Residency In Costa Rica

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Residency In Costa Rica

Casa Canada can advise you on all aspects of the residency process, and can have the process completed for you more quickly than some others at a very reasonable cost. Contact Casa Canada for personal attention and for more information.



The applicant must prove they have an income of US$1000 per month from permanent pension source or retirement fund.

  1. A pensionado must visit Costa Rica at least once a year and be in the country for a total of 4 months..
  2. A spouse and dependents under 18 years of age can be included with the applicant.
  3. A pensionado cannot work as an employee in Costa Rica.

A pensionado can own a company and receive dividends from the company.


The applicant must prove they have an income of US$2500 per month for at least two years, guaranteed by a  banking institution, OR make a US$60,000 deposit in an approved Costa Rican bank. One amount covers the  entire family.

    1. A rentista must visit Costa Rica at least once a year and be in the country for at least 4 months.
    2. The spouse and dependents under 18 years of age can be included with the applicant.
    3. A rentista cannot work as an employee in Costa Rica.
    4. A rentista can own a company and receive dividends from the company.

Inversionista (Investor)

The applicant must make an investment of US$50,000 in a pre-approved tourism or priority reforestation project,  $100,000 in non-priority reforestation or US$200,000 in a business or property.

      1. The investment must be one that contributes to the countries economic and/or social development. Investments for personal gain such as real estate are excluded.
      2. It requires certification by a CPA of the applicant’s economic solvency and stating that the financial goals of the  project or company are within the required parameters.
      3. Reliable proof that the project is fully financed is required.
      4. An inversionista must visit Costa Rica at least once a year for a total of 6 months in residence.
      5. The spouse and dependents under 18 years of age can be included with the applicant.
      6. An inversionista can take income from the investment business or property.
      7. An inversionista can own a company and receive dividends from the company.

Representante Residency Program

1. The applicant must be a director of a company meeting certain requirements, such as employing a minimum  number of local workers as established by the labor law. A Certified Public Accountant must certify financial statements.
2. A representante must visit Costa Rica at least once a year.
3. The spouse and dependents under 18 years of age can be included with the applicant.
4. A representante can earn an income from the company.
5. A representante can own a company and receive income.

Permanent Residency

There must be a first degree relative status between the applicant and a Costa Rican Citizen (through marriage  to a citizen or by having a Costa Rican child) OR the applicant may apply after three years of marriage or with a  Costa Rican child for another status. A resident with a temporary residency status can apply for permanent residency after five years.

      1. A permanent resident must visit Costa Rica at least once a year.
      2. The spouse and dependents under 18 years of age can be included with the applicant.
      3. A permanent resident can work for a salary.
      4. A permanent resident can own a company and receive income.


Since 2012 documents from countries participating in the Hague Convention on Apostilles can be apostilled (verified, or authenticated) for use in Costa Rica. Canada is not a signatory to the convention, however the US is, so documents from the US not longer have to be sent to the Costa Rican Consulate or the Foreign Relations ministry in Costa Rica for authentication.
The first three documents are required for all types of residency in Costa Rica, and are only valid for 6 months from the issue date. If immigration does not receive the documents and residency application within 3 months of the date of issue of these documents, the whole process of issuing and authenticating must begin again.

      1. A Police Certificate of Good Conduct from your last place of residency. It is required for the applicant, the  spouse, and any children aged 15 to 25.
      2. A Birth Certificate is required for the applicant, spouse, and all dependent children (up to 18 years old or up to 25  if a university student, in which case proof of enrollment is required.
      3. A Marriage Certificate (if the spouse wishes residency). Proof of divorce is not needed.
      4. A document certifying income is required for Pensionado and Rentista Residency, only for the applicant. It is only valid for 6 months from the issue date.
      5. Pensionados require proof of a pension of at least US$1000 per month, stating that it is for life, and that it will be paid in Costa Rica.
      6. For pensions from the U.S. Social Security or Canada Pension Plan, it is easier to obtain the certification at the U.S. or Canadian Embassy in Costa Rica. You must provide them with proof of your pension.
      7. Pensions from other government agencies (all countries) must have a letter stating that the government is paying  the pension.
      8. Pensions from other institutions must have a statement verifying the type of institution paying the pension and confirming it is being paid.
      9. For Rentista Residency Casa Canada lawyers can provide the wording for the documents.
      10. All the above documents obtained outside of Costa Rica MUST BE:
        Notarized by a local notary public, or have an official government seal. If there is any doubt about the need to  have it notarized, check with Casa Canada or the local Costa Rican consulate. Canadians must have the  documents certified by the provincial or federal government, and then by the Costa Rica consul. They currently  charge a fee of $40.
      11. For most countries the documents must be sent to the office of the Secretary of State to get the “Apostille”.*
      12. If “Apostille”* is not available in your country, the documents must be authenticated by the Costa Rican  consulate in the country where the document was issued.
      13. The applicant’s signature must NOT appear in the notarized section of the document.
      14. Authentication and certification costs vary from country to country, as does the authority of who issues them. A Costa Rican consulate will charge US$40 for authentication of each document. They must affix stamps worth that   amount to collect the money. If they do not have the stamps, Casa Canada can buy them in Costa Rica on your behalf. There is a $250 application fee payable to the government in Costa Rica, which will be included in a quote on costs from Casa Canada.
      15. All applicants for residency will require an interview with a police official where personal data will be requested. You will be required to have your fingerprints recorded.

