Costa Rica Residency

how to get costa rica residency Lawyers of costa rica

Immigration Law

Why to Get a Residency in Costa Rica

Lawyers of Costa Rica has successfully processed Costa Rican residencies and Costa Rican visas for people from at least the following countries: United States, Canada, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Colombia, Netherlands Antilles, Germany, Poland, United Kingdom, Albania, Nigeria, Kenya, Australia, New Zealand and others.

The reasons why our clients decided to get residency and immigrate to Costa Rica are varied; however, we have been able to notice that the more experienced travelers they were, the more they were convinced that Costa Rica is by far one of the best residency/relocation destinations.

The following are 10 of the main reasons why people choose to move to Costa Rica and obtain legal residency status:

  1. The most stable democracy in Latin America.
  2. Strategic location, only 2.5 hours away from Miami in the middle of the Americas.
  3. The country is the first country in the world to constitutionally abolish its army, thus being able to invest in the education and social welfare of its people, creating an educated labor force ideal for launching a regional or global business hub following the path of many multinational companies.
  4. Higher life expectancy than the United States.
  5. Consistently ranked among the top Latin American countries in human development
  6. Ranked 3rd in the world in the Environmental Performance Index.
  7. Ranks first as the happiest, greenest country in the world.
  8. A diversified economy able to absorb shocks from the global economy.
  9. Exuberant natural beauty.
  10. Investment opportunities proper of a developing country but with a respect to legal system.

Because it is a privilege to live in Costa Rica, the country has to maintain a clear policy in Costa Rica Immigration Law, in that sense please take into consideration that based on your nationality you might require an entry visa to come to Costa Rica. Retirement in Costa Rica is a real option that can be achieved following experienced Immigration lawyers, so if you plan to retire in Costa Rica, please take a moment to read the following basic explanation:

Costa Rica Visas:

Depending on your nationality, you might not require a consular visa, or you might be forced to apply for one in the corresponding Costa Rican Consulate in your country or region. If you happen to be in the group of nationalities part of group four, you have to apply to receive a restricted visa to enter Costa Rica directly from the Director of Immigration of Costa Rica.

Please contact our legal team to determine to which group you belong to and the necessary procedure to enter the country following Costa Rica Immigration Law:

How to Get Residency in Costa Rica:

With the visit visas, you will be able to stay for a maximum of 90 days in a row. So, after you decide that you want to settle or retire in Costa Rica temporarily or permanently, you will need to examine the available options that Costa Rican immigration law has to offer for one of the best retirement options in the world:

Below, we provide information on the main types of Costa Rica residencies:

1. Costa Rica Residency as a Pensionado or Pensioner

Main requirement: Proof of at least US$1000.00 monthly from lifetime pension fund or retirement fund.

Key document: Income Certification.

2. Costa Rica Residency as Rentist or Rentista

Main requirement: Proof of at least US$2500.00 monthly for a minimum of 5 years, it has to be guaranteed via a letter from a recognized bank once a certificate of deposit of US$150,000.00 has been made by the applicant, that amount also covers his family.

Key document: Letter from a bank guaranteeing the deposit and monthly payments.

3. Costa Rica Residency as Investor or Inversionista

Main requirement: Minimum investment of US$200,000.00 in a Costa Rican company or business that significantly contributes to the local economy and its development.

Key document: Business Plan and CPA certifications demonstrating investment in a government approved sector.

4. Costa Rica Residency as Relative of a Costa Rican citizen

Main requirement: Married to a Costa Rican citizen or having a Costa Rican child.

Key document: Marriage License or Birth certificate.

5. Costa Rica Work Permit for Skilled Worker

Main requirement: a Skilled worker with specific academic and/or experience qualifications sponsored by a recognized Costa Rican company.

Key document: Work Contract, proof of qualifications.

Common Required Documents:

  • Birth Certificate: For each applicant.
  • Police Record: Valid only for 6 months, obtained from your last place of residency.
  • Marriage License: If the spouse is to be included.

 

Basic Procedure Explanation for Costa Rican Residencies:

First: In general, if the document is not issued by a government authority, and it does not have the official seal, it has to be notarized by a local notary public.

