Costa Rica Will Soon Welcome All Americans

The list of countries that Americans are allowed to travel to is still fairly small, though it is growing by the week. Countries take different approaches to welcoming visitors — some allow visitors without restrictions, some require COVID-19 testing before departure, and some require testing upon arrival.

As I wrote about several weeks ago, Costa Rica started welcoming tourists as of September 2020. However, the country took a different approach to what we’ve otherwise seen.

Costa Rica has taken a phased reopening to tourism, and started with just five weekly flights between the US and Costa Rica, representing less than 5% of 2019 levels.

Costa Rica will soon welcome all Americans

Costa Rica began allowing visitors from the US as of the beginning of September, but only from select states. Visitors had to prove they resided in one of these states by presenting a driver’s license or other form of state ID to prove that they’re from there.

That list has grown since it was first announced, and currently Americans from the following 20 states and territories are allowed in Costa Rica:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Wyoming

Then as of October 15, residents from the following states will be allowed:

Finally, as of November 1, 2020, visitors from all of the US will be allowed.

In general I totally get the concept of allowing Americans only from select states, since obviously not all states are doing equally well. To my knowledge, Costa Rica is the only country allowing Americans only from select states.

Costa Rica’s tourism minister has made it clear that states are being chosen based on having similar or lower coronavirus infection rates to what is being seen in Costa Rica. The problem is that coronavirus is getting significantly worse in Costa Rica, so that’s not necessarily saying a whole lot…

Costa Rica requiring PCR tests within 72 hours of travel

As a precaution, visitors to Costa Rica need to show proof of a negative PCR coronavirus test taken within 72 hours of travel to Costa Rica. There will be no option to get tested on arrival.

The requirement to get tested within 72 hours of travel is pretty standard at this point. Airlines are starting to partner with labs to make testing before departure more accessible, so hopefully over time this becomes easier.

Other requirements to visit Costa Rica

In addition to the state restrictions and PCR testing requirements, there are a couple more requirements for tourists:

  • All people entering Costa Rica will have to complete a digital epidemiological form, known as a “Health Pass”
  • Visitors will have to purchase travel insurance that covers accommodation in the event of quarantine and medical expenses due to coronavirus; this can be purchased from either an international company or an insurance company in Costa Rica

Coronavirus in Costa Rica

Costa Rica has a population of about five million people, and has seen a total of nearly 80,000 coronavirus cases, and 950 coronavirus deaths. Both of those totals have more than doubled compared to September 1, which was just over a month ago.

While the country has had some cases going back as far as March, the situation has gotten significantly worse since July. As a matter of fact, the situation is the worst it has been in Costa Rica, and the country is now in some cases seeing nearly 2,000 new cases per day.


On the surface it’s an odd time to open borders to tourists, but then again, so many countries are struggling to find the right balance between restarting the economy and keeping people safe.

Bottom line

Costa Rica started welcoming American tourists as of September 1, though only from select states. As of November 1 the country will start welcoming Americans from all states. For all visitors, a negative PCR test must be shown that was taken within 72 hours of travel.

As is the case with most countries that have reopened, don’t necessarily expect the timeline or current policies to stick. International travel regulations are constantly changing, and we’ve seen a countless number of countries adjust requirements, or backtrack on reopening altogether. There are lots of risks to international travel right now.

Anyone have Costa Rica on their radar for a trip at some point?