BANKING IN COSTA RICA
Casa Canada offers a service to arrange and to administer bank accounts on behalf of clients.
The government owns four banks. Costa Rican laws governing banking secrecy apply to them. Accounts can be operated in US dollars or colons, and some banks have Euro accounts. Electronic accounts and debit cards are available.
Banks in Costa Rica can be slow and bureaucratic. Opening an account can be very difficult, or even impossible for a tourist or foreign resident. Casa Canada can open bank accounts on behalf of clients. It usually requires $500 USD to open a checking account. Savings accounts can require less money, but require personal attendance to do transactions – no cheques. On line banking is available for electronic accounts. Most banks have cash machines and debit or credit cards.
When making deposits consider the following:
Cheques from outside Costa Rica, including bank cashiers cheques and traveller’s cheques, can require up to 45 days from deposit date before the funds will be available. Cheques issued on these funds prior to that date would be returned, “Funds not available”. Casa Canada may be able to reduce the waiting time – give them a call. Post office money orders are not accepted in Costa Rica.
Cheques issued on Costa Rican private banks and deposited at a different bank will take 8 or 9 working days to clear. Cheques deposited from the same bank are usually available the next day.
Post dated cheques are not recognized in Costa Rica – a post dated cheque can be cashed immediately regardless of the date. It is a criminal offense to write an NSF cheque.
Bank wire transfers funds are available as soon as they arrive. Allow 4-5 working days from the date of transfer then ask the “tranferencias” department of the bank if your funds have not arrived. Expect a service charge of $10-22 to receive wire transfers.
To be able to use some cashiers cheques or traveller’s cheques right away the bank will likely charge a commission.
Mortgages and loans from Costa Rican Banks take a very long time for approval. The procedure can take many months. After waiting months it is not unusually to be turned down, or to be told statements and other documents are out of date and must be updated. Talk to Casa Canada about mortgage requirements or bridge financing.
The State Commercial Banks are:
Banco Nacional de Costa Rica
Banco de Costa Rica
Banco Credito Agricola de Cartago
The government of Costa Rica guarantees all deposits in state-owned banks without limit.
Private Banks offer full service banking, including foreign exchange, loans, transfers, letters of credit, mortgages and collections. Service charges for account operation at private banks can be higher than at the national banks when the minimum deposit balance is not maintained. The deposit required to open a checking account is usually around $1,000-$1,500.
Private banks are also slow and bureaucratic. Don’t expect a big improvement over state-owned banks.
There are no exchange controls or restrictions on removing funds from the country. For assistance in establishing bank accounts talk with the people at Casa Canada.
There is no guarantee against loss of deposits in private banks should the bank fail or be closed by the Superintendent of Financial Entities.
For assistance in establishing bank accounts contact the people at Casa Canada.