Second: After that, or if the document was issued by a government authority, it has to be taken to the Secretary of State in the United States of the state in which it was issued or to the corresponding Foreign Affairs office in other countries.

Third: Authenticated by the corresponding Costa Rican Consulate in your area.

Note: Lawyer of Costa Rica analyzes and coordinates each specific retirement case considering all the different logistics and details involved as we have been able to verify that certain practices vary from consulate to consulate, so we confirm all the steps involved with the consulates in order to succeed with our Costa Rican residency applications and help make your retirement a pleasant experience.

Get Professional Legal Advice on Costa Rica Residency!

Costa Rica Immigration Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Disclaimer: The following questions are a collection of real questions formulated to Lawyers of Costa Rica over the years, which we believe represent some of the most common questions that individuals interested in obtaining residency in Costa Rica normally have.

Our answers ARE NOT in any way legal advice, they are just general information provided as a reference so that the general public might obtain a better understanding of the residency application process in Costa Rica. Any unauthorized copying, alteration, distribution, transmission, performance, display or other use of this material is prohibited.

As Costa Rican lawyers, we are not allowed by the Costa Rican Bar Association from providing legal advice without the prior existence of a client/attorney relationship, in order to obtain legal advice for your specific case we encourage you to seek specialized legal advice.

1. Would it be possible for me to start my residency process when I move to Costa Rica? My plan is to request the necessary documents once I'm there, so they are up-to-date. Is this a common practice?

Answer: the normal procedure that our clients follow and that we recommend is to coordinate with us so that we can assess the precise method in which the documents are retrieved in their country of origin.

By doing that we make sure that client’s Birth Certificate and Background Check are current and that they are either apostilled or Legalized depending on each country, also when we send our Immigration Form our Immigration attorneys are able to assess particular situations in which the applicant faces significant difficulties in obtaining the necessary documents or even cases in which it is virtually impossible to obtain them.

So the normal procedure is that the client retains our services we provide the necessary legal guidance and the client visits Costa Rica with the properly prepared documents and at that moment we file the residency. Once the residency is filed, their status changes from tourists to residency applicants, allowing them to remain in the country while the residency is being processed.

So as you can see, moving down to Costa Rica and then requesting the documents is not recommended as the process to receive the properly prepared documents remotely usually takes at least 2 months.

It is also important to note that even though those residencies can be filed incomplete, we highly advise against it as such practice considerably delays the process as residencies are only processed by the Immigration Authority once ALL the documents and requirements have been properly filed.

2. Hello, I am Costa Rican and married to a US citizen. We want to get him Costa Rican residency and need your services. Please provide pricing and required documents. We are arriving in Costa Rica next month. Can he leave the country while the residency is in process, or do you recommend staying until it's completed? Thank you.

Answer: Based on that description, he would be eligible for Residency based on his marriage with a Costa Rican citizen or Residencia por vínculo. Our procedure is to send our Immigration Form so that the client can complete it with basic personal information that we need to analyze for the particular situation. 

Before we can provide any type of legal advice, it is important for us to clarify that as Costa Rican attorneys, we are subject to the professional regulations of the Colegio de Abogados de Costa Rica, so we are not allowed to give any legal advice prior to the existence of a client/attorney relationship.

Once the client retains our services with 50% of the legal fees, we are able to provide legal advice in relation to the exact processing of his or her residency.

3. I am from Australia and have income that will continue regardless of where I live and savings. Are you able to tell me what my likely options are?

