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What are the rules for travelling to Latin America?

Last updated 22 October 2021

Travellers from the UK are now able to travel to: Argentina, Antarctica, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, El Salvador, Falkland Islands, Guyana, Mexico, Paraguay, Suriname and Uruguay. 

While there are no UK Traffic Light restrictions for the following countries, FCDO travel advisories are in place: French Guiana, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. 

UK traffic light restrictions and FCDO advisories remain in place for:  Colombia, Ecuador, Panama and Peru.

 

As destinations across the globe gradually begin to reopen, our once distant dreams of travelling are becoming an increasingly tantalising possibility. This is the ideal time to plan your holiday for later this year or next, and our team of travel experts is ready to help you make these become reality.

With a raft of new rules and regulations in an ever-changing landscape, it can be difficult to make sense of when and how travel will be feasible. Here at Journey Latin America, we are closely monitoring developments in all of our destinations around the clock. Below we’ve put together a snapshot of the latest information regarding travel updates, be that border advice, entry requirements, or questions of quarantine. We keep this vital information under constant review, so please do check back for regularly updated news, or sign up to our newsletter to be among the first to know about changes as they occur.

Of course, this is just a brief summary of the current situation. Most of our travel planning takes place several months in advance, so if you are hoping to start planning to get away, we’d be delighted to help design your perfect trip. Our Flexible Booking Policy allows you to make long term plans with complete confidence, whilst our Safe Journey guidelines ensure we will not operate your holiday unless we are confident we can do so with your safety and enjoyment at the heart of our planning.

Contents:

Argentina – travel NOW!

  • UK government red listed? No
  • UK FCDO advice: Travel permitted
  • A negative PCR test is required 72 hours prior to departure for Argentina, with a second test taken at your hotel on arrival
  • Direct flights operate from the UK

Argentina’s borders have remained closed to international tourism. Argentina had enforced strict lockdowns locally, including no travel between different regions of the country and domestic flights are still limited to essential travel. However, we anticipate this will soon change, subject to government approval.

Belize – travel NOW!

  • UK government red listed? No
  • UK FCDO advice: Travel permitted
  • A negative PCR or antigen test is required prior to arriving in Belize by air or sea.  Arrivals by land must test at the border.
  • If you have received two full doses of COVID-19 vaccine, testing is still required prior to entry.

Belize has opened up for arrivals by air, although some land borders remain closed. Air access is limited to indirect routes from the UK, and with the US opening up to UK travellers again from November 2021 it is once again possible to travel here.

Visitors must use ‘Gold Standard’ (Belize government covid-secure approved) hotels, excursions and services, within a designated ‘travel corridor’. Testing is also available on arrival (with results available within the hour).

Bolivia – TRAVEL NOW!

  • UK government red listed? No
  • UK FCDO advice: Travel permitted
  • A negative PCR test is required prior to arrival in Bolivia

Borders have started to re-open, although Bolivia – land-locked and with limited airlift – has always been one of the more difficult countries to access directly. Bolivia combines well with Peru or Chile and both land borders are closed.

Brazil – TRAVEL NOW!

  • UK government red listed? No
  • UK FCDO advice: Travel permitted
  • A PCR test is required 72 hours before arrival to Brazil
  • Direct flights operate from the UK

Borders are open – indeed, Brazil never closed to international arrivals. A negative PCR test is required, and visitors must be able to show proof of suitable travel insurance, with medical cover for Covid-19. Domestic tourism is increasing, although local restrictions may apply in some areas.

In addition to this, the states of Rio and Sao Paulo have started to request proof of full vaccination status as a condition of entry to many key visitor attractions.

Chile – TRAVEL NOW!

  • UK government red listed? No
  • UK FCDO advice: Travel permitted
  • Chile is accepting international visitors
  • A negative PCR test is required 72 hours prior to arrival in Chile & local testing may be needed
  • Direct flights operate from the UK

Chile’s land borders are currently closed and the country is only allowing limited access via Santiago Airport at present.  Non-residents and foreigners are not currently accepted, but this is due to change from 1 October when international air arrivals will be permitted again, initially with a 5-day quarantine requirement.  At present, Chile has a range of restrictions in place to try to manage the pandemic and reduce transmission. Some measures are national – for example, the use of face masks in public. Others vary by region. In areas with the very highest level of restriction people have been expected to self-isolate at home. In others, cinemas, restaurants etc have been able to re-open, but with reduced capacity and social distancing in place. Local restrictions are gradually being lifted as the government works to gradually re-open regions in a covid-secure way.

The UK opened it’s first Latin American travel corridor with Chile in Nov 2020 and with a world-leading vaccination program, we are pleased to see it being one of the first to return as UK travel restrictions ease.

Easter Island remains closed for the time being and there is some reluctance on the island to reopen too soon, so it may be a while longer before travellers can return to this remote Pacific island.

Colombia

  • UK government red listed? Yes
  • UK FCDO advice: Against non-essential travel
  • A negative PCR test is required 96 hours prior to departure for Colombia
  • Direct flights operate from the UK

Colombia has re-opened its borders, and while a number of restrictions remain in place locally, the country has reopened for travellers. Flights from Europe recommenced and some direct flights from London with Avianca did resume, but have been suspended since late December 2020.

Costa Rica – TRAVEL NOW!

  • UK government red listed? No
  • UK FCDO advice: Travel permitted
  • No Covid-19 testing is required to enter Costa Rica
  • Direct flights operate from the UK

Costa Rica opened its borders to international arrivals at the beginning of August and has been receiving a small number of visitors since, mainly from North America. Visitors are no longer be required to show a negative Covid-19 test certificate on arrival. Instead, they will have to complete an online health assessment and visitors must have adequate travel insurance, providing cover for any covid-related medical issues or local quarantine. BA is scheduled to re-start its direct service between London and San Jose soon.

