Is it safe to visit Costa Rica
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The spread of COVID-19 continues to lead to restrictions in international air and travel traffic and impairment of public life.
Before unnecessary, tourist trips to Costa Rica will be currently warned.
Costa Rica is now very badly affected by COVID-19. Nationwide, the number of new infections is now more than 200 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over seven days, which is why Costa Rica is classified as an area with a particularly high risk of infection (high incidence area).
The national Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) provide current and detailed figures.
Before entering the country, the “Pase de Salud” health form must be completed online. The QR code received for this form must be presented upon entry. Proof of a health insurance that complies with the current Costa Rican requirements, which also covers the case of COVID-19 disease, must also be submitted in English or Spanish. Strict hygiene protocols must be observed at the airport.
For tourists already staying in the country, the regulation that only allows a visa-free stay for up to 90 days has been suspended. For tourists who have entered the country since December 17, 2019, the permitted stay is extended up to and including June 1, 2021. The prerequisite for the extension is the existence of a valid travel health insurance, which must be sent by e-mail.
Transit and onward travel
It is possible to travel through by land.
Airlines are gradually resuming flight connections. Current information is available from San José Airport.
There are bus connections to all parts of the country, but in some cases with less frequency.
Restrictions in the country
All private cars are prohibited from driving between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., and until the end of May only cars with even and odd numbers on their license plates are allowed to drive across the country. Taxis and local public transport are excluded. Restaurants have to close earlier in the evening.
Hotels, restaurants, national parks etc. are generally allowed to open, but are subject to capacity restrictions.
You must wear a mask in closed rooms (restaurants, hotels, shops, banks, etc.) and national parks.
- Make sure you comply with the AHA regulations and also follow the instructions from local authorities. High fines can be imposed if the hygiene regulations are violated.
- Find out about detailed measures and additional information from the Costa Rican government.
- In the event of COVID-19 symptoms or contact with infected people, please contact the national COVID hotline at 1322 (English / Spanish).
- Stays in foreign countries can currently affect the possibility of entering other countries. Therefore, find out about the current regulations on entry, transit and quarantine in the respective travel countries via the travel and safety information before starting any trip.
- When you return to Germany, note the valid entry restrictions such as registration, proof and, if necessary, quarantine regulations, inquire about the current conditions of carriage at the relevant company or your tour operator, and if you are entering from a risk area, contact the health department of your residence or travel agency Place of residence. Further information is available in our continuously updated info box on COVID-19 / Coronavirus.
The situation in the country is calm. Demonstrations, protests and strikes can occur as part of the reform policy, particularly in the capital San José, and lead to occasional violent clashes and traffic disruptions.
- Find out about the local media.
- Avoid demonstrations and large crowds in large areas.
- Follow the instructions of local security guards.
The crime rate in Costa Rica is lower than in neighboring countries. Small crimes such as pickpocketing and handbag theft occur particularly in cities and in heavily frequented national parks, occasionally with the use of force.
In the capital, San José, it occurs particularly in the vicinity of the bus stations and Calles 14 y 6, Av. Central y 7 increased theft, after dark the dangers increase.
On the Caribbean coast, the area around the port cities of Moin and Limón has a particularly high level of violent crime, and armed robberies also occur in the popular tourist centers of Cahuita and Puerto Viejo.
Theft of daypacks stowed in the luggage racks of public and intercity buses through diversionary maneuvers is particularly widespread.
Tourist coaches were ambushed on the route to the Embarquadero La Pavona river port with destination Tortuguero in 2018. Tourist buses usually run in convoy here.
Sex offenses, particularly against women, occur across the country.
Cars are broken into more often, especially at the bridge over the Tarcoles River and on the beaches, including in guarded parking lots.
In the major tourist centers (Guanacaste, Playa de Coco, Flamingo, Tamarindo and Nosara) there are tourist police stations. The nationwide toll-free emergency number is 911. The Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT) also offers assistance to tourists via the toll-free number (+506) 800-8868-7476 or 800-8887-4766.
- Keep money, IDs, driver's license, air tickets and other important documents safe and make copies or save them electronically.
- Prefer cashless payments and only take the cash you need for the day and no unnecessary valuables, especially avoid jewelry and visible belt bags.