Answer: When a foreign individual receives foreign income and has savings, the options are as follows:

  1. For cases in which the applicant receives a lifetime pension of at least US $1000.00 per month that could be used to apply for Pensionado Residency.
  2. If the person can demonstrate with evidence that at least during the next 2 years he or she will receive a minimum monthly income of at least US $2500.00 that could be used to apply for the Rentista Residency.
  3. If the monthly income is less than US $2500.00 or if it cannot be demonstrated that it will be paid by a properly registered and recognized international company, then we would have to determine if that person is willing to open a Certificate of Deposit (CD) for 2 years in a local bank for a minimum amount of US $60,000.00.
    This method is very common among our clients and with this modality, the client receives from his or her same funds a minimum monthly deposit of US $2500.00, this is another way to become eligible as a Rentista Resident.
  4. If with your savings you plan to invest in the acquisition of a Costa Rican asset such as a property or a company and such investment reaches at least US $200,000.00, you can become eligible for an Inversionista Residency.
  5. If none of the previous options work for you, we could explore the possibility of applying as a Self Employed Individual. This category is reserved for entrepreneurs or business people that are willing to open a business in Costa Rica and obtain all the necessary permits, such residency can be seen as a “last recourse” as its approval criteria are not clearly established by the Immigration Authorities, contrary to options a, b, and c which are extremely straightforward.

4. My husband and I currently live in the United States and would like to obtain temporary residency in Costa Rica based on the Pensionado program. We have a number of questions regarding income requirements and the amount of time that we would be required to reside in Costa Rica in order to maintain temporary status. Our long-term goal is permanent residency for which we also have many questions. Can your firm assist with this effort?

Answer: Costa Rica continues to offer what is known as the Pensioner or Pensionado Residency, the key criteria to be eligible is for the applicant to be able to demonstrate a minimum lifetime income of at least US$1000.00 per month paid by a government agency. Such requirement extends the eligibility to the spouse of the beneficiary and to children of under 18 years.

It is important to clarify that in the case of spouses, residencies are processed in connection with the main applicant but that each residency is processed individually.

The most important documents needed to apply for a Costa Rica Pensioner Residency are:

  • Birth Certificate
  • Criminal Background Check
  • Pension Letter
  • Marriage License Certificate (Depending on the country of origin, this document sometimes expires 2 months after being issued)

All foreign documents have to be issued within the last 6 months prior to filing and have to be properly apostilled or legalized and translated to Spanish.

5. I am interested in legal assistance to obtain Costa Rican residency as a pensioner. Besides proof of $1000 monthly pension income, what other documents are required? Will my wife and child be covered under the pensioner's residency? How long will the process take?

Answer: Lawyers of Costa Rica has more than 25 years of experience in Immigration Law, in that time we have processed literally hundreds of residencies for individuals of many different nationalities, with tremendous success, our approval rates should be around 99%.

As you have mentioned, receiving at least USD $1000.00 per month for lifetime from a government recognized institution is the key criteria to become a Pensionado or Pensioner Resident. As in most of the other types of residencies, the other mandatory requirements are:

  • Birth Certificates
  • Background Checks
  • Marriage License if applicable (Depending on the country of origin, this document sometimes expires 2 months after being issued)

All foreign documents have to be issued within the last 6 months prior to filing and have to be properly legalized and translated to Spanish.

The duration of residency procedure in Costa Rica fluctuate depending on the volume of the residency applications being processed, also depending on the consistency of the follow-up efforts of your specialized immigration law attorney and on the preciseness of the preparation of the requirements. Based on that and on our more than 20 years of experiences, we currently estimate the minimum duration of the process to be between 6–12 months after having filed with all the documents complete and in perfect adjustment to local formalities. During that waiting period, most of our clients remain in Costa Rica, waiting for approval, as the government tolerates such status of residency applicants.

6. I am European, and my girlfriend is Venezuelan. We have visited Costa Rica in the past and we want to return this year, and hopefully stay. But we do have some questions.

a) What are ways we can apply for Costa Rica Permanent Residency?

Answer: Costa Rica only offers Temporary Residency to begin. The most common and effective ways to gain Temporary Residency are:

  • Investor’s Residency: requires a minimum investment of USD $200,000.00 in a Costa Rican asset, i.e. house or business.
  • Rentist Residency: requires demonstrating a minimum foreign income or rent of at least US $2500.00 per month guaranteed by a properly registered company, or to make a Certificate of Deposit (CD) for 2 years in a local bank for a minimum amount of USD $60,000.00. This method is very common among our clients and with this modality, the client receives from his or her same funds a minimum monthly deposit of USD $2500.00.
  • Self Employed Residency: If none of the previous options work for you, we could explore the possibility of applying as a Self Employed Individual. This category is reserved for entrepreneurs or business people that are willing to open a business in Costa Rica and obtain all the necessary permits, such residency can be seen as a “last recourse” as its approval criteria are not clearly established by the Immigration Authorities, contrary to options a, b, and c which are extremely straightforward.

b) Can my Venezuelan girlfriend get a permanent residency in Costa Rica too?

