Costa Rica

Last updated September 24, 2020

Today’s Status, Looking Towards Spring 2021 — Blue

Reported cases of the virus are staying relatively low and we’ve seen a few favorite beaches and national parks slowly open up for the locals. Starting August 1, Costa Rica started allowing passengers from certain countries as long as they have the proper medical certification and insurance. And as of September, the country is allowing travelers from a handful of US states. We’re hoping more and more states will be allowed in which would be a good step towards a Spring 2021 semester here.

Check below to get more details on some key aspects that we’re watching. Each of these components help us determine when we’ll be able to send volunteers to Costa Rica again (it’s stuff you’re going to want to know). Also, this info changes often. Our goal is to keep things current with weekly updates, so check back frequently.

Getting There

Beginning September 1, US citizens are allowed to visit Costa Rica if they are residents of the following states: Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Washington, D.C. and Wyoming.California is expected to be added on October 1st. Costa Rica determined which states would be allowed based on the virus situation, allowing passengers from states that have a similar or better virus condition than Costa Rica. We’re happy to see that this list gets evaluated frequently, and more US states are being added.

Travelers must arrive with an  electronic health pass, negative COVID-19 diagnostic test (taken within 48 hours of travel) and medical insurance. Americans must also provide a driver’s license proving their home address is in one of the permitted states.

ILP volunteers don’t need a visa to visit Costa Rica, so no need to wait on that!

Flights to Costa Rica are operating as of August 1st.

Daily Life

This small country has done an excellent job keeping virus numbers low, reporting very low cases for several months. However, there is a recent trend of daily cases increasing over the last few weeks. As of September 28th, Costa Rica reported more than 853 active cases per 100,000. We’re hoping that number goes back down.

Schools in Costa Rica opened July 1st with a phased approach from oldest to youngest students. With the country’s increase in cases, having younger students come back to school has been pushed back until September 1st, but some educators think that date may be pushed back even further, unfortunately. 

It’s important to also note that ILP volunteers teach at some places that are not public schools and not under the same restrictions. We will post information about those programs separately as it begins to change.

We’re working on gathering more details about what daily life is looking like (and what it will look like when borders open back up). Thanks for hanging tight for right now.

Out & About

More info coming soon, so stay tuned.

Costa Rica was first focused on opening up their country for domestic tourism. Recently, locals have been visiting favorite beaches, resorts, and national parks. Having so many things open is a good sign for international tourists when the time comes.

Volunteers should be able to spend time with the country’s famous waterfalls, hiking through jungles, and soaking up some serious sunshine while on the beach. 

Typically, volunteers love heading to Nicaragua or Panama on vacation.  Out of country travel like that will likely be an option if there aren’t quarantine requirements for returning back to Costa Rica or arriving in countries you’d like to vacation in. Panama is currently a virus hotspot (with high infection rates like the US) while Nicaragua could still turn out to be a vacation option.

We’re keeping an eye on policies in these popular vacay spots and will let volunteers know their options as their semester gets closer.

Okay, now what? Should I still apply for Costa Rica?

If you’re thinking “that’s all really good to know, but what does that mean for me?” we have some good news to share: time is still totally on your side.

We’ve seen policies change without notice that have made the difference between us thinking we’ll need to wait longer and helping us determine that a Spring 2021 semester in that location is something we’re pretty optimistic about. Sometimes that has happened in the span of just a couple of weeks or even in a single day. Departures for Spring 2021 are still weeks off and a lot could be decided before departing … and even more could change for Summer 2021 volunteers.

So we say start your application now so that you’re ready when the time comes. We are going to need volunteers who are ready to go right when things change for the better, which is why we think it’s a good idea to have your application in (even if things potentially look uncertain right now). Time really is on your side.

We’re also here for all of your questions. We’d love to talk about deferring to a later semester if things still need more time or finding a country right now that’ll be a good fit for you. You can bet that once things open up, you’ll be the first to know!