Costa Rica’s vaccine passports risk medical travel

Costa Rica has become the latest country to launch a mandatory vaccine passport. It will be required by all domestic and international travellers to allow entry into a wide range of establishments in the country. It could severely limit the entertainment and activity options for those heading to the country if they are ineligible to receive one, and potentially cut inbound medical travel.

Costa Rica does not currently ask travellers to be vaccinated or even tested for Covid-19 in order to enter the country.

The new vaccine certificate will be required to access:

  • Restaurants, cafes and food parks.
  • Bars and casinos.
  • Retail shops and shopping centres.
  • Museums.
  • Fitness centres.
  • Hotels, cabins, accommodation establishments.
  • Spas.
  • Activities in places of worship.
  • Events for business, academic or social activities.
  • Sports activities and adventure tourism.
  • Theatres, cinemas, art and dance academies, artistic activity.

The vaccine passport is set to go live from December 1, 2021. It will exist in the form of a QR code that will be scanned to check the holder’s credentials prior to gaining admission to an event or venue. It will be available as an app.

Inbound tourists will be unable to use the Costa Rican vaccine passport, but only vaccinated travellers can access the above listed establishments by showing their Health Pass, a document that is needed to enter the country, or their vaccination cards.

Whilst unvaccinated travellers are still able to enter Costa Rica providing they are insured, the reality means that they will be unable to enjoy the country to its fullest, which could lead to a drop in tourist numbers.

Most tourists and medical tourists are from the USA and one attraction of Costa Rica is that it has been open to the millions of Americans who have not been, and often do not want to be, fully vaccinated.

The vaccine passports do not apply to hospitals or clinics but will reduce medical tourism if unvaccinated medical tourist cannot even stay in a hotel.