Costa Rica

Last updated July 31, 2020

Today’s Status, Looking Towards Fall 2020 — 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 will allow passengers from certain countries as long as they have the proper medical certification and insurance. Unfortunately, the US is not on that list.

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

Starting August 1, Costa Rica is allowing passengers traveling from a list of approved countries, as long as travelers arrive with a medical certificate with a negative COVID-19 test result (taken 48 hours before departure). Travelers will also be required to have medical insurance.

Right now, Canada is on the list of approved countries, but not the United States.

We’re waiting to see what parameters will be placed on travelers from higher infection rated countries, like the United States. Around the world, countries are either allowing entry, not allowing entry, requiring a quarantine after arrival, or requiring a negative COVID-19 test after arrival. We’re carefully watching Costa Rica’s policies to see if more countries will be added to their approved-travel list, or if they will institute a “test-upon-arrival” strategy.

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, followed by a decrease in cases. As of August 4th, Costa Rica reported 90 active cases per 100,000. We’re hoping that number continues to go back down. 

Currently, Costa Rica falls in the same “red” zone that the US does, according to International SOS, meaning there continues to be a high number of new cases.

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 Fall 2020 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 Fall 2020 are still weeks off and a lot could be decided before departing … and even more could change for Spring 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!