Residency & Immigration

Residency, Immigration and Relocation

We have been residents of Costa Rica since 2007 and started the process to obtain our first temporary residency in Canada prior to moving to Costa Rica. Subsequently we have now had permanent residency (without conditions) since 2009. After 10 years residency in Costa Rica, you will become eligible to apply for citizenship.

If you have invested in Costa Rican Real Estate, you probably are interested in spending more time in the country, start working or perhaps you are considering moving here permanently. If you are a citizen of the US, Canada, or Western Europe, and you entered Costa Rica without any visa, you were given a tourist permit to stay in the country for up to ninety (90) days. During this time, you are not allowed to work and obviously you don’t want to stay longer to avoid any immigration problems. To renew a tourist visa a person only has to be out of the country for 1/2 hour or so, unless you are returning with newly purchased items. Then you are required to remain out of the country for at least 72 hours. There are certain restrictions to this law, which deters foreigners who live permanently in Costa Rica from abusing the 90-Day tourist permit. It is in your best interest if you want to work or move permanently to Costa Rica to start the residency paperwork as soon as possible.

For your general information there are several categories of residents in Costa Rica.

  • Residency for Investors - This category is available for people who invest at least $150,000 USD in Costa Rica. The investment can be in a business or in assets such as real estate.
  • Residency for Retired People - This option is available to people who are currently retired and receive a pension of at least $1,000 per month.
  • Residency for Rentistas (or fixed income) - Under this option, it is required to demonstrate that you receive at least $2,500 per month.
  • Residency for Self-Employed People or Entrepreneurs - This category is available for people who desire to open their own business in Costa Rica. There is no minimum amount of money required, only to have a business.
  • Residency under Marriage - The marriage category is available to foreign nationals who get married to a Costa Rican. After two years of being married and residing in Costa Rica, it is possible to obtain citizenship.
  • Residency for Parents - Foreign national who have children born in Costa Rica are eligible for residency.
  • Residency for Foreign Workers - Under this category, a company doing business in Costa Rica (whether it is a foreign or domestic company) can bring foreign workers that are not available in Costa Rica.
  • New Category: Digital Nomads - This is a new category and is evolving. Please check with your immigration lawyer for information on this category.

For every category of resident the requirements are different, but there are some general ones that every applicant must provide:

  • Birth Certificate: Original document with an official certified translation to Spanish.
  • Marital Status Certificate: Original document with an official certified translation to Spanish.
  • Police Report: It is a certificate issued by the Police Department of the applicant’s town of current residency. It must be issued no more than three months prior to the time you present it to the Costa Rican Consulate or Immigration Authorities. This document must also be accompanied by an official certified Translation into Spanish.

These three documents and any other document required by the authorities that was originally issued in a country other than Costa Rica must be notarized by the Costa Rican Consulate in the country of issuance of the document. Each Consulate, depending on the country and jurisdiction, has a different procedure of notarization. Your lawyer will contact the Consulate in advance to ask for its particular procedures. Besides the previously mentioned documents, every residency application must be presented along with:

  • A formal letter requesting the residency, stating the reasons and the category under which the residency is being requested.
  • Special Power of Attorney to a representative in Costa Rica.Four passport sized pictures, facing front.
  • A copy of all the passport’s pages, duly certified by Costa Rican Notary Public.
  • A fax number in Costa Rica to notify you of any resolution.
  • Fingerprints taken at the Costa Rican Police Archive.

All categories of residency application must be presented to the Costa Rican Consulate with jurisdiction over the place of current residence of the applicant. The exception for this applies when the category of residency is either bond with Costa Rican, children of a current resident or political asylum, in which cases the application has to be presented before the Immigration Authorities in San Jose.


Outlier legal services

Laws regarding residency and immigration in Costa Rica have had some recent important changes. And they will continue to change as more and more people consider Costa Rica as their permanent residence. For the most up-to-date information on residency laws and processes as well as assistance with acquiring residency, you can contact Laura B. Gutierrez, Residency/Citizenship Specialist in San Jose. Laura has an excellent reputation for handling residency applications at a reasonable cost and keeping in contact with you through the whole process - a very important consideration to keep in mind. Contact Laura directly at


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