What Happens When I Come Home? (A Guide to the Quarantine Requirements for Returning Travelers)

We’ve been talking for months about tourism in Central America during this pandemic. But we never focused on the requirements for travelers returning home from Central America. We’ll address that here.

It’s one thing traveling to Central America to explore our rainforests, beaches, and culture. The weather’s getting better and for the most part, our individual COVID curves are on the right track. But it’s something else altogether to face the prospect of travel bans or quarantines when you get home.

That’s the kind of thing to make anyone hesitate, no matter how tempting the prospect of some tropical sun can be after a terrible year.

Each Central American country has its own entry requirements and COVID protocols for incoming tourists. But one thing we often overlook is that so do most other countries, and these protocols can affect us as we try to boost tourism again.

It’s worth us here in Central America knowing what countries and regions are doing what.             

Because this affects tourist flow as much as our own protocols, and determines factors like which airlines are coming in or not. And for their part, potential travelers need to know what’s in store for them when they return.

For that reason, we’ve created a guide to the rules governing travelers returning home to other countries. For the sake of this article, we’re only looking at North America and Europe. These are the regions from where Central America receives the vast majority of tourists. Travelers from elsewhere should check with authorities in their individual countries.

We’ll do our best to update this guide as and when info changes.

North America:

Canada
All travelers returning to Canada must self-quarantine for 14 days. From Nov 21, they need to download the ArriveCAN app and fill in the required info. During their quarantine they must “complete daily COVID-19 symptom self-assessments” either through the app on on the phone.

United States
On a national level, there are no restrictions or protocols required to enter the United States. But different states are beginning to impose their own restrictions on travelers entering or returning to them.

The following states have entry requirements/protocols that all travelers returning to them must adhere to:

  1. Alaska:
    Travelers returning to Alaska need to submit a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours of arrival. They must also self-isolate for five days and provide a “self isolation plan”. Travelers arriving without a COVID test need to take one at the airport and self isolate until the results come through. This test is free for Alaska residents and $250 for everyone else.
  2. Connecticut
    Travelers returning to Connecticut need to submit a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours of arrival or quarantine for 14 days. These rules apply if arriving from a country deemed Level 3 by the CDC. All Central American countries are currently at Level 3.
  3. District of Columbia
    Anyone arriving in DC planning to spend more than 24 hours there must take a COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to arrival.
  4. Hawaii
    Travelers returning to Hawaii need to submit a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours of arrival or quarantine for 14 days.
  5. Maine
    Travelers returning to Maine need to submit a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours of arrival or quarantine for 14 days.
  6. Massachusetts
    Travelers returning to Maine need to submit a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours of arrival or quarantine for 14 days. They must also fill out the Massachusetts Travel Form.
  7. New Hampshire
    New Hampshire requires all returning travelers to quarantine for 14 days (except for people returning from elsewhere in New England).
  8. New Mexico
    New Mexico requires all returning travelers to quarantine for 14 days.
  9. New York
    Travelers returning to New York need to quarantine for 14 days. If they prefer not to do that, they need to provide a negative COVID test taken within three days prior to arrival. Then they need to quarantine for three days before taking a second test on the fourth day. If that test is negative they can end their quarantine.
  10. Pennsylvania
    Travelers returning to Pennsylvania need to submit a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours of arrival or quarantine for 14 days.
  11. Rhode Island
    Travelers returning to Pennsylvania need to submit a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours of arrival or quarantine for 14 days.
  12. Vermont
    Travelers returning to Vermont must quarantine for 14 days. They can get a PCR COVID test on or after day seven of their quarantine if they wish. A negative result will end their quarantine early.

Any state not listed above either has quarantine “recommendations ” (as opposed to requirements) in place or no restrictions at this time.

Mexico and the rest of North America
There are no current travel restrictions or protocols for travelers returning to Mexico. If you’re from elsewhere in North America, please check with your individual country.

Europe:

For the sake of brevity, we’ll only count the “larger” European countries from where most travelers to Central America come from.

France
Returning citizens and legal residents face no restrictions upon entering France.

Germany
Returning citizens and legal residents face no restrictions upon entering Germany.

Italy
Italy is not currently allowing any travel for tourism, so tourists returning to Italy will need to explain why they’ve been out of the country. They must also quarantine for 14 days under supervision of health authorities.

Spain
All travelers arriving in Spain from a “high risk” country must present a negative COVD test taken within 72 hours prior to arrival. At this moment, Belize, Costa Rica and Panama are deemed “high risk”. No quarantine is required unless the traveler shows signs of illness at their airport health check.

Netherlands
Travelers returning to the Netherlands from Central America must quarantine for 10 days.

United Kingdom
Travelers returning to the Netherlands from Central America must quarantine for 14 days.

If you’re from another European country, please check on your own individual entry rules.

That wraps up our first update on the restrictions travelers face when returning to their home countries from Central America.

We hope you found it useful. We’ll continue to update this as much as we can throughout the remainder of the pandemic.

James Dyde is the editor of centralamerica.com. He lives in Escazu, Costa Rica.