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Costa Rica Reopens for Select Countries!

With anticipation, we have been waiting for August and not just to see which sandpipers have come back to our shores. August is when the Juan Santamaria Airport was scheduled to reopen, to receive flights and not just to repatriate Costa Rican citizens. The first flights back have arrived and they brought the first set of international tourists visiting Costa Rica since the shutting of our borders on March 18. We look forward to many more!

Since we are in the preliminary stages of reopening, at the moment, only flights from Canada, the U.K., and various countries in the European Union are permitted. Guests will also need to follow these protocols:

1. A negative Coronavirus test that must have been taken within 48 hours of departure for Costa Rica.

2. Travel insurance purchased from Costa Rica's national insurance agency (known as I.N.S.). The amount a visitor needs to purchase ranges from more than $200 to more than $900 and depends on their age, follow this link for an estimate.

3. Complete a digital epidemiological form called “Pase de Salud.” As part of this form, tourists will need to upload the result of their negative coronavirus test (as a PDF or JPG) as part of the epidemiological form.

wp:paragraph EDIT AS OF AUGUST 6

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The insurance requirement has been changed. As of August 5th, Costa Rica will also accept international insurance policies with these requirements:

  1. The policy must cover their scheduled visit to Costa Rica.

  2. It must include coverage of medical expenses in Costa Rica related to COVID-19 for a minimum of $50,000.

  3. Minimum coverage of $2,000 for accommodation related to COVID-19.

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In addition, the insurance policy must also be verified by the ICT (Costa Rica's tourism institute/board). Clear information on how to do this is still lacking but there should be an update or at least link for this at the ICT site. This is what tourists will need to do:

  1. Make a request with the Costa Rica Tourism Board to approve their insurance policy. This must include:

  2. A signed, notarized declaration in PDF format that indicates that the policy meets the coverage requirements mentioned above.

  3. A statement from the insurance company that the policy covers the tourist and other family members traveling with them and that it includes the required coverage.

  4. These statements must also be sent with the Pase de Salud mentioned above.

  5. The ICT will send a response to this request within 24 hours on workdays, 48 hours on weekends/holidays. This response will indicate whether the request has been accepted or denied. If denied, the tourists has 24 hours to correct the issue. At that time, they can also opt for purchasing one of the plans pre-approved by the Costa Rican government (about which information is still lacking but will hopefully be available soon).

  6. In the case of policies that are approved, the ICT will send a QR code that must be shown upon arrival in Costa Rica, to immigration authorities.

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Some other points of note:

  • Masks- Bring a couple because although they have recently been required for indoor spaces, this requirement could certainly change where they are also required for the outdoors.

  • Safety protocols in country- Costa Rica only allows hotels to open that follow strict safety protocols including increased cleaning, social distancing, masks worn by employees and so on. Restaurants at those hotels have either limited capacity, or meals are served as room service.

  • Driving restrictions- Although there are restrictions based on licence plate numbers, guests traveling to and from hotels with reservations are exempt as are transportation services for tourism.

  • What about the birding? - The birding is just as fantastic and with fewer vehicles on roads, maybe even more so!

  • National parks?- Some are open but with a limited capacity and only by purchasing entrance in advance. They also open at 8 a.m. Limited access to national parks actually doesn't have much of an impact on birding and bird photography because many excellent sites are found outside of park trail systems. In this case, knowing where to go is greatly aided by hiring an experienced local guide.

  • Can you travel from the USA to Canada or other permitted country and then to Costa Rica? Technically, if one of those permitted countries allowed you to enter, you could travel to Costa Rica but only after spending at two weeks in the permitted country without symptoms before the flight to Costa Rica (and you would still need to follow the other protocols mentioned above).

Visiting Costa Rica at the moment comes with a few requirements and isn't possible for everybody but we can definitely say that we are open for birding! To learn more about how we can help you see and photograph more birds in Costa Rica, contact us today.

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