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Costa Rica expands list of authorized states for U.S. tourists, relaxes COVID test requirement

Costa Rica has expanded the list of U.S. states from which it will welcome tourists in September, Tourism Minister Gustavo Segura announced Thursday.

At the same time, Costa Rica will relax some of the requirements for arriving visitors.

Starting September 1, Costa Rica will allow tourists from Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. These two states and the capital are added to the following, previously announced states: New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont and Connecticut.

As of September 15, the list will be further expanded with Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Colorado.

“All of these states have an epidemiological condition similar or better than Costa Rica,” Segura said. “The reopening for international tourism continues to be very gradual.”

More leeway for arriving tourists

Tourists visiting Costa Rica still need to present the results of a negative PCR coronavirus test. However, starting immediately, the sample for the test can be taken up to 72 hours before the flight — 24 hours longer than currently allowed.

To prove their state of residency, U.S. tourists will be allowed to use a State ID card or their driver’s license. This requirement is waived for minors traveling with a parent.

Finally, starting next month, visitors can arrive via a flight with a layover in a non-authorized location. For instance, a Colorado resident could fly from Denver to Houston to Costa Rica, as long as she doesn’t leave the airport in Texas.

Costa Rica has kept its borders closed to U.S. tourists since mid-March due to the pandemic. Tourism is one of the country’s biggest industries, comprising 8.2% of its GDP, and the United States is the country from which most people visit.

In a recent interview with The Tico Times, Segura admitted the difficulty in reopening to the United States.

“On one side, it’s the market that has effectively been the most important for Costa Rica,” he said. “On the other hand, unfortunately, the pandemic situation has advanced strongly in that fellow country.”

More than 1.3 million tourists came to Costa Rica from the United States in 2019, more than any other country by far.

The U.S. State Department has issued a Level 4 travel advisory for Costa Rica due to the coronavirus and crime.

Costa Rica currently allows tourists from 44 countries, including the United Kingdom, the European Union and Canada.

Requirements for tourists to enter Costa Rica

  1. All people entering Costa Rica must complete the digital epidemiological form. This is known as the “Health Pass” or “Pase de Salud.” Click here for a link to the form.
  2. Tourists must obtain a negative PCR-RT coronavirus test. The sample for this test must have been taken at most 48 hours before the flight to Costa Rica. (This will be extended to 72 hours on September 1.)
  3. Tourists must purchase travel insurance that covers accommodation in case of quarantine and medical expenses due to COVID-19. This policy can be international or purchased from Costa Rican insurers.
  4. Tourists from the United States must demonstrate, via their driver’s license or State ID, that they live in one of the authorized states.


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