       Answer: If she has the necessary Visa to enter the country, Costa Rica does not distinguish between nationalities as established by our Political Constitution which guarantees equal rights to all people. She can apply individually meeting the same criteria in order to become eligible for one of the aforementioned categories, or you would be able to extend the benefit to her or vice versa only if you were married.

Costa Rica Residency applicants only obtain the status of Temporary Residents, it’s only after maintaining their Temporary Residency for at least 3 years that they can request to become Permanent Residents. After 5 or 7 years depending on their nationality, residents may request Costa Rican citizenship.

What are the commonly required documents by most of the Costa Rica residency categories?

Answer:

  • Birth Certificate
  • Background Check
  • Marriage License if applicable (Depending on the country of origin, this document sometimes expires 2 months after being issued)

All foreign documents have to be issued within the last 6 months prior to filing and have to be properly legalized and translated to Spanish. Consult with our Immigration Division before requesting such documents in order to make sure that all local formalities are taken into consideration as a key to speedy approval.

c) Can my girlfriend and I change our driver’s licenses for a Costa Rican license?

Answer: Foreign individuals are allowed to drive in Costa Rican territory with their valid foreign license while their tourist visa is still up-to-date. In order for a foreigner to obtain a Costa Rican driver’s license, it will be necessary for him or her to become a Temporary Resident. After the person receives their residency ID card, the now resident has to have a valid foreign driver’s license and will have to remain at least 90 successive days in Costa Rican territory to receive a local driver’s license.

d) How much time is “normally” needed to get a Costa Rica residency?

Answer: Processing times for residency approvals are not clearly established by the Costa Rica Immigration Authority; however, based on our more than 25 years of experience in Immigration Law we have been able to determine that the waiting period after having filed a residency that meets ALL the necessary criteria with properly prepared documents and with a specialized immigration attorney ranges from 6 to 12 months with variations due to the complexity of each specific case and affected by the processing volume of the Immigration Authority and external phenomena.

e) Does a Costa Rica permanent residency have restrictions?

Answer: Once the residency changes from Temporary, which is normally restricted to a specific condition, the resident can request to become a Permanent Resident. Once a Permanent Resident, the individual receives what is known as a Free Condition residency, which implies that he or she has no work restrictions and what separates him or her from a citizen is only the right to vote on local elections.

7. I am looking at Costa Rica as a place to base my business. I would also like to become a resident of Costa Rica. Is there a business visa for Costa Rica? My company is new, but will be able to prove 60K in the next 6-8 months...but I would like to incorporate first.

a) What are ways we can apply for Costa Rica Permanent Residency?

Answer: Costa Rica only offers Temporary Residency to begin. The most common and effective ways to gain Temporary Residency are:

  • Investor’s Residency: requires a minimum investment of USD $200,000.00 in a Costa Rican asset, i.e. house or business.
  • Rentist Residency: requires demonstrating a minimum foreign income or rent of at least USD $2500.00 per month guaranteed by a properly registered company, or to make a Certificate of Deposit (CD) for 2 years in a local bank for a minimum amount of USD $60,000.00. This method is very common among our clients and with this modality, the client receives from his or her same funds a minimum monthly deposit of USD $2500.00.
  • Self Employed Residency: If none of the previous options work for you, we could explore the possibility of applying as a Self Employed Individual. This category is reserved for entrepreneurs or business people that are willing to open a business in Costa Rica and obtain all the necessary permits, such residency can be seen as a “last recourse” as its approval criteria are not clearly established by the Immigration Authorities, contrary to options a, b, and c which are extremely straightforward.

b) Can my Venezuelan girlfriend get a permanent residency in Costa Rica too?

