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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Getting a Rapid Antigen Self Test in Costa Rica

Countries across the globe have been enforcing strict measures and requirements for those wanting to cross their borders. As we all remember at one point many were even closed bringing travel to a halt as we waited out the days to see what was to come.

The global pandemic took us into new unchartered territory as governing bodies tried to maneuver their way through tough decisions determining how to keep COVID – 19 from destroying lives and the economy.

Through time, trial and error, searching for sustainable and preventative measures countries are adapting to a way of living trying to bring forth a new form of normalcy.

With sanitary measures easing and various options of testing, the world has been opening up, allowing us to try and live once again and connect.

Costa Rica has not put in place covid testing requirements for their country during the global pandemic. Although its bordering neighbor of Nicaragua enforces a strict negative PCR test for entry, Costa Rica has not followed suit.

Travelers have been free to enter without an antigen or PCR test declaring they are negative. A strong emphasis has been enforced requiring COVID- 19 medical coverage, vaccinations, and their Health Pass for entrance into the country’s tropical paradise.

Canada on the other hand has not taken the same path with their controversial decisions creating much divide within their population.

Airline cancellations, advisories of avoiding non-essential travel, border restrictions, hotel quarantining and mandatory isolation have all been methods put in place.

It was on February 15, 2022, the Government of Canada finally announced they were going to lighten their border measures easing up on the country’s travel restrictions.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Press Release on February 15, 2022, they stated that random testing will take place for fully vaccinated travelers as of February 28, 2022. Unvaccinated travelers require testing on their arrival as well as on their 8th day including a 14-day quarantine.

In addition, the announcement advises that

“Travellers will now have the option of using a COVID-19 rapid antigen test result (taken the day prior to their scheduled flight or arrival at the land border or marine port of entry) or a molecular test result (taken no more than 72 hours before their scheduled flight or arrival at the land border or marine port of entry) to meet pre-entry requirements” 

Self-administered antigen tests taken at home do not qualify or authorize one to meet Canada’s pre-entry requirement. The news release advised “it must be authorized by the country in which it was purchased and must be administered by a laboratory, healthcare entity or telehealth service.

These new measures can bring a bit of a sigh of relief to travelers now with the allowance of a rapid antigen test as sufficient COVID – 19 testing.

Depending on where you are in Costa Rica, the PCR (Polymerase chain reaction) molecular test can be quite costly as well as an uncomfortable experience with the deep nasal swab.

The cost for a PCR test can start around $100 and tends to rise as your distance from San Jose increases, some areas charge up to $150 for one test the further away you are.

The further your proximity from the country’s capital and Greater Metropolitan Area (GAM) the longer you may have to wait for your test results to arrive sometimes upwards to 48 hours causing a fair bit of stress and tension before your travels.

This typically occurs in rural and remote locations in Costa Rica where the COVID- 19 test is often administered by an affiliated source. The test sample is then sent to the authorized lab which is why you can expect your results to take a bit longer to be confirmed.

With the news of rapid antigen test results being accepted many may start to consider traveling again if they haven’t already. Costa Rica has already been providing rapid antigen tests to passengers heading to various countries accepting this quick and efficient means of testing.  

Travelers entering the United States have been required to provide a COVID- 19 viral test since January 26, 2021.

With the test needing to be completed no more than 1 day before traveling into the United States, the antigen test has been the best means to accomplish this.

Juan Santamaria International Airport had announced last year that starting May 14, 2021, they would be performing rapid antigen tests through Laboratorios Echandi.

At $65 a test, they provide the service around the clock so all international passengers can access the antigen test if needed. The test results can take up to an hour so they recommend coming to the testing areas 4 hours prior to your flight to eliminate any travel delays.  

Making it quick and easy a shuttle is available to the tenting site outside.

Liberia’s Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport also offers rapid antigen testing at $65 with results returned in the hour. They request that you have your ticket information available along with your passport to verify your information. You can find more information and book your scheduled time here.

Costa Rica has authorized labs all across the country so international travelers can meet the specific entry requirements of their destination. Over 100 locations are providing either PCR and/ or antigen tests in Costa Rica.

For approximately $50 you can visit the private hospital of CIMA for your antigen test or don’t even leave your vehicle and have it done at Clinica Biblica’s drive through testing.

The following link provides you with locations and contact information of labs throughout Costa Rica offering PCR and antigen tests.

The average prices of an antigen test can vary from $50 – $70 across Costa Rica giving you same-day results, some locations even having them back in under 30 minutes.

Be sure to check that you are being tested by a licensed business as submitting test results from an unlicensed business could have you paying a fine, denied boarding to your onward flight, and paying to be retested again before being granted departure from Costa Rica.

Slowly tourism has continued to be on the rise again in Costa Rica as many are in search of sunshine, adventure, and a little bit of happiness from the stress of the recent year’s evolvements.

With the opening of borders, enforcement of sanitary measures, and now the availability and further acceptance of the rapid antigen test people can start to feel a bit more at ease when deciding to take that next vacation.

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