the Costa Rican official insurance of the Instituto Nacional de Seguros (INS), as it can be bought online, it covers all the requirements mentioned above, and is very affordable. (A Spanish article about it is available here). Some prefer to buy both the INS insurance as well as an international policy of your choice to cover all of your bases.
    • For foreigners who are Costa Rican permanent or temporary residents (with the exception of certain categories such as students), you must demonstrate insurance coverage from Costa Rican social security, which can be verified here. If you are not up-to-date with your Costa Rican social security payments, you must purchase a temporary insurance policy like any other tourist
  • Some countries (United States, Canada, United Kingdom, etc.) require a negative COVID-19 test result to re-enter the country.
    • Please be aware that other countries may have a similar return requirement, so check with your corresponding embassy or consulate, and also check if they only accept PCR-based tests (which Canada does, for example).
    • For United States travelers, it is required to have proof of a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of flight departure. Alternatively, travelers to the U.S. may provide documentation from a licensed health care provider of having recovered from COVID-19 in the 90 days preceding travel. Please visit the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica for additional information, including emergency waivers.
    • The CDC and the U.S. Department of State also have information about re-entering the United States.
    • Antigen tests are accepted by the United States, but please check with your state; we have been informed that some states do not accept the antigen test. Antigen tests are more affordable and faster than PCR-based tests. Some airlines are also trying to get approval for even more affordable in-home saliva PCR testing kits. You can check some state-specific requirements here.
  • Where to get tested for COVID-19 in Costa Rica: The closest testing sites to Casa Roja are in Jacó and Quepos.
    • The testing site in Jaco is at Laboratorio Jaco.
      • Currently, they can take antigen tests and send them off to San José for a cost of $75 USD. Results take 18–24 hours. The lab is planning to have them available locally in the near future.
      • COVID-19 PCR-based tests are also available and they may take 24-36 hours for turnaround time. They cost $125 USD.
      • An appointment is required, and tourists must fill out an online form.
      • You will need to have your flight information available and they will help you plan the time of testing.
      • Spaces are limited per day.
    • The testing site in Quepos is at the Hospital Metropolitano branch located on Marina Pez Vela, local no. 206.
      • An appointment is required for the Quepos branch. To make an appointment, call the Quepos phone number (+506 2519-9733), or call the main branch in San José to request help for a Quepos appointment (+506 2521-9595). English speaking is available.
      • The antigen test in Quepos costs 52,000 CRC (Colones) and turnaround time is about 8-10 hours. The antigen test is less expensive in San José (33,000 CRC).
      • The PCR test costs 68,000 colones and turnaround time is 72 hours.
      • Proof of international travel and identification documents are required.
    • Testing is available at many other medical facilities across Costa Rica. Here is a complete list of locations compiled by the Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT) and shared with the U.S. embassy in Costa Rica. The laboratories highlighted in orange have antigen tests available.
    • Delta Airlines has COVID-19 testing resources for traveling to Costa Rica from the U.S. Delta has partnered with AZOVA which provides these antigen testing locations in Costa Rica. All are located near the capital of San José.
    • Delta Airlines and Alaska Airlines accept at home antigen testing through AZOVA. You purchase the kit ahead of time, schedule a video session within 72 hours of your return flight to the US and through video chat an AZOVA representative will verify your photo ID and walk you through the self testing procedure. United Airlines also accepts an at home rapid COVID-19 test administered through eMed.

2. COVID-19 situation in Costa Rica

Current restrictions

The country is in a phase of “controlled opening” with the following regulations effective as of March 1, 2021:

  • Beach schedule: Beaches are open Monday–Sunday from 5:00 am to 6:00 pm.
  • Land borders: All land borders with Nicaragua and Panama remain closed. Only Costa Rican citizens and residents are allowed to enter with a special permit.
  • Business/establishment restrictions: Businesses should have a sanitary operating permit to serve the public, and they can do so from Monday–Sunday until 9:00 pm, following the vehicle restriction schedule.
  • Vehicle restrictions: Tourist transportation, rental cars, taxis, buses, and shuttles are exempt from current restrictions.

Source: The Casa Presidencial website (Costa Rica´s “White House”) includes all of the COVID-19 alerts mentioned above.

COVID-19 statistics

The information below from the Costa Rican Ministry of Health and the Universidad Estatal a Distancia summarizes current COVID-19 cases by province and canton in Costa Rica.

This table shows the total number of new (Nuevos) active (Activos) and recovered (Recovered) cases, deaths (Fallecidos), and total cases (Acumulados) by province (Provincia) and canton. Casa Roja is located in Puntarenas Province, Osa Canton. For reference, the population size of Osa Canton is 31,139 people (as of 2020, according to INEC). The Osa Canton is a broad region, and we do not have information at the Sierpe District level. Source- Ministry of Health

A map of the current COVID-19 situation by canton. (Updated May 10, 2021. Source: UNED)

This graph shows the progress of COVID-19 cases in all of Costa Rica, including total cases (Acumulados), active cases (Activos), and recovered cases (Recuperados). (Source: Ministry of Health)

3. Hospitalization information

In the unlikely event that you require hospitalization, you can rest assured that Costa Rica has an excellent health care system with highly professional doctors and quality hospitals. It is a medical tourism destination for a good reason! Generally, the San José area (Metropolitan Area, Central Valley) hospitals are better equipped to handle all types of situations, including COVID-19 emergencies.

The following private hospitals are the ones equipped to handle COVID-19 hospitalizations and are also able to manage its health complications. Check with your insurance for coverage.

  1. Hospital CIMA. Website and contact.
  2. Clínica Bíblica. Website and contact.

An alternative is to go to a public hospital. Public hospitals are administered by the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social, CCSS. The nearest public Hospital to Casa Roja is the Hospital de Osa Tomás Casas Casajús, located in Ciudad Cortés (Contact information). If you decide to go there, they will determine which of the hospitals of the CCSS network you will end up in, so you may have less control. Alternatively, you can drive directly to San José to one of the following public hospitals:

  1. Hospital San Juan de Dios.
  2. Hospital México.
  3. Hospital Nacional de Niños (Hospital for Children).
  4. Hospital Calderón Guardia.

For any of the above options, please check with your insurance about coverage and make sure they can handle serious COVID-19 complications. Although we are making an effort to keep these resources up to date, please be advised that services and information can change suddenly.