Cool Guide Travel
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Cool Guide Travel

Traveling from Mexico to Costa Rica: What to know!

When at the airport and you notice, oh oh….

Traveling to costa rica amidst covid and pandemic
Lukasfr via unsplash

My 6 months stay (and visa) in Mexico was coming to an end and I had to leave the country, either by land or by air. Option 1) would have been to travel to Guatemala by bus, cross the border, stay a few days, and come back. Option 2) was to fly to Costa Rica and spend some time in a new country.

I had booked a retreat in Costa Rica a few weeks later, so I decided to come a little earlier and see what this jungly green place had to offer! So far so good. Friends in Mexico told me how great Costa Rica was, so I finally booked my flight.

By searching around the internet for entry requirements, I found out that you don´t need a PCR, but health insurance that covers up to 50.000$ of expenses and up to 2000$ of hotel stays, if you need to isolate because of Covid. If you are not vaccinated that is. If you are, health insurance is not necessary.

After a mild heart-attack, since the Costa Rican insurance providers seemed slightly overpriced (11$ / day), I found a good option with Heymondo (around 5$ / day), booked the health insurance, and filled out the health form required from the Costa Rican government. They ask you for flight details and details on the health insurance — and you need to upload documents of proof, so they can give you a QR code (which will be checked by immigration on arrival, so they know how many days you paid for and therefore write in your passport how many days you are allowed to stay).

I couldn´t find any note on official government websites, which stated that you need to have a return ticket booked, so I didn’t buy one yet. Maybe I´d go to Guatemala after Costa Rica, instead of Mexico? Or Peru?

Always plan some extra time at the Airport during Covid: Especially in Cancun!

At the airport, however, things went a bit topsy-turvy. I arrived 2 hours before the flight departure at Cancun airport, which usually leaves a lot of time to sit around and drink coffee, write an article, listen to music, look at the screen to see which gate the flight leaves from, buy a souvenir, stare at a wall…. Not this time.

Upon arrival, I was greeted with a long line of people waiting to check-in. My airline Volaris was especially busy, so I waited 30 minutes in line until I got to the counter. At the counter, a very masculine-looking woman greeted me grumpily and strictly asked for my passport (“before you put your luggage on the scale!”), and the health pass for Costa Rica, and of course a return ticket — and a stamp on my immigration card for Mexico.

Get a stamp on immigration card in Mexico
Mana5280 via Unsplash

A stamp on my immigration card? No info about that anywhere on the internet.

A return ticket? No info about that anywhere on the internet.

“Where do I get the stamp from?” — “At immigration behind the restaurant Aguacate! But you only have 15mintes left. And you need to show me your return ticket, too. If you go as a tourist you need to know this! Otherwise, I can’t let you fly.”

It was my last day on the Mexican visa, so I needed to get this done asap. Went to immigration, waited for 10 minutes (tik tok!), the lady asked me earnestly “Your visa is already expired, right?” — “No, it´s the last day today, I counted it!”, she did the job, got my stamp, speeded back to the Volaris counter, tried to book a return flight on my way on the Volaris website, which kept crashing, booked on Gotogate, just to get the screen information:

“Sorry, we received your request, but processing takes between 1h and 3 days. Don´t try to book again, as this might result in double booking your ticket. Reach out to us, if you don´t hear back within 3 days.”

Mild heart attack again and 15 minutes had passed already. My visa card was charged but the ticket did not arrive in my mails. By now it was 2:35pm, and my flight was about to leave at 3:30pm. Counters usually close 1h before, and I had this experience once in Dubai where they did not let me check-in, although only 5 minutes were missing. At that time, I needed to buy a new flight and was seriously pissed off at the counter clerk, who did not even try to get me on board.

So back to the Volaris counters, checking for a free staff member that was far away from the angry lady, who seemingly wanted to state an example with me gringo, looking like I came straight from the beach.

STIL via Unsplash

Found a sweet looking feminine lady that was free, sneaked in, send her lots of blessing while she was checking my passport and the health pass QR code, no question on a return ticket (puh!), and my luggage went on the transportation belt to the airplane.

The next stop was the hand luggage check. Another long line of people. I can´t even remember when the airport was so crowded last time. None of the airports in Mexico had been this busy anytime in the past 6 months! Apart from that Mexico City´s airport is really big and you need to run far distances between check-in and boarding.

Next obstacle: You need to fill in the Covid health document for Mexico as well (not only when entering but also when leaving), mentioning your flight number, no Covid symptoms etc. The website fails regularly, so I kindly asked for a paper form (please!), and got one from the airport personal.

elusee via Unsplash

By now I had half-hour left until my flight would leave, so I humbly asked to be let through by the people line to go straight to the hand luggage belt and get my bags checked quickly.

I made it to boarding on time. While on the airplane (no questions on the return ticket asked on entry), I sent lots of blessings to immigration in Costa Rica. Went to immigration, handed them the passport, the QR code for the health pass (“35 days you stay?” “Yes”), got my stamp with the 35 days allowance, was asked for my address in Costa Rica, and — no questions on the return ticket! (Puh!)

Alexander Schimmeck via Unsplash

So, I´m really not sure if you need this return ticket, but — in case it is a requirement at some point, there is a website called Onward Ticket Visa, that gives you a ticket valid for 48 hours for a 10$ fee.

When I entered Mexico, I was indeed asked for my return ticket, which I found out by reading several blogs beforehand. For Costa Rica, it seems to be depending on the person at the airline counter, but the health pass and the health insurance, next to your passport, are definitely more important.

What you need to fly to Costa Rica
Adrian Valverde via Unsplash

To sum it up, what do you need to fly from Mexico to Costa Rica as a traveler?

  1. A flight to Costa Rica from Mexico
  2. Health insurance for the entire stay in Costa Rica that covers 50.000$ hospital/emergency expenses and 2000$ for hotel/accommodation if you need to isolate due to Covid
  3. A health pass from the Costa Rican government that gives you a QR code, after you upload your insurance documents
  4. A return ticket out of Costa Rica (or proof of land travel leaving the country)
  5. A stamp on your Mexico immigration card from immigration (at the airport), before you go to the check-in counter!
  6. A filled-in health form for/from Mexico
  7. TIME! Plan 3hours at the airport instead of 2hours. Just so you can relax, drink a coffee, sit around, stare at a wall….You name it.

I hope this article served you! Let me know your experiences with travel on the road and unexpected happenings along the way.

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Anne Haack

Anne Haack

Transformational Coach, Writer, DJ, Insight Timer Teacher. Travelled Asia for 7 years, learned from a sage, published a book. Join: http://bit.ly/annehaack_mail