What Nicaraguans need to know to travel to Costa Rica as tourists

A month ago, the Costa Rican consulates in Nicaragua resumed the authorization and issuance of visas for Nicaraguans. This service has been suspended for more than a year due to the covid-19 pandemic, and Costa Rica’s borders have been closed to contain the virus.

Costa Rica began a gradual reopening with certain conditions for tourists, while the land borders were opened to foreigners on April 5.

Two days after this opening, the Embassy of Costa Rica in Nicaragua announced the reactivation of appointment requests for consular visa procedures in both offices. Managua and Chinandega with the same pre-pandemic planning process, via the following telephone number: (505) 7833-5400.

Thus began the reestablishment of migratory flows between the two countries, linked by the historic migration of Nicaraguans to Costa Rica due to family, economic and social ties.

However, the move is not as large as it was before the pandemic, as the two countries still have requirements in effect unrelated to the health emergency, complicating and increasing the cost of travel.

Below, we detail how Nicaraguans can apply for a Costa Rican visa and what to consider when traveling to Costa Rica from Nicaragua.

Procedure for obtaining the visa

Before making an appointment, you need to pay 32 dollars for the Costa Rican visa at branches of Lafise or BAC banks. There is an additional cost of three dollars for the appointment.

Requesting an appointment for the interview can be made one hour after making the payments, through the call center whose phone number is (505) 78335400.

On the day of the appointment, you must bring:

  • Receipts that the bank provided for payments.
  • Passport valid for at least six additional months
  • Photocopy of all passport pages
  • Current police record
  • Address and phone number

For minors, the same procedures and costs apply, and a photocopy of the page where the minor’s exit permit is stamped, previously processed at the Nicaraguan immigration office, as well as a passport or immigration card. valid identity of both parents, as well as copies of these identity documents.

If the guardianship of the minor corresponds to a third person, this person must present the legal resolution indicating who is in charge of the minor before the authorities. If the child is not traveling with his parents or guardian, the passport and visa of the persons accompanying him on the trip must be presented.

Appointments can only be made by phone. CONFIDENCIAL wanted to know more about the procedure, once applicants arrive at the consulate, as well as whether they operate with limited daily quotas, but we have not received any response from the Costa Rican immigration office, nor the Costa Rican Ministry of Foreign Affairs, nor the Costa Rican consulate in Nicaragua.

Travel needs

To enter Costa Rica, it is not necessary to present a negative result of a covid-19 test, but travel insurance that covers medical and accommodation costs, in case the tourist is infected with a coronavirus and must be quarantined, is necessary.

The cost of travel insurance depends on the number of days the tourist will stay in Costa Rica, as it must be valid from the day they leave Nicaragua until they return home. The minimum purchase of an insurance policy is five days, even if the stay in the country is shorter.

The cost of insurance per day varies by insurer, but typically starts at US $ 11.

You can purchase international travel insurance, as long as it covers the expenses mentioned above, or purchase one from Costa Rican insurers accredited by the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT) such as those of the National Insurance Institute of Costa Rica (INS), BlueCross BlueShield Costa Rica, Europ Assistance and Sagicor.

Once insurance is purchased, a certificate or letter should be requested from the insurance company, in Spanish or English, stating the following:

  • Name of person traveling
  • Validity of the policy in effect during the visit to Costa Rica (travel dates).
  • Coverage of medical expenses in the event of covid -19 in Costa Rica, for at least US $ 50,000.
  • Minimum coverage of $ 2,000 for accommodation costs for quarantine or travel interruption for the same amount.

This certificate must be attached to the health pass to be examined and approved by the Costa Rican authorities. This is a digital epidemiological form that must be completed 72 hours before travel.

Once the health card is filled in, a QR code will be generated, which will be scanned at the time of travel by the Costa Rican authorities, either on your mobile phone or printed on a sheet of paper.

Conditions for entering Nicaragua

When returning to Nicaragua, remember that the government requires a negative covid-19 PCR test result as a mandatory entry requirement. Tourists and nationals must pass the test 72 hours before entry for it to be valid.

There are several laboratories in Costa Rica where the Covid-19 test can be performed, such as Laboratorio San José, Laboratorio Labin, Clínica Bíblica, among others.

Some centers have alliances with international ground transportation companies, so the cost of the test is cheaper for passengers.

Prices for the test range from $ 65 to $ 100. Results are ready within 24-48 hours. All laboratories work by appointment and some ask to fill out a form before carrying out the test.

In this procedure, tourists must be careful and rigorous with the data provided (no errors), as it is they that will be reflected in the test result.

Transport lines and travel schedules

The closure of land borders has severely affected businesses and workers which depended on entry and exit movements from Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

Companies specializing in international passenger transport on land were among those hardest hit, with layoffs and downsizing of staff and operations.

Despite the opening of land borders, transport companies still operate at low capacity, and travel times and dates are few compared to the period before the pandemic.

  • TRANSNICA, for the month of May, has scheduled trips:

    From Managua to San José on May 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30 at seven in the morning, and 6, 13, 20 and 27 at nine in the morning.

    He also scheduled trips from San José to Managua on May 2, 12, 19 and 26 at 1 a.m. and May 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29 at 6 a.m.

The ticket price is US $ 59 round trip.

  • CENTRAL LINE has scheduled trips from:
    Managua to San José on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
    San José to Managua on Sundays and Thursdays, both departures at 4.30 am.
    The cost of the return ticket is $ 58.76, taxes included.
  • TICA BUS starts from:
    Managua to San José on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays at 6:00 a.m.
    On Mondays, there is a service that connects Panama and travels from San José to Managua on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 6:00 am.
    The cost for a one-way ticket is $ 58.76, taxes included. The cost of the round trip ticket is $ 53.75.

This article was translated by Ana María Sampson, communication science student at the University of Amsterdam and member of our team.

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