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Opening a Bank Account in Costa Rica

If you are a foreigner moving to Costa Rica and seeking residency, you will eventually need the services of a Costa Rica bank. So if you’re thinking of opening a bank account in Costa Rica, we can help.

Government banks offer you the advantage of being a safer place for your money since the Costa Rican government backs these banks. They have a significant presence and many branches throughout Costa Rica. You can find Banco de Costa Rica (BCR) and Banco Nacional in nearly every town in Costa Rica.

To open a bank account, you must be legal in the country, meaning that the visa entry stamp in your passport must be currently valid.  They would also like to see that you started your residency process and have some ties to the country, such as a home, investment, or business in Costa Rica. You will need to provide the bank with documentation to show your funds and income verification.

 

Know Your Customer (KYC) Regulations

Like all USA, Canadian and European banks, Costa Rica banks are also subject to Know Your Customer (KYC) regulations. These regulations prevent money laundering, including the $10,000 USD transaction reporting limit. The good news is, banking secrecy laws are in effect, so no government or private agency can get access to your specific account information without a court order. This is just one reason Costa Rica is a frequent choice for foreigners who want to keep their assets protected from frivolous civil lawsuits in their home country.

It’s best to check with the bank beforehand and ask for the requirements to set up an account. Most banks now require that you have Costa Rican residency to open an account.

 

General Requirements for Bank Account

  • Passport;
  • Residency documentation;
  • Utility bill from the place where you are residing in Costa Rica;
  • Letter of recommendation from a financial institution in your country;
  • Letter from your employer with the official stamp of the company (if employed);
  • Reference letters from current account holders at the bank you are applying.

New regulations make it very difficult for foreigners awaiting their residence cards to use banking services. Even though the banks are obligated to assist, you’ll find them to be generally uncooperative. Thankfully at Costa Rica Immigration Experts, we work with banks and agents who can help you navigate the process of opening a bank account while your residency is pending.

 

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. I live in California but am also a homeowner and have a corporation in Uvita and want to be able to bank there. I would like to find a U.S. bank where I can deposit here in the states and have it accessible there. Is this something you have information about and can help with?

    1. Hi John! The banking systems aren’t connected in that way, so regardless of how you deposit in the U.S., the funds have to be transferred to Costa Rica. One option would be BAC, which is a large private bank with operations in both Costa Rica and the U.S. (BAC Florida Bank) whereby transfers would be much cheaper than the usual SWIFT wire transfers.

  2. I am a bit confused as there seems to be a chicken/egg situation for those wanting to become rentistas. They require a bank account to deposit 60k USD into but to get a bank account they need to be a resident. Can someone please clarify for me? Thanks!

    1. Hi Leigh,
      There are a few exceptions to the general rule that Costa Rican banks won’t open an account for residents. One of these exceptions is for setting up the bank deposit and staggered certificates of deposit in order to satisfy the Rentista requirement. That being said, if you were to walk into a random branch and ask to open an account to become a Rentista you’re likely to find confusion and blank stares. This is because most low-level bank employees in Costa Rica are not interested in dealing with special cases. Most won’t even know what a “Rentista” is.

      At CRIE we have experience with the necessary bank setup for Rentista status, and we can provide you with the introduction to bank executives who will understand your needs, open the necessary account and set up the staggered certificates of deposit, and furnish the bank letter that Migración needs.

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