Costa Rica just announced new Covid-19 Vaccine requirements.
Next, you'll find all the details!
*Information updated: November 9, 2021
Do I need a Covid-19 Vaccine to visit Costa Rica?
Technically, the answer is "no," you do not need a Covid-19 vaccination in order to enter Costa Rica. New regulations, however, affect nearly all aspects of travel in and around Costa Rica with very few exceptions. So to clarify, you are permitted to enter the country without being vaccinated against Covid-19, but your access to businesses and services inside the country will be extremely limited. Keep reading to find out more details.
Who do the Costa Rica Covid-19 Vaccine Requirements apply to?
Costa Rica Covid-19 Vaccine requirements will apply to ALL people in Costa Rica, including citizens, legal residents and visitors, 12 years of age and older.
Are there exceptions for the Costa Rica Covid-19 Vaccine Requirements?
Exceptions will be made for children under 12 years of age. They will also be made for people who have a medical condition, duly accredited, that makes it impossible to apply any vaccine approved by the Ministry of Health of Costa Rica.
Which Covid-19 vaccines are accepted in Costa Rica?
Even though there are many vaccines available in the world, Costa Rica does not accept all Covid-19 vaccines. Because of this, it's important to make sure your vaccine is the list of vaccines currently accepted in Costa Rica according to the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (Costa Rican Tourism Institute):
1. Pfizer / Biotech
3. Janssen (Johnson & Johnson / J&J)
What constitutes being "fully vaccinated" in Costa Rica?
It is important to know that in order to be considered fully vaccinated against Covid-19 in Costa Rica, you must have received all required doses. Moreover, the last dose had to be administered at least 14 days prior to arriving to Costa Rica.
What if I couldn't get all of my doses yet?
I had Covid-19 so I had to wait to get my first vaccine:
In the case that you were recovering from Covid-19 and for that reason you have not yet received all of your doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, it will be considered an acceptable exception. However, you must present documentation showing you have taken dose 1/1, even if the vaccine requires additional doses.
I'm from the United Kingdom and they have only approved a single dose for children ages 12-16:
If the reason you have not yet received all of your doses of the Covid-19 vaccine is because you're from the United Kingdom, between the ages of 12-16 years old, and therefore only permitted to get 1 dose of the vaccine, this will be considered an acceptable exception. Similar to the other exceptions, you must present documentation showing you have taken dose 1/1 (even if the vaccine requires additional doses for people that are older than you).
How do I prove my Covid-19 vaccination?
Firstly, you must have documentation of your vaccine to submit to the Costa Rican government. Secondly, the information regarding your Covid-19 vaccine must be either in Spanish or in English and include the following:
1. Name of the person in question - the documentation must permit a reviewer to directly link it to the traveler/passenger
2. Brand of the vaccine (see previous section regarding brands of Covid-19 vaccines accepted in Costa Rica)
3. Date of application of each dose
Where will I need to show my proof of Covid-19 vaccination in Costa Rica?
Costa Rica Health Pass/Immigration
Costa Rica requires that all visitors fill out a Health Pass within 72 hours of arrival to the country. During this, you should upload documentation for proof of Covid-19 vaccination OR (the alternately accepted) Covid-19 Travel Insurance. The Health Pass will generate a QR code which will then be used as your proof of Covid-19 vaccination throughout your visit to Costa Rica. For more information, read our post about Costa Rica entry requirements.
Costa Rican Establishments Required to Check for Covid-19 Vaccination
Beginning on December 1, 2021 (at the discretion of each location until January 8, 2022), you will be required to show proof of completed Covid-19 Vaccination to enter many commercial establishments in Costa Rica. The following is a list of establishments where you will be required to show proof of vaccination (your QR code):
1. Restaurants, sodas, cafes, food trucks, food courts and other food service establishments
2. Bars & Casinos
3. General stores, department stores, & malls
5. Fitness centers / Gyms
6. Hotels, cabins, rooms, and other accommodations
7. Swimming pools
8. Religious activities, organizations, or congregations
9. Event halls for business, academic, and social activities
10. Adventure Tourism
11. Theaters, Movie Theaters, Art & Dance Studios, & Establishments for Art Activities
12. Sports & Athletic Facilities
Will I be able to go anywhere in Costa Rica without proof of vaccination?
There are a few places in Costa Rica where proof of Covid-19 vaccine will not be required. The following are the exceptions to the requirement of proof of Covid-19 vaccination:
4. Convenience Stores
When am I required to show my proof of Covid-19 vaccination in Costa Rica?
Vaccination checks will occur in many establishments beginning December 1, 2021 and at all aforementioned establishments beginning January 8, 2022.
How do I know if I will be required to show my proof of Covid-19 vaccination in Costa Rica between December 1 and January 8?
The government will allow each establishment to phase into Covid-19 vaccination checks beginning December 1, 2021. Eventually, all businesses will be required to do the checks beginning January 8, 2022. You should check with any accommodations, transportation, and activities/tour operators that you have already booked to see when they will begin requiring vaccination records.
Costa Rica has had many businesses below 100% capacity since the beginning of the pandemic. Costa Rica, with a population highly dependent on both domestic and international tourism, closed its borders for nearly 5 months (including one of the historically busiest times of the year) beginning mid-March of 2020. Since then, it has made, maintained, and modified many policies based on the effects of Covid-19 in Costa Rica. These policies relate to business capacity, permissions for events, sports, schools, access to national parks and beaches as well as restrictions on transit based on license plate numbers and curfews throughout the country. Consequently, many business owners are eager to reopen to full capacity.
You may think that businesses will choose to wait until January 8, 2022 before they require vaccines, since they have a choice. So before you assume too much, you must know that businesses requiring vaccines will be permitted to run at 100% capacity for the first time in almost 2 years. At the same time, those that do not require vaccines will remain below capacity until the regulation goes into full effect on January 8, 2022.
Why is Covid-19 vaccination needed in Costa Rica if it's not required to enter?
The new regulations do not establish the vaccine as mandatory in Costa Rica, neither for its own citizens, nor for legal residents or travelers, but the Costa Rican Ministry of Health believes it to be in the best interest of the public health that as many people be vaccinated as possible. For this reason, they have announced that the new regulations will take full effect beginning January 8, 2022. If you are traveling to or in Costa Rica between December 1, 2021 and January 8, 2022, it is important that you check with your planned accommodations, services, and tours to find out if/when they will require proof of vaccine prior to January 8.
As new information becomes available we will be sure to update!
In summary, if you are planning your visit, your completed Covid-19 vaccination record will be required to enter most establishments throughout the country of Costa Rica starting December 1, 2021.