All temporary or permanent residents must join the government health insurance plan administered by Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS). To apply it is necessary to present a utility bill showing the address and two copies of the passport of the applicant to the local clinic. They will then request a health insurance number. Once the insurance is paid for a voucher is issued and this voucher must be taken to immigration.
It is also necessary to register with the embassy or consulate of your country. If there is no embassy or consulate, this requirement does not apply. It is usually necessary to fill out a form and pay a fee. Proof of registration must be taken to immigration.

Other requirements for both Pensionado and Rentista Residency

Income must be proven at each renewal of residency. US$12,000 per year for pensionados and US$30,000 per year for rentistas.

      1. The resident must be in Costa Rica for a minimum of 4 months each year
      2. The residency identification card (carnet) must be renewed every two years. The government of Costa Rica charges US$100+ tax for each renewed identification card. Permanent residency can be applied for after 5 years, and then the renewal is necessary every 5 years.
      3. You and your dependents cannot earn a salary or replace a Costa Rican as an employee. You can own and operate a business and pay yourself, and/or make investments.
      4. All pensionados and rentistas must submit proof of 1 and 2 above to the Costa Rican government each year. Casa Canada can assist with all of these procedures.

Inversionista Residency Status

Invest at least US$200,000 in an operating business, or an approved amount in a government approved investment such as company ownership, property &/or vehicles, stocks, etc

Be present in Costa Rica at least six months per year.

Translations of Documents for Residency

Translations from other languages to Spanish have to be done either by the Costa Rican consulate in the country where the document was issued or in Costa Rica by an “official” translator for the specific language to Spanish. Casa Canada can arrange for the services of am approved translator. Costs can vary. The Costa Rica government does not accept translation from the original language to English.

Total Cost

The costs to process residency vary depending upon the type of residency and can vary depending upon government requirement. Please contact Casa Canada to go over your exact requirements and to receive the price for your needs. Casa Canada residency prices are very reasonable, and the service is much faster than many law firms. Complaints heard from many prospective residents is that the processing by their lawyer has taken so long that their documents have expired and then have to be reissued by their government.
Casa Canada will also advise the applicant of all the various steps, and some time saving advice on how to assemble required information. The price quoted will include all attorney and other fees, including translation from English to Spanish. If you have documents translated in the country of origin, the only official translator accepted by the Costa Rican government is the Costa Rican consul for that country.

Residency Renewals

Other than permanent residency, renewals are usually every year. General conditions for renewal are 4-6 months residence in Costa Rica, the required amount of monthly income was received in Costa Rica or that the terms of the investor residency are met. Renewal cost in January of 2016 was $150-$250.

Foreign residents are protected by the constitution of Costa Rica, and have most of the rights of citizens. The record of the government historically has been excellent in honoring these rights. They do not have the right to:

      1. Vote or participate in political activities
      2. Work for wages without a permit
      3. Own land close to national borders

Pets can be brought to Costa Rica. A veterinary certificate is required. Ask Casa Canada for details and assistance.


With over 20 years experience in assisting people who are relocating to Costa Rica, Casa Canada is prepared to answer your questions. We can help you directly with many relocation procedures,Casa Canada works with many relocation experts who can assist you with more complex issues, such as bringing in your household goods or vehicle.
Banking services, mail services, drivers license, internet & telephone needs, medical attention, moving companies, education issues, Costa Rican holding company… the list of relocation issues can go on and on depending on your specific needs. Casa Canada staff can help guide you in your choice of services.