- In large crowds such as at airports, train stations, in markets and on public transport, pay particular attention and watch out for your valuables.
- Avoid the center of San José when it is dark and poor areas.
- As a woman traveling alone, be especially careful and suspicious in unexpected situations.
- If possible, always transport your luggage on scheduled and long-distance routes in the passenger compartment or in the footwell of the bus and do not let it out of your sight.
- Do not leave your luggage unattended, even in locked vehicles. This also applies to private tourist buses with tour guides.
- Keep doors and windows locked and locked while driving and only park vehicles in guarded parking spaces.
- In the event of your own (even supposed) breakdowns, do not stop immediately, drive to the nearest workshop or petrol station or call professional help.
- Do not take hitchhikers.
- In the event of a robbery, do not resist.
- Be skeptical of unfamiliar e-mails, profit notifications, offers and requests for help from alleged acquaintances. Do not disclose any data about yourself; if necessary, make sure yourself personally or contact the police.
Nature and climate
The climate is tropical to subtropical. May through November is hurricane season. During this time, tropical storms and intense rainfall can be expected. Heavy rains can trigger dangerous tidal waves in rivers and streams, both in the mountains and on the coast, and landslides, which can lead to flooding and traffic disruption.
Earthquakes and volcanoes
Costa Rica lies in a seismically active zone, which is why earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur.
Of the 16 volcanoes in Costa Rica, the volcanoes Turrialba, Rincon de la Vieja, Poás and Irazú are currently active. The eruption of a volcano could lead to the closure of Juan Santamaria International Airport in San José / Alajuela.
Strong currents and sudden, heavy swell can also put good swimmers at risk and result in the death of tourists and locals every year. Even in shallow water, these can be so strong that even adults are drawn into the open sea. Few beaches are guarded by lifeguards or have lifeboats.
Infrastructure / traffic
Traffic routes may be impaired due to measures related to COVID-19 containment, see Current.
Taxis, rental cars, intercity buses and air connections for remote areas are available. Even if the distances in Costa Rica seem short, overland travel often takes a lot of time and you have to expect traffic jams at all times. The roads are generally in a very bad condition (potholes). The accident rate in the country is very high.
In the event of an accident, the vehicles involved may not be moved until the police have requested it, as otherwise this will be seen as an admission of guilt. In this case, an expert from the insurance company Grupo INS will come.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can result in a prison sentence of up to 15 years in the event of an accident resulting in death.
In Costa Rica, too, the use of a mobile phone while driving and driving without a seat belt are subject to - very high - penalties.
Fines in Costa Rica can only be paid through national banks.
- Allow enough time for all trips.
- Avoid driving at night if possible.
- Always drive carefully and defensively.
- If necessary, find out about the road conditions on site by calling 800-87267486.
- In the event of an accident, wait for experts to arrive.
- Do not pay parking tickets in cash on site, only in banks.
Adventure tourism / visits to volcanoes
Safety precautions for adventure tourism (white water rafting, canopy, etc.) often do not meet German standards, and accidents occur again and again.
Visits to the Poás volcano are only possible with online registration via the Sistema Nacional de Àreas de Conservación SINAC.
- Book adventure tours only with established tourism companies registered with the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (ICT).
- Avoid going it alone and unfamiliar paths.
- During the rainy season from May to November, be especially careful when hiking and swimming near waterfalls and rivers.
The German driver's license in conjunction with a valid passport is generally sufficient for stays of up to three months. However, it is advisable to bring an international driver's license with you to avoid problems during police checks.
The Costa Rican law enforcement authorities pay special attention to cases of child abuse. Long prison sentences are threatened here. These acts, if committed by Germans or against Germans abroad, will also be prosecuted in Germany.
Drug possession and trafficking are criminal offenses in Costa Rica and are prosecuted by local authorities. If you are arrested, expect to be sentenced to a harsh prison sentence.
Participation in political events such as demonstrations is prohibited for foreigners and can lead to imprisonment or deportation.
Money / credit cards
The local currency is the colon (CRC), payments in US dollars are possible and customary throughout the country. Withdrawing cash from the ATM with a credit card is usually possible up to an amount of approx. 200,000 colones per day (approx. € 300) or within the framework agreed with the house bank (often only for a fee). Most banks have terminated contracts with Maestro, so you can usually no longer withdraw cash with a Maestro bank card.