       Answer: If she has the necessary Visa to enter the country, Costa Rica does not distinguish between nationalities as established by our Political Constitution which guarantees equal rights to all people. She can apply individually meeting the same criteria in order to become eligible for one of the aforementioned categories, or you would be able to extend the benefit to her or vice versa only if you were married.

Costa Rica Residency applicants only obtain the status of Temporary Residents, it’s only after maintaining their Temporary Residency for at least 3 years that they can request to become Permanent Residents. After 5 or 7 years, depending on their nationality, residents may request Costa Rican citizenship.

What are the commonly required documents by most of the Costa Rica residency categories?

Answer:

  • Birth Certificate
  • Background Check
  • Marriage License if applicable (Depending on the country of origin, this document sometimes expires 2 months after being issued)

All foreign documents have to be issued within the last 6 months prior to filing and have to be properly legalized and translated to Spanish. Consult with our Immigration Division before requesting such documents in order to make sure that all local formalities are taken into consideration as a key to speedy approval.

c) Can my girlfriend and I change our driver’s licenses for a Costa Rican license?

Answer: Foreign individuals are allowed to drive in Costa Rican territory with their valid foreign license while their tourist visa is still up-to-date. In order for a foreigner to obtain a Costa Rican driver’s license, it will be necessary for him or her to become a Temporary Resident. After the person receives their residency ID card, the now resident has to have a valid foreign driver’s license and will have to remain at least 90 successive days in Costa Rican territory to receive a local driver’s license.

d) How much time is “normally” needed to get a Costa Rica residency?

Answer: Processing times for residency approvals are not clearly established by the Costa Rica Immigration Authority; however, based on our more than 25 years of experience in Immigration Law we have been able to determine that the waiting period after having filed a residency that meets ALL the necessary criteria with properly prepared documents and with a specialized immigration attorney ranges from 6 to 12 months with variations due to the complexity of each specific case and affected by the processing volume of the Immigration Authority and external phenomena.

e) Does a Costa Rica permanent residency have restrictions?

Answer: Once the residency changes from Temporary, which is normally restricted to a specific condition, the resident can request to become a Permanent Resident. Once a Permanent Resident, the individual receives what is known as a Free Condition residency, which implies that he or she has no work restrictions and what separates him or her from a citizen is only the right to vote on local elections.

8. Would like gain citizenship to the Republic of Costa Rica would like to hire an attorney to streamline this process for me.

Answer: Costa Rica offers residencies for qualified individuals, there is no citizenship program offered by the Government of Costa Rica, in order to become a Costa Rican citizen you have to be born in our territory or would have to maintain resident status for 5–7 years depending on your nationality in order to request Costa Rican citizenship. Another way to obtain Costa Rican citizenship is 2 years after marrying a Costa Rican citizen.

We have to clarify that Costa Rican Immigration authorities have established a procedure in order to verify that every single marriage related residency and/or citizenship application is real. It is necessary to demonstrate a real relationship and marriage in order to avoid being accused of a felony with serious consequences for all the parties involved, including the Notary Public who accepted to celebrate the marriage.

9. Hello, I was looking for a firm to help me applying to immigrate to Costa Rica. I am a solar design Engineer, developing ecosystems for growing organic food. I have constant trust fund income of the amount of $2680/month for the past 5 years and I am looking to relocate my business and development to Costa Rica.

Answer: Costa Rica offers residencies for qualified individuals, there is no citizenship program offered by the Government of Costa Rica, in order to become a Costa Rican citizen you have to be born in our territory or would have to maintain resident status for 5–7 years depending on your nationality in order to request Costa Rican citizenship. Another way to obtain Costa Rican citizenship is 2 years after marrying a Costa Rican citizen.

We have to clarify that Costa Rican Immigration authorities have established a procedure in order to verify that every single marriage related residency and/or citizenship application is real. It is necessary to demonstrate a real relationship and marriage in order to avoid being accused of a felony with serious consequences for all the parties involved, including the Notary Public who accepted to celebrate the marriage.

