Travel Information and Research Station Protocols
Updated May 11, 2021
The Organization for Tropical Studies is happy to share our response regarding Covid-19 (coronavirus). We regularly monitor the CDC (Center for Disease Control), the U.S. State Department Travel Advisory and the Ministerio de Salud de Costa Rica (Costa Rica Ministry of Health) websites, among others, for the latest updates on issues of concern.
CDC recommends delaying international travel until you are fully vaccinated. You are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dose in a two-dose series or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine. Once fully vaccinated, you are not required by the U.S. to get tested before leaving the country, and you are not required to self-quarantine when returning to the United States. However, while not currently required by Costa Rica, you are required to have a negative Covid test when entering South Africa (see below). You should continue to follow all CDC travel safety guidelines while traveling. All travelers coming to the United States, including U.S. citizens and fully vaccinated people, are required to produce a negative Covid-19 test result, which was taken no more than three days prior to departure, or documentation of recovery from Covid-19 within three months before boarding a return flight to the United States. In addition, it is recommended to get tested three to five days after travel.
Costa Rica allows entry from all countries in the world provided that they meet the country’s visa and Covid-19 entry requirements. All visitors must complete a digital epidemiological health pass, acquire a travel-insurance plan covering Covid-19 that has been approved by the General Superintendence of Insurance, and complete an online health form. International insurance policies must show effectiveness of the policy for the duration of the visit to Costa Rica, guaranteed coverage of medical expenses (minimum of USD$50,000) due to Covid-19, and include minimum coverage of USD$2,000 for lodging expenses if Covid-19 is contracted (see National Insurance Institute or Sagicor). Effective October 26, visitors arriving to Costa Rica will no longer need to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test, and tourists are not required to quarantine upon entering Costa Rica. Please note: The U.S. Department of State has issued a Level 4 Travel Advisory for Costa Rica. Citizens are asked to reconsider travel to Costa Rica due to Covid-19 and to exercise increased caution in the country due to crime. In addition, the CDC has placed Costa Rica at Level 4 due to a very high level of Covid-19 in the country.
In South Africa, international visitors must undergo a health screening at the port of entry. Travelers arriving in South Africa must complete an online questionnaire and present a negative Covid-19 test that is recognized by the World Health Organization, taken no less than 72 hours from the time of departure. In the event of the traveler’s failure to submit a valid certificate as proof of their negative Covid-19 status, the traveler will be required to do an antigen test on arrival in South Africa at their own cost. All visitors are required to have Covid-19 insurance valid in South Africa, which covers any quarantine costs, if applicable. In the event of a traveler testing positive for Covid-19, they will be required to isolate themselves at their own cost, for a period of 10 days. Visitors are asked to install the “Covid Alert South Africa” mobile application. South Africa is currently at alert level 1, where public transportation is operating at reduced levels, and social distancing and mandatory wearing of face coverings being enforced in all public places. Indoor and outdoor gatherings in the country are limited to 50 people, there is a curfew in force from 11pm to 4am. Please note: The U.S. Department of State has issued a Level 3 Travel Advisory for South Africa. Citizens are asked to reconsider travel to South Africa due to Covid-19 and to exercise increased caution in the country due to crime, civil unrest, health, and drought. Further information for U.S. citizens can be found at U.S. Embassy in South Africa website
OTS will continue to monitor government websites for changes to travel advisory levels for all countries in which we have operations.
Fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread Covid-19. However, international travel poses additional risks and even fully vaccinated travelers are at increased risk for getting and possibly spreading new Covid-19 variants.
If you have questions, please contact us by email.
Visiting our stations:
The procedures for visiting our Costa Rica stations (i.e. changes in admission procedures, social distancing, food service, required personal protective equipment, etc.) are available online, both in English and in Spanish. Please review this information prior to your arrival.
FAQs for OTS Study Abroad
Please click here for more information for our students enrolled in our study abroad programs.
Guidance for virus prevention:
There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC and other government health agencies recommend everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Maintain a physical distance between yourself and other people of at least six feet.
- Stay home except for essential needs.
- Avoid gatherings of more than 10 people.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a face covering.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 30 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
For information about hand washing, see CDC’s Handwashing website.
For information specific to healthcare, see CDC’s Hand Hygiene in Healthcare Settings.
These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses. CDC does have specific guidance for travelers.