- Be careful when withdrawing money with a credit card at the counter. This often triggers a spontaneous blocking of the card, which can only be canceled by contacting your house bank by telephone.
- Do not rely solely on credit cards; carry alternative means of payment (cash in euros and US dollars) with you.
Entry and customs
Entry and transit regulations may currently differ due to measures to contain COVID-19, see Current.
Entry and import regulations for German citizens can change at short notice without the Foreign Office being informed beforehand. You can only obtain legally binding information and / or information that goes beyond this information on the entry and customs regulations for importing goods directly from the representatives of your destination country.
You can find the customs regulations for Germany on the website of the German customs and via the “Customs and Travel” app or you can inquire about them by telephone.
Entry is possible for German citizens with the following documents:
- Passport: Yes
- Temporary passport: Yes
- Identity card: No
- Provisional identity card: No
- Children's passport: Yes
Comments / minimum remaining validity:
At the time of entry, travel documents must be valid for at least the day of entry and the following day and must be in good condition.
Since a longer period of validity is usually required for the return journey (including transit) or the onward journey via other countries, which must cover at least the entire travel period or require more extensive validity, it is generally recommended that you bring travel documents with you that are valid for at least six months respectively.
German citizens do not need a visa to enter and stay for tourist purposes for up to 90 days.
There is no entitlement to the maximum length of stay; a shorter residence permit is often issued. The decision on this is made by the official upon entry on the basis of the return flight ticket, purpose of stay, financial capacity, etc. Travelers must present a return ticket / connecting ticket / bus ticket and proof of funding for the stay in the country. Applications for an extension of the length of stay can be made to the Aliens Police (Migración) for a fee.
If you are planning a longer stay or entry for another purpose (e.g. internship, voluntary service, study), you should apply for a residence permit at the responsible Costa Rican embassy in Berlin before entering the country.
The Costa Rican immigration authorities provide information about immigration requirements.
When entering Costa Rica from Panama and Nicaragua by land, make sure that both the Costa Rican entry stamp and the Panamanian or Nicaraguan exit stamp are affixed to the passport. At the Panamanian-Costa Rican border crossing at Sixaola, a bridge has to be crossed on foot. Travelers there must ensure that they receive stamps from both border controls and that they do not cross the bridge without visiting the respective border stations (located next to them). The same applies to the return journey.
Without these stamps in the passport, there can be considerable difficulties with the departure and onward journey, as the immigration police check the possibility of an illegal stay in Costa Rica in these cases and withhold the passports for up to a month for this purpose. For this reason, arrests and deportations can take place.
Entry and exit via the USA
For entry and exit via the USA, please note the entry requirements for the USA.
Stricter security precautions apply at Costa Rican airports when traveling in and via the USA. For example, powdery substances (e.g. coffee) are not permitted in hand luggage. For exceptions (e.g. purchase in the duty-free zone), please contact your airline.
Since June 2015 the departure tax has been included in most airlines' flight tickets. If the border is crossed by land, the tax must be paid (usually 7 USD, also payable in colones).
Since April 2018, fines for illegal stay in the amount of US $ 100 per month or part thereof must be paid without a valid residence permit. This can be paid at Migración, nationwide in the branches of Banco de Costa Rica or via Tucán and in post offices of Correos de Costa Rica in Paso Canoas, La Cruz, Liberia and Alajuela. In the event of non-payment, an entry ban will be imposed, which applies for three times the period of illegal stay. This regulation applies to both tourists and people with a temporary residence permit.
Minors can generally enter the country without being accompanied by their custodians and, according to Costa Rican law, do not need their formal declaration of consent. However, it cannot be ruled out that the Costa Rican authorities insist on the submission of a notarial declaration of consent by the legal representatives, in Spanish with apostille (over-authentication) according to the Hague Convention on the Exemption of Foreign Public Documents from Legalization.
When leaving Costa Rica for minors who are also Costa Rican citizens or in possession of a residence permit (residencia) for Costa Rica, even if this residence permit has already expired, and who are traveling alone or accompanied by only one parent or a third person , the Costa Rican border authorities require a so-called "Permiso de Salida" (exit permit), which can be applied for at Migración in San José (if staying in Costa Rica) or at the Costa Rican embassy in Berlin. Without this document, you will not be allowed to leave Costa Rica even if the accompanying parent can prove that they have sole custody. You should clarify with the Costa Rican embassy in Berlin which documents are required in individual cases for entry and exit.