10. I was charged with two felonies. Will this misdemeanor conviction prevent me or bar me from entering Costa Rica and getting permanent residency?

Answer: A key requirement to become a Costa Rican resident is to submit a “clean” Background Check, the Immigration Law establishes that individuals who have been convicted of a felony in the last 10 years will not be approved.

It is important to correctly distinguish between a misdemeanor and a felony according to local Criminal Law. The role of the Immigration Authority is to protect our territory from foreign individuals that could represent a threat to the safety and moral standards of our country. As a law firm, we reserve our right to select our clients based on Know Your Client (KYC) policies.

11. I would like to have more information about immigration and residency on a business base I have an online business - do I need to pay taxes in CR? (I earn my money outside of CR?) We are a family of 4 members ( 2 adults+2 little kids )

Answer: Costa Rica welcomes serious business people that can contribute to the development of the local economy and take advantage of the important quantity of business opportunities available in the country.

The following are the main Costa Rica residency options available for businessmen and their families:

  • Investor’s Residency: requires a minimum investment of USD $200,000.00 in a Costa Rican asset, i.e. house or business.
  • Rentist Residency: requires demonstrating a minimum foreign income or rent of at least USD $2500.00 per month guaranteed by a properly registered company, or to make a Certificate of Deposit (CD) for 2 years in a local bank for a minimum amount of US $60,000.00. This method is very common among our clients and with this modality, the client receives from his or her same funds a minimum monthly deposit of USD $2500.00.
  • Self Employed Residency: If none of the previous options work for you, we could explore the possibility of applying as a Self Employed Individual. This category is reserved for entrepreneurs or business people that are willing to open a business in Costa Rica and obtain all the necessary permits, such residency can be seen as a “last recourse” as its approval criteria are not clearly established by the Immigration Authorities, contrary to options a, b, and c which are extremely straightforward.

So based on your current circumstances, you should evaluate which options suits you better. Costa Rican Tax Law is governed by the principle of Territoriality, so business activities conducted outside of Costa Rica are not obligated to pay taxes in the country. In order for you to determine if you will have to pay taxes, you will have to assess where your business is being conducted and where it has its effects. The benefit of a Costa Rican Residency is extended to the spouse and to children under 25 years of age if they are active students.

12. I am planning to move to Costa Rica in the next months with my fiancée and our two small boys aged one and three. We want to as quickly as possible get married and then apply for the temporary residency as "rentistas. We will bring with us birth certificate, affidavit of single status and our criminal records, all apostilled. We will also bring a letter of recommendation from our bank to open a bank account. We were wondering if you could help us with paperwork for both the marriage and application for the temporary residency.

Answer: Costa Rican residencies offer the main applicant the option of extending his or her benefit to the spouse and to children under 18 years, or up to 25 years if they are studying. In order to extend the benefit, it is necessary to be legally married and only after the marriage is properly registered that you could begin with the residency process for the dependent spouse.

It is essential to begin the process by retaining the services of a specialized immigration attorney so that we can assess the specific formalities of the required documents i.e. Birth Certificate, Marriage License, Background Check and other documents required to become a Costa Rican resident.

13. I am interested in getting residency in Costa Rica along with my boyfriend. We're not of retirement age, and through our research I've found this path which is interesting to me: The path is "Temporary Residency for Self Employed Skilled Worker". I would like to learn more about this path and I'm wondering if you can share any information about it with me. I believe it may be the same as "Residencia Temporal Empleados Especializados Por Cuenta Propia Y Sus Dependientes" which I've seen at migracion.go.cr. Do you think it is a path worth following for us?

Answer: For business people who cannot comply with the requirements of the Investor’s Residency nor the Rentist Residency, the Self Employed Residency is the option left.

  • Costa Rica Self Employed Residency: This category is reserved for entrepreneurs or business people that are willing to open a business in Costa Rica and obtain all the necessary permits, such residency can be seen as a “last recourse” as its approval criteria are not clearly established by the Immigration Authorities, contrary to options Investor or Rentist which are extremely straightforward.

