US Tourists Welcome In Costa Rica From September

Costa Rica will lay out the welcome mat for travelers from the United States again. This comes amid high hopes of more flights between the two countries, including flights to Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport in Liberia. That airport went silent when the first border restrictions were imposed. Citizens of the United States now join citizens from 44 other countries allowed to enter Costa Rica.

Costa Rica is re-opening its borders to US citizens residing in certain states. Photo: Bernal Saborio via Wikimedia Commons

There’s a catch – the border isn’t opening to everyone

But there is a caveat. Only residents of five states within the United States have the tick of approval. Those states are New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, and Connecticut. Residents of those states will need to bring their driver’s license to prove where they live.

“We are minimizing our epidemiological risk,” Costa Rica’s Tourism Minister Gustavo Segura was reported saying in The Tico Times.

“We have included the license-plate requirement to minimize the likelihood that someone from a non-authorized state is allowed to enter.”

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It’s a rather select Costa Rican welcome mat right now. But given travelers from the United States account for the biggest slice of travelers to Costa Rica, it’s likely more states will get added to the list shortly. Costa Rican authorities are now conducting risk assessments involving Colorado, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania.

In 2019, 1.3 million travelers from the United States visited Costa Rica, with tourism accounting for 8.2% of Costa Rica’s GDP.

Aircraft and passenger numbers at Costa Rica’s airports remain subdued. Photo: Spikezz via Wikimedia Commons

Costa Rican border closes, airport traffic dries up

Costa Rica country closed its borders in mid-March. As passenger traffic dried up, so did the flights into Costa Rica’s primary international airport, Juan Santamaría International Airport, near San José. Some 20 international airlines usually fly in and out of the airport, but most have dramatically curtailed services or stopped them altogether.

Today there is just one international service running into the airport; a Lufthansa service from Frankfurt. Scheduled services by Avianca, Air France, British Airways, Copa, Southwest Airlines, Volaris, and United Airlines all show as canceled.

Costa Rican authorities hope that opening their borders to some citizens of the United States will see at least four flights a week from the east coast of the United States.

Usually, American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest, Alaska Airlines, and JetBlue regularly touch down in San José (though not all from the United States east coast).

Repatriation flights still running in Costa Rica

Despite Costa Rica beginning to unwind its border restrictions, the United States Government is continuing to offer repatriation flights throughout August. Three United Airlines flights will operate each week across August, taking stranded passengers up to Houston. American Airlines will operate two flights, including one later today, up to Dallas. Finally, Spirit Airlines will run a repatriation flight to Fort Lauderdale later this month.

United Airlines is running three repatriation flights a week out of San Jose, Costa Rica. Photo: Getty Images

At Costa Rica’s second international airport, Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport in the country’s northwest, traffic is even more subdued. Despite having a decent roster of airlines that usually fly in, activity at the airport is nearly at a standstill.

That is something Costa Rican authorities hope will change soon.

Meanwhile, intending travelers to Costa Rica must obtain a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of their flight. Travelers will also need proof of travel insurance that covers COVID-19 and complete health paperwork online. With that in hand and coming from an approved country or state, Costa Rica will be pleased to see you.