Sunday 19 September 2021

Guide to the COVID Travel Restrictions for Central America

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QCOSTARICA – A country-by-country guide to the current Covid travel restrictions for Central America guidelines during the COVID-19 crisis.

Costa Rica (open)

Costa Rica opened its borders to all travelers since November 1. Travelers are no longer required to have a negative PCR test or quarantine upon arrival.

All travelers (tourists, residents and nationals) are required to complete the online Health Pass form within 72 hours prior to departure. One form must be completed per person, including minors, without exception.

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Tourists must acquire mandatory travel insurance that covers lodging in the event of quarantine as well as medical expenses due to contracting COVID-19. It can be acquired from a national or an international carrier.

International policies must the following requirements:

    • Valid for the entire stay in Costa Rica (coverage dates).
    • US$50,000 for medical expenses, including those from COVID-19.
    • US$2,000  for lodging expenses in the event of COVID-19 quarantine.
    • This certificate must specify that the policy covers COVID-19 and must be attached to the Health Pass for review and approval by the Costa Rican authorities. Insurance cards are not accepted. The information must be provided in the form of a document.

Costa Rican Policies must be purchased for any of the following Costa Rican insurance companies, which authorized to sell products:

Tourists who are passing through the country in transit must acquire an insurance policy with a minimum coverage of five days.

If the tourist has already been vaccinated, this does not exempt them from this requirement, and they must acquire an insurance policy as described.

Foreigners with temporary or permanent residence or with temporary status who are returning to Costa Rica and who are not up-to-date with their payments to the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS) must acquire a temporary local insurance policy for 22 days or an international insurance policy that complies with the same requirements as the mandatory policies for foreign tourists.

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Foreigners with permanent or temporary residence or those under a special category, with the exception of those who fall under the subcategory of students, must demonstrate that they are covered by Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS) and that their coverage is currently in effect, which can be verified at the following address:

Costa Rican citizens do not require medical insurance.

The complete official entry requirements for Costa Rica can be found here.

Panama (open)

Since October 12th, Panama has reopened its borders to international travelers. Visitors from most countries are welcome to visit Panama, however, a negative COVID-19 (PCR or Antigen) within 48 hours prior to traveling to Panama is required for entry.

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If you do not have a test, or the test was done more than 48 hours before traveling to Panama, you will be required to take a test at the airport at your expense (US$50.00).

Panama’s Ministry of Health (MINSA) has the authority to randomly require testing at the airport for incoming passengers, even if they bring a negative test with them.

Passengers on inbound, outbound, or transit flights who test positive for COVID-19 at the airport will be required to quarantine at a MINSA-designated hotel/hospital for 14 days.

Each individual entering Panama must complete and sign an electronic sworn affidavit prior to check-in.

ALL incoming travelers arriving from South America, India, South Africa or the United Kingdom OR that have transited through any of these countries in the last 15 days:

  • Will be required to take an additional, mandatory molecular COVID-19 test upon arrival at Tocumen International Airport before customs. The traveler will have to cover the costs of said test (USD $85).
  • If the results are positive, the traveler will be placed under mandatory 14-day quarantine in a Hotel Hospital designated by the Ministry of Health free of charge OR at home, if a Panama citizen or resident.
  • If the results are negative, the passenger will be placed under a mandatory 3-day quarantine. The passenger will have to complete this quarantine in:
    – A hotel designated by the Ministry of Health free of charge.
    – An authorized hotel of their choosing with a reservation prior to arrival, that they will have to present in printed version upon entry. The traveler will have to cover the costs of said stay.

Health insurance is not a requirement for entry but is highly recommended.

See the Ministry of Tourism webpage for official and current entry requirements.

Nicaragua (open)

Nicaragua never fully closed its borders. The Managua airport, the country’s main international airport, as other airports, simply closed and airlines canceled flights, so there was no way of entering the country.

However, like in many other countries that are open for tourism, several airlines resumed service to Nicaragua.

The main entry requirement for all travelers is that they must have a negative PCR test result within 72 hours of arrival to Nicaragua. There is no requirement for international tourists to quarantine.

Travelers from any country can currently visit Nicaragua.

On arrival to Nicaragua:

Nicaragua has implemented a few other regulations for travelers:

  • All travelers may be subject to a health screening upon arrival.
  • Face masks are required in public areas.
  • Social distancing must be observed.
  • Depending on your nationality, you may need a tourist visa to enter Nicaragua.

For the complete travel requirements to Nicaragua, visit the official tourism page here. The website is only in Spanish and not very easy to navigate.

Honduras (open)

If you want to visit Honduras, then you should know that it’s essential to apply for a Pre-Check Application. This document is extremely necessary, especially with the current COVID-19 pandemic.  Applying is mandatory for every foreign citizen.

Passengers must have a negative Covid-19 test taken at most 72 hours before arrival in Honduras. Tests accepted are: antigen, rapid antibody and RT-PCR

Tourists arriving from or who in the previous 21 days have been in South Africa or the United Kingdom are not allowed to enter.

Nationals and residents of Honduras arriving from or who in the previous 21 days have been in South Africa or the United Kingdom are subject to quarantine for 14 days.

El Salvador (open)

Entry Requirements to enter El Salvador are:

  • If NOT vaccinated: A negative COVID-19 result 72 hours before the arrival to El Salvador (PCR, NAAT or LAMP as well). Antigen test is not accepted. This does not apply to passengers 2 years of age and younger and passengers traveling with a diplomatic passport
  • If vaccinated: against COVID-19 must present the vaccination certificate with all doses, depending on the type of vaccine. With one of the two doses, a negative COVID-19 result within 72 hours before the arrival to El Salvador (PCR, NAAT or LAMP) is required.

For official and complete travel entry requirements to El Salvador, click here.

Guatemala (open)

Guatemala opened its La Aurora International Airport on September 18, 2020.

All passengers arriving in Guatemala by air and land are required to provide a negative COVID-19 PCR or an Antigen test within 3 days of arrival.

This does not apply to:

  • Passengers younger than 10 years
  • Passengers with COVID-19 vaccine completed at least two weeks before arrival
  • Passengers with a COVID-19 recovery certificate issued at least 10 days after the positive test result, at most 3 months prior to arrival

Passengers without a negative antigen or PCR test taken not more than 3 days before departure from the first embarkation point are subject to a test upon arrival, at their own expense.

Passengers who in the past 14 days have been in Brazil, South Africa or the United Kingdom are not allowed to enter. This does not apply to nationals and residents of Guatelama. They could be subject to quarantine for 10 days.

For official and complete travel entry requirements to Guatemala, click here

Belize (open)

Belize has reopened to all travelers and flights have resumed.

Passengers are subject to a COVID-19 test upon arrival, at their own expense. This does not apply to:

  • Passengers younger than 5 years
  • Passengers with a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test result, not more than 96 hours before arrival.
  • Passengers with a negative COVID-19 antigen test result, not more than 48 hours before arrival. Tests accepted are Abbot Panbio, SD Biosensor and Sofia
  • Passengers with a COVID-10 vaccination certificate at least two weeks prior to arrival

Passengers are subject to medical screening.

Tourists much as a reservation confirmation at an approved hotel. Find the official and latest travel requirements to Belize here.

All efforts have been made to provide the latest travel requirements for each of the countries listed, from official government sources, as at May 16, 2021.

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