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Can Expats Get Jobs In Costa Rica

Can Expats Get Jobs in Costa Rica?

Let’s be Clear

Jobs in Costa Rica for expats are not abundant. It can be difficult to find legal work as an expat. Expats in Costa Rica are unable to obtain work permits for positions that can only be filled by Costa Rican citizens or permanent residents due to immigration laws. Above all, these laws protect nationals from losing out on work opportunities to non-resident expats.

Are there any exceptions? Yes. If no qualified nationals or permanent residents are found for a highly-skilled position, an employer may hire a qualified expat. This fills a gap in the market by allowing the employer to apply for the expat’s work permit. The work permit is usually valid for one year and renewable for the length of the employment.

From time to time, the Ministry of Labor (Ministerio de Trabajo – MTSS) provides a list of professional and skilled labor job openings to the immigration department in order for them to update their qualifications for work permits.

Alternatives to Jobs in Costa Rica for Expats

Expats will have a difficult time finding job in Costa Rica unless they first secure legal status with no work limitations. Permanent residency, temporary residency, as the spouse of a Costa Rican citizen, and citizenship are all examples of this.

However, if you choose to get residency in Costa Rica as a Rentista, Investor or Pensionado (retired), you can own a business and you can earn an income from its profits, but you cannot work as an employee in the business that you own. Your activity in the business is limited to high-level management. You’ll need to hire Costa Rican citizens or residents without restrictions to perform all the work.

Salaries in Costa Rica

Costa Rican wages are a fraction of what they are in North America or Europe. The pay is about a quarter of what you’d get in Canada or the United States, and up to about half if you’re from Europe. The Ministry of Labor provides a list of minimum wages for a variety of job types based on qualifications.

Can I Legally Work Remotely as a Non-Resident?

Many people work remotely from Costa Rica for employers or companies based outside the country. There is new category for digital nomads coming soon (perfect for those who work on computers and make money outside of Costa Rica).

The legality of such behavior is debatable. The immigration department, on the other hand, does not focus on enforcement as long as the income comes from outside Costa Rica. This could include IT consulting, web design, translation, and sales/telemarketing, among other things.

If you are a non-resident expat, regardless of how you make a living in Costa Rica, we strongly advise you to apply for and obtain legal residency.

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Good evening,
    My wife and I are looking to move from Canada to Costa Rica. We would be filing as expats, (both ex-military), we worked in communications, weather, and renewable energy systems. Please provide the necessary information we require to start the process.
    Thank you in advance
    Marc St-Louis

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