Immigration Guide to Costa Rica

August 11, 2020 by Liran Jakob Rosenfeld

Living in a country filled with beautiful sandy beaches, rainforests- with waterfalls, lakes and incredible wildlife is a dream come true for so many of us living in urban centers around the world. 

So, It is no wonder that so many people from around the world have made this breathtakingly beautiful country their new home. Approximately 2.5 million tourists visit the country annually. Ranked as the 15th best country to retire in there are about 50,000 North American ex-pats and retirees living in the country permanently. 

Whether its retirees, surfers, digital nomads, students, entrepreneurs, nature enthusiasts, young families, or those who just want a simpler, sunny life by the beach, Costa Rica is the place to be.

Benefits of moving to Costa Rica:

Government Policies make it easy to do business

president of costa rica

The government has made it pretty easy for foreigners to do business in Costa Rica. Starting your own company in the country is so easy that you don’t even have to be a resident of the country – you can start a business on a tourist visa. 

A standard 90-day tourist visa allows you to buy an existing business, like a hotel or B&B, or to build your own, this is partly because they want to generate more jobs for the local population.

Better work-life balance

The slow-paced family-oriented lifestyle in the country makes it a haven for many people wanting to get away from their 16-hour work schedule and have a healthy work-life balance.

Foreigners have Property Rights 

Costa Rica is just one of the few countries which allow even tourists to buy property in the country. It is probably the only country in the world where both foreigners and citizens share the same property rights.

Universal healthcare System

healthcare sysytem

Costa Rica has a modern and highly rated healthcare system, that is better ranked than the United States and is free of cost for citizens and legal residents. Costa Ricans also have a life expectancy of 77 years, one of the highest in the world. 

 Cost of Living 

In general, although the cost of living in the country cannot be considered cheap you can live on a budget of as little as $1,200 a month, more comfortably on a budget of around $2,000 a month or like a member of the royal family at about $5,000 a month or more. 

visa cost

What makes moving to Costa Rica really great is that could rent a local-standard home in a small mountain village where all your neighbors would be Costa Rican and your entertainment options would center around hiking, river rafting, and otherwise embracing this country’s great outdoors, at a very affordable price. Costa Rica is one of the few places in Central America where you can have a decent standard of living without having to burn a hole in your pocket.

Similarly, due to its affordable cost of living and its world-class education system, Costa Rica has also become a popular study destination among hundreds of international students wanting to study medicine, other health-related subjects, Spanish language and business-related courses.

No Visas for the U.S and European Citizens and Residents

U.S. citizens do not need a visa to enter Costa Rica, a valid U.S. passport valid for at least six months and proof of a plane ticket to leave the country within 90 days is enough. Similarly, Residents of France, England, Ireland, The U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Mexico–to name a few, do not need a visa and can enter and stay in the country for 90 days. 

However, to live in the country post 90 days, you will have to look at the following residence permit options:

Types of Residence Permits

Before moving to Costa Rica, it is always a good idea to know the different types of Residence Permits available and which one would suit you the most.

Rentista

This permit applies to foreigners wanting to put a certain amount of money in a Costa Rican bank to live long-term in the country.

This is a temporary residency visa given to foreign-nationals willing to immigrate to the country, who have a regular monthly income of at least US$2,500 from a guaranteed source for two years.

This requirement can easily be met by making a bank deposit of US$60,000 at a local bank and by obtaining a commitment letter that at least US$2,500 per month will be made available. 

This amount includes dependents (spouse and minor children under 18 y.o., or older with disabilities).

Rentista Visa holders may establish a business or work on their own, but may not work as employees. Anyone on this type of status can easily change their temporary residence status to a permanent residency after just three years of living in the country.

Pensionado

The ‘Pura Vida’ life is probably the best life for pensioners who just want to cut the chase and live the rest of their lives in peace. To qualify for this status the pensioners should be able to prove that they have a pension of about $2,000 per month and will be living off this amount while they are in the country.

Inversionista

This is an investment visa type, to apply for this type of residence permit you will need to invest at least $200,000 in Costa Rican asset class defined as tangible property, negotiable instruments, shares of Costa Rica or projects in Costa Rica. To qualify as a business investor visa you can do the following:

  • Buy real estate through your company registered in Costa Rica.  Residential real estate is usually the preferred, asset class. But there is a small catch here, if the asset value is less than $200,000 then it can be clubbed with other asset classes to apply for a business investor residence permit.
  • If you arent really keens on investing in property you can simply show that you own $200,000 worth of the shares of a company duly registered in the country.

How to become a Permanent Resident

costa rica residency

The Permanent Residence permit is granted to the temporary residents after just two years of residing in the country. The Costa Rican Permanent residence permit gives foreigners have the same rights as citizens apart from voting rights, which is only given to citizens.

There are mainly  two ways of getting the Costa Rican PR: 

First Degree Relative Status (Residencia Permanente Por Vinculo )

The Residencia Permanente Por Vinculo applies to those whose first-degree blood relatives are Costa Rican, for instance: parents, children, or siblings. This is also applicable to expatriate families whose children are born in the country, as they are automatically granted citizenship based on their child’s birthright.

Similarly, foreigners who marry a Costa Rican citizen are also eligible to apply for the Residencia Permanente Por Vinculo status. But in this case, they are only granted temporary residence and must wait three years to apply for the permanent status.

PR based on work and livelihood status

Any foreigner who lives in Costa Rica for over three years is eligible to change their temporary residence permit into a Permanent Residence permit. Similarly, all Spanish citizens are eligible to apply for Costa Rican PR on the basis of descent. 

How PassRight can help

us immigration visa

Interested in applying visa to Costa Rica? Have questions about what the best strategy for your case might be?

Check out our website to see which visa you might qualify for and schedule an initial consultation call with our team!

PassRight is committed to providing our clients with safe, affordable, and comprehensive immigration services. 

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