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Costa Rican Residency Print E-mail


GUAPOLINDA If you want to live permanently in Costa Rica, there are several ways to get a residency, which are described in brief. Once you have your new residence permit (cedula) it must be renewed every year.

Necessary documents:

  • a pre-certified police record (without entry)
  • a pre-certified birth record (whole family)
  • a pre-certified marriage certificate
  • a certified copy of your passport (all pages)
  • 12 passport pictures in front view
All documents have to be originals (translated to spanish) and need to be certified by the administration of your district and from the Costa Rican embassy in your country.

Possibilities in getting a permanent residency permission:

  1. As "Pensionado" (Pensioner)
    Pensioners have to prove an income of at least $600 per month, which comes from a retirement pension for life time. To become a pensionado, you have to fill out an application form.
  2. As "Rentista" (foreigner with stable regular income)
    Rentistas have to prove an income of at least $1000 per month ($ 1000 each adult of the family, $ 500 per child) for the time of 5 years. A bank from the home country has to send this amount every month. Other regulations are similar to those for pensioners. Advice: Neither the pensioner, nor the rentista is allowed to work for a Costa Rican company. Only working as a stockholder or member of the board of directors is allowed. Furthermore, they have to stay in Costa Rica for at least 4 months per year. Under certain circumstances, there are exceptions.
  3. As Investor
    If you can´t retire yet, but have plenty of money, you may become an investor in the economy of Costa Rica. You have to stay in the country for at least 6 months a year. 90 percent of the workers of your new company have to be Costa Ricans. You have to prove an investment of at least $200.000,- in one of the following fields:
    Spices, Tropical fruits, Fresh vegetables, Prepared food, Wood or wood products, Leather or leather goods, Industrial mining projects, Tropical plants or flowers, Farming or forestry with industrial use, Production of export goods or tourism.
    Besides the common documents, you need the proof of investment. The applications for investment go to the ,,Center of Promotion of Investment" (CENPRO) and the migration office. Several months can pass until you have the papers and progress is less secure than with the pensioners. To receive a permit, because of changes in the law.
  4. In case of family relations
    If a foreigner marries a Costa Rican, the foreigner has the right to get the residency. However, things do not work out automatically, everybody has to fill out an application first. Parents of children born in Costa Rica are first grade related to Costa Rican citizen and will normaly get their residency.

I Advice: Always look for the help of an organisation like for example ARCR (221-2053), they can give you information about the newest law changes and help you in a lot of issues, not only getting your residency.

The last change was mainly that one can not apply anymore in Costa Rica at the ?Migracion? for the residency. The Costa Rica Consulate in your home country is now the office to apply for it.

It is important to know, that the old trick to leave to Panama for 3 days and come back in order to get another 90 days legal stay is not as easy as it used to be. Costa Rica does not like this behaviour and you may be deported. Besides, a legal residency is important to open bank accounts, to get loans or to be allowed to work. So it is unwise to get around it.

Work permits
If you are neither retired nor have big savings, but still want to stay in Costa Rica, you will have to work. Without work there is no money and without money no bread to eat - but you also have to eat even in paradise.
A typical case is that someone visits Costa Rica as a tourist for some weeks, falls in love with the country and wants to stay and work here. If this happens to you, I recommend you resist and always go along with the law, since the government takes it seriously. And even if you do find a job, your income would be only about $300 a month, which is not enough. It is better to stay as a tourist, enjoy the country for a while and return to your home country, if you do not meet the residency requirements.

There are not many people without a job in Costa Rica. Even in periods of less economical growth, Costa Ricans work hard for little money. Neither the government nor the people like foreigners taking jobs away.

Under some circumstances you can get a work permit:
As a scientist, as trainer for sports team, as artist (or showmaster), as priest, if you marry a Costa Rican, as a student (if necessary - limited for 4 years), as a member of a multinational company, as doctor or nurse, as bilingual professors and specialists.
All permits are issued for only 6 months, but can be extended to up to two years.

One person has commented on this article.
No.1  amazing
good to know it at last
Guest () • 2007-06-06 20:50:52
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