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Why should I bother to get residency? This is a question we get a lot from people who come down to Costa Rica. This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, but here’s a short list of benefits of residency in Costa Rica:

  • You can get a Costa Rica driver’s license. With the new Ley de Tránsito, in order to get a Costa Rica driver’s license based on your existing one from your home country, you also need to show proof of legal residence. Your foreign license is only valid in Costa Rica when you show your passport with a valid entry stamp.
  • Less hassle opening a local bank account. Banks in Costa Rica are discouraging or phasing out personal bank accounts for those who do not have legal residence. While it’s still possible to have a Costa Rican bank account, it will be flagged as high risk. You will have to deal with extra requirements such as requiring to update your information very often or face account closure. In addition, you will not be able to send or receive interbank (SINPE) transfers without a legal residence.
  • No more need to carry your passport. Having to carry your passport everywhere you go is quite the hassle. It’s difficult to carry out any banking transactions without a passport (even changing US dollars to colones), and often times a notarized copy will not do. Residency means you get a resident ID card (called a DIMEX) you can carry in your wallet. You can then store your passport in a safe place.
  • No worries boarding a plane headed to Costa Rica. Many airlines require you to show proof of onward travel in order to board the plane to Costa Rica. This is also true with immigration once you enter the country. Having your residency card to show puts a stop to all that hassle.
  • Resident discountsAs a Costa Rican resident you’ll enjoy discounts with tourist businesses (for example, local flights are discounted), tourist destinations and national parks, and local attractions.
  • Stop leaving Costa Rica every 90 days! While border runs can be a fun trip to the beach, they can get old fast, and the circumstances of each border run seem to change every year (usually adding more and more complexity).

Enjoy the benefits of Costa Rica residency by contacting us at +506-8373-2085 with your questions, or completing our free assessment questionnaire.

There are several residency categories available if you are considering applying for residency in Costa Rica. Some of the most common migratory categories and their specific requirements are described below.



Many expats and immigrants take the final step of their immigration to Costa Rican and become a naturalized citizen. 


There are two major ways to obtain citizenship via naturalization for expats without familial ties in Costa Rica.

  1. Citizenship by Residence
    • 7 years living in Costa Rica as a resident with a cédula (5 years if you are a citizen of a Central American country, a citizen of certain Latin American countries, or a citizen of Spain by birth)
    • 2 character witness declarations
    • Proof of financial means of living such as an income certification from a CPA
    • Completion of citizenship tests – Spanish and social studies (applicants aged 65 and over are exempt from this requirement)
  2. Citizenship by Marriage to Costa Rican citizen
    • 2 years living in Costa Rica married to a Costa Rican citizen
    • Note that this category exempts you from the proof of financial means as well as completion of citizenship tests.

The shared requirements for these citizenship categories are:

  • You must prove you have lived in Costa Rica for the accumulated time through the record of immigration entries and exits (this will be done by TSE as part of the process)
  • Birth certificate from home country, Apostilled or legalized (Note: in most cases you can omit this requirement if it is in your immigration file)
  • Criminal record check from home country, Apostilled or legalized, issued within the last 3 months

All naturalization applications are processed by the Options and Naturalizations Department at the TSE, not by Immigration.


We get questions about citizenship a lot, mainly what are the benefits of citizenship? Is the process difficult? Will I lose my citizenship?

We’ve compiled some of those frequently asked questions and put together a page detailed the benefits of getting citizenship in Costa Rica.see if naturalization is right for you. Click the buttons below to see if Costa Rica naturalization is right for you.

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