Cuba – TRAVEL NOW!

  • UK government red listed? No
  • UK FCDO advice: Travel permitted
  • A negative PCR test is required 72 hours prior to departure to Cuba
  • All travellers arriving in Cuba will be given a PCR test and must stay in their hotel until they receive a negative result (approximately 48 hours)
  • Direct flights operate from the UK

Cuba has been effectively closed to international arrivals, with the exception of a small number of charter flights (none from the UK) to designated resort hotels until November 2021. While a small number of places remain closed to visitors, regional touring is now possible.

Ecuador and Galápagos

  • UK government red listed? Yes
  • UK FCDO advice: Against non-essential travel
  • Arriving in Ecuador: A negative PCR test is required up to 3 days prior to departure to Ecuador or a certificate of complete vaccination against the virus.
  • All travellers must present a printed version of the Ministry of Health’s Health Declaration Form (one form per family group) on arrival.
  • Arriving in Galapagos: A PCR test is also required 72 hours for all visitors before flights to the Galápagos Islands or a certificate of complete vaccination against the virus.

Throughout the pandemic, Ecuador has been extremely proactive in preparing to offer enjoyable and safe covid-conscious holidays, and the entire adult population of Galapagos has now been vaccinated.

Testing is available locally, if needed.

El Salvador – travel now!

  • UK government red listed? No
  • UK FCDO advice: Travel permitted
  • Fully vaccinated travellers do not need to test for covid; however non-vaccinated visitors will require a negative PCR test, taken 72 hours prior to arrival in El Salvador

The borders to El Salvador are open.  Flights are available, with those via Spain and the US being the most convenient from the UK.  With the US reopening to UK travellers, access is becoming much easier to this magical – and often overlooked – Central American gem.

The Falkland Islands – TRAVEL NOW!

  • UK government red listed? No
  • UK FCDO advice: Travel permitted
  • 14 days quarantine is required on arrival to the Falklands Islands

The Falklands has remained exempt from the UK travel advisory throughout the pandemic. However visits to the Falkland Islands were challenging in practical terms as there were only military flights from the UK (a permit being required for residents).  Access routes by air and cruise via Latin America are now returning.

Guatemala

  • UK government red listed? No
  • UK FCDO advice: Against non-essential travel
  • A negative PCR test is required 72 hours prior to arrival in Guatemala, or evidence that of full vaccination
  • Entry is not permtted for people who have visited the UK within 14 days

International flights resumed in October 2020 and some land borders have reopened.

Guyana – TRAVEL NOW!

  • UK government red listed? No
  • UK FCDO advice: Travel permitted
  • A negative PCR test is required 72 hours prior to arrival

Guyana’s borders reopened in October 2020 for international flights.

Honduras

  • UK government red listed? No
  • UK FCDO advice: Against non-essential travel
  • A negative PCR test is required 72 hours prior to arrival in Honduras

The borders to Honduras are open.  Visitors must show evidence of a negative PCR test and also quarantine for 14 days.

Mexico – TRAVEL NOW!

  • UK government red listed? No
  • UK FCDO advice: Travel permitted
  • No Covid-19 testing is required to enter Mexico
  • Direct flights operate from the UK

Mexico is open to international arrivals by air. Some land borders remain closed, but are generally reopening. There is no requirement to present any evidence of covid-testing prior to arrival. There are some local restrictions in place, which vary by region. BA re-commenced their direct flight between London and Mexico at the end of 2020, and are likely to bring them back again once UK travel restrictions begin to ease.

Nicaragua

  • UK government red listed? No
  • UK FCDO advice: Against non-essential travel
  • A negative PCR test is required 72 hours prior to arrival to Nicaragua

Nicaragua’s land borders are open and the international airport in Managua began receiving arrivals in September. A negative PCR test is required, taken within 72 hours of arrival.

Panama

  • UK government red listed? Yes
  • UK FCDO advice: Against non-essential travel
  • Unvaccinated travellers require a negative PCR test taken 48 hours prior to arrival to Panama
  • No testing is required for double vaccinated travellers

Panama’s borders re-opened on 12 October. A negative PCR test is required, taken within 48 hours of arrival, unless travellers are fully vaccinated. Testing is also available on arrival (cost US$50, with results available within the hour).

Paraguay – TRAVEL NOW!

  • UK government red listed? No
  • UK FCDO advice: Travel permitted
  • A negative PCR test is required 72 hours prior to arrival

Paraguay’s borders are currently closed and there is no information available regarding possible date of re-opening.

Peru

  • UK government red listed? Yes
  • UK FCDO advice: Against non-essential travel
  • All visitors require a negative PCR test taken within 72 hrs pre-flight.

Peru has reopened Lima airport to most international flights.  Peru has alternated on its rules regarding whether vaccinated visitors require a negative covid test prior to arrival, and currently all visitors must do so (PCR only) taken within 72 hours of arrival regardless of their vaccination status. Machu Picchu and other places of interest have reopened.

Uruguay – TRAVEL NOW!

  • UK government red listed? No
  • UK FCDO advice: Travel permitted

Uruguay’s borders have been officially closed to tourists for a year and a half, however the country has announced that it will reopen to international visitors again in November 2021. Entry requirements are likely to include proof of vaccination, evidence of a negative covid test per-arrival and suitable travel insurance, including medical cover for Covid-19.

While Uruguay is one of the world leaders in its vaccination program, visits to the country are potentially complicated by issues of access – there are no direct flights and most travellers arrive overland from Buenos Aires, or by air via European hubs.

 

Due to the changing nature of the pandemic, the above information is subject to change without notice.

 

For more information on the rules for returning to the UK, read our guide to the UK government’s “traffic lights” for travel.

 

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