National restrictions are now lower than those imposed in March 2020, but they continue to limit travel options. Between Nicaragua and Costa Rica the situation is not different. Transportation options are scarce for the tens of thousands of Nicaraguans in Costa Rica who travel between one country and another. Also for family members who visit them, Costa Ricans who move for tourism or doing business, and even for travelers from other countries who easily crossed from one country to another by bus or plane.
Airlines and companies dedicated to the travel business have been reactivated little by little, adapting to the new reality. At the same time, the influx of travelers between the two nations begins to grow little by little. The following is a guide to travel between Nicaragua and Costa Rica, countries with strong ties and social and economic interdependence.
Who can enter Costa Rica?
Costa Rica closed all its borders since March 19, 2020. For several months, only nationals and legal residents could enter the country, fulfilling requirements indicated by the Ministry of Health. Residents could not leave the country, on risk of losing their immigration status.
In August 2020, the country began the gradual reopening of air and maritime borders to certain countries, and in November they opened them to all, including Nicaragua. Tourists, residents and nationals can enter these routes. However, the land routes with Nicaragua and Panama will remain closed to tourists, at least until February 1, 2021.
Only Costa Rican nationals and temporary or permanent residents can enter by land. Also personnel of means of international transport of goods or cargo, and Nicaraguan agricultural workers in a way controlled, under the agreement signed between Nicaragua and Costa Rica last December.
Commercial or charter flights between Nicaragua and Costa Rica
Currently, Nicaragua only has one international airline operating to Costa Rica, since Avianca is the only one that has resumed its flights. The airline connects Managua and San José with a stopover in San Salvador, with three flights a week: Monday and Friday afternoon and Tuesday morning, as confirmed by the airline.
The rates for these flights are subject to change and availability at the time of purchase. It also depends on the demand and forecast of the ticket purchase. In an online consultation with different travel dates, for February and March, the cost of roundtrip tickets range between more than 500 and 700 dollars.
Charter flights are an option for agencies and tour operators that rent a plane to make the trip and sell the tickets to their customers. In social networks, they announce dates and rates that vary from one company to another. According to a survey, roundtrip options in January start at $ 455.
Land route, only for Costa Ricans or residents of Costa Rica
After several months closed, some bus travel companies have resumed their work, although not with the frequency before the Pandemic, which used to be two or more daily trips. In Ticabus, the one-way ticket from Nicaragua to Costa Rica costs 29 dollars, and the round trip costs 58 dollars. However, they do not define a travel frequency yet, instead they offer specific dates in the month.
Nicabus offers two dates a week leaving Nicaragua. The round ticket costs 57.50 dollars from Managua and 80.50 from Chinandega. Transnica charges $ 29.50 for a one-way ticket to Costa Rica and $ 59 for a round trip. On Central Line, the cost of the ticket is $ 25 one way and $ 50 round trip. From Nicaragua to Costa Rica it travels twice a week: Tuesdays and Saturdays.
Requirements for entry into Costa Rica
The new entry requirements to Costa Rica, as part of the prevention measures against the Pandemic, include an online health form, which must be completed 48 hours prior to travel. In addition, those who arrive in Costa Rica by air do not need a COVID-19 test, which was ruled out as a requirement on October 26, 2020. However, they must have valid medical insurance. Tourists must have either, national or international insurance, that covers accommodation and medical expenses generated in the event of becoming ill with Coronavirus. Costa Rica offers local insurance that can be quoted and purchased according to the number of days of the stay.
Legal Residents are asked to be up to date with payments to the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS). If not, they must purchase temporary local insurance for 22 days and are issued a notice to catch up with the insurance payment with the CCSS.
Among the insurance policies accredited by the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT) are those issued by the National Insurance Institute of Costa Rica (INS) and insurance for tourists Sagicor. The cost of health insurance, per day, ranges from $ 11.30 and up.
Quarantine and other requirements for those arriving by land
Those who arrive by air in Costa Rica are not issued sanitary confinement orders upon entry. However, those who enter by land must isolate themselves for 14 days. Other requirements for those arriving by land are medical insurance and a health pass, described above. In addition, Costa Rica has its regular immigration entry requirements, depending on the nationality of the traveler, which are maintained and must be taken into account.
Who can travel from Costa Rica to Nicaragua?
All people can travel from Costa Rica to Nicaragua, as this country did not officially close its borders due to the Pandemic. Therefore, from Costa Rica or any other country, foreigners, Nicaraguan residents and nationals can enter Nicaragua.
By what routes can you enter Nicaragua?
It can be entered by air, sea or land. Currently, the commercial option available is Avianca,
In addition, there are charter flights, offered by agencies and tour operators. To travel by land there are several options already mentioned, through Ticabus, Nicabus, Transnica, Central Line and transportation through local lines. The one-way ticket costs $ 28.75 to Managua and $ 35 to Chinandega.
Transnica sells its tickets for $ 29.50 each trip, that is to say, $ 59 for the round trip, and has five dates scheduled throughout January. Central Line keeps the cost of the ticket at $ 25 each trip and $ 50 round trip. From Costa Rica to Nicaragua they travel twice a week: Thursdays and Sundays. All companies must comply with the protocol of the Ministry of Health of Costa Rica, which includes the mandatory use of a mask during the trip, hand washing and use of alcohol gel.
There are those who, prior to the Pandemic, used to make the trip to Nicaragua by transferring, that is, taking a local bus from San José to Peñas Blancas, and then crossing the border on foot and continuing the journey in Nicaragua also using local transport. The Deldú buses that travel to the Costa Rican border have already resumed the route. The cost of the ticket is 5,030 colones, equivalent to 8.23 dollars.
It is important to remember that, if they leave Costa Rica, foreigners who do not have residency or any current immigration category could not enter again, unless it is by air with tourist category.
Negative test of COVID-19 to enter Nicaragua
Passengers, including minors, who travel to Nicaragua by any route (be it air, land or sea), must present the negative result of a PCR test carried out within a period of no more than 72 hours before entering the country.
If you travel with Avianca, they inform the requirements and procedure to send your test result, when purchasing the ticket. In the case of bus companies, before boarding, they ask passengers for printed copies of the result of the COVID-19 test, to verify that it is negative and that it is still in force by the time the bus enters Nicaragua. At the exit, the Costa Rican authorities also demand to show the COVID-19 test with a negative result when the traveler goes to Nicaragua.
Unlike Nicaragua, whose government centralized the Coronavirus test, in Costa Rica private laboratories perform the PCR test for COVID-19 at different prices. Some of the bus travel companies offer discounts in alliance with laboratories, when presenting the ticket. The cost of the exam is between 41,600 colones (68 dollars), 55,120 colones (90.23 dollars) and 59,000 colones. ($ 96.58).
Other requirements to enter Nicaragua are tourist visas and fees that are maintained and must be taken into account according to the nationality of the traveler. Foreigners must also fill out a form seven days before the trip.