To apply for the Self Employed Residency, you will at least have to comply with the following processes:

  • Form a Costa Rican Company
  • Open a Costa Rican Corporate Bank Account
  • Register the Company as an Employer
  • Employee local labor (not properly established how many)
  • Obtain Work Risk Insurance
  • Obtain a Business License
  • Provide Financial Statements

The applicant has to demonstrate that he or she has created a legal business with a sound plan that will contribute to the local economy and demonstrate that it will serve as his financial support in the country so that he or she will not become a burden for Costa Rican society.

Lawyers of Costa Rica specializes in business setup for foreigners in Costa Rica.

14. Hello, I am in need of some help understanding if I am eligible for my Costa Rican citizenship. My mother is a born citizen of Costa Rica but I was never able to work further into seeing if I am able to get it. I haven’t spoken to my mother for a few years, but regardless of that I was curious to see what is the procedure to see if I am able of getting it. On my birth certificate I have her name on it as well. I have heard some things that a child of a born Costa Rican citizen has until age 25 to still be eligible to apply. That was the last time I spoke to a Costa Rican embassy around 2 years ago. Could you assist me with this or have any idea who may?

Answer: The period to claim Costa Rican citizenship is for individuals of Costa Rican parents is between the ages of 21 and 25 without the presence of the Costa Rican parent or if the applicant is less than 21 years old, the applicant requires the presence of the parent in order to request the citizenship. The procedure is conducted at the Civil Registry of Costa Rica, and it’s necessary to provide a document demonstrating the relation with the Costa Rican parent.

If the person is over 25 years old then he or she will have to apply for Costa Rica Permanent Residency and only after 5–7 years of holding the permanent resident he or she could request the Costa Rican citizenship.

15. I have an attorney working on my migration case, but I'd like a second opinion on one aspect of this. I am willing to pay a consultation fee for this information. My attorney has submitted my application, and has returned to me my application receipt (tramite). He has told me that with this paper, I do not have to leave Costa Rica within 90 days, and if I leave after 90 days they will let me back in. I want to verify that this is correct. Please let me know what steps I can take to get a review of this issue.

Answer: The normal practice in Costa Rican Immigration procedures is that clients prepare the foreign documents with the guidance of a specialized Costa Rican Immigration Lawyer before they arrive to Costa Rica. They enter the country with their Tourist Visa and then once the Costa Rica Residency Application is filed their status changes from Tourist to Residency Applicant. As a matter of fact, the Government charges USD $250.00 per applicant for the processing of the change of status.

With the receipt of residency applicants to stay in Costa Rica for their approval, during that period of “tolerance” from the authorities, the applicants are not required to stay in our territory. They are free to exit and there at their will.

When entering Costa Rica during the “tolerance” period, you will still have to show:

  • Departure ticket
  • A minimum of USD $300.00 in cash or credit card
  • Valid Passport

We advise our clients to always carry the residency in progress receipt with them after their 90 days visa is expired, we have seen any negative legal consequences of that decision in the last 25 years of Immigration Law practice.

16. My daughter was born in Costa Rica and holding the nationality but need to renew the passport due to staying abroad for quite 18 years already. Can I renew her passport without visiting Costa Rica? If not, what documents do I need to bring to Costa Rica to have her passport renewed? Secondly, can I apply for citizenship, and how to apply? Can my ex-husband apply as well? If he can apply, can he apply for his other son from his ex-wife?

Answer: The Passport renewal can be requested at the Costa Rican Consulate corresponding to where the person is resident of. In order to do that it’s necessary for the applicant to have a valid and up to date Costa Rican identification (cédula).

In order for a parent of a Costa Rican citizen to be able to request citizenship, it’s necessary to have maintained a Costa Rican residency for at least 5-7 years.

17. I will be in Costa Rica soon looking for our next home and meeting with immigration attorneys to explore my options. Do you offer free consultations?

Answer: As Costa Rican attorneys we are governed by the Colegio de Abogados de Costa Rica (Costa Rican Bar Association) so we are prohibited from providing legal advice without the prior existence of a client/attorney relationship and the necessary payment of legal fees for our professional legal advice. If legal advice is provided without the necessary payment of legal fees, the attorney could receive a sanction from the Bar. We can provide general information, but not legal advice nor guidance to your specific situation.

