Costa Rica Immigration and Residency Services Overview
We offer the following services to assist you in the process of obtaining residency in Costa Rica. Immigration laws in Costa Rica offer numerous options for people to relocate to the country. There are opportunities for retirees, people on fixed incomes, investors, spouses or parents of a Costa Rican, self-employed persons or entrepreneurs, and employees of a company.
Residency from Disability or Retiree Pension (Pensionados)
This option is available to people who are currently retired and receive retirement income of at least $1,000 USD per month. The income can originate from a pension from your home country’s Social Security System or Pension System. This residency is also available for people who receive income for disability. Learn more here about Residency from Disability or Retiree Pension…
Residency from Fixed Income – Rentor (Rentistas)
Under this option, it is required to demonstrate that you receive at least $2,500 per month. There are multiple ways to demonstrate this income. One option is to deposit an amount equal to two years of income which is $60,000 USD, in a bank abroad or in Costa Rica. Another option is to certify your income from abroad or to open a trust. Learn more here about Residency from Fixed Income – Rentor…
Residency for Investors (Inversionista)
Recently, the Costa Rican government lowered the minimum investment amount to $150,000 USD in Costa Rica. The investment can be in a business or in assets such as real estate. You can read more about the requirements as well as the costs involved. Learn more here about Residency for Investors…
Residency as Spouse
The marriage category is available to foreign nationals who marry a Costa Rican. After two years of being married and residing in Costa Rica, it is possible to obtain citizenship. Learn more here about Residency as Spouse…
Residency as a Parent
Foreign nationals who have children born in Costa Rica are eligible for residency. Learn more here about Residency as a Parent…
Residency for Foreign Workers
There are options for companies to hire foreign workers. Whether they are executives, managers, technicians, consultants, etc. The Costa Rican regulations allow multiple options for hiring foreign workers. Learn more here about Residency for Foreign Workers…
Residency for Self-employed People or Entrepreneurs
This category is available for people who want to work for themselves or open their own businesses in Costa Rica. No minimum amount of money is required, only to have a business. People with a particular skill or area of specialization qualify for a Residency for Skilled Workers, and thus it is required to demonstrate your skill. There is also a residency for people who have a brick-and-mortar business, such as a hotel or restaurant. Learn more here about Residency for Self-employed People or Entrepreneurs…
Permanent Residency (Permanente)
Have you been a Temporary Resident of Costa Rica for the past three years? If so, you may qualify for a Permanent Residency in Costa Rica. Permanent residency certainly comes with more benefits than temporary residency. For example, you have the majority of the rights of a citizen (except voting) and can work legally in Costa Rica as well. Learn more here about Permanent Residency…
Many expats and immigrants ultimately take the final step of immigration to Costa Rica and become naturalized citizens. First, you must pass through Temporary and Permanent Residencies before applying for Citizenship (Naturalization). Learn more here about Citizenship and Naturalization…
Digital Nomad visa in Costa Rica
Are you considering moving to Costa Rica but unsure if this is the country you would like to make your new home? You can qualify for the Digital Nomad visa if you work remotely and earn at least $3,000 USD per month (or $4,000+ USD per family). This type of visa allows you to stay longer in Costa Rica than a regular tourist visa. Learn more here Digital Nomad visa in Costa Rica…
General Immigration Requirements
The following list outlines the general requirements for any application for residency.
- Verification of the main requirement. Depending on the category you will be applying for, documentation will be required to confirm eligibility under that category. For instance, people applying under the retirement category must produce a letter providing confirmation of their retirement income; people applying under the investment category must provide certifications of the investment regardless of whether the investment is in real estate or in a business; people applying for residency through marriage must produce a marriage certificate from Costa Rica.
- Background check. A national authority should issue this document. In the case of US nationals, for instance, it should be from the FBI. In the case of Canadian nationals, it should be issued by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. In the case of UK nationals, it should be issued by the Association of Chief Police Officers.
- Birth certificate. A copy of your birth certificate must be apostilled and submitted before it is considered outdated at 6 months old.
- Application form. We complete this for our clients.
- Cover letter. We complete this for our clients.
- Fingerprints. Generally obtained at a police department. We will coordinate with you in order to receive these, assisting in San José or Liberia by driving you from our office to the location concerned and handling the corresponding forms.
- Certified passport copy. We certify your passport copy.
- Consular registration. Registration with your country’s consulate is required; we also complete this for our clients.
- Passport-size photographs. A service we provide, or you can bring your own.
- Government fees. Initially, it is required to pay $251 USD in application fees. At the end of the process, it is required to pay an additional $433 USD in government fees.
Important Notes About The Documents.
- All documents in a foreign language must be translated into Spanish. The costs for the translations will vary depending on the original language.
- All documents from abroad must be authenticated (legalized or apostilled) for use in Costa Rica. To learn more about apostilles, please click here.
- The background check and other documents from abroad must be issued within six months before filing the application.
- Background checks must be from the country where you lived legally in the past three years.
The application process for temporary residency has three stages: document procurement, government analysis/decision, and registration. Please review below the description of these three stages and the corresponding timeline applicable to each stage.
|Document Procurement||8 weeks||We will dedicate this period to ensuring that you get the documents you need and prepare the rest of the documents required for the application. Generally, it takes about two months to obtain all the required documents.|
|Analysis & Decision by the DGME||9 months||Once the required documents have been obtained, we will file the application with the Immigration Department (DGME). By law, the DGME should process the application within 90 days. However, the DGME can take about 12 months to process an application based on recent processing times.|
|Registration||4 weeks||Once the application has been approved, we will proceed with your mandatory registration with the CCSS for the socialized health care system (CAJA). Afterward, you will obtain your ID (DIMEX). This last step completes the process.|
Important Notes About The Processing Times.
- Once the application is filed, the DGME will issue a Receipt Notice, which demonstrates that there is an application pending. This document will function as a valid ID in conjunction with your passport.
- As noted, the DGME takes about 9 months to review the application. The law allows you to remain in the country while the application is pending. Thus, the applicant is not required to leave the country to renew the tourist visa.
- A Costa Rican driver’s license cannot be obtained until your residency is fully approved and your DIMEX is on hand. Applicants who want to use a foreign driver’s license during the waiting period must have an active tourist visa to drive with their foreign driver’s license legally at all times. This may seem to conflict with the note above, resulting from different government departments having their own set of rules and regulations.
- If you leave the country during the application waiting period, you will be asked to produce an onward ticket when trying to reenter the country at a border or airport. An onward ticket (or return ticket) could be a bus ticket or a plane ticket out of the country before your tourist visa expires.