Local and foreign currency can be imported up to a value of 10,000 US dollars.
It is forbidden to bring meat and sausage products, dairy products, fruit and vegetables (exception: canned goods) in luggage to Costa Rica.
To import prescription drugs, you must have a certificate in English or Spanish with you, along with other documents, if necessary. Information on this is provided by customs in Costa Rica, the Ministerio de Hacienda is responsible.
The export of plants, animals and shells from Costa Rica is also prohibited.
For the import of pets, at least one veterinary health certificate in English or Spanish from a veterinarian as well as a pet ID with proof of vaccination, especially against rabies, is required. The Costa Rican embassy in Berlin provides detailed information.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the disease COVID-19, which is triggered by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, a pandemic.
In January 2019, WHO declared delaying or skipping vaccinations as a threat to global health. In particular, the lack of vaccination against measles poses a high risk when the number of cases increases internationally.
- As part of your travel preparations, check your and your children's vaccination protection against measles and have this supplemented if necessary.
No compulsory vaccinations are required for direct entry from Germany. When entering from a yellow fever area, all persons over the age of nine months must provide evidence of a yellow fever vaccination.
In addition, when entering from Tanzania and Zambia, proof of a valid yellow fever vaccination must be provided.
When entering from Argentina and Panama, there is no obligation to provide evidence.
The following requirements apply to other South American countries:
Documentation requirement for all of Colombia except Barranquilla, Cali, Cartagena, Medellín, San Andrés and Bogota; Evidence is required for Ecuador only for Morona-Santiago, Napo, Orellana, Pastaza, Sucumbíos and Zamora-Chinchipe; Evidence is required for the whole of Paraguay except for the capital Ascunción; Documentation requirement for all of Peru except Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Lambayeque, Tumbes, Piura and Cajamarca; Evidence is required for Trinidad and Tobago except for the urban areas of Port of Spain and for travelers in transit or travelers only on the island of Tobago.
Costa Rica itself is not a yellow fever infection area.
- Make sure that you and your children have the standard vaccinations according to the vaccination calendar of the Robert Koch Institute up to date.
- Vaccinations against hepatitis A are recommended as travel vaccinations, and in the case of long-term stays or special exposure also against hepatitis B, typhoid and rabies.
- Please note the instructions for use and help for the indication in the travel vaccination recommendations leaflet.
- The DTG offers up-to-date, detailed travel vaccination recommendations for specialist groups.
Zika virus infection
The predominantly diurnal AedesMosquito-borne infection with Zika viruses can lead to malformations in children during pregnancy and cause neurological complications in adults.
Dengue viruses are nationwide by diurnal Aedes- Mosquitoes transmitted The disease is usually accompanied by fever, skin rash and pronounced pain in the limbs. In rare cases, especially in children, serious complications, including possible death, occur. Overall, however, complications for travelers are rare. There is neither a vaccination nor chemoprophylaxis nor a specific therapy against dengue fever, see information sheet on dengue fever.
- To avoid dengue fever, protect yourself consistently against mosquito bites as part of exposure prophylaxis, especially during the day.
Chikungunya viruses are diurnal Aedes- Mosquitoes transmitted The disease is characterized by a high fever and possibly prolonged joint and muscle pain. The symptoms can often not be clearly distinguished from other mosquito-borne diseases. Chikungunya fever does not always heal without consequences; long-term rheumatoid-like symptoms rarely occur. There is neither a vaccination nor chemoprophylaxis nor a specific therapy, see leaflet Chikungunya fever.
- To avoid Chikungunya fever, protect yourself consistently against mosquito bites as part of exposure prophylaxis, especially during the day.
Malaria is caused by crepuscular and nocturnal anopheles- Mosquitoes transmitted. If left untreated, the dangerous one is particularly dangerous Malaria tropica often fatal in non-immune Europeans. The disease can break out weeks to months after your stay in the risk area, see Malaria leaflet.
- If you develop a fever during or even months after a corresponding trip, see the doctor as soon as possible and inform him about your stay in a malaria area.
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