18. I would like to speak to somebody who could help with questions related to becoming a Costa Rican citizen. Opening a business. In purchasing real estate in Costa Rica.

Answer: Costa Rica does not offer citizenship to foreign citizens. Costa Rica does offer Residency as an Investor for qualified applicants who can invest in a Costa Rican property or business at least USD $200,000.00.

Lawyers of Costa Rica assists foreign individuals with their Costa Rica residency process and their Costa Rica property acquisition process as well.

Costa Rica also offers the Self Employed Residency, for that you will at least have to comply with the following processes:

  • Form a Costa Rican Company
  • Open a Costa Rican Corporate Bank Account
  • Register the Company as an Employer
  • Employee local labor (not properly established how many)
  • Obtain Work Risk Insurance
  • Obtain a Business License
  • Provide Financial Statements

19. I'm planning a 3-month trip to beautiful Costa Rica to gain permanent retirement. I'm going to apply for pensionado status. I'm disabled, never to return to work. My Social Security is slightly more than US$1000.00 per month. I have started to fill out my passport application. Will I need a Visa to enter? Or can you send the appropriate papers I will need when I arrive.

Answer: The key criteria to apply for Pensionado or Pensioner Residency is to receive a lifetime monthly minimum income of USD $1000.00. Depending on your nationality, you will not need a Visa to enter Costa Rica as a tourist. The best method is to retain the services of a specialized Costa Rican immigration attorney so that you can begin to retrieve the necessary documents with all the formalities prior to your arrival. That way you will make sure that the efforts to obtain them are in perfect alignment with Costa Rica Immigration formalities, upon your visit we will file the Costa Rican Residency Application and you could stay in Costa Rica waiting for the approval.

20. I am interested for incorporation limited liability company (LLC), residence and work permit in Costa Rica. Can you send me more information for incorporation of company, work and residence permit in Costa Rica?

Answer: Lawyers of Costa Rica specializes in comprehensive foreign advisory and business setup in and from Costa Rica.

For business people, it is ideal for them to form a Costa Rican company so that they can conduct business activities in Costa Rica. The company can be used to apply for the following 2 types of residencies:

  • Investor’s Residency: requires a minimum investment of USD $200,000.00 in a Costa Rican asset, i.e. house or business.
  • Self Employed Residency: This category is reserved for entrepreneurs or business people that are willing to open a business in Costa Rica and obtain all the necessary permits, such residency can be seen as a “last recourse” as its approval criteria are not clearly established by the Immigration Authorities, contrary to the Investors Residency which is extremely straightforward.

When you obtain the Costa Rican Residency as an Investor or Self Employed you are authorized to conduct business, not to receive a salary as an Employee of a Costa Rican company. In order to obtain a Work Permit as an individual authorized to work in Costa Rica, you have to be sponsored by a Costa Rican company and receive authorization and approval from Costa Rican Immigration as a Skilled Worker.

21. I am inquiring about residency in Costa Rica. I have a property portfolio abroad which brings me in a significant amount of rental income and I am looking to reside somewhere warmer. My income I believe more than satisfies the requirements for residency. Is it simply enough to begin the process by attending Costa Rica and your offices.

Answer: The residency process starts with the hiring of the specialized Costa Rican immigration law attorney so that the applicant can receive the proper guidance and conduct a pre-eligibilty assessment. If done that way, the applicant visits Costa Rica with all the formalities in order to file and request the residency.

For applicants that receive income from abroad, the following is the general criteria for the Rentista Residency.

Costa Rica Rentist Residency: requires demonstrating a minimum foreign income or rent of at least USD $2500.00 per month guaranteed by a properly registered company, or to make a Certificate of Deposit (CD) for 2 years in a local bank for a minimum amount of USD $60,000.00. This method is very common among our clients and with this modality, the client receives from his or her same funds a minimum monthly deposit of USD $2500.00.

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