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Covid Travel Restrictions

An Updated Guide to the COVID Travel Restrictions in Central America

A country-by-country guide to the current Covid travel restrictions in Central America. What requirements are there to enter each country? Compare your Central American country to its neighbors. 

If you’re traveling, you want to know the rules and regulations to get into any given country, especially in these times when things change on a dime. We’re not talking here about curfews and restrictions once on the ground – in the case of Central America, we offer a country-by-country guide to those right here. No, here we talk about what you need to get in.

We’ve been updating this information since Central American countries began opening up to tourism in the summer of 2020, and we’ll continue doing so until all countries are back to pre-pandemic rules. We’re getting closer. Not close enough, but closer…

Belize:

Vaccinated travelers entering Belize just need to show proof of vaccination and nothing else – no testing requirement at all.

Unvaccinated/partially-vaccinated over the age of five must provide a negative test, taken within 72 hours of arrival (PCR) or 48 hours (rapid antigen). Belize also accepts the results of rapid antigen tests, although they need to be taken within 48 hours of travel.

In Belize, fully-vaccinated means two jabs – or one, if you had Johnson & Johnson (boosters don’t apply).

If you’re unvaccinated/partially-vaccinated and you arrive in Belize without the results of a PCR or antigen test, you must take one at the airport. This antigen test costs $50 (cash only). Travelers arriving in Belize who test positive will be quarantined at their own expense for 14 days. For this reason, we strongly recommend getting tested in advance of travel. Travelers receiving a negative test upon arrival can continue with their journey.

Another requirement for travelers entering Belize is the mandatory Belize Travel Health Insurance. This costs $18 per person. You can buy this insurance in advance through the official government website, or upon arrival in Belize, either at the airport or the land borders. This insurance is required for both fully-vaccinated and partially/non-vaccinated travelers.

All tourists in Belize should stay in “Gold Standard” hotels. These are accommodations complying with the sanitary protocols mandated by the government of Belize. The Gold Standard plan was mandatory, but now appears to be more of a recommendation than a rule – the Belize Tourism Board specifically uses the word “should” instead of “must”.

Land borders are open to all travelers, and subject to the same rules as airport entry.

For continuous, up-to-date into on Belize’s entry requirements, bookmark this page from the Belize Tourism Board.

Guatemala:

All travelers entering Guatemala must show proof of full Covid vaccination OR a negative test (PCR or antigen) taken within three days before arrival in the country.

“Fully-vaccinated” means two doses (or one, in the case of Johnson & Johnson) with the final dose having been administered at least two weeks before arrival in Guatemala.

These rules apply to all non-Guatemalan citizens/residents (for example, tourists) over the age of 10, and for all Guatemala citizens/residents (people who legally live in Guatemala) over the age of 11.

Land borders are open. To keep up with Guatemala’s entry requirements, bookmark this page.

El Salvador:

El Salvador reopened its airport for visitors on September 19, 2020. As of November 17, 2021, El Salvador has eliminated all testing and vaccination restrictions to enter the country.

Honduras:

Travelers to Honduras must fill in an immigration online pre-check form and an online health form. Please note that the immigration pre-check form needs filling in within 48 prior to arrival in Honduras.

Unvaccinated travelers must show proof of a negative Covid test (PCR or antigen) taken within 72 hours of arrival. Vaccinated travelers (with full vaccination completed 14 days or more prior to arrival) don’t need to provide a negative Covid test.

For an extensive, step-by-step guide to navigating the forms you need to enter Honduras, check out this information provided by Anthony’s Key Resort on the island of Roatán. It’s the best guide we’ve seen.

Land borders are open.

Nicaragua:

Nicaragua is the one country in Central America that never truly closed its borders in the first place. Vaccinated travelers no longer need to provide a test to enter the country. Unvaccinated and partially-vaccinated travelers can enter Nicaragua as long as they have a negative (PCR only) test issued within 72 hours of arrival.

Land borders with Costa Rica and Honduras are open.

Costa Rica:

There are no specific Covid regulations or restrictions in place for travelers entering Costa Rica. At this time, entry requirements stand as they did pre-pandemic.

Panama:

Everyone entering Panama (whether vaccinated or not) must fill out this healthcare form, called a “Sworn Declaration of Health”. Partially/unvaccinated travelers must present a negative PCR or antigen test taken within 72 hours prior to traveling or submit to a test upon arrival in Panama at their own cost ($50).

Those testing positive upon arrival will have to quarantine for five days at a hotel at their own expense. (Panamanian citizens and residents can quarantine at home).

If you’re fully-vaccinated against Covid, with the vaccination completed at least 14 days before entering Panama, you’re exempt from all testing and quarantine requirements. Also exempt from these requirements are children under the age of 17, as long as their parents/guardians comply with said requirements.

For an up-to-date guide to Panama’s entry requirements, bookmark this page from Tourism Panama.

This was just a brief overview of Central America travel restrictions at this time.

We’ll keep this updated as and when situations change – and we know it’s an ever-changing situation. If you’re in Central America, please feel free to advise us in the comments of any changing regulations so we can stay as up-to-date